Aug 252011
 

Milestone Black Pearl Irish Stout.

Milestone is a craft brewery located in Newark, Nottinghamshire in the UK. They produce and distribute fine real ales have won many prestigious awards over the years.
The milestone brewery produces real ale beer kits that are modelled on ales that are brewed at the brewery. Milestone black pearl Irish stout can be bought in bottles from the brewery or you can make it yourself. This is kit is described as “Authentic Irish Stout. Dark & Mysterious” and is made with premium malted barley and hops. This a 3kg kit which makes 40 pints of the black stuff. The kit costs around £22, which works out at 55 pence a pint. The kit is made up of two cans of extract and a sachet of ale yeast.

Brewing.

This kit is extremely easy to make. The two cans of extract were warmed up in pans of hot boiled water (the heat was removed after the water had boiled).  After five mins the cans were opened with a sterilised can opener and the contents were empted into a sterilised fermenter.The cans were then topped up with hot boiled water and stirred to dissolve any remaining extract. The water/extract mixture was then poured into the fermenter. The mixture was then stirred and topped up with cold water to the 40 pint mark. The temperature of the wort was 22°c. The specific gravity was measured with my hydrometer and measured 1040. The yeast was then sprinkled onto the wort and the fermenter lid with air lock was put on. The wort smelled really malty as did the whole kitchen and I was looking forward to drinking this stout.


The fermentation of this brew was vigorous and a large foamy head formed quickly and was pressed against the lid of the fermenter. The airlock had to be removed and changed twice as the brew forced its way out!. After 5 days fermentation was over and the FG was 1010. The beer was then batch primed see here and syphoned into my keg. The beer was left to carbonate and condition for four weeks.

Taste and conclusion.

The waiting was killing me but I did wait the full four weeks before tasting. When I opened the tap on the keg and poured the first pint I chuckled to myself. The beer smelled like a class Irish stout, and poured like one too, pitch black with a storm of white as the beer settled. The head was thick and creamy, the beer had good carbonation. The taste was rich and smooth with a good body. There are hints of liquorish and chocolate in the taste mixed with the an authentic Irish stout taste. The head remained all the way to the bottom and I quickly poured another one. This kit is highly recommended and I have made FOUR batches of this beer. Want some authentic black stuff? Look no further.


Aug 252011
 

Muntons smuggler’s premium ale

Well to give this kit its full title its a munton’s premium gold, smuggler’s special premium ale. The kit consists of two cans of extract which weighs in at 3.6kg and a sachet of yeast. The kit costs around £25 which works out at 62p a pint. Muntons blurb says “A light, malty beer balanced with choice aromatic and bittering hops. Muntons Premium Gold beer kits are produced from carefully selected and malted English 2-row barley, blended with hops supplied by England’s most renowned hop growers”. When this kit was bought  I had great expectations, for two reasons really. These were the fact that this kit is the most expensive I have bought, and any review you care to mention is a rave one.

Brewing.

This kit is another easy one to do. Empty the warm contents of the cans into the fermenter,mix with boiling water, top up with water to the correct temperature, pitch the yeast and your away. The fermentation on this baby was riotous, it started within a few hours and was off. The foam created on the brew kept expanding until it touched the fermenter lid. It stopped short of shooting out of the airlock which was a relief. The fermentation lasted five days. The brew was batch primed with light dry malt extract instead of dextrose, and syphoned into my top tap keg. After two weeks a little glass of beer was taken out of my keg, and the beer was cloudy. Two weeks further on another glass was sampled and the beer was still cloudy. The beer finally cleared the week after, so in total it took 5 weeks to clear. Not too bad I suppose, but as I have said before the hardest part of home brewing is waiting.


Taste and conclusion 

This kit does what it says on the tin , it is a premium ale. The taste is slightly bitter and malty, has a great body and is very smooth. It reminded me of some good ales you can buy off the shelf or in the pub. The carbonation and creamy head are fantastic. I will definitely be making this one again, um and again. I really was gutted when the keg was finished. Expensive, but worth it, you do get what you pay for.

