This is a blog about my first ever adventure into the world of home brewing and craft beers. I'm not a beer drinker, as a rule, but this is different - it is customised to practically guarantee that I'd like it. I was not disappointed! Indeed, this would make a fantastic, extra special Father's Day gift for giving on 19th June 2016.

Brewbarrel customised craft beer

BrewBarrel - Voted Silver in The Dad Networks Best Father’s Day Gift Category 2015

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:

  1. Select your favourite beer style
  2. Define the intensity of your beer's 'hoppy' aroma to control the bitterness
  3. Add up to three more flavours to make it truly yours

My BrewBarrel kit soon arrived but I never got around to setting it up for a couple of weeks, hoping to have a little barrel of beer ready for sampling over the holidays. As luck would have it, plans went askew, so I have only just got around to sampling it! Now, however, I am glad that I didn't dish it all out to others (sorry folks) as I LOVE IT!

Brewbarrel customised beer

Because of my believing that I didn't like beer, it was suggested that I try brewing an Indian Pale Ale utilising different varieties of hops instead of just one type, which results in a naturally citrusy and herbal sweet beer. Apparently, this beer style is also characteristic of the resurgence in micro brewing and is probably the most popular beer style at the moment. If you are a fan of citrus I can wholeheartedly recommend this.

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).

Home brewing using a craft beer kit

This is a German beer kit, produced by a fairly new start-up company in Munich, where home brewing wasn't as popular as it is here in UK. Despite this, 80,000 brewing kits were sold in Germany alone, with one reason being the will of many people today to engage in a DIY hobby and practise some degree of self sufficiency. Likewise here in Britain, where requests began arriving for the bespoke kits. Alongside the UK launch, new beer varieties, such as Lager and Ale, were developed.

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.

My frst ever home brewed craft beer

Gingerly, I lifted the barrel onto the worktop and slowly released some gas from the valve. Not wanting to waste a drop, I opened the tap at the bottom and allowed a trickle of the frothy liquid to run into a glass. I'd never make a barmaid, that's for sure! As you can see, I had a glass of what looked like cappuccino froth, but it slowly turned into a honey-coloured liquid and I was able to taste it for the very first time.

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. smiley

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