Flowers aren’t the only thing that blooms in the springtime. If you’re looking to pick up or try a new hobby this season, creating something from scratch is a fantastic bet! While the last few month’s activities have included trying out new food and drink trends, I for one prefer something that will keep me busy in a fun and memorable way, and this is where microbrewing enters the chat.
If you remember, we introduced you to Man Crates for Date Night ideas and a few lucky St. Patrick’s Day deals. Man Crates offers a great variety of creative kits, and the change of season was calling for us to try something new.
The first thing you need to know is these are definitely not just for men, as a ‘foodie’ myself, I love something that takes the love I have for the food and bev world, lending to new skills that I can utilize—or just embrace as a one-off venture depending on how much I enjoy it. Man Crates is just that. Their site offers plenty of options for those looking to get their hands dirty with new tasks from pizza-making kits to those that help you make your own leather belt. Their options truly run the gamut and will put your direction-following skills to the test. When it came to choosing a kit, I decided to honed in on my micro-brew skills with their 1 Gallon Micro Brewed Kit.
The kit came quickly and with instructions that were relatively understood for a novice like myself. It included a micro brewing instruction manual, 1-gallon carboy, airlock, bottle caps (bottles have to be purchased separately), a SMaSH IPA kit, pump siphon, bottle capper, sanitizer (for the equipment), a bottle filler, tubing, and carbonation drops. Unboxing was a little more than I was expected, but once I sorted everything, I was ready to dive in!
The instructions tell you to first sanitize the equipment, then get to work. While boiling the mixture, you have to keep a close eye on timing and add ingredients at key intervals during the approximately hour-long brewing process. As I added each element, I was able to take note of, and experience, what exactly made up the beer’s flavor. The hops kind of resembled rabbit food and smelled very strong when concentrated in the small bag in which they came, but once the initial shock to the senses died down, I smelled hints of a familiar citrusy element mixed in. The malt, on the other hand, kind of smelled like teriyaki sauce to me—or maybe my senses are just out there.
There was also a note in the instructions that I must have missed or thought was irrelevant when I first started to get the mixture up and running which warned about keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over—and that warning is no joke! It took all of ten seconds unwatched to make that thing spew like a volcano. Luckily no harm was done and we were able to clean things up pretty easily—with only minor set-backs in timing—but take it from me: pay close attention.
Once we got through the minor snafu, it was pretty smooth sailing. The biggest roadblock is the wait time. After all is done, boiled and cooled, you have to transfer the mixture to your carboy and seal it with an airlock. From there, the container has to sit in a dry, cool, and dark place (between 60-70 degrees) for 2-3 weeks. We chose my cousin’s closet—because where else do you put your non-fermented beer? After that fermentation period, you fill your bottles, add a carbonation drop, cap it (one of my favorite parts because of the fun pully contraption I got to play with), and wait another 2 weeks for the beer to carbonate.
The final product was actually pretty impressive. In the carboy, it appeared with a slight amber color and seemed like it would yield a darker beer, but after transferring the liquid to bottles, it took on a more hazy, orange-colored hue. The fam and I were trying to place the flavor and profile, and came to the conclusion that it reminded us of a slightly more funky/bitter version of a Blue Moon—not necessarily everyone’s favorite, but not bad for a first go. In fact, we were curious what the taste would be if we added orange slices, though I haven’t tried that just yet.
Although the instructions were a bit vague at times, my beer-making experience was definitely an engaging and unique one, and I was able to follow through with almost everything pretty easily. I am already excited at the prospect of trying more of these kits in the near future, the at-home sushi/sake kit being next on the list, turning on the notification for when it’s back in stock. Until then, I’ll be enjoying my homemade brew. Tell us in the comments, which kit would you try? You check them all out here!
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