 

Aug 252011
 

St. Peter’s Ruby Red Ale

This is a two can 3kg kit which is made under licence by muntons. The St. peters ruby red ale kit emulates the ale which can be bought in your local supermarket. The blurb states”  a tawny red ale with subtle malt undertones and a distinctive spicy hop aroma from Cascade”. The kit costs around £22 which works out at 55p a pint. This kit comes with 2 cans of extract, a sachet of yeast and a sachet of hops. There are two other kits in this range which are St. Peter’s Golden ale and St. Peter’s IPA. I am a fan of darker ales so i decided to try the ruby red ale first.

Brewing.

This kit does not need any extra sugar or malt extract. This makes this type of kit one of the easiest to make for the home brewer. The two cans were warmed in boiling water and added to a sterilised fermenter. The empty cans were filled with boiling water to dissolve the last remnants of extract in the cans, and this too was added to the fermenter. There was enough water in the cans to mix the brew adequately, so no further boiling water was added. The fermenter was then topped up to the 23litre mark to the correct temperature. The hops were then sprinkled onto the brew along with the yeast. The lid was put on the fermenter, and the fermenter put in my usual place in my “brewing cupboard”. I didn’t take a starting gravity for the brew, there was no point as the only ingredients were the kit.

The beer happily fermented over 7 days and the final gravity was around 1.014. The beer was batch primed with the correct amount of dextrose and added to my keg. I did bottle some in 4 bottles just to make a comparison of taste between the keg and bottle. The beer was left for two weeks to condition. The beer cleared quickly so i did have a few “testers” before the 4 weeks were up.

Taste and conclusion.

This beer tasted great! The taste is smooth with a great balance between maltiness and hop bitterness. Its hard to describe in words how much I enjoyed this beer. The carbonation on the beer was great. The head on the beer was like an ice cream and remained on the beer to the bottom of the glass. The beer looked more brown with a red tinge than pure red. The beer that was bottled was equally nice just a tad more carbonated. This kit is at the expensive end of the market and to be honest you can see why, it is a premium beer. I would of liked to compare this homebrew to the shop bought version, but I didn’t get chance. I would like to bet though the hombrew is very near the real thing. The only problem with this beer is that 40 pints goes very quickly, it is very quaffable. This is a kit I can recommend and one I will be making again. Easy to make- very very easy to polish off!


Aug 242011
 

Coopers European lager.

This kit form cooper’s costs around £13 and is 1.7kg. The coopers blurb says” Coopers European Lager captures the style of the finest quality lagers exported from Northern Europe. Serve well chilled in a tall, narrow glass with a generous head of 5cm or so and savour the herbaceous hop aroma and crisp finish. For the best results mix with 1 kg of Coopers Brew Enhancer 2 and store for at least 12 weeks in the bottle prior to drinking. This kit was purchased on impulse as the shop had run out of mexican cerveza (see above). The 12 week conditioning required was putting me off, but what the hell eh? Cost of kit and ingredients was £18.30 which works out at 45p a pint.

Brewing.

This lager kit comes with a packet of lager yeast so has to be fermented at a lower temperature. The brew was mixed as usual (500gms dextrose and 500gms of light spray malt) and not with the recommended coopers brew enhancer 2. The fermenter was placed in my usual brewing cupboard and covered with a wet towel to keep the temperature at 19°c. The beer took two weeks to ferment and was rather inactive through the airlock, with only a few bubbles every now and then. The beer was then bottled with the required amount of priming sugar, and left for required 12 weeks, the hardest part of making this kit!


Taste and conclusion.

