Sunday, 12 January 2014

Brew It Yourself Root Beer - first attempt review

This was a recent birthday gift which I'd spotted on the website and added this Brew It Yourself Root Beer kit to my Amazon wishlist. There was the fun factor of making my own but I also thought I could save a bit of money as imported root beer is so expensive.

Read the instructions carefully and be aware of the US measurements
The first annoying thing for any British root beer fan was the instructions quoting measurements in gallons, cups, quarts, Fahrenheit and just to be extra awkward, litres as well. I had to do some web research to calculate the proper measurements.

Secondly, which was may fault, was forgetting to make sure my large saucepan had been properly washed and clean. A previous night's meal of rice was still stuck to the pan even after the dishwasher had tried its best. This resulted in some floaty white bits.

Finally, I poured in the whole supplied packet of yeast when it only needed a fraction of it! D'oh! This meant I had to buy some more Active Dry Wine Yeast from a local homebrew shop i.e. not the sort of thing that can be easily bought from a supermarket.

Ingredients used
My second go at making this root beer went to plan. Used the yeast I had bought to replace the one supplied, and inserted the flavouring agent as directed. Dividing up the sugar was slightly tricky with the US to Euro conversion. It was quite frightening to see how much sugar went into mixture! Also, I used an electronic thermometer to make sure the water was at the right temperature. The two 2 litre bottles had their fizz after about two days (at room temperature) and were then placed in the fridge.

The ingredients I used to make my first batch were:
  • 2 x 2 litre bottles of supermarket spring water (only 18p each)
  • Half required mixture of dark brown unrefined cane sugar
  • Half required mixture of white granulated sugar

Actual results
Finally, when the bottles were chilled enough, I had my first taste. There was a weak flavour of root beer but it was just very disappointing with the lingering aroma and taste of sickly, yeasty brown sugar. I had one glass from both bottles and poured the rest away.

For this first attempt I rate this a low score but maybe some different types of sugar combination will raise the score next time.

Value for money?
At £15.99 for its claimed do-it-yourself 9 litres its good if you take the average imported bottle as £1.89 (i.e. 3 times more in volume). However, the yeast I bought to replace it cost £2 per sachet (which is more than enough for 9 litres), a small funnel which must cost a maximum of £1 which leaves just the root bear flavouring extract. Its this soda flavour extract that seems to be the only item you're buying at premium due to it not available in the UK. Expect another review of my own homebrew 2.0 soon.


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