A few weeks ago I was contacted by Midwest Supplies about reviewing a brew kit for them. It’s been a while since I brewed (or blogged for that matter, sorry about that) and I figured why not? So I asked them to send me their “Hex Nut Brown Ale” kit because I’ve been wanting to do a vanilla nut brown ale like Landmark Brewing used to do (my wife ordered some bourbon vanilla beans so that was my motivation). It arrived last week and this was what was in the box:
It was Wyeast 1056, (worked like a charm, one of my fears of mail order supplies has always been how will the yeast make the trip, but this was great), amber malt extract, mix of un-crushed grains, priming sugar, a grain steeping bag and directions.
Just some quick review for anyone that hasn’t brewed before, a kit beer is simply a set of supplies that come together and make a pre-figured kind of beer. It’s not like Mr. Beer kits or anything, this kit requires some of the brewing supplies in a beginners brew kit (here is one from Midwest), but it’s a great way to get started. I for one have been brewing primarily all-grain beer for the last four or five years, but when I am pressed for time, I like to do an extract brew. Beer kits are not much different than following a recipe, the only difference is everything is in the box. The people that come up kit types know their beer so it’s a safe bet and cost effective.
There are basically two different ways to brew extract beer; partial boil or full boil. This is determined by your personal situation, a partial boil works well for a stove top brewing and does a fine job. It consists of brewing in a smaller volume (8-12 quart pot) and adding the concentrate into your bucket with cold water. This acts to get your volume where it needs to be and also cools the mix pretty much to the point of being ready to pitch.
Full boil consists of brewing everything in a pot large enough to safely boil 5 gallons of wort. The trick here is you have to both have the vessel to boil in and a means to cool the brew. These chillers can be an expensive addition to a brew buy for someone that is just getting started, but worth it if you intend on brewing long-term.
With me, I have all the supplies for full boil that these instructions are based on that. Here is my summary of extract brewing steps:
- Heat 5 gallons of water to 150-160f
- Steep your crushed grains (in the grain steeping bag of course) in the heated water like a tea bag for about a half hour
- Remove the grains, squeeze out what liquid you can, pour the malt extract into the pot stirring to ensure that it dissolves into the liquid
- Return to heat and bring to a boil
- Once you reach a boil, add the first hops (watch out for boil overs)
- Continue to boil for an hour adding your second (and third and fourth…as needed) hops at the times indicated by the recipe
- Chill, sanitize (your equipment), pitch, and wait
That’s it. Simple enough. In the next post I’ll follow up with my notes on the brew day with this kit. More to come, cheers.