Review: Brooklyn Brew Shop ‘Beer Making Kit (BrewDog Punk IPA)’
I was first attracted to the Brooklyn Brew Shop because the branding was beautiful, and I often find that a lot of home brew kits are uninspiring in their way of branding. I bought this as a gift to my partner but it took us a while before we actually got around to using it.
So the “big” kit comes with a hefty supply of necessities that can all be reused:
- Glass Fermentation Jug
- Racking Cane
- Tubing Clamp
- Screw-cap Stopper
In the “making” kit (in this case the BrewDog Punk IPA) was:
- BrewDog Punk IPA 1 Gallon, All-Grain Mix
- Ahtanum Hops
- Chinook Hops
- Simcoe Hops
- Beer Making Yeast
In addition, we used a large strainer, a funnel and also bought two stock pots and these were very inexpensive, however any large saucepan would work. We also needed a small amount of honey towards the end of the process. We bought the bottles and the bottle cappers from Brooklyn Brew Shop, but you can use anything glass to store your finished beer in. Worth noting that if this isn’t your first time you will also need some additional sanitiser packets.
So it all looked simple enough and armed with several videos and an easy step by step instruction guide we started.
Firstly, let me say, we massively underestimated the time, effort, and patience required for this. It was exhausting frankly, but incredibly fulfilling in the end. You need to start the process approximately 4 weeks before you want to drink the beer, and we followed the official Brooklyn brew shop guide, because who better to trust than the source itself!
Step One: The Mash
At this point we are “cooking” our grain. Granted it wasn’t really cooking, but that’s what it felt like. We added the grain to our stock pot and monitored this religiously over the course of an hour adding and subtracting heat as needed to maintain the appropriate temperatures.
Step Two: The Sparge
This step was messy! We used the other stock pot and a strainer to pour our water over it to get all the flavour.
Step Three: The Boil
This involves another 60 minutes of panicking over a stove about temperatures whilst adding the hops. I want to point out that at several points in this section and also in step one our temperatures were not always correct, so even with two of us we struggled to keep it regulated.
Step Four: Fermentation
This is where we poured what we had created into the jug supplied, added the yeast, gave it a good shake and then took a breath of relief. Up until this point we had dedicated about 3 hours to the process, including cleaning, sorting it all out, reading instructions, and actually doing the brewing. Thankfully you get a good break to recoup now because you just put the jug in the cupboard and leave it be for 2 weeks uninterrupted.
On the other hand, this is also where the clean-up starts and you really don’t realise how much stuff you’ve used until it’s time to clean everything! Your beautifully sanitised, clean, and tidy kitchen that you began with, will no longer look like it.
Step Five: Bottling (2 Weeks Later)
At this point in the process, I think I lost the will to live. Everything went wrong. Everything went messy. Siphoning did not work for us and after about an hour of wrestling with the siphoning tube and disturbing all the yeast (you’re not supposed to do that). We settled with painstakingly using a turkey baster to transfer the liquid into the bottles – so definitely not what the videos or the instructions advised.
They advise practising the siphoning and I cannot stress this enough, DO PRACTICE THE SIPHONING! I can’t get over how incredibly difficult it was and I still wonder what on earth we were doing wrong. So, if you’re having a go, I repeat, PRACTICE THE SIPHONING.
The sigh of relief when we put it back in the cupboard for another two weeks was far louder this time.
Step Six: Taste Tasting (2 Weeks Later)
Another two weeks pass and you soon forget about the tribulations you faced during the bottling stage. Then the timer goes off and it’s time to find out if all your efforts were worth it.
For this part, we decided to do a direct comparison with a can of Brewdog Punk IPA because it only seemed fair to compare ourselves to the professionals, right?
The verdict was in and it was clear that our beer came out cloudier and fizzier than the ‘official’ stuff but… it still tasted like beer, albeit not like the branded beer, but beer nonetheless. It was drinkable and it was nice but it’s taste lacked in comparison. Although, admittedly this could be due to our skills not the kit!
It was a lot of fun to use this kit and next time I feel like I would enjoy it more now that I know what to expect. Several times I felt lost despite the excellent instructions provided.
The good news is they have a really vast range of flavours and also other kits (they don’t just do beer!) and so we will definitely be trying this again.
I’m really pleased with the product as a gift and I would definitely buy friends and family this kit. The handy refill boxes means that as long as you look after your original kit you can just keep making it which is great value for money. Plus if you really get into the brewing process then you can start doing more than one at once and buy a couple of the full kits.
Space wise, it really didn’t take up a lot of space before, during, or after the process, which is good since it is advertised as being perfect to brew within small spaces. It really opens up the market for people who might be concerned about space and skill for home brewing.
The kits are relatively affordable as well – the big kit with all of your supplies in was about £45 and then the refill kits are about £15. When you compare this to a night out or a crate of beer, it’s a bargain really. And trust me when I say, it will bring you hours of… entertainment. If you’re even remotely thinking about trying out home brewing then I would highly recommend these kits.
The company also sells other accessories too and all in all I spent £100 on my gift which was a starter set and included a full kit, a bottle capper, and then 10 bottles, plus I added an additional refill kit. All of this came with the lovely branding on too. I thought it was a very smart gift and made for interesting conversations on Christmas Day, mostly about our home brew company names when we become famous brewers…
Although we might have to wait a bit longer for that. In the meantime we’ll keep practising.
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