These Brew Dudes take another crack at homebrewing beer the easy way with Muntons Brewery In a Bag. We were sent this all-in-one Dark Ale brew kit a while ago. Right before the COVID lockdown, Mike brewed the Pale Ale version of the Brewery In a Bag. He followed the directions to the letter and we thought the process could be improved using our homebrew knowledge. Watch this video as we do a take two on this type of beginner brew kit and see if we brew better beer this time.
What Was Different This Time?
The first time Mike brewed a beer using the Brewery In a Bag kit, he used the dry yeast that came with it. We were unsure how fresh the yeast was so we thought we’d use better quality yeast for the next time. For the Dark Ale, Mike used yeast from his British Strong Ale. All the other instructions were followed for the kit. He added water to the bag and then pitched his yeast. In a few weeks, he had beer.
Brewery In a Bag Dark Ale Tasting Notes
Well, even with the slight adjustment using better yeast, I think we made worse beer this time around. I am chalking it up to the age of the kit. What I tasted had lots of off-flavors. There was a strong soy sauce note that wasn’t desired. Maybe the malt extract was past its prime. I don’t think it was a yeast derived issue or a fermentation control problem. There was something off in the base extract.
Since we’re focused on beer styles with our Jar of Destiny series, we know there is no sanctioned English Dark Ale style. My feeling is this beer would best align with a Southern English Brown Ale. There were notes of molasses in it – was that an ingredient in the kit? We may never know. This product no longer appears on the Muntons site from what we can see. Our Brewery In a Bag Dark Ale may be the last of its kind.
Over the past 10 to 12 years, the Kentucky Common beer style has resurfaced and can be called truly American. Just like Cream Ale or Steam Beer, this style is one that we can call our own. Mike’s experiments with adjuncts, piqued his interest because this beer’s grain bill calls for a large portion of corn (maize). We present this post and video as the culmination of Mike’s research into Kentucky Common Beer, his creation of a recipe that was sized down to a homebrew volume, and our thoughts after tasting his beer.
What’s The Deal With This Beer?
According to the BJCP, Kentucky Common was produced and sold in a small part of the USA, around the city of Louisville, KY. It was prevalent in this area from the 1860s to 1920s (The Civil War to Prohibition). It was quickly produced, light in body, and low in alcohol.
Mike read up on the style since it is not widely available today as Prohibition nearly wiped it out. From his research, he found the uncovered historical recipes for the style. Many of the sources have adjusted the ingredients for today’s brewing practice. In general, this style today is comprised of 6-row malt, corn, Caramel 40° L malt and Black malt. Mike sees this beer as a darker version of American Cream Ale but with a significantly higher levels of corn in its grain bill. The historic recipes have corn grits in them. For his mash system, he choose flaked corn instead. He didn’t want to have his brew day get ruined with a gunked up mash tun. Since both products are pregelatinized forms of corn, the end result is the same.
Mike’s Kentucky Common Recipe
Here are the details of his recipe:
Volume: 6.5 US gallons – Post Boil Assumed Mash Efficiency: 70%
7.75 pounds (3.515 kg) of Six-Row Malt (61%) 4.5 pounds (2.041 kg) of Flaked Corn (35%) 4 ounces (113 g) of 40°L Caramel malt (2%) 4 ounces (113 g) of Black Malt (2%)
0.5 ounces (14 g) of Cluster Hops at 7 %AA for 60 minutes 0.25 ounces (14 g) of Saaz at 3.75 %AA for 5 minutes
Yeast: SafLager™ W-34/70 Dry Lager Yeast
Instructions and Targets: Mash temperature: 152° F (66.6°C) for one hour Boil time: 1 hour Fermentation temperature and duration: ~60° F (15.5° C) for two weeks Target Original Gravity: 1.052 Target Final Gravity: 1.012
Brew Dudes Tasting Notes
First off, this beer has a lovely amber color from the Caramel and Black malt. It is a bit cloudy but clarity is in its future. For comparison, Mike held a pint of the Kentucky Common next to his Cream ale, because of their corn content. The latter is crystal clear so the former should follow suit. There is a small note of malt in the aroma. For the flavor, it is remarkable how clean and simple this beer is. The corn is mildly sweet but the caramel malt and black malt seem to hide the corniness of it all. With the hop rates so low (especially in this day and age) this beer has no bitterness and only hints of hops in the aftertaste.
