Wednesday, November 28, 2012

First Beer Started

Today I went back to Vintner's Cellar to get a spare pail which I plan to use for cleaning my equipment in.
While I was there I decided to pick up one of the Bottle Brew beer kits he had on display. They claim to be the world's easiest beer kit, and it was cheap ($5) so I thought "why not?"

The kit is a 2L pop bottle. It comes full of malt (in wine making that would be the must) and has a second cap shrink wrapped to the bottle cap.

The second cap has a hole drilled in it and you can see a little bit of red inside the cap. This is called the pressure cap.
Also stored in the pressure cap are 1 or 2 gelcap pills. My choice, the Brown Ale, came with 2. The first, cream coloured gelcap is the yeast. The second (if there is one), green pill is hops. The Brown Ale I chose has the hops pill as an optional ingredient.

The process is as simple as it gets.
  • Open the bottle.
  • Drop in the yeast pill (whole, or open the capsule and pour in just the yeast) It shouldn't matter which way you do it, the capsule will dissolve in a couple of hours once it is wet, and it is of course, completely safe to consume. Opening the capsule and pouring the yeast would give the yeast a bit of a head start over making it wait for the pill to dissolve. [Update: they have switched from Gelcaps to plastic vials. Do not drop the plastic vials into the bottle they will not dissolve.]
  • Put the pressure cap on the bottle
  • Wait 1-2 weeks.  In a warm room during the summer (24-28 degrees Celsius room temperature) it should be finished in 8-9 days. In 20-24 degrees normal room temperature, it should take 10-12 days. at a cool room temperature of 18-20 degrees it could take 16-18 days.If you aren't sure if it is done fermenting, just leave it. It will finish on it's own and can stand to sit at room temperature for  up to 3 months. The manufacturer says "You’ll know it’s ready when you lift the bottle (do not shake or tilt) up to a light source and look through it. It should look almost as clear as when you bought it. If it is still cloudy it is not done. Leave it another day or two and check again."
  • Refrigerate for 12 hours.
  • Serve
Interesting notes: this is a commercial kit that advertises no preservatives, and that you simply add yeast and wait till it's clear. There is no indication of What the F.G. (Final gravity) should be, so there is not much point in taking hydrometer readings. They have obviously chosen the yeast to die out when the beer reaches a specific alcohol content. It should yield a 5% alcohol content.

There is truly nothing to brewing this. Just pitch the yeast dry into the bottle and wait. Everything else was already done in craft brewery style in Woodbridge, Ontario, then just at the point where you'd add yeast to the malt they stop, bottle it and let you finish the job. For that tiny investment of 2 weeks of patience, you get 2 L of premium brew. ...or so the theory goes.
The proprietor of Vintner's Cellar told me it should end up being something between a Kilkenny  and a Guinness in flavour.  We shall see.