It’s a pretty grey and chilly Saturday, and my barrel of St Peters Ruby Red Ale is nearly out, so a good time to get brewing another beer kit - whilst I wait for the rugby to start on telly!
This time, I choose a beer I’ve not made before, a fairly new kit on the market from Muntons, who make a lot of beer kits, this is from their 2022 Flagship Range, the Hazy IPA.
I’m a big fan of hoppy, hazy, bright orange craft beer, so I’m looking forward to seeing what this one comes out like. Hazy, Zesty and Fruity the box says, fingers crossed and all that.
So, the brown box looks quite minimal, no glossy pictures, inside we have 4 foil sachets of hop pellets, some Safale S-04 ale yeast, always a good sign, and a hop sock.
Underneath this little compartment, 2 large cans of the malt extract – nothing unusual so far, except perhaps the hops, at least twice as much as I’ve seen included with a kit before.
So, I’m going to follow the instructions exactly, first thing to do is warm the 2 cans up in a bowl of hot tap water for 5-10 minutes.
While they warm up, I sterilise my bucket, spoon, hydrometer, trial jar and thermometer with Sodium Metabisulphate, and then put the kettle on.
I open the cans, and pour as much of the sticky gloop out into my bucket, and then pour an inch or 2 or boiling water into each of the empty cans, and the rest of the kettle in the bucket. Put the kettle on again.
Give the water in the cans a good swirl around, the cans get pretty hot, so use a tea towel or something. We’re trying to dissolve the remaining malt extract into the water, so I get my plastic spoon in there and get it all mixed in. Pour it all into the bucket, and the 2nd kettle of boiling water as well.
Now I give it all a good stir, at first, the thick malt extract puts up a fight, but as it mixes with the boiling water, it gets easier to stir. After a minute or so, I’m pretty sure it’s all mixed in, so I fill up the bucket to the 20 litre mark with cold tap water.
Now, when I get to 20l, I’m going to need the water to be between 18 and 22 degrees, today is pretty cold outside and the tap water is also cold, so what I do is take a temperature check when I’m a litre or 2 short. If the wort is looking a little cold, then your last litre might need to be from the kettle.
Anyway, mine is at 21 degrees, bang on the money, so I take a hydrometer reading, 1.046, also bang on!
Now, the instructions simply say to sprinkle the Safale S-04 Ale Yeast onto the top, and leave it somewhere fairly warm for 24 hours.
24 hours on, and I have had quite a good start to the fermentation, plenty of white frothy foam is sitting on top of the wort, too early to call it beer yet I 'spect.
So, the instructions say to add some hops today, the beer kit came with 2 sachets of Citra, 2 sachets of Mosaic, and I'm going to add 1 sachet of each.
Simply snip the top off the foil pouch and sprinkle them onto the white fluffy head, no stirring or anything, they'll quickly soak up liquid and gently sink down into the wort.
These 2 hops are pretty much the most commonly found hops used in craft brewing, and in fact they're even being used by the traditional breweries as well nowadays.
Individually they give some serious flavour and aroma to the beer, think tropical citrus fruits, mango, pineapple, orange, these kind of flavours.
Together, hops bring different flavours and profiles to the table, it's the blending and timings that makes craft beer so difficult to make, and so good to drink!
Anyway, at this early stage of our brew, these hops added today are for bittering and adding flavour to the liquid only.
The instructions now suggest leaving the beer where it is for another 10 days, but I'll keep an eye on it every few days, more in anticipation than anything else!
I'm now onto Stage 3, 10 days into the brew of this Hazy IPA beer kit.
The instructions for today, pretty simple again, we're now going to add the other 2 sachets of hops to the beer.
Snip the foil packets open, and just sprinkle them onto the top. These hops are going to give a slightly different addition to my beer. Now that the fermentation is (mostly) complete, they're going to add much more delicate and subtle flavours and aromas. During the initial ferment, these subtle additions would be lost due to the yeast activity overwhelming them!
Now, I leave for another 4 days for these to do their magic. Day 14, another Saturday, will be the most intensive work day for this beer kit, I'll be both bottling and barrelling, so I'm going to have to start finding 20 used beer bottles - and do some washing up!
Time for the final stages of this Hazy IPA beer kit, and I've sterilised 20 beer bottles, my King Keg barrel, simple siphon and long spoon with Sodium Metabisulphate.
I using a mixture of glass swing-top bottles, and Coppers plastic beer bottles here, both of which have been used loads of times before.
I tie my hop sock onto the rigid end of my simple siphon, and put this end into my bucket of beer, which is on the kitchen counter.
With the barrel on the floor, a little suck on the siphon tube starts the flow of beer.
Once I have a few inches of beer in the keg, I add 200 grams of light spraymalt, this will give me my secondary fermentation, which is going to happen in the keg and bottles.
and give it a good stir to dissolve it, with my long plastic steralised spoon!
I could have used sugar at this stage instead, or beer enhancer. There are a few options, and in this video, Davin goes through the advantages for different types of sugar in brewing beer.
Once all the beer in the keg, I can get rid of my (very) dirty bucket, and get the keg up onto the counter.
Now, I'm going to simply fill my bottles up directly from the keg. I could have used my bottling bucket and little bottler to do this, and here is a video we did on a VineCo wine kit, where we use this this excellent product some time ago.
I've printed out 20 very simple labels for my beer bottles, which I stick on after putting steralised caps on.
So, notice the ABV there, 4.5%, which I calculated from the Original Gravity, OG, 1.046, and Final Gravity, FG, 1.012. Slightly lower than the 5% Muntons say I should get, but, never mind!
This was a 20 litre, 35 pint, beer kit. After filling 20 beer bottles, that's 10 litres, and I think 1 probably lost 2 litres to sludge at the bottom of my bucket, so I should have about 8 litres, 15 pints maybe, left in my keg.
That's it for today, apart from some washing up. I'll be putting the keg and bottles back into my warm room for 2 weeks, following the instructions, for a really good secondary fermentation and conditioning.
After that, chill the bottles for a few hours in the fridge, and enjoy!
I'm interested to see if this Hazy IPA keeps it's haze, so I'll pop a picture on here in a few weeks for you to see, I hope it does, because craft beer should be hazy, the haze has loads of flavour, and if you use finings to remove it, you will loose some flavour.
I know traditional ales are meant to be crystal clear, and the thought of a cloudy pint may put you off, but I urge you to try craft beer, the flavours, aromas and experience is incredible!
Most people will have tried Brewdog's Punk IPA before, and this kit should be fairly close to that. Other commonly available beers to try would be Beavertowns Gamma Ray, Northern Monks Faith and Dutty by Tiny Rebel, which is excellent.
If you like these, then PLEASE check out your local independent craft brewery, tap room and bottle shops, they sure need a lot of support right now!
more to follow, as it conditions!