Overall, this beer presents itself exactly as advertised: a light and easy drinker. Brew this style if you’re looking for a change of pace.
As we continue with the Homebrew Jar of Destiny series, we go back to the start and choose two more beer styles to learn and brew. Check out the next batch of beers in this video:
What Is Our Density – I mean, Destiny
I am not sure it’s destiny. It’s certainly chance. This label is certainly another example of these Brew Dudes trying to make something out of nothing.
No matter what your take is, the fact that we’re putting a hand in a jar and choosing one of dozens of different beer styles to brew is exciting for us.
Let’s dive into what the Jar had for us in this second round for 2022.
2B. International Amber Lager
Well, this style is interesting. As Americans, I think we have been taught to think that Dos Equis Amber (now branded as Ambar) or Yuengling Lager are the classic examples of the style. Knowing that one of my favorite styles is Vienna Lager, I am looking forward to see Mike’s take on this beer. In my estimation, the International Amber Lager is a Vienna Lager with less malt character. We shall see!
26C. Belgian Tripel
Here’s the style that the Jar gave me. I have enjoyed the Belgian Tripels I have had in the past. I’m willing to do some commercial beer research with this one. After picking up some examples, I will have a sense of where the flavors are with the yeast being the strongest driver. Because of the stated carbonation level on the BJCP site, I may bottle condition this beer. The Jar can be demanding so I should get a move on brewing this Tripel sooner rather than later.
Those are the two picks from this round of the Homebrew Jar of Destiny. Stay tuned between now and the end of June for the tasting posts!
We were asked to check out this piece of homebrewing equipment. In an era when all things are made of stainless steel in this era of the hobby, why shouldn’t we have a stainless steel siphon? The answer is, we should.
Even though the conventional wisdom says the majority of us are racking via closed systems, it’s always good to have a siphon on-hand. Check out our demonstration and review of the BrewSSSiphon:
I know that I have gone through about 3 different auto-siphons made out of plastic. They break easily and usually at inconvenient times. Let’s go through the best features of this stainless steel siphon:
It’s extremely durable. It feels heavy in your hand and seems to be built like a tank. This siphon will definitely last a lifetime.
It has a removable check valve that can be manually cleaned in case whole cone hops or other adjuncts might get in there.
It can be sanitized easily. The whole thing can be put in an oven and baked up to 250° F (121°C). You can use it and feel confident that this siphon is safe for sour and traditional yeast ferments.
It’s wider than other auto-siphons I have used so it has faster flow rate.
It’s versatile as it can be used to transfer hot wort in the event a kettle screen gets clogged.
If there is ever a need for replacement parts, the owner has your back. If anything gets broken, lost, worn out, he have all the parts available.
It’s the only choice for distillers. Because it is made of stainless steel and silicone, it is safe to transfer up to 190 proof ethanol.
It provides “Hands Free Racking and greater depth adjustment control with the use of the Carbon Sleeve and Spring clip.
Custom brushes & the best silicone racking tubing is available for the siphon. The tubing is more flexible than the standard silicone tubing you get at the home brew store.
The customer service is top notch – it’s one guy and he sends a personal handwritten thank you from me with every order. If anything happens, he’ll make it right.
We really liked this product and will continue to use it.
We continue the second round of the Homebrew Jar of Destiny series with our takes on a Black IPA. First off, I knew that it was going to be difficult to brew a version of this style that both of us would enjoy. So, I Kobayashi Maru’d it: I brewed one that was more to what I thought the style guidelines were telling me and then brewed another one to something that I thought would be great. Check out this video for our Black IPA Review!
