AS THE home brewer progresses from K&K (kit and kilo) through kits and bits (kits with added hops and steeped specialty grains) to full all grain brewing, this transition is quite often referred to as the ‘slippery slope’. But is all grain beer that much better? In a nutshell – Yes! You can customise it to whatever style, outcome, ABV and colour you desire.
You will eventually make a nicer drop than most of the craft breweries that are popping up everywhere, because you won’t have to skimp on any aspect of the brewing process or ingredients. But before we descend the slope, is there a way to actually try the beer before we spend the time and dollars? Well, fortunately, these days there is.
Go to the brew shop and get yourself an FWK. A Fresh Wort Kit is a 100% craft beer where all the time-consuming hard work has been done for you. Just tip it into your fermenter, add 5 litres of water and the yeast, brew it for the normal two weeks, then bottle or keg. This is by far the very best beer that a home brewer can produce without the time and labour of making an all grain beer from scratch.
There is a large range to choose from as well. But as with everything there are trade-offs. The first is that most FWKs only make 20 litres of final product not 23 litres like K&K. The second is price – if you want true craft beer you will have to pay a little extra. A typical lager or pale ale will be around $46.00. Is it worth it? Totally.
You’ll find that a lot of all grain brewers, myself included, do FWKs from time to time, especially when timepoor or if stocks are low. FWKs have good instructions, with dry hopping options as well as a grist ratio. So if you really like the resultant beer, it is quite easy to make a clone in the future. You can try the All Inn Brewery FWK beer at Dan Murphys, but the most inexpensive carton is $108, up to $120 for the IPAs.
You will see the savings if you decide to do your own. You will end up with about 25–26 bottles (750ml). Family and friends will be amazed that you made this beer at home. Northern Home Brewing on Elphin Rd in Launceston has an excellent range of FWKs in store that include a quality yeast when purchased.
Recipe of the month
Here is a New England India Pale Ale (NEIPA) that came second in the IPA category at the state championships last year.
4 kg Golden Promise (79%)
455g flaked oats (11%)
350g wheat (7%)
150g CaraRed malt (3%)
10g Simcoe @ 60 min
15g Simcoe @ 20 min
25g Summer@ 10 min
25g Pacifica @ 10 min
25g Citra @ 5 min
25g Citra Dry hop
50g Cascade Dry hop
50 g Simcoe Dry hop Bitterness 41.1 IBU, colour 7.8 EBC, ABV 5.4%
This recipe has all the style features. The oats and wheat contribute to the hazy appearance. The CaraRed helps with the orange juice colour (although I would use a little more next time). The truck-load of hops give it that breakfast juice taste, without all the relatively high bitterness that IPAs are known for.