Homebrewing is a popular and growing hobby. Instant gratification is nice, but there is something cool about tasting beer crafted through your own time and effort; beer that you boil, ferment, and bottle from the comfortable confines of your own home. The homebrewing process can take considerable practice to get it right and the necessary equipment can take time to find, but there is one alternative that budding homebrewers should consider. It’s called Craft a Brew, a homebrewing kit made with beginners in mind.
What You Get:
Craft a Brew is a (almost) complete kit with everything you need to make a small batch of beer. There are approximately 10 different kits available, representing different styles of beer. Each kit includes:
- One gallon carboy
- Racking cane
- Rubber Stopper
- Transfer Tubing
- Thumb Clamp
- Brewing bag
- Complete guide to brewing the beer
- Ingredients, including dry malt, hops, dry yeast, etc.
The basic ingredients are the same in all kits. What varies from one kit to the next are the ingredients. They vary based on the type of beer and can include different hop varieties, different types of malt, and sometimes special ingredients like wood chips, lactose, orange peel, and so on.
How it Works:
Craft a Brew is a homebrew kit made for rookies and the manufacturer designed it to be foolproof. The brewing guide is your personal bible for making beer, stepping you through the process and making sure to cover each detail, timing, and other important specifics. Nothing is left to guesswork- the instructions tell you everything you need to know, from the initial sanitization of your equipment all the way through to the bottling and aging.
Here at Great Beer Now, we have a modest amount of experience with brewing beer. It isn’t that we don’t like to brew beer, it’s just that the process takes considerable time and there is plenty of room for error. One false move, such as failing to keep stirring the boiling wort or not properly sanitizing, can ruin the batch of beer. And worst of all?- You don’t know you screwed up until you’ve completed the multi- week process and tasted the beer for the first time. If it didn’t turn out as expected and winds up undrinkable, you end up wasting a lot of valuable time.
Still, I like the Homebrew hobby and I like how Craft a Brew simplifies the process. You don’t have to run to the homebrew shop and search for dried malt, boiling hops, finishing, hops, yeast, racking canes, or anything else. The kit contains everything you need with the exception of the bottles. This makes it perfect for someone who wants to give homebrewing a try but is a little intimidated. When you’re brand new to homebrewing and you’re shopping for that first homebrewing kit, you’re bound to overlook something. With this kit, you have what you need to brew your first batch of beer.
That being said, Craft a Brew does have a few potential shortcomings. One thing that I didn’t prefer is the lack of a hydrometer. This is what homebrewers use to measure specific gravity. Without this, you have to estimate when the primary fermentation is complete. With Craft a Brew, they recommend waiting a specific number of days to ensure that the fermentation has finished. This generally works, but if you would rather be sure, you might want to supply your own hydrometer with the kit. Also, I wasn’t too keen on using table sugar to jump start the secondary fermentation. Again, it works and it’s good for beginners, but I would rather avoid added table sugar and use dried malt instead.
As far as the final product goes, well, it was okay but nothing incredible. I obtained the kit for Oak Aged India Pale Ale and I found the beer was a little sweeter than I prefer. The carbonation and color were good, but it was a little too sweet and not as bitter as I would have liked. However, experience means everything when it comes to homebrewing and now that I know what was wrong, I can tweak the next recipe a little to improve the flavor of the beer.
Craft a Brew is a good way to introduce interested individuals to the art of making beer. It has what you need to brew approximately one gallon of beer and the useful guide takes you by the hand and steps you through the process. Craft a Brew isn’t going to cut it for the experienced homebrewer, but it’s more than sufficient to satisfy the curiosity of budding homebrewers anxious to give this often rewarding hobby a try.