The folks at Brew Barrel approached me to review their eponymous home brewing kit. For £25, you can get everything you need to make 8 pints of beer, with a choice of different hops and flavouring to make different styles. It’s made by a German country, which, considering that Germany is famed for its beers, means it should be good.
The Brew Barrel kit includes a five litre barrel, and the ingredients – hops, yeast, flavourings and rather a lot of malt syrup. To make the beer, you combine all of these in the barrel, along with lots of water. Instructions are, of course, provided. It takes around 10 to 15 minutes of preparation initially, but after that it doesn’t require much attention – you have to turn the barrel after 24 hours, and then refrigerate it after five days. Two days later (so a total of seven days since starting), your beer is ready to serve from a small tap at the bottom of the barrel.
I decided to brew an IPA, which is one of my favourite beer styles. Putting it together was quite easy – all the components are numbered so that you can be sure of the required order. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the barrel in the fridge – our fridge is rather small, and full. As you have to keep the barrel upright, I would have needed to extensively re-arrange the fridge and get rid of the contents, which I doubt my wife would be best pleased about. Especially as she doesn’t like beer.
So when it came to trying the beer, it probably wasn’t at its best. Despite this, I liked it – it was rather sweet and very, very foamy, but drinkable and certainly nicer than some other homebrews that I have tried in the past. Once opened, the beer in the Brew Barrel should keep for around two weeks, if kept refrigerated.
Should you buy one? If you want to brew your own beer, but are completely new to it, then yes – the Brew Barrel keeps it simple for you and doesn’t require too much effort. Those with existing home brew experience may find it useful to have all of the necessary materials in one package, but could feel limited as it’s aimed more at novices. Financially it’s probably more expensive than just buying eight pints of beer to consume at home, but where’s the fun in that?