Showing posts with label DIY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DIY. Show all posts

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Brew It Yourself Root Beer - Second attempt review

If you've read my first review of this Firebox gift of Brew it Yourself Root Beer kit then you'll know it didn't go very well. The lessons learned that time were that maybe I didn't put enough root beer flavouring in and the dark cane sugar was just too much.

Homebrew Root Beer 2.0
I used the same still water in two 2 litre bottles but tried two recipes to make two different bottles and flavours. Both were made with:
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 3 squeezes of honey (probably half a tbsp)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 unit of Root Beer flavouring extract supplied with the kit – actually I might not have used enough in the first batch as there was more left than I expected.
Left recipe had:
  • 33% vanilla cane sugar
  • 33% dark brown cane sugar
  • 33% normal white cane sugar
Right recipe had: 
  • 33% vanilla cane sugar
  • 67% dark brown cane sugar
Due to an old saucepan replaced I only had one 2.5 litre pan and one 2 litre pan so preparation got a little messy stirring the mixture to dissolve the sugar. The cinnamon might have been a mistake as it just floated on the top (my wife said I should have tea-bagged it – the cinnamon not…). After heating up the mixture and stirred it for a while it actually tasted ok. Warmed it up a little too much so it took ages to cool to the optimum temperature for the yeast (around 24C needed). In the end I was putting it in the fridge then the freezer to finish the job before bedtime.

I’d seen a YouTube video of an experienced root beer homebrewer and he actually added the yeast differently to the instructions given. So this time I added the yeast straight into the bottles and shook them up as per the video. After about 2 to 3 days both bottles were checked for their fizzy-ness then put into the fridge.

The results
I was expecting the Left bottle to taste better due to having less dark brown sugar but the root beer flavouring didn't come through, neither did the vanilla and the yeast didn't activate properly so it was instantly flat. The cinnamon flavour came through but although all flavours were extremely subtle there were small floaty bits.

Left recipe: 4/10

Right bottle was marginally better having a lot more fizz than Left (after being chilled it almost flooded my kitchen work surface). However, the root beer flavouring was too subtle and perhaps suffered from the bad idea of cinnamon. After two openings the carbonation had almost gone so a poor result.

Right recipe: 5/10

Overall, I think even though the cinnamon might have caused some flavour confusion it was the root beer flavouring that wasn't strong enough. Other causes could have been brewing it in 2 litre bottles instead of using 355ml glass bottles but that would have meant special capping equipment and saving bottles. Let's say I won't bother buying this again and with finding the actual natural ingredients to homebrew this properly I might as well let the experts peddle their wares.

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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