Welcome to the hobby! It can be very addictive.
First of all, be sure to read How To Brew by John Palmer. It’s available for free at howtobrew.com. It will teach you the same kind of thing that I am about to say.
To estimate your original gravity and alcohol level, you need to learn about something called “points per pound per gallon”. The common abbreviation is “ppg” or “pppg”. This tells you how many specific gravity points you’ll get per pound of the extract or sugar per gallon that you are brewing. Gravity points are the digits after the 1 in the specific gravity. So if your expected original gravity is 1.055, then you have 55 points times the number of gallons you are brewing. If you were making 10 gallons, then you would need to come up with 550 points from all your sugars. It seems a little complicated at first but you will get the hang of it.
So, how do you know how many points per pound per gallon (ppg) are in your extract and other sugars? Search the web. A good list is here: http://www.homebrewexchange.net/resourc … rmentables
Looks like your liquid extract has 36, the dry has 44, and the molasses 36. Brown sugar is probably about the same as regular sugar, 46.
And it looks like maybe you want to make 6 gallons at 7% alcohol. That’s good to know for designing your recipe. This leads me to mention another rule of thumb: for most beer recipes, alcohol will be roughly equal to the original gravity points with the decimal point moved into the middle. For example, 1.055 will give you about 5.5% ABV. For 7% alcohol, you’re going to need about 1.070. Since this is also the same as 70 gravity points times the number of gallons, you’ll need 70 x 6 = 420 points for 6 gallons. So no matter what kinds of sugars you use, it has to add up to that 420 points for the whole batch if you make 6 gallons.
So, it looks to me like you’ll be starting off with about 3.75 lb irish stout kit. Liquid extract has 36 points per pound. So, 3.75 times 36 = 135 of your total 420 points that you need. You’ll obviously need to add a lot more extract and sugar on top of that, which you knew already. But how much? 420 minus 135 = 285 more points.
I have used molasses in the past and I know it is very very strong in flavor – a little goes a long way. I would not recommend using any more than about 1/4 pound in 6 gallons. So that’s worth 36 / 4 = 9 points only. Still need another 285 - 9 = 276 points.
So… a pound of each of dark DME and brown sugar will give you 44 + 46 = 90 points. So, you’re part of the way there. Still short by 276 - 90 = 186 points though.
I would recommend another 3 pounds of light DME and another pound of brown sugar to get you where you want, that’s 132 + 46 = 178 points more – pretty close to your limit of 7% ABV. The reason I recommend using light DME and not more dark is that the dark extract contains a lot of non-fermentable sugars, which will make your beer taste thicker and more caramelly. Light color is a good base for any recipe and is more fermentable, so your beer won’t turn out quite as slurpy. And the simple sugars like brown sugar or regular sugar make the beer even more fermentable, which for extract brewing is a very good thing.
Now let’s recap and double check… I recommend you put this list of ingredients into your favorite homebrewing software to check the recipe and maybe design it even better. The best software I know of currently is probably BeerSmith, although personally I have hundreds if not thousands of recipes already stored in StrangeBrew so that’s what I use. Recapped recipe for a 7% ABV stout:
3.75 lb dark LME (probably pre-hopped but I don’t know)
1 lb dark DME
3 lb light DME
2 lb brown sugar
1/4 lb molasses
Did I miss anything? What I get with this recipe out of StrangeBrew software, for 6 gallons:
1.070 and 7.0% ABV. Bingo, on the first try. Awesome. Hope you like it. This is the maximum sugars you want to use. If you want less than 7% ABV, then use a little less extract than this recipe.
P.S. For more extra pointers for getting started with extract brewing, save the following image, and copy and print in landscape. Besides howtobrew.com, this should also help get you started on the right foot.
And no, I haven’t heard of anyone using aluminum bottles. If they are the type that screw on/off, I wouldn’t recommend them. But if you can otherwise cap them properly, then they should work.