About a month ago, I was asked if I had ever tried brewing my own beer and my answer was no, firstly because I don't particularly like the stuff and secondly because all that kit takes up space that I can put to better use. Regardless of this, I was invited to try my hand at brewing a small barrel of something specially selected, with flavours based on my personal preferences for the ice and slice taste.
Having investigated the website at www.brewbarrel.co.uk to find out more about these customised beer kits, I was already aware that artisan and craft beers are all the rage and that the bottled varieties are correspondingly expensive, especially when living on a frugal budget such as mine. I have to admit that buying a kit of anything for the purposes of an extravagant drink with friends simply wouldn't occur to me - until now! Never let it be said that I'm a party-pooper! The prices for the kits are eye-watering to me for personal use but I wouldn't bat an eyelid at buying one as a gift for someone else. So here goes... let's get brewing and find out if it is worth it.
With the BrewBarrel you create your own customised beer recipe in three simple steps:
- Select your favourite beer style
- Define the intensity of your beer's 'hoppy' aroma to control the bitterness
- Add up to three more flavours to make it truly yours
First delay I had was in realising that I needed bottled water, as I haven't a clue what goes into the well water pumped off the hill at the caravan park near Frugaldom, so I opted for supermarket bough's own natural spring water, which cost pennies. I needed just under 4.5 litres to make up the 5 litre barrel, so bought 3 x 2 litre bottles. Yes, frugal folks, I am home brewing at the caravan! That's how handy this neat little kit is, complete with it's 5 litre tin keg (that I can think of several ways of reusing).
I remember the 80s' when every lad and their dad, son, brother and uncle was home brewing. Big plastic barrel kits could be seen in almost every back room, shed or outhouse! Staying home and socialising with friends and neighbours was the normal thing to do during those financially turbulent times and now, here we are in 2016, 30+ years later, still with our turbulent times but with beer kits that are so far removed from the clumsy efforts of the past that it's now trendy for us ladies to have a go. Sexist? Maybe! Fun? Definitely!
Measuring out the boiling water, mixing the syrupy malt, adding the hops and yeast... it really was a dawdle! The most difficult aspect of the kit was probably pushing the pressure valve into the top of the barrel, but even that was relatively easy. I waited the few days recommended and then gingerly turned the barrel - I couldn't resist testing the valve to hear the hiss of the beer inside - proof positive that it was fermenting.
Next, I had to alter the shelves in my tiny fridge to fit in the 5 litre keg, but managed this without having to eat too much to make the space. Who would have believed that beer could be made within the space of a week? As luck would have it, my visitors cancelled, so my beer barrel sat in the fridge for a second week until I decided to do the testing myself.
What a revelation! Never in my life have I liked beer until now and, even now, I can't believe this is homemade beer! I have no idea of its strength or potency, all I have is the knowledge that I made it, it was simple to do and I like the end product. It's a real treat to the taste buds and I wish this company every success in their entrepreneurial endeavours. They have a great product and, if anyone is stuck for gift ideas, I would happily give or receive a gift voucher that allows me to concoct my own specialist beer from over 50,000 different flavour combinations. I honestly didn't know where to start but can see how easy it could become to keep on sampling more, based on initial results, so...
DON'T FORGET THIS IS ALCOHOL!
PS: The kit also includes 3 beer mats - nice touch!
PPS: Cheers, frugal folks! Don't forget Father's Day in UK on Sunday 19th June.