Get Your Kit On

A while ago a friend of mine asked if I might be able to make some beer for his birthday party at the end of this month. It sounds like great fun, we're all off to Sligo and camping in his large garden. With exams and projects I didn't have a day to devote to brewing. I find that all grain brews take a good while to mature. If I brewed now it might not even be properly carbonated at the end of the month and it would still be very green.  Even an extract beer might not be ready so I was wondering if I'd get to brew for the party at all.

Ed recently invited us to his house for a tasting of some beers he'd brewed. It all started with this thread on Irish Craft Brewer where Ed decided he was going to make a kit, an extract and an all grain beer and do a blind tasting to compare the three. Brewing wisdom says that kit beers are like a ready meal, you mix them up and you get beer very easily. You are limited to the kits that are available though. Extract beers are like a dolmio sauce, you're still using malt extract but you have more control over the final flavours. All grain brewing is like making the meal from fresh ingredients in that there is complete control over the final product. The trade off is that all grain is that bit more complicated and takes longer.

We assembled at Ed's house to taste his three beers. Beer one was lovely with great fresh hops though it was a little thin. Beer two was nice too not as tasty as one but still a good sipping beer. Beer three wasn't great at all, it tasted oxidized. So my guesses were that one was the extract, two the all grain and three the kit. I assumed that since many kits taste bad that the one that was oxidized must have been the kit. It turned out I was completely wrong. Beer one was the kit, beer two was the extract and beer three the all grain. I think something must have gone a bit wrong with Ed's all grain. The main surprise to me was that the kit beer tasted so good. Often with kit beers there is some oxidation which gives a certain taste called kit tang but I couldn't detect it at all. You can read Ed's very entertaining account of the experiment here.

All this convinced me I should make a kit beer for the party. A kit would probably be ready in time too. I ordered the same kit that Ed used from The Home Brew Company. I was so impressed with the service from these guys. I ordered the kits on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday morning they arrived. Tonight I mixed them up. It was so easy and only took about 40 minutes! I felt like a brewing fraud.

First I sterilized my better bottles and everything that would be in contact with the beer. I poured the kit into a pot and added 500g of malt extract, 300g of sugar and 2L of boiling water. I mixed it up then poured it into the better bottle and topped it up to 23L with water. I added the yeast that came with the kit and was done. Easy peasy.

I made a Coopers IPA kit and a Coopers wheat beer kit. I'll dry hop the IPA with some Cascade. I'm thinking adding a load of raspberries to the wheat beer. I just hope these turn out as well as Ed's kit. I didn't have much luck with kits when I first started brewing but these should be fine. 

5 Responses to "Get Your Kit On" (Leave A Comment)

UnderMeOxter says
June 4, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Ooh ooh! I want to make a kit beer! How much parafanalia do I also need to buy, if I'm starting from scratch with brewing? (Like I need a new hobby to start buying stuff for, of course!)

sheknitupthat says
June 4, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Looks tasty!

Mark (Halite) says
June 7, 2010 at 1:21 PM

I am doing all grain at the moment but after the results of Ed's blind tasting I think I will give a kit brew a go. I actually have the same Coopers IPA kit at the bottom of my ingredients bin and so I'll dig this out and give it a whirl. I like the idea of dry hopping with cascade.

Bionic Laura says
June 11, 2010 at 10:47 AM

Not so much stuff for a kit beer D! Take a look at for lots of article and advice on getting started. A starter kits is about 70 euro and doesn't take up that much space.

Boak says
June 13, 2010 at 1:23 AM

We made one of our best ever brews when we went "back" to extract brewing to try and troubleshoot our fermentation problems. We put our ultimate cheat ingredient into secondary fermentation - wood chips soaked in sherry. So far we've down this twice and it is an instant way of making your beer taste sophisticated and Belgian. Whereas our attempts to brew Belgian beers "properly" tends to lead to paintstripper.