Black IPA Recipes
So, I brewed two beers – you get two recipes:
Black IPA #1
Adjusted recipe from 2014 Brew Dudes Black IPA recipe:
Boil Size: 7 US gallons (26.5 Liters) Batch Size: 5.25 US gallons (19.9 Liters) in fermentor
9 US gallons of spring water treated with 5 grams of gypsum and 3 grams of Calcium Chloride for a 2 to 1 Sulfate to Chloride ratio.
12 pounds (5.4 kg) of Rahr Standard 2-Row Malt – 86% of grain bill 1 pound (.45 kg) of Crisp Crystal Malt – 60°L – 7% of the grain bill 1 pound (.45 kg) of Briess Blackprinz Malt – 7% of the grain bill
1 ounce (28 g) of Nugget hops (15.3% AA) – Added at 60 minutes to go in the boil 0.5 ounce (14 g) of Centennial hops (6.0% AA) – Added at 15 minutes to go in the boil 0.5 ounce (14 g) of Cryo Amarillo hops (17.4% AA) – Added at flameout 0.5 ounce (14 g) of Cryo Amarillo hops (17.4% AA) – Dry hop, added on day 3 of fermentation 0.5 ounce (14 g) of Centennial hops (6.0% AA) – Dry hop, added on day 7 of fermentation
Yeast: 1 packet of SafAle US-05 American Ale Dry Yeast
Mash for 60 minutes at 150° F (66° C). Sparge with 170°F (77°C) water to collect boil size volume. Boil for 60 minutes – adding brewing salts and hops at scheduled times. Ferment for 2 weeks at 68° F (20° C) and add hops at scheduled times.
Original Gravity: 1.064 Final Gravity: 1.014
Black IPA #2 – Black NEIPA
Boil Size: 7 US gallons (26.5 Liters) Batch Size: 5.25 US gallons (19.9 Liters) in fermentor
9 US gallons of filtered tap water, treated with a Campden tablet. I wanted to add 2 grams of gypsum to the boil but I forgot.
12 pounds (5.4 kg) of Rahr Standard 2-Row Malt – 84% of grain bill 1 pound (.45 kg) of Weyerman Carafa Special Type III malt (dehusked) – 7% of the grain bill 0.5 pound (227 g) Briess Caramel malt, 40°L – 4% of the grain bill 0.5 pound (227 g) of Briess Chocolate malt, 350° L – 4% of the grain bill 0.25 pound (113 g) of Briess Midnight Wheat malt -2% of the grain bill
1 ounce (28 g) of El Dorado hops (13.1% AA) – First Wort Hop 1 ounce (28 g) of Cryo Simcoe hops (23.2% AA) – Hop stand at 180° F (82° C) for 20 minutes 3 ounces (85 g) of LupoMax Mosaic hops (17.5% AA) – Hop stand at 180° F (82° C) for 20 minutes 3 ounces (85 g) of El Dorado hops (13.1% AA) – Dry hop, added on day 3 of fermentation 3 ounces (85 g) of LupoMax Mosaic hops (17.5% AA) – Dry hop, added on day 3 of fermentation
Yeast: 1 packet of Lutra Kveik yeast (dry)
Mash for 60 minutes at 150° F (66° C). Sparge with 170°F (77° C) water to collect boil size volume. Boil for 60 minutes – adding hops at scheduled times. Ferment for 7 days at 75° F (24° C) and add hops at scheduled times.
Original Gravity: 1.060 Final Gravity: 1.012
Black IPA Tasting Notes
OK – let’s start with Black IPA #1. This beer is exactly what I remember the Greg Noonan version to be. It is piney with some citrus notes that are offset a bit with the hints of roast from the Blackprinz malt. Overall, a nice beer. I think in competition, it will get dinged because it’s not bitter enough. No matter – I brewed it that way for a reason. Also, it’s the reason I brewed a second beer.
Black IPA #2 – the Black NEIPA has all the fruity character that you want and it melds well with the caramel notes from the specialty malt. Don’t tell anybody I add some chocolate malt to this beer. I think that is a no-no but for this beer, I wanted it to make it special. Mike was blown away by this beer and I am glad. It was my ace-in-the-hole.