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I am a home brewing newbie from the UK.

I have made 2 batches so far; my first was a 1 gallon IPA kit using grains which I was relatively happy with for a first attempt; the second was a 40 pints IPA from a tin which whilst drinkable, was disappointing.

I would like to move into adding my own ingredients to a 40 pints kit (yeast, hop, etc.) but don't really know where to start. The reviews for this kit http://www.wilko.com/cider+beer-brewing/wilko-ipa-brewing-kit-15kg-makes-40-pints/invt/0440627 say that it's a good as a base kit.

What ingredients would people recommend that I add? Can anyone suggest recipes or a how to guide to follow?

Thanks

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In general, when it comes to modifying extract kits, you have a few options to make it better:

1. Add less water to increase flavor and alcohol content (ex: 20L instead of 23L)
2. Steep some specialty grain to add flavor (depends on the type of beer)
3. Add some hops (dry hopping or boiled) to add more flavor/bitterness
4. Add Dextrose (sugar) to increase alcohol content
5. Add DME or LME to increase body, flavor and alcohol content
6. Choose a yeast that will slightly change the flavor

All that depends on your personal taste, but don't be afraid to try.


That kit looks very similar to a Cooper's extract kit, which I have brewed a few times. Since it is an IPA at 4% ABV, I suspect that it will be light in flavor and bitterness (compared to other IPAs), so I would, according to my personal taste:

  • add a bit more hops (dry hopping), some Citra, Centennial or Cascade perhaps. If you have several small fermenters, you can split your batch in two or three and dry hop them separately with different hops. You may or not blend them at bottling.
  • add some DME, pale or amber would do
  • add the recommended dextrose quantity, plus a little
  • since I already added DME, I don't think I would steep any grain. But if DME is not added, I would definitely steep some light crystal malt and increase the dextrose quantity.

Don't forget to rinse the extract can with hot water, to make sure you are not leaving any extract in the can, but that's probably already in the instructions...

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What yeast you use depends on the flavour profile you want out of the kit, Safale US-05 will give a clean drier flavour profile, while S-04 would give a more ester rich profile, there are so many yeasts to play with and each one will contribute a unique flavour.

Now regarding adding hops to the kit. the kit has been boiled already and has had bittering and some aroma hops added, but probably something less desirable like Target.

I would suggest taking 20-50g of your desired aroma hop, adding it to the FV, dumping some (2l) boiling water on it, then adding everything else as per instructions. This should give a nice infusion of flavour and aroma, and also sanitise the hops a little.

Once fermentation is completed, ie FG reached, you can think about some dry hopping. To do this, sanitize you hop packet, and a pair of scissors, chop open the pack, weight out into a sanitised bowl (10-20g), then pop open the FV, drop in the hops and shut up for about 3 days. T90 pellets are best for dry hopping, but if you can only get leaf then don't worry you will just need about 2-3 times the amount to get the same level of flavour.

this is a nice easy way to experiment with flavours and yeasts without covering your kitchen in even more mess, welcome and good luck!

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  • I think T90s are excellent flavouring material but I would advise putting them in a sealed nylon mesh bag before adding. The compressed, pelleted hops can form a lot of "dross" in the brew that can be hard to filter or separate when racking or bottling. IMHO it is possible to add dry hops before fermentation is complete, and in some aspects this might be a good idea as it allows a "CO2 blanket" to re-establish over the brew post addition. Its a moot point. – barking.pete Jul 21 '17 at 7:35
  • I have not found much difference between hop pellets and hop cones for dry hopping. They both work well but cones/flowers are easier to remove. I think that pellets are easier to handle when bagged up because they tend to "fall apart" in the wort – GrainMother Jul 21 '17 at 14:30
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If you are going to go as far as adding your own hops and yeast (good on yer, mate) then you might as well ditch the kit and use malt extract.

Basically what is in the can is hopped malt extract, maybe with some steeped grain extract or colouring. Malt extract comes in two types; liquid and powder. The liquid is basically the powder in water. Buy whichever you find useful.

You could start with something like Coopers amber malt extract (probably from the same place as the kit or on t'interweb). Muntons(UK) also make malt extract. That will give the basic amber/bronze colour. For 24L brew bin you will need two cans. If you buy powder in 1Kg packets then I would be tempted to go for 3 or 4. 4Kg of Dried malt extract in 24L will give a good strong IPA with good body/mouthfeel. Alternatively you could use 3Kg (2 x can) and add 1Kg of brewing sugar(glucose) which will also give a strong beer with a lighter body.

For hops I would use something like a 80g mix of Admiral/Challenger/Target with a 90 min boil and throw in 20g of Fuggles towards the end of the boil (last 5 mins). If you like a bitter beer then add (for example) 10g of Fuggels as dry hops into the brew bin after a few days. You could dry hop with Challenger, ect. if you wanted but Fuggels (or East Kent Goldings) is IMHO a better aroma

There are many yeast one could use but Danstar Nottingham or even Danstar Winsor would do. I am sure Safale04 would work as well. Add one packet (pref in starter solution to check it is active) into the wort and ferment for (say) 14 days.

Rack the brew into another brew bin, if possible, then prime with 130g of sugar/glucose and bottle. Alternatively you can prime each bottle with sugar or carbonating drops. Leave for at least a month after bottling to condition/carbonate and age a little. It may well taste better after 3 months or more. Of course you may prefer to use a plastic keg but you still need to do the same sort of priming, probably with 110g sugar.

There is a lot of online information and a good number of brewing books available. There are a number of HomeBrew shop sin UK with online ordering. Two good examples are: www.brewUK.co.uk and www.the-home-brew-shop.co.uk/ The first one sells extract kits with the hops and yeast needed to make a brew to many given styles complete with good instructions. I am sure others do to.

Happy brewing!

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  • My brewster friends recommend Danstar "Nottingham" for American style IPAs (!?!) and "Windsor" for "English style" IPAs (AKA "real IPA"). I have tried both but can't say I really notice the difference in the finished beer. They both seem to work well. – GrainMother Jul 21 '17 at 14:36
  • That's all really helpful. I will get some hops and "proper" yeast and have a bash. Can I ask another, potentially daft, question. The fermenter I got from Wilko's (we have no brew shops near where I live so everything is from Wilko's!) is literally just a bucket with a lid on, no airlock. The demi John I had had an airlock on it. Is this normal? Should I occasionally release the build up of pressure in the fermenter or will this lead to contamination? – Andrew F Aug 31 '17 at 16:06
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    The fermentation in the first 3-4 days is quite vigorous and the bucket should not be fully sealed then. Later the pressure could be vented every day or so by "unclipping" the side of the bucket for 1cm or so, then clipping it shut again. It all else fails get an air lock and a rubber grommet from "the local hardware shop" (Wilko or B&Q?) and drilling a hole in the lid - fit the grommet and airlock.. – barking.pete Sep 6 '17 at 7:36

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