Kit and Kilo brewing is by far the fastest and easiest way to brew beer. It involves combining a purchased kit tin with a kilo of fermentable sugar to create a batch of beer. It may not give you the flexibility afforded by more complex methods, but few would argue there is any real lack of kit flavors and styles to choose from these days.
Before I go into the specifics of K&K, let me first say that making beer, like making a meal, requires real ingredients. One of the most important principles of any type of food preparation is that good quality ingredients are essential to making great food. Beer is no different – so keep this in mind when selecting a kit for your first beer. The cheapest kit will likely include the cheapest ingredients.
So what is a “kit” exactly? You may have seen them in your local supermarket, homebrew store or online retailer. Kit tins are large cans of pre-hopped malt extract. The benefits are, the super-sticky goop inside these cans saves you from having to mash grains to extract the sugars the yeast needs to make the beer. These kits also save you having to boil anything for long periods and add hops.
Kit tins usually have two things with them, a sachet of dried yeast and some instructions. Do your best to disregard the later. These are often written for impatient people who want their beer brewed in three days flat. This will never give you a decent result.
Before the brew
- 25L fermenter with airlock
- 20L (or bigger) pot
- Long-handled spoon or paddle, preferably food-grade plastic for stirring
- 1.7kg kit tin and dried yeast sachet
- 1-1.5kg of fermentable sugar
Hopped Malt Extract – This is the core ingredient and is what is contained in the can you’ve bought. Hopped malt extract is dehydrated wort flavored with liquid hops for bitterness.
Water – Good old tap water. Yes, water quality does have an impact on the final result, particularly if there is a high chlorine content in your local water supply, but don’t worry too much about water quality at this stage – tap water certainly won’t kill you beer.
Yeast – Beer kits will almost always come with a packet of dried yeast under the lid. Experienced brewers will often make starters for yeast before pitching it into the beer but believe me, as long as the kit isn’t ancient, you’ll be fine to just sprinkle the pack straight into the fermenter before sealing it up. Also, if you’re looking for a great way to improve an ale kit while also sticking dry easy-to-pitch yeasts, try some Fermentis Safale US-05 dried yeast for ales or their Saflager-S23 for lagers.
Kit and Kilo Brewing
- Fill a tub or sink with hot water and, without opening the kit (take out the yeast first!), submerge the kit tin to let it warm up. The contents of the can are essentially liquid sugar and it will pour and mix more easily if warmed up first.
- Half fill a large pot with water and place on to the stove on high heat
- Before it boils, add 1-1.5kg of fermentable sugar (dry malt extract, dextrose etc.) to the pot and stir until it is fully dissolved
- Add the contents of the kit tin to the pot and stir until dissolved
- As soon as the mixture (wort) begins to boil, take the pot off the stove, cover with a sterilized lid and place into a bath of ice water to cool down
- Once the wort has cooled to near room temperature (15-20mins), pour the contents of the pot into the fermenter.
- Finally, top up the fermenter with water to make a total volume of around 20-23L. Keep in mind the more water you add, the lower the ABV% will be.
- Sprinkle in the yeast
- Seal the fermenter
- Take and write down an SG reading with a hydrometer.
- Finally, store the fermenter in a cool place with a stable air temperature to ferment. Ideal fermenting temperatures are between 18-22c for ale yeasts and 8-12c for lager yeasts. For ale yeasts, ferment for a minimum of two weeks, and for lager yeasts, ferment for eight weeks.
Once the mixture has fermented out completely, you’ll be left with the beginnings of your first batch of home-crafted beer.
The next step is getting it into bottles or a keg for carbonating, conditioning and ultimately – drinking.