How much work is needed to brew kits?

The Homebrew Forum

Help Support The Homebrew Forum:

ericmark

Regular.
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
437
Reaction score
78
Location
Llanfair Caereinion, Mid Wales.
I started doing home brew around 2010 when my wife abandoned a brew she had started, I slowly learnt temperature was the key, a number of stalled brews due to getting too cold, and some rather bitter brews due to getting too hot, and when our fridge/freezer was condemned I moved from kitchen to garage, and used the old unit to brew in.

Now with temperature control I got no more stalled brews or bitter brews, each brew was same as last when using same kit, and any experiment I was sure results were due to what I had done, not simply too hot or too cold.

But on moving house realised Morrisons were doing 4 cans of bitter for 90p and considered was not worth the effort to set up again for home brew, being only 2% was good, it was a nice drink, which I could drink all night, with no after effects.

Then the Welsh government stepped in, price rocketed to £1.76 I think, so back to home brew. However no fridge/freezer to brew in, only a demo under floor heating tile and the thermostat so heating only, no cooling, and an old jacket to keep fermenter warm, using the flat unheated under the main house, so like brewing in a cave entrance. Never really hot or cold, but well under the 20ºC I want for brewing. So need the heat mat.

I have a hydrometer but never use it now, I just wait until air lock stops bubbling and then bottle in plastic pop bottles, so can test for over pressure, use only cold water tap as hot comes from tank in loft so may have bugs in it, wash fermenter with a sponge after each brew, but unless not starting a new one, no sanitizer of any sort, only use that if stopping brewing.

Very much minimum effort, pop bottles means only 12 bottles per fermenter, less with 3 litre bottles, so around 2 hours every three weeks gives me 2 pints a day. Which in the main is more than I drink, so stop brewing in summer until a cool day to start it.

In other words put in very little effort, and get a reasonable brew with one can kits and a bag of sugar, but 10 years ago when I started home brew used hydrometers, labelled every brew, recorded all I had done, tried using different amounts and types of sugar, and today beer is just as good with half the effort, as long as some temperature control it seems I get good results.

OK not looking for award winning, yes twin can gives a better beer, and using grain instead of kits may give more control, but for 40 pints is it worth it? OK if brewing 40 gallons very different, for one thing if 40 pints goes wrong only around £15 wasted, although not had one go wrong in ages, and the one that did go wrong, I know my error, tried larger and thought larger wasted around 12ºC not 20ºC but larger kits use tap water like any other kit, and aim is to get alcohol quickly which will kill any bugs, 12ºC OK when all water has been boiled, but not when using tap water.

And using tap water I expect every so often to get a failure, but touch wood, not as yet. So I take a very laid back approach to brewing, and it seems to work. Am I just lucky, or do others also use the laid back approach.
 

EsterBanana

Regular.
Joined
Oct 31, 2021
Messages
221
Reaction score
201
I am pretty sure all the modern conveniences are just that!

People have been brewing drinkable beer for centuries... good on you for keeping it cheap and cheerful, if you are happy, who is to say otherwise?

I probably fall somewhere in-between, I like to keep it simple, but also like the assurance of sanitisation products, swing top bottles, a thermometer, hydrometer and from what you have said, probably better quality kits.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
9,401
Reaction score
17,425
Location
Maidstone, Kent
There’s nothing wrong with your approach, it suits you and you’re happy with the results.

If the beers are just OK though, a bit more effort might result in great beers rather than good beers, even with kits.

Different types of beers can be more or less difficult to brew well. Very hoppy beers like NEIPAs would be more difficult to brew well and likely to oxidise quickly.

Kits are great but someone else has done much of the work. Many people like the satisfaction of having produced the beer themselves.

Some people like the process of formulating their own recipes and experimenting. The brewing process can be as enjoyable as drinking the beers.

It’s horses for courses.
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2020
Messages
2,603
Reaction score
5,340
I’m still reeling after reading “4 cans of bitter for 90p” !!
in brewing I find it’s whatever makes you happy so why change because someone else says their way is better ?
 

