Brewing Better Beer from Canned Hopped Kits
While brewing from kits allows the homebrewer to produce
good quality beer, dramatic improvements can be made by modifying the
Here's how you can improve the flavour, body and complexity of your
beer with just a bit more time and effort.
The five methods:
Hop It Up
Add some body
Yeast is important
Wort: the liquid you ferment to make beer. Pronounced 'wert'.
Why? Boiling ensures the sterility of the wort, helps to clarify the
beer, and improves the fermentation and the flavour. It is also
necessary when adding hops to release their bittering resins.
How? You don't have to boil the total volume, but at least 10 litres
(2.1 gallons) of water plus the extract should be boiled. Bring the
water to a boil, remove the pot from the burner, then add the extract
and stir very well. Make sure no extract sticks to the bottom. Return
the pot to the burner for a 15 minute rolling boil. Longer boiling
coarsens the flavour of the malt and darkens the colour of your beer.
2. Eliminate sugar addition
Why? When you ferment sugar, you get a cidery flavour in your beer.
Most sugars serve primarily to raise the alcohol content of the beer,
while doing little for body and flavour. By substituting malt for sugar,
your beer will have a fuller, richer taste.
How? If your recipe calls for sugar, replace it using the following guidelines:
1 kg sugar = 1 kg dry malt extract
1 kg sugar = 1.2 kg liquid malt extract
You can also use dried or liquid malt extract in place of priming sugar
(the sugar you add before bottling to give your beer carbonation). This
will give a richer head, but will not affect the flavour as much.
3. Hop it up
Why? Hop flavour is generally on the conservative side in malt
extract kits. Hop aroma is also lost in the extraction process when
malts are produced. Fresh hop oil aids head retention.
How? If you want hop flavour and hop aroma in your beer, you can do this in two different ways.
Hop flavour - hops should be boiled for 45 min. to get all of their flavour into the beer. The extracts should only be boiled for 15 min. Boil the hops for 30 min. in water, then add the extracts and boil for a further 15 min. Choose the type of hop to match the style of beer that you are brewing.
Hop aroma - this is very fragile. Add the aroma hops during the last 5
min. of the boil. More can be added just as you shut off the boil. The
late addition of hops does not add flavour or bitterness, only aroma.
You can also add loose dry hops to your secondary to add even more
aroma. Aroma hop oils that you add at the time of bottling are also
available. Typical aroma hops are Hallertau, Goldings, Cascade,
Centennial, and Saaz. Again, match the type of hop to the beer you are
4. Add some body
Why? Extract beers often taste fine, but their texture is too thin, or they lack body. This is most common in ales.
How? Add malto-dextrin. It adds texture, and is a
natural product made from grain. Add 125 g at the start of the boil for
23 litres (5 Imp. gallons) of beer. This is mainly meant for ales, not
5. Yeast is important
Why? 25% - 30% of the final flavour of your beer comes from the
yeast. The quality of yeast and how it is treated will affect the final
taste a great deal. Getting the yeast off to a good start, and keeping
fermentation temperatures moderate are important steps in ensuring good
How? Choose a good quality yeast and match it to the style of beer
you are brewing. The Zymurgy yeast issue (a brewing magazine) has a very
good study and rating of yeasts.
Rehydrate dried yeast by sprinkling it over 1 cup of 40º - 43ºC
(105º - 110ºF) water. Let it sit for 10 min. Stir the yeast into the
water, then vigorously stir the mixture into the wort - yeast likes
oxygen when getting started. It doesn't like fast temperature changes,
or sugar to be present when it hydrates.
Do not use sulphites to sanitize your equipment for beer making -
beer is much more susceptible to bacterial infection than wine, and
sulphites are not strong enough to protect it properly.
If the water in your area is soft, add 1 tsp of gypsum for British style ales to replicate the hardness of English water.
Use irish moss in the last 5 min. of the boil to clear your beer.
liquid gelatin can be used as a fining agent. Use 4 tsp per 23 litres (5
gallons) 7 days before bottling.
KEEP AIR AND BACTERIA OUT OF YOUR BEER