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Using the Beer Concentrate Kit

There are a multitude of beer concentrates available on the market to make anything from lager to stout, milds, bitters, pilsners and pale ales. Prices can range from as low as 5 up to a maximum of 20 for a 40 pint kit. The quality of these concentrates varies greatly with the more expensive concentrates usually providing the best quality final product.

When you buy a beer concentrate you usually get a can of hopped malt extract and a packet of yeast. The simplest thing you can do is to follow the instructions that come with the kit and see what happens. These standard instructions might be as simple as:-

1) Clean & sterilise all equipment prior to use.
2) Mix contents of kit, 1 kg sugar and 2 litres of boiling water.
3) Add 20 litres of cold water, followed by the yeast, then mix. Seal the lid on cover and ferment.
4) Syphon or tap into bottles with added sugar, cap and store.

You can, however, do things a little differently to improve the quality of the finished product by adding to or changing one or two things listed in the instructions.

Firstly you'll need a few items of equipment:- A fermenting bin, long plastic spoon, syphon, barrel or keg, sterliser, thermometer, hydrometer. Make sure that you sterilise all the equipment that will come into contact with the beer. Follow the instructions on the packet of sterilser carefully. Take your time with this, it's the most important stage. Cleanliness is a priority when making beer or wine.

Many people discard the packet of yeast that comes with the kit, replacing it with quality yeast purchased separately. A yeast starter culture can them be made which will really get your beer fermenting quickly and properly.

Add the yeast to a cup of warm water and cover with cling film. This should be done 20 minutes before the yeast is required. This method will revive the yeast and get your fermentation off to a great start.

The instructions provided with most beers kits recommend dissolving a reasonably large amount of sugar in warm water and adding it to the beer. This is okay, but better results can be obtained by adding glucose or dried malt extract (like Munton’s) instead. You can replace an equal quantity of sugar with glucose or dried malt extract (i.e. leave out 1kg of sugar and use 1kg of glucose or dried malt extract instead). 

When you’re ready to make the beer pour the contents of the can into a large saucepan. Add some cold water and the extra dried malt extract or sugar. Then slowly bring the whole mixture to the boil stirring continually. Most kit beers will only require boiling for a few minutes. Once a few minutes has passed cover the beer and let it cool to room temperature.

Now you're ready to pour the beer into the fermenting bin and top it up to the required volume with cold water. Many people like to use cold pre-boiled water, especially in hard water areas. Boiling removes any hardness and chlorine present in the water which can affect the finished quality or taste of the beer.

Once you've given the mixture a stir you are ready to add the yeast. Once added, give the beer another good stir to get as much air into the beer as possible. This will help with the growth of the yeast. Fermentation should start in a matter of hours, but it may take longer depending the temperature, the strength of the yeast and the amount of air you managed to get into the beer whilst stirring.

After a few days the foam on top of the beer should have subsided and you can syphon the beer into a barrel. This should be done carefully so as not to disturb the beer too much. The beer can then be left for a week or so to continue fermenting. Once fermentation has finished it is important to act quickly to prevent the beer being spoilt by infections or bacteria. Normally these are kept at bay by the yeast on the surface of the beer and the CO2 gas escaping from the beer. Check the beer regularly with a hydrometer to ensure that the specific gravity of the beer is changing on a day to day basis. When the hydrometer signals that the fermentation has stopped you can transfer is to bottle or a clean barrel and prime it with sugar. Add the required amount of sugar to the barrel or individual bottles and then syphon in the beer. Seal the barrel or bottles and leave in a warm place for the second fermentation to start. After a few days you can move the barrel or bottles to a cooler place to allow the beer to clear. Leave the beer to mature for a few weeks and you should have a good tasting beer that pours nicely and produces a good head.

 

We sell all the equipment you need to get started brewing beer from concentrates:-

 

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Original design by Andrew Stevenson 2001 revised by Robert Paine 2003