|Inside the ingredients box|
Of course there is also a sachet of yeast – one of the complexities in Brewbarrel's development was finding yeasts that would both work quickly and drop cleanly to the bottom once their work was done. And as well as a choice of golden or dark lagers, wheat beer (Weizen) and pale ale, you can specify additional flavourings, including extra hops. So while I tested a Dunkel with oak chips and honey, a homebrewer friend helped with another Dunkel and an extra-hoppy Weizen.
Now you just leave it at room temperature for five days to ferment – or you do, if you don't spot the extra bit in the instructions about inverting the keg for a few moments after the first 24 hours, in order to mix up and revitalise (rouse, in brewer-speak) the yeast. After five days, you put it in the fridge for two more days, this stops fermentation and helps the yeast settle to the bottom.
Sadly, I missed the 24-hour step with my honey-oak Dunkel, so despite a lively initial fermentation, the result after chilling was a fairly weak and sweet malt drink. Fortunately, rousing the yeast and refermenting for another five days or so seemed to do the trick, producing a very lively red-brown beer, malty and a bit sweet, not especially strong and with a dry grassy and faintly herbal bitter finish. I found the honey a bit too much, but some other tasters liked it a lot.
|Just a tad lively!|
In conclusion, Brewbarrel is an easy to use kit that produces decent beer, as long as you can follow instructions of course! 😞 It is a little pricey, with the basic £25 kit equating to around £3 a pint, and the beers are not going to frighten the horses, but it would make a fun gift and a good introduction for a potential homebrewer. It could also be a useful procrastination breaker for anyone suffering from "homebrewer's block" or a dispiriting run of bad brews.