6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Mr. Beer has earned a simple brewing customer for life!, Mar 13 2012
After years of occasionally dropping the hint that I liked the idea of the Mr. Beer kit, I took the plunge and put it on my XMAS list this year. The wife picked me one up and I thoroughly enjoyed making that first batch. I am very meticulous when I try something new, and spent hours reading the homebrew club forums (who caqn seem to look down their noses at these ready to brew kits, and the Mr. Beer forums themselves (who have TONS of very helpful tips and hints for customizing and brewing). Occasionally it turns out that there can be TOO much information out there. Too many opinions.
Here's my tip - buy a kit. If you follow the instructions reasonably carefully (and, honestly, there are not that many :-), you will get edible beer. I can't tell you if you will enjoy the TASTE of the first batch (everyones tastes are different), but you will LOVE drinking beer YOU made, and it IS pretty good beer. The best part of this manufacturers offerings though is that you can many enjoy different beers, according to your tastes, and that is what the second part of THIS review is about.
As I noted, I wasn't a big fan of my first batch (all have been imbibed though :-), told you, they WERE drinkable, just not a particular flavor fave). THAT really is the power of this company though. Have a search on here for Mr. Beer, and see all those options! I mentioned I did a lot of research on the Mr. Beer forums looking for peoples faves, and the Whispering Wheat and some of the pilsners get very high ratings. I am personally a fan of pale ales, and this has both the Whispering Wheat AND the High Country Pale Ale (as well as a Vienna lager I am really looking forward to.) The forums also told me NOT to use table sugar (though Mr. Beer's paperwork suggested that was ok) and so, for my second and ongoing batches, I went ahead and splurged the $5 on a kilo of priming sugar (ask your local brewing store, they have LOTS! :-)
I wasted no time when this arrived (which arrived VERY fast - four business days across most of the country, on the "free shipping over $28" deal!) and brewed up the Whispering Wheat. The STRONGLY SUGGESTED minimum four weeks later and I had bottle one ready for consumption - what a difference! Fantastic beer and the priming sugar fixed the cidery taste I first got in my other batch (time and better sugar fixs that, btw. By the last bottle of the first batch all that cidery flavor was gone, and that whole batch didn't even make two weeks.. what can I say? I like beer :-). The forums will tell you, over and over and over, time is your friend when brewing this stuff. Letting it age a couple of weeks in a colder area (lagering, they call it) and then fridge conditioning will make a HUGE difference to the flavour. It sharpens it (without introducing any bitterness), defines it and really shines the flavors. Other reviewers have said it, and I have no problem repeating it. This is really, really good beer and there is nothing that compares to enjoying a good beer YOU made.
If you are even thinking about one of the kits, BUY IT! But don't let the first experience be your only experience. The brewing process gets easier (WAY easier), as you get a little practice in, and the results get more enjoyable. Pick up a couple of these type of "variety kits" - starting with this one - and hone your skills. It really is next to dead simple. A hour or so of putting together a brew - two weeks of utterly ignoring it (other than ensuring it is in the 12 degree range of temperatures that particular brew likes - which, fyi is "room temp", yeah, real tricky stuff there :-), an hour of bottling followed by another two weeks of ignoring it (getting a feel for how easy it is :-)?), then whatever time you can live with conditioning (again, that same two weeks, followed by at least two days in the fridge) and you get 8 or so litres of fresh, fantastic beer.
Yes, I did say EIGHT litres - that is PER batch. Look at that price - $31. Three batches in there. About $10 a batch, for 16 or 17 500ml (not 355ml, you get two dozen of those) bottles of EXCELLENT beer.
In short, my tips after only a few batches:
1. Sanitize really carefully (they make it easy to do this, just follow the instructions carefully). Nearly everyone who has made a "bad batch" says they know it was poor sanitization.
2. Buy priming sugar - the yeast has trouble with regular table sugar, but it eats up the 100% dextrose that is in the priming sugar and REALLY improves the flavor!
3. Don't give up if the first batch doesn't quite live up to expectations. Could be a lot of things, but is probably just a small hiccup in one of the steps, or (and more likely) you have probably not allowed the beer to age enough. Beer is not wine, it doesn't need years to age, but it's not coffe either. You need to let it sit for really a full two more weeks in a cold room after it has primed.
4. Fridge condition a full two days. It will really clean up the flavor, and helps with the little bit of cloudiness you will usually get.
Summer is coming my friend. A little effort, and a whole bunch of fun with these kits, and your beer fridge is going to be the most popular one in the neighbourhood!