Maybe it’s an age thing but I suddenly woke up one morning with a strong urge to tick brewing my own beer off my bucket list. I’m not sure if this was partly inspired by Hank Schrader brewing his “Schraderbrau” in the TV show Breaking Bad but I know what I wanted to do but not sure what I needed to get started.
After turning to Google for help, I ended up feeling even more baffled as I read about a world full of pressure barrels, CO2 bulbs, syphon tubes, sediment traps and fermentation buckets but I quickly realised that it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds, so thought I would buy one of the starter packs and document how I get on.
There are a number of starter packs out there, but most of the beer kits that have caught my eye are to make 40 pints, so I needed to ensure that I paid a little more and get a fermentation vessel that holds at least 23 litres. (This is essentially just a bucket for the initial brewing process)
Another problem I had been arguing with myself about was the age old choice of bottles vs keg, the idea of individually transferring beer into 40 different bottles seemed a little cumbersome for someone like me, not to mention the potential grief from my other half of introducing a giant bucket and 40 bottles into our humble home but equally you can’t get a keg in the fridge for an ice cold beer.
As we are heading into the winter, I thought my ideal introduction in to home brew would be the highly rated Woodforde’s Wherry so I naturally opted for their ultimate Micro Brewery start-up kit that would contain everything I need to make 40 pints.
Future beer kits cost around £20, so after the first batch, you are looking at only 50 pence a pint which makes my new hobby sound even more appealing, but right now the plan is to simply have 40 pints ready to drink in only 3-4weeks.
Micro Brewery Complete Starter Kit Contents
- Woodfordes Premium – 40 pint beer kit
- High Quality Fermentation Vessel – For the initial brewing process, includes lid with grommet for airlock and graduated markings for ease of use
- Sediment Trap With Rigid Syphon Tube – Leaves the sediment behind when transferring to the barrel
- Upgraded Pressure Barrel complete with brass CO2 Valve – Conditions, stores and dispenses the beer
- Mixing Paddle – It takes a long paddle to mix the ingredients
- Food Grade Syphon – Perfect to quickly transfer the beer from the Fermenter to the Barrel
- Airlock – Half fill it with water, it lets the gasses escape and prevents contamination
- Hydrometer – Lets you check on the alcohol content so you know when its ready
- Trial Jar – For use with the Hydrometer
- LCD Thermometer – Helps you keep your brew at the correct temperature
- CO2 Bulbs x 2 and Bulb Holder – Add a blast of CO2 if required
- Quality Steriliser – Ready to start? Cleans your equipment to avoid contamination
If you are looking at the list thinking it sounds like too much hassle, DON’T!
Once you have unpacked the box, you can be up and running in a few moments and the process is relatively pain free so hopefully I haven’t scared you off.
This particular kit I have chosen take takes around 5 days for the initial brewing process in the fermenting container and then around 2 to 4 weeks in the barrel to allow the brew to clear and to develop into a smooth, clean tasting beer.
Stage 1 – Sterilise, sterilise, sterilise. (20 minutes)
The most important part of your preparation is ensuring that all of your equipment is clean and remember that even the smallest bacteria can throw off your beer’s flavour. However your new kit comes with some steriliser so you simply need to fill your fermentation bucket with warm water and throw in anything that will come into contact with your beer along with the 10 tea spoons of the powder included as instructed.
Whilst you are waiting, you can take the two cans from the beer kit and place in hot water for 5 minutes.
Stage 2 – Fermentation
With everything sterilised and you are ready to get cracking, first of all you need to pour the two cans into your nice clean fermentation vessel and the initial process is as easy as then adding 3.5 litres (6 pints) of boiling water and topping up to the 23 litres (40 pints) line whilst stirring away with a mischievous smile.
You need to remember that to work out exactly how strong your beer is you need to make a simple calculation of the original gravity (before fermentation) and the final gravity (after fermentation) so make sure you pop in your hydrometer and make a note of your reading for when your brew is finished.
Finally sprinkle on the yeast and forget about your big bucket of booze for 4-6 days.
The next stage involves transferring to a pressure keg from the kit and then leaving for a further two weeks, before finally getting to taste my first home brew. Stay tuned and I will let you know if this has been a learning curve, disaster or success.
Below is a useful to show how easy it is to get up and running with this kit and brew your own beer.
I transferred the brew to a keg using this video as a rough guide and waited a further two weeks before finally getting my hands on a pint. I’m really chuffed to let you all know that the beer tasted fantastic but must confessed to being slightly biased.
For anyone slightly interested in brewing their own beer, I can highly recommend this kit, although the initial set-up might seem quite expensive you soon get your money back with the more beer that you make. For example I have just noticed that Wilkinson’s currently have 20% off all home brew items and my next batch of 40 pints will only cost £16.99.