The following post is a review of Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Everyday IPA from Uncommon Goods.
Back in 3100 BC – give or take a few hundred years – when the inventors of beer left grain out in the rain, and then dared their friend to drink it, the first beer was made. Thousands of years later, it’s still a favorite; it helps relax folks after a rough case of the Mondays, and by golly, it just tastes delicious.
So when given the opportunity to brew some of my own, I took it. And why not? I love a good house-wifey challenge. Besides, Manny and I had been wanting to take on this new venture for some time, what better than a kit specifically designed to do so?
Consuming Beer, A History
First, a little background on my beer drinking palate:
In college, I was a hoarder of Bud Light cans, as they don’t clink in one’s purse. Also, they were cheap and didn’t taste too badly. Then during the summer after graduation, I went on a six-week trip to Germany, where per-volume, alcohol is cheaper than water. Here my palate was expanded, and I was introduced to an array of richer, warmer flavors of beer.
Because my German was shotty – Ich will ein Bier, bitte – I would either find a bartender that spricht Englisch, or order a Diesel (half cola, half beer, and 100 percent more delicious than it sounds). While, in the liquor store, I chose brands by their labels, though some of the worst tastes were packaged with majestic-looking animals.
Then I met Manny, lover of microbrews and the IPA, and have been hooked ever since. Much like the cowbell, there’s no such thing as too much hops. *
The Brewing Process
The Brooklyn Brew Shop Everyday IPA kit comes in a nice little box, with everything you need to make a 12-pack of home-brewed IPA bottles. But be sure to read all of the directions and pick up everything you need before starting or you’ll need your Mom’s wire strainer at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday. Also, be sure you have enough time, as the first process takes some time, not necessarily in effort, but the wert does take some time to cook.
To get started, we sanitized, boiled water, and added the grain. Other than stirring and checking the temperature, your involvement is pretty limited here. Then, we strained the wert and strained the grain of all liquid. (Or tried our best. We purchased the largest strainer we could find and still couldn’t fit all the grain. This resulted in straining/pouring in two parts, rotating back and forth between the two – it was a mess.) Then it was time to re-heat and gradually add hops – my favorite part by far. The whole house smelled of warm, hop-py goodness, but not in a boozy kind of way. Though tedious (one fifth of the hops are added intermittently while heating and stirring), this part was quite easy.
Then the brew cooled, went into its fermenting jug, and into the broom closet to let off some gas. And wait … for two whole weeks.
In the mean time I had some reflections:
- One of my biggest complaints about the kit is that it didn’t come with a booklet of instructions. There were videos online and how-tos on the company’s website, but that meant I had to keep my computer on the counter for this very messy process. Seeing pictures and step-by-step cartoons would have made this kit 90 percent less stressful.
- Do any kitchen stores sell a two-gallon strainer? For home brews and economy mac and cheese packs?
- Invite a friend over if you want pictures of the cooking process – this is a four-hand process at all times.
During this time I also collected 12 glass beer bottles, borrowed caps and a capper from friends, and checked every so often to make sure the sanitizer level hadn’t evaporated on the jug’s air lock lid.
(And did some online shopping http://www.uncommongoods.com/occasions/birthday-gifts.)
Then, it was time to bottle
This is where it gets tricky. You have to fill up your kit hose with sanitizer water, use it’s suction to get the beer flowing, but not combine the sanitized water with the beer. (Read that again if you have to, I did.)
First it went into a pot so most of the yeast could be separated from the beer. Manny was in charge of the hose, while I stood on a kitchen chair, hoisting the jug at shoulder level – we needed gravity to make the siphoning work. If it stops you have to start over, and there’s no slowing down the flow. It took us a few tries.
Then once in the pot, we used the same siphoning method to place the beer into bottles. Only the hose lock didn’t work, so this step was even messier than the first. Overall we ended up with 10 beers, but I’m half positive the other two were absorbed by the kitchen rug.
Another week later, we drank it.
And it tasted …
Above average. It smelled wonderful and had a strong bite; the only thing it was missing was those deep undertones. (Though I’m confident they will develop after a few more weeks of sitting.)
Update 9-3 — a few more weeks of sitting and the beer was delicious! More than worth the wait.
This beer kit was a great way to dip my feet into the ways of brewing booze. It’s no small task, and requires equipment and knowhow to create a successful and tasty blend. With that being said, most of my complaints are about the process in general. This is hard to step into without the right gear; it’s like painting a house with your grade school craft kit.
However, clearer instructions, including a shopping list and a physical booklet, could vastly improve this kit’s effectiveness. As well as a hose lock that actually locks, and maybe a disposable mop.
All in all, not a bad way to spend a blog; it’s a good venture for anyone wanting to get into home brews.
Head to Uncommon Goods to get yours today.
Or, if you are interested in doing a product review for UncommonGoods, check out their Blogger Review Program here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/reviews.
*Let’s not consider it irony that all our hop plants died.