Brewing Beer with Wind River Brewing Company Beer Kits
Beer kits are a simple and easy way to brew beer, great for the beginner!
There are several companies that offer a beer kit of the month option and I have decided to go with Wind River Brewing Company.
Over the course of the next few months, I will be detailing my experiences with their product on this lens in hopes that you can learn from my experiences, good and or bad.
Please feel free to leave comments.
Beer Kits at Amazon
Maybe you don't want to commit to getting a beer kit every month, so joining a kit of the month club simply isn't right for you or your budget. Thankfully, Amazon has beer kits and you can pick and choose the one(s) that are right for you.
All the ingredients you need to make 5 gallons of beer. Ingredients are clearly labeled and the directions are easy to read and understand.
Go into just about any pub and you will discover that stouts are usually one of the most popular beer styles available. This kit offers the brewer a traditional hearty flavored stout.
This kit will give you a dark beer that has a nutty flavor, hence the name.
Why am I using a beer kit to brew?
Easy and quick
I am a homebrewer with several years of experience and I usually brew all grain. I also create and brew my own recipes and have produced a quality beer doing it this way. So, then why am I going back to kits? Well, first they are quick and easy. Secondly, I want to help inspire those who already brew and have been thinking of branching out a bit and thirdly, I wanted to explore a creative avenue in reviewing.
Kit #1 Bagpipe Ale (Scottish Brown Ale)
11 July 2012 Received my kit today and inventoried it. It includes 6lbs Amber malt extract (liquid), 3/4 lb carapils, 1/4 chocolate malt, 1 lb brown sugar, 1oz willamette hops, 1/2 oz fuggles hops, Nottingham dry yeast, priming sugar and a grain bag. The instructions are standard ale brewing instructions. I ran the numbers through my brewing software and this beer will fall into the range of a Scottish Export ale with an OG of 1.053. I will brew it tomorrow.
12July 2012 Brewed the kit today. I made one small alteration and diluted it a bit to bring the OG down to 1.044. This will not affect the flavor adversely but will lower the alcohol content a bit to make it more of a session ale. It still falls into the Scottish Export guidelines so all is good. Within 3 hours of pitching the yeast the blow-off jar is bubbling away. I will keep you posted on results and progress.
13 July 2012 Constant stream of bubbles in my blow-off jar. It is keeping my cats fascinated.
20July 2012 The activity has quieted down quite a bit. I am going to leave it in the fermenter for another week just to clean up.
26 July 2012 Bottled today. Looks and smells great. Very malty taste. It will be finished in about a week or two. I will report on the final taste then.
5 August 2012 Tasted from my Tap-A-Draft. Nice. Very malty. Pours a clear dark copper with no chill haze. Smells of malt and caramel. Tastes of malt with just enough hops to make it balanced. Overall, a good beer. In a few days I will post what the bottled beer tastes like. I am very happy with this batch.
Kit #2 Red Cedar Ale
My second kit arrived. I will be brewing it soon. Stay tuned!
28 August 2012 Brewed today. OG: 1.044. The hydrometer sample tasted good. Nice balance. I will post more as the fermentation progresses. Right now the blow-off jar is bubbling away. The activity started about 5 hours after pitching the yeast.
20 Sept 2012 Bottled today/ FG: 1.010. Nice balanced taste. I will post when it is carbonated.
29 Sept 2012 Tasted a bottle tonight. Nice. A clear amber color topped by a thick white head. Taste is a balance of malt and hops. Overall, I am very happy with this batch.
25 Nov 2012 This is a very good example of an Amber Ale. Smooth and balanced towards the malt/caramel side with enough of a hops flavor to make things interesting.
Kit #3 Gopher Pale Ale
This batch turned out well. It is carbonating but tasting samples place it well within the pale ale category. Nice and smoothly bitter. More later. I don't often modify kits as I feel the designer made them the way they should, but this one I made an addition. I added a spice called Star Anise. This is a very strong spice that has a licorice flavor and is best used in small quantities. The flavor in this batch is present but in the background. Wiser heads than mine have said that if you can identify the spice by flavor then you have added too much. I got this quantity just right.
