Welcome to Thirsty Thursdays – I’m going to be running this as an aside to my normally scheduled reviews because of the great feedback I’ve gotten from the public. Every week (on Thursday no less) I’ll be running something that relates to homebrewing, whether it be a kit review, flavor comparison between brands, equipment review, or a straightforward “how to” segment. If there’s something you’d like to see here, just let me know and I’ll try to make it happen. At any rate, it’s been over a month since part one of this review ran, and the beer is finally finished (I just tasted it for the first time last night), so it’s time to wrap this one up.
Now this was the first beer that I’ve brewed that used a two stage fermentation process: basically mid way through I had to siphon the beer from the fermentation bucket into a carboy. This really made a huge difference in the cleanliness and clarity of the beer, as most of the trub was left behind when I moved it to the carboy. Unfortunately due to things beyond my control, I don’t have pictures documenting that. At any rate, the siphon that came with the Brewer’s Best equipment kit is a lot nicer than the one that came with the last kit I reviewed.
Yes, the other one might have been more complex, but the one here is so beautiful in its simplicity that I shelved the other. With the siphon that comes in this kit, you simply put it in the beer, pull up on the plunger, and then push it back down. That’s all there is to it – no blowing into a tube, no filling up an air lock. A simple pull-push mechanic starts everything flowing. There’s also a filter at the end that goes into the beer to ensure most of the trub stays behind without any extra effort from the brewer. The first time you use it and see all the crap that gets left behind and doesn’t get transferred to your precious brew, you’ll know it’s worth its weight in beer.
After moving the beer over to the carboy, you put the airlock and stopper back on, and let it rest for another two weeks to develop some more depth. When that’s all over with (and you know that it’s ready by testing the gravity to make sure it’s in range), you need to sanitize the siphon again as well as the bottling bucket that the kit comes with – bottles don’t come with this kit so you’ll have to find your own. One suggestion for bottles is to go to your local beer distributor, and ask if they’ll sell you the bottles that were returned for deposit. A lot of distributors will (at least around here), and they’re a good bit cheaper than buying brand new ones. Yes you’ll have to make sure to super-clean them, but saving money is always good.
This kit came with priming sugar, so I boiled it in about four ounces of water while I started the siphon running again. Once I had a few inches in the bottom I put the priming sugar in (this develops carbonation in the bottles), and just let it go. One thing you really have to watch out for is any splashing – oxygen at this point is a bad thing, and you want to keep as much of it out of your beer as you can. No sense going through all the work, and then skunking it by letting the stream splash. Once you’re done with the carboy, you’ll see some trub in the bottom, but nowhere near as much as was in the fermentation bucket. Once everything is in your bottling bucket, you’ll want to place the bucket in a racking position – that is the position you want it while filling the bottles. For me, I set it in an old chair that had a slope to it. That allowed my beer to sit in the perfect position to get most of it out, while leaving any remaining sediment in the bottling bucket.
I always recommend letting your bottling bucket rest for at least an hour after moving the beer to it – this allows everything to settle, and will ensure you have the clearest beer possible. You’ll want to make sure to put a piece of plastic wrap on it though so no dust gets in and sours the flavors – just make sure to take it off before you begin bottling. When bottling, you can use the plastic tubing from the siphon to give you extra length, and really it makes everything a lot easier. Since I had my bucket in the aforementioned chair, it was just easier for me to bottle on the floor (as you can see in the pics). Without that extra tubing though, I would have had a hell of a time getting the bottles under the filler, so I was very grateful for its presence.
You can choose to cap the bottles as you go, or just do them all at once in the end – I choose to do the latter, but it really doesn’t make any difference. Once you’re all done, put them somewhere (this is where it comes in handy to have gotten those returned bottles I spoke of earlier, as they come with a case) where they won’t be disturbed, and forget about them for at least two weeks. Beer changes over time, and the longer you wait the better (I actually conditioned this batch for three weeks in the bottles before cracking one open), but if you NEED to taste it, you can at the two week mark.
So how was the beer then? Well it was an American Pale Ale, so it had a beautiful deep gold color – almost reaching amber. The scent of hops was strong and bold, yet not too overpowering – definitely pleasant to the nose. I don’t know the “official” bittering units the beer has, but it wasn’t too strong – there was a decent bite as first taste, followed by a medium body fullness in your mouth, finally finishing with another smaller bite of bitterness. The flavors were rich and deep, and when poured in a frosted mug like I did, you’ll get an average of one inch of head.
Score for the Equipment Kit:
Score for the beer:
The Bottom Line: The LD Carlson Deluxe Brewer’s Best Equipment is a top of the line kit – while it might not come with a wort chiller or a super kettle, it has everything you need for a great partial brew. The pieces of equipment in this kit exceeded all of my expectations by leaps and bounds!
- The “Better Bottle” carboy that comes in this kit is wonderful – I will attest that it doesn’t hold scents or flavors from prior brews
- Everything is packaged in an extremely professional way
- The auto siphon included is the best I’ve ever used
- No bottles included in the kit
- I’m not the biggest Pale Ale fan, but that’s nothing against the kit lol
Like before, if you’d like to try your hand at the wonder of home brewing, and say goodbye to the swill the big chains call “beer”, you can get this kit from your local homebrewing store or online from a place like Label Peelers for $88.94