A great introduction to all-grain brewing: @BrewUK CraftyBrews – Stove Topper Kit Tasting

20150607_193335Well this has been a long time in coming hasn’t it?

It’s because Saison is such a funny old beast when it comes to fermentation and the particular Belle Saison yeast that came with this kit never really seemed to stop going – In fact it kept on trucking (with a few fits and starts) to a respectable 1007

Mind you, it took nearly four weeks to do that.  Saisons are fickle fermenters, ain’t no doubt about that.

See recipe and method here: https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/04/30/a-great-introduction-to-all-grain-brewing-brewuk-craftybrews-stove-topper-kit/

Pouring a lovely hazy halcyon yellow with a virginal white head that stays for a quite a while – before wisping off to a soapy looking covering, this beer’s as pretty as a picture.

In the nose there’s that gentle phenolic note, with a light underscoring of citrus… I think Eve puts it well: “it’s clean and not like ‘dirty pub beer'”.  I also got some light floral themes with some sweet hay…flowery meadows?  Very summery.

The carbonation was nice (well done, me), and the taste was subtly malty with some fruitiness and a very special spiciness…a lingering and quenching bitterness rides in on it’s tail to make sure you drink more.

The finish is both juicy and dry, if that makes any sense…whether it does or not I don’t care.  It’s damn good.

This was a very nice recipe indeed and an absolute joy to make. Well done Greg and co. at BrewUK, I hope you sell this kit by the boatload, as it delivers in spades.

England, my England how long will it be before you fall in love with Saison?  It’s lighter and more approachable than the hefty Belgian beers, sweeter and more satisfying than some of those malty old bitters and sexier than thumpy-chest hop-bomb IPAs…

Get in to Saison now and get some summer love going on.

On Test: @WoodfordesAle Wherry – Beer Kit (second attempt), tasting notes

20150117_200509After the rather disappointing result from my first attempt at a Woodfordes canned kit*, I’m back with results of my second attempt.  And what a difference another attempt makes…

I did exactly the same as I did last time: the same procedure, the same cleanliness regime, the same vessels, etc.  I let it go for two weeks in the fermenter and then 10 days conditioning n the cornelius keg.  Here’s what it came out like:

A nice mahogany colour, with exceptionally good head retention…I mean really good.  The head stays right to the bottom the of the all-too-frequently empty glass.

Aroma-wise, I’m not blown away – but it’s a bitter, and I’m happy enough with the malty pleasantness of it.

The mouth feel is good (I did make the kit up a couple of pints short for this reason), with a splendid orangey maltiness in the taste that segues into a nice residual sweetness and a good long bitterness.

It’s obviously not as fresh as an all-grain, as it’s been in the tin for a bit and it’s a hopped, boiled and (I guess) reduced wort…but saying that every single person that I’ve served it to was genuinely surprised that it came out of a can and wasn’t either shop-bought or made from scratch.

…and they all, without exception, asked for another pint….

So there we go.  Canned kits, if made with care and looked after well are more than acceptable ways of making good beer at home.  Jeez if brewing quantities of good beer is this easy, why aren’t more people doing it.?

I really must thank Rachel and co. at Woodfordes for sending me another kit to have another go at.  Without that I might have written kits off of as the poor relations in the homebrewing world.

(*https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/03/20/on-test-woodfordesale-wherry-beer-kit-tasting/ I’ve still no why that one turned out like it did.  It’s a mystery and seems in no way to be Woodfordes fault)

Beer Kit: Dark Star Festival Ale All Grain Kit from @BrewUK – Tasting notes

20141006_205449Until I’ve taken a picture of the finished product, you’ll have to make do with a picture of it being kegged

Well.  Hasn’t it been a long time since I made this https://yeastismybitch.com/2014/09/23/beer-kit-dark-star-festival-ale-all-grain-kit-from-brewuk/?  (23rd September, in fact) and hasn’t it been a long time since I promised the tasting notes..?

So here they are:

From the keg, the Festival Ale pours a really good-looking dark-brown colour with an awful lot of head (I’ve just bought a new keg tap from Greg at BrewUK http://www.brewuk.co.uk/cornelius-stainless-taps.html and I’m still experimenting with keg pressure to get it to pour nicely.)

Once the head has settled down to an acceptable level, the aroma is very fruity indeed (and that’s “fruity” in a good way) I suspect that this has a lot to do with the temperature during fermentation – the last gasp of summer forced it up to the low 20’s Centigrade, whereas I would have much preferred 19C or lower.

The body is first-class and the taste is all lovely and malty.  The yeast notes come in after the malt and help to round out out the taste very nicely; and right at the very end, and continuing into the after-taste, a very smooth bitterness splices itself in and helps to encourage further consumption.

All in all this is a very good kit indeed…and if you want to make it the best you possibly can, splurge on the fancy liquid yeast option (WYeast 1098 or White Labs 005) and -unlike me- try to keep the fermentation temperature under control!

PS: I’d also like to confirm that the Braumeister system makes these kits a breeze and produces a very nice beer indeed…