Beermonster66

Regular.
Joined
Sep 15, 2021
Messages
214
Reaction score
75
Location
West Central Scotland
I've gone a wee bit further in terms of kit : 2 FVs and a bottling bucket, auto-siphon & bottling stick, VWP cleaner & Chemsan and finally a stainless steel mesh dry hop can. This is from a standing start in May this year. I've done 6 kits, all "premium" and I'm happy enough with the results. I also started off using 2ltr plastic pop bottles but I have found that since all of the kits have been IPAs, some are not really session ales at >6% ABV so have bought 48 x 500ml PET bottles so will be using them from now on. It does take longer to bottle but if it means my stock will last longer I'm happy to spend the extra time at that stage. I am lucky in that I have a spare bathroom in which to brew, no windows and temp is more or less constant 22-23°C. I follow some of the AG threads on here and I am fascinated but I just don't have the time or money to invest in the proper kit to give that a go myself. I'll be staying with kits for the time being.
 
Joined
Oct 11, 2019
Messages
371
Reaction score
202
I remember my Dad brewing Beer back in the 70/80s, he would get the Boots own kits for bitter and (Caxton?) Stout, wash out everything with washing up liquid and bleach, no readings, white for bitter brown sugar for the stout, the first beers I ever tried, I helped with the capping, was it the best beer ever or best he could of brewed? Of course not, in my memory it was though! but he was happy with it as a home beer and a few hours hobby, you could afford to go to the pub for a real ale (then!). Kits, sanitation, equipment and knowledge are all much better now, but the beauty of this hobby is you can get into it as much as you want to there’s nothing wrong with kits and a bucket, keep the costs down and enjoy what you brew! If you fancy tweaking a kit go for it. I brew a few kits and small batch extract and all grain, some think 1 or 2 gallons not worth the effort, but each to their own! Cheers
 
Joined
Jan 5, 2015
Messages
4,888
Reaction score
2,764
Location
Swansea
fortunately the welsh govt minimum pricing didn't effect what I bought but I did notice some of the beer I used to drink went up in price. SA Gold I still buy the odd one at 4.2% which is £1.05 under minimum pricing but last time I bought it is was £1.12 in lidl.

if you enjoy what you brew and its cheap, excellent - win win.athumb..

if you are an uber hop head that option isn't available. You are then entitled to look down smugly at those who are. I often putaround £12-£18 worth of hops along in my beers. :oops:
 

trummy

Regular.
Joined
Feb 25, 2017
Messages
432
Reaction score
265
Location
East Midlands
I only use 2 can kits - for the extra £5 -7 and no extra work apart from opening an extra can I think its a no brainer. I have now got 6 or so brews to have a go at when I feel like it, and there are very few beers pub bought that are better - and even less bottled. But its everyone to their own so enjoy.
I have tried bottling the last two brews before they have totally worked out, and have found the final carbonation to be more reliable. Apparently thats how Proper Job is treated. I need to do a couple more really to prove that it is a reliable method.
 
Joined
Jan 5, 2015
Messages
4,888
Reaction score
2,764
Location
Swansea
I only use 2 can kits - for the extra £5 -7 and no extra work apart from opening an extra can I think its a no brainer. I have now got 6 or so brews to have a go at when I feel like it, and there are very few beers pub bought that are better - and even less bottled. But its everyone to their own so enjoy.
I have tried bottling the last two brews before they have totally worked out, and have found the final carbonation to be more reliable. Apparently thats how Proper Job is treated. I need to do a couple more really to prove that it is a reliable method.