Kit #4 Snow on the Range Winter Ale
On 11 Nov I brewed up the next kit, Snow on the Range Winter Ale. This is a "winter warmer", spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. The fermentation got off to a bit of a slow start as I pitched the yeast at 59F. Once it got going, however, it went to town. It has slowed considerably and should be ready to rack over to a glass carboy for aging soon.
This should be ready to drink soon. I will give a report on flavor when I taste it.
Nice deep copper color. Sweet and spicy aroma. Thick long lasting head. It is light bodied and refreshing. You can taste the spices without them being overpowering. Nice balance. No hops or alcohol aftertaste.
Kit #5 Sleepy Time Barleywine
A barleywine is a very strong beer. Comparable in strength to a wine, the taste is complex. It is a great beer to sip slowly on a winter evening. This batch will not be ready to drink for about a year. Right now I am waiting on the waxing moon to brew this.
18 Dec 2012. The moon is in the waxing crescent so it is time to brew. This kit is comprised of 6lbs amber liquid malt extract, 6lbs dark liquid malt extract, 1/2 lb Crystal 40, 1/2 lb Victory malt ( also called biscuit malt), 2 oz Nugget hops (60 minute boil addition for bittering), 1 oz Tetnang hops ( 10 minute addition for flavor and aroma) and dry yeast. I boiling 2 1/2 gallon and will add water to the fermenter to make up the full volume of 5 gallons. I am adding the dark extract during the last 10 minutes of the boil. The reason for the late addition is hops utilization. The bittering resins from the hops are extracted more efficiently in a less dense liquid so if you add 1/2 of your extract later in the boil, it allows more extraction. I paid for the stuff, I want the most I can get out of it. :)
6 Jan 2013 I transferred the beer over to a glass carboy for a few weeks to age. More later.
Kit #6 Lake Pepin Porter
I brewed this on 24 January 2013 and bottled on 3 March. I will report on the flavor when I taste it. The OG was 1.058 and the FG was 1.018. I did make one addition: 1 lb blackstrap molasses. I really like the taste that it adds to a porter.
Tasted it today. First off, it smells roasty, sort of like coffee with a bit of chocolate and a hint of molasses. It has a nice roast coffee with a molasses aftertaste, but not overpowering.
A combination and a deviation from the norm
17 March 2013. This morning I finally brewed. Due to time constraints, this was the first opportunity I had. Instead of extract kits, for the January (Deep Woods Stout) and February (Northern IPA) kits, I had them sent as all grain kits. Since it takes a bit more time to brew all grain, I couldn't work them into my schedule until now. And ... I made a modification lol. I took the IPA kit and added the crystal and Roast Barley from the Stout kit and also the hops. I could not locate one of my kettles and ended up with 4 gallons in the fermenter. I topped the batch off to 6 gallons. I had made a 1.5 liter yeast starter using WLP023 Burton Ale yeast. Within 2 hours I was getting a lot of activity in the blowoff jar. Right now I am sitting in the living room and can hear the bubbling taking place in the kitchen. The Burton Ale yeast is famous for a very vigorous fermentation and is living up to that reputation. I will post more as we go along.
18 March 2013 HOLY FLIRKIN SNIT!!!!! The yeast i used is a raging beast! I am glad I used a blowoff jar instead of an airlock because the fermenter would have exploded when the airlock clogged. The jar is bubbling away and the water in it is mixed with kreusen. Awesome sight to behold!
22 March 2013 Yesterday the fermentation had calmed down a bit so I removed the blow-off jar and installed an airlock.
13 April 2013 I bottled the beer today and will update you with tasting notes in a couple weeks when it is carbonated.
Kit #9 Dunkel Weisen
A Dunkel Weisen is a dark wheat beer. It is a Hefe Weisen brewed with dark malts that add a caramel and slightly roasted taste. I brewed the kit today, 27 April 2013 and expect to taste it before the first of June.
The kit came with 6lbs wheat malt extract, 3.3 lbs Dark malt extract, 1/2 lb 60 L crystal malt, 1/2 lb carapils, 1 oz Tettnanger hops for bittering and 1 oz Tettnanger hops for flavor. I used WLP300 Hefe Weisen yeast which will give a flavor of cloves, bananas, and smoke, like a hefeweisen should have. My OG was a bit high, 1.070, but i brewed about 5 gallons instead of 6.
Here is your chance to provide me with input. I will read it. If I really like it, I may post it on a blog.