Recently I have given Beer52 Craft Beer Club a go, it’s a new company that will send you 8 specially selected beers every month for £24 a month including delivery. Working out at £3 a beer is pretty good going. The beer selection I received was a London selection and every beer was enjoyable. I recognised some of the breweries but I had not tried any of the beers that were in the box.
The packaging was very good and I also received a nice bottle opener, crisps and craft beer magazine. Overall its a great idea as you don’t get these beers in the supermarkets and I don’t have time to get down to the beer shop.
Following on from my last post about home brew becoming mainstream, I’ve now spotted it in Lakeland! Being dragged around the shops in Milton Keynes one Saturday afternoon, the newly open Lakeland shop was spotted by my OH, so we went in for a quick look and to my surprise there was a small but decent selection of home brew.
There was a mixture of beer and wine kits available included own branded Lakeland home brew essentials and Muntons and Milestone kits. Further investigation online shows a very good range of home brew kits and equipment and delivery isn’t too bad either:
Click & Collect: FREE
Standard delivery: orders of £30 and over FREE
Standard delivery: orders up to £30 – £2.99
Express delivery: standard delivery plus £5.00
I’m not sure what my local home brew shop owner will make of this!
Home brew is certainly getting mainstream, I’m seeing home brew kits and equipment popup all over the place at the moment, one of the latest is the Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kits I spotted at Firebox. You can get 3 types to brew at the moment:
Chestnut Brown Ale
Chocolate Maple Porter
Each kit contains: Gallon Glass Fermenter, Airlock, Tubing, Thermometer, Tubing Clamp, Packet of Sanitizer, Stopper, Blowoff Attachment, Instructions, and Bottle Labels.
It will only make about 10 beers so it won’t take you long to get through a batch and the refills seem quite expensive.
I remember talking about home brewing popping up in places like this and Tescos with an owner of an home brew shop and he was quite positive about it as he hoped it would get more people into home brew which then would lead to them coming to his shop. These kind of kits will certainly encourage people into home brew.
I received one of the new Festival Beer Kits for Christmas made by Ritchie Products. Really looking forward to starting the kit as each kit contains 3kgs of Malt Extract, brewers yeast that matches the beer and a sachet of hop pellets. This will be the first time I’ve used hop pellets so should be fun.
There are 6 types of Festival Beer Kits and are priced around £24 depending on where you shop.
I read plenty of forum posts of people who have done this successfully and not so successfully in their opinion. My main concern was how I would clean the wood chips, I read many methods from just chucking in the wood chips to steaming them. I opted for soaking the chips in bourbon, hoping the alcohol cleaned the wood chips and give the beer a bit of a kick.
I used 2oz of wood chips, from what I read people recommended using no more than 4oz. The wood chips were wrapped in a muslin bad and dropped in the fermentation bucket for 7 days then bottled. The forum research I did was people adding the wood chips in the keg as part of the secondary fermentation, I wanted to bottle this brew so I just dropped the wood chips in the fermenting bucket.
The beer has been in the bottles for 2 weeks now and tastes great, you can certainly taste the oak flavour that you get in commercial beers – the picture isn’t great but thats the Wilko’s Newcy Brown Ale Kit with Jack Daniels Wood Smoking Chips! Hopefully the beer will get better with time and taste even better and something I would do again. The colour of the beer is really dark, almost like the Cooper’s dark stout I have previously done.
The downside is that I can’t really comment on the outcome of the new Wilkinson’s beer kits.
Next time I might use more wood chips and leave them in the fermenting bucket for longer.
It was an easy process and I managed to fill just short of 80 bottles, I probably could have squeezed out another 8 bottles but I ran out of bottles. I filled each bottle with roughly 1 teaspoon of white sugar.
I didn’t take any hydrometer readings, I know I should!
I tasted both ales and was impressed with the Pilsner as you could really taste the honey which made it quite sweet. The Brown Ale was good too, a typical ale and reminded me of the Woodfordes kits I have done in the past. I took a picture of each ale to record what it looked like into the bottles.
Now to keep the bottles warm for a week and then take them down to the shed and leave them for 3 weeks till the first tasting.
A couple of weeks ago I posted that my 2 recent brews were flat after 4 weeks since bottling. I had bottled the beers and stuck them straight down to the shed in the cold spring weather. Two weeks ago I moved the bottles and left them in my house next to a radiator and wrapped in 2 blankets. We’ve also had some of the best weather this year recently, which must have helped secondary fermentation.
After trying one of each beer the result is that they’re both getting fizzy. The Wherry is what I would expect from a Woodfordes kit and pretty fizzy with a good head. The Blushing Blonde isn’t as fizzy but is much better, you can see bubbles in the beer and it has a slight head – I’m not too sure what to expect from this experimental brew. Two weeks ago when I tried both of the beers they were completely flat.
I’m not sure if leaving the beer for an extra couple of weeks or keeping them warm has given me a fizzier beer with head but something worked! I’ll think for future brews I’ll keep the beer bottles in the house warm for 2 weeks from now on to make sure!
This weekend it will have been 4 weeks since I bottled my Blushing Blonde and Woodfordes Wherry brews. I tried both last week, 3 weeks since bottling, and both home brew beer kits were flat, but still very drinkable.
After I bottled both the kits I straight away stuck the beer down in the shed at the bottom of the garden in the beer bottle boxes I have. The weather hasn’t been great lately (a typical English Spring with lots of rain!) which couldn’t have helped in the secondary fermentation.
The Blushing Blonde went into Coopers PET bottles and the Wherry went into glass swing top bottles, but this shouldn’t affect any secondary fermentation.
After reading some forums, and the instructions of the kits it does recommend to keep the bottles warm for a week or so. So last week I brought both batches up to the house and wrapped them in 2 blankets to keep them warm and put them near a radiator, hopefully, this has done the trick, but we’ll find out this weekend or next.
Another suggestion I found was that the bottles needed to be left longer, I guess I could be too impatient!
If you have any ideas on why my home brew beer is flat then please leave a comment.