I have often bottled before fg is achieved, I just reduce the amount of priming sugar accordingly. There are one or 2 brewfferm kits (their stronger beers) where you dont add priming sugar
 

MalcB

Active Member
Joined
May 10, 2021
Messages
56
Reaction score
50
Location
Poole Dorset
Tesco and Asda sell four packs around 2% for a quid or less in England. And Banks’s is widely available at 3.8% for 89p a bottle. The 2% stuff tastes better than any 0% I’ve yet tried, ok if I really want to keep the alcohol low. I’m quite happy with Banks’s as my default beer. And I get a free reusable bottle for home brew. So I brew beer for the fun of it and for a change, I’m not a fussy beer drinker and I steer a middle course on the preparation - reasonable precautions but no stressing.
Also brew wine in moderation plus turbo cider. (And kombucha and kefir and apple cider vinegar 😄)
 

ericmark

Regular.
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
437
Reaction score
78
Location
Llanfair Caereinion, Mid Wales.
Thank you for all the replies, I agree with @trummy two can kits are better, however so is Adams Broadside, and that is ready made. I have when Morrisons were selling really cheap kits tried two cans instead of a can and sugar, and again yes better beer.

What as yet not tried is reducing to 30 pints and no sugar, not sure on low alcohol from kits, as not sure how well they will keep?

It is for most impossible to do it all yourself, even the breweries rarely do it all, some one else grows the grain, and also often the malting, so we select what bits to DIY, and main thing is to do enough to make it tax free.

auto-siphon
Now that is interesting, my son bought me a box of swing top bottles, they do look more presentable if I have visitors, but dark glass, pain to fill as can't see level, whole idea of swing top is auto pressure release if it gets too much, however often find they have released too much.

I also started off using 2ltr plastic pop bottles but I have found that since all of the kits have been IPAs, some are not really session ales at >6% ABV so have bought 48 x 500ml PET bottles so will be using them from now on.
That is one reason for using pop bottles, I can drink what I want, and leave rest for next day, the 3 ltr ex coke bottles however are not much good unless you leave some, pouring out once or twice OK, but three of four times and likely disturb the sediment. But any bottle with flexible side means you can test without opening if too much pressure, and release if there is.

temp is more or less constant 22-23°C.
That seems a little high, I will start at around 19°C after a few days then 22-23°C is OK, but does depend on the kit, the Australian kits seem to work with higher temperature. When I started no temperature control, in kitchen and night around 17°C day 21°C brew would start OK, but often stall as I was using a stick on temperature strip, which shows some where between ambient temperature and brew temperature. It would show 19-20°C during the day, but when I started to use a temperature probe held against the fermenter with a sponge for insulation, I realised the true temperature was often warmer or cooler than the stick on indicator showed.

I also tested in centre of brew, and under a sponge held against the fermenter and only 0.5°C difference. So not worth risk of contamination having it in the brew.

The other was where heated, the demo under floor heating tile heats bottom of fermenter and causes thermals in the brew so all brew heated, a belt however leaves bottom cold.

Tesco and Asda sell four packs around 2% for a quid or less in England.
Did not know that, must look for it. I still pick up beer when I visit England as don't feel safe brewing such low alcohol beer, it may go off.

I did look at drink by dates, a bit surprised, IPA and Larger are designed to keep, that was the whole idea, yet dates don't seem any longer than other beers.

I tried kit wine, 6 bottles for £12 not far of what I can get ready made for, however the probation range of liqueurs around same price but at 20% tasting like tia maria or quantro far more worth while, but takes a long time would like to do 40 pints not 5 pints then split into demijohns just before adding flavour.

Saltney just outside Chester and Shrewsbury had good brew shops, where you could get the flavours, and yeasts, but both seem to have closed, so now coed y dinas (Charlies) is local supplier, and limited what is on sale.

plus turbo cider
Don't know what turbo cider is? I tried with my own apples, rather dry, and took ages, had to add sugar to drink it, likely need to stop the fermenting at set point, but the crust means no way to use a hydrometer, used juicer not crushed.

The 5 day kits are very good, beer was useless but cider was good, early drunk sweeter it is, leave it too long and very dry.

But realised with kit beer the temperature is very important, too cool it stalls, to warm a bitter after taste, anyway made me thirsty, so going down to get 3 ltr bottle.
 
Top