To be honest i did try a “few” bottles after 8 weeks and it tasted great. The carbonation was fine and it did have a decent head. It tastes like a lager and competes with anything supermarket bought. I did a taste test with a famous belgian lager and there was no real difference, in fact people preferred my homebrew! Next time i make a batch of this lager it would benefit from some hop addition, just to give it a little bit more clout. I still have a few bottles left and to be honest i have drank one while writing this review. Conclusion – Harder to make, but well worth the effort.


Aug 242011
 

Munton’s Connoisseurs Continental Lager.

This kit from munton’s costs slightly more at around £16 and is a 1.8kg kit. Munton’s describe this beer “This is a light amber hoppy lager modelled on the full-bodied beer available across mainland Europe. Serve chilled to appreciate its rich character.” The cost of kit and ingredients is £20.30 which works out at 50p a pint. The kit comes with its own packet of yeast which is an ale yeast and not a lager yeast so again the fermentation temperature is easier to control.

Brewing.
This again is an easy kit to mix and make.  The first thing i noticed when making this beer is the colour. When i added the extract i found it to be very dark and not as light as a lager should look, maybe it will lighten when the water is added, i thought to myself. I added the usual 500gms of dextrose and 500gms of light spray malt, topped up the fermenter to the usual 23 litres and the colour remained dark. When fermentation had finished it was bottled,with the bottles primed with dextrose. The beer was left to condition for 2 weeks.

Taste and conclusion. 
I opened a chilled bottle and the beer was nicely carbonated. The colour was still dark. When i say dark it looked like an ale rather than the usual straw lager colour as it shows on the tin. The taste of this beer was more of an ale taste than a lager. It reminded me somewhat of carlsberg special brew, a drink i am not a fan of.  Then i had a thought why it tasted like this. Is it that this is how it should taste, or did i do something different during the brewing process? The only thing that was changed was the steriliser, as i had run out of my usual and had bought another brand. On returning to my brew shop i enquired with the owner regarding the steriliser that was used, and he confirmed that indeed it could of been this. I am not so sure! Having only ever made one batch of this beer and wouldn’t make another, its still an unanswered question, although saying that it all got drank! Conclusion – easy to make, one i can’t recommend.


Aug 242011
 

Coopers Mexican Cerveza.

This is the first kit i ever made and started me on a long road of homebrewing. This kit is a good place to start for a first brew.

The kit is 1.7kg of malt extract and costs around £12, it comes with instructions and a packet of yeast, which is an ale yeast , so the ferment temperature is easier to control.

The coopers blurb reads “Mexico is known for its arid lands, dusty conditions and oppressive heat. So it is not surprising that the people of Mexico are expert at quenching a thirst. Coopers Mexican Cerveza (beer) emulates the style of the finest quality beers exported from Mexico. This premium beer is light in style with a fresh clean taste, ideally served ice-cold with a wedge of lime or lemon”.

Brewing.

This brew is easy to make. The ingredients required for this beer are 500gms dextrose and 500grms light dry spray malt extract.

The dextrose will cost you around £1.50 for a Kg  and £3.80 for the dry malt extract. Total cost of brew is £17.30 for 40 pints which works out at around 43p a pint!!

The kit is easy to mix and all you do is as in the basic brewing pages and bung it all in the fermenter,mix with boiling water and top up with water to the right temperature, then pitch the yeast.The beer takes around 5 days to ferment. This beer is better bottled, so you can use your left over dextrose to prime the bottles. The beer when bottled does not smell like mexican cerveza, such as corona, but this did change. The beer should be left to condition in the bottles for around 2 weeks, but you can “test” a few after a week to see how they are doing. For best results leave as long as you can in the bottle.


Taste and conclusion.

The finished beer is well carbonated and is very like the usual mexican cerveza, such as sol or corona. This beer though is a little different tasting and can be enjoyed by any beer drinker, especially when its chilled on a sunny day. I can recommend this beer as i have made a number of batches and have never been disappointed. The only problem you might have is getting hold of it, as when i was in my local brew shop last week there was no stock and the owner was having trouble getting hold of any, Bugger! Conclusion- easy to make and easier to drink!


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