I don’t talk a lot about homebrewing on the blog all that much, but it’s a hobby I’m passionate about and plan on focusing on a little more at Blog About Beer.
If you’re not a homebrewer but enjoy beer, I’d definitely recommend that you look into getting started brewing. Not only can you save money and brew beer a lot cheaper than buying it, you get to create whatever you want. Getting started can be a daunting task, but don’t it scare you away, it’s not as difficult as it may seem.
For those who do brew at home already let’s talk brewing.
In December I was approached by Midwest Supplies, an online supplier of homebrewing supplies, and asked if I wanted to review one of their ingredient kits in exchange for writing up a post on it. Although the timing was a bit difficult as I hadn’t had much time to brew with the holidays along with spending countless hours writing a new book, I agreed.
Choosing an Ingredient Kit
I’ve actually never bought ingredients online as I tend to buy them at my local homebrew shop, but was eager to check out the process. Looking through the Midwest Supplies website I was pretty impressed with the sheer number of ingredient kits they offered.
Looking today I see they offer 118 extract kits and 88 all grain kits. That’s a whole lot of beer waiting to be brewed.
Since I’m an all grain brewer I decided to check out what all grain recipes sounded good. Looking over their kits I was pretty impressed with their pricing and how the kits were put together. With kits ranging from $19.99 to $37.99 for a 5 gallon batch you can hardly go wrong.
I’d been wanting to brew a Belgian IPA for awhile and noticed they offer a kit named Harriet’s West Side Belgian IPA. It’s a clone recipe from Harriet Brewing out of Minneapolis. While I’ve never tried the original, it had good reviews online, so I figured I’d pick that one out.
Within just a few days after ordering the box arrived. It was two days before Christmas and I had a million things to do and in the midst of the chaos of the holidays the box got placed in the garage until I could get to it.
Unfortunately I didn’t get around to brewing until January 10 and the box just sat in my garage. Luckily it was pretty cold in the garage, but I was a little worried about a few things.
First of all I don’t have a grain mill so when I ordered the kit, Midwest Supplies offers the option to have the grain milled before they ship it to you so I chose that option. It’s a great option, however you need to brew fairly soon after the grain is milled. From the time it was milled to when I started brewing was a little too long for my liking, but oh well, hopefully it didn’t effect the beer that much.
The second strike going against me was that I was under the assumption that they sent dry yeast. When I opened the box I noticed that it included Wyeast Belgian Ardennes #3522, which should have been refrigerated. I figured my garage was pretty cold, but it still had me worried.
The box contained everything needed for ingredients along with their own instructions which is pretty helpful, especially for newer brewers.
Since January was such a busy month for me, I had to cram a brew session in after the kids went to bed. That also meant I finished everything around 1am, but it did give me some good time to relax and enjoy some decent beers while brewing.
They estimated the original gravity at 1.062-1.065, which I came pretty close to hitting as I was right at 1.060. It was only the second beer I’ve brewed on my new mash tun so I’m still trying to dial things in.
I cooled the wort, put it in my carboy and pitched the yeast. Since it was so late I had my fingers crossed that I didn’t screw up the yeast.
If it was pretty much any other time, I’d probably have headed to my homebrew shop to pick up more yeast to just be sure fermentation would go well. Unfortunately the next day I had to fly out to New York for a business trip and didn’t get back for a few days. It hadn’t started fermenting before I left, and by the time I came back it looked as if it had stopped. Honestly I wasn’t even sure if it had started at all.
Luckily I took a gravity reading and things looked a lot better than I was expecting. I let it sit another two weeks in the carboy before transferring it to a corny keg. At that time the final gravity was at 1.012, which was dead on for their estimation of 1.010-1.014.
With all my faults in the brewing process, I was pleasantly surprised with how this turned out. I’m really enjoying this beer and wouldn’t hesitate to order that kit again, just as long as I was in a spot were I could get it brewed a lot more quickly after receiving it.
I’d definitely recommend any of the ingredient kits at Midwest Supplies if you’re not the type who can create your own recipes yet. They make the brewing process simple and offer a fantastic selection.
If you don’t already have the equipment to brew, check out their brewing equipment kits. They are probably the best beginner kits I’ve seen offered online.
Have you ordered an ingredient kit from Midwest Supplies? What did you brew and how did it turn out?