Brooklyn Brew Shop FAQ
Why should I make beer?
We think you should brew because there's nothing better than inviting friends over, giving them a beer, and saying "I made this!" It's carbonated. It's alcohol. It's beer, and because you used fresh, whole ingredients and brewed it the way people have for centuries, it's really good beer.
Does it taste good?
Yes! Homemade beer tastes great. When you brew using the same grain, hops, and yeast that craft breweries around the world use, you can make some really good beer -- beer that's as good if not better than what you'll find in stores. When you make it at home, you know where it was made, and you have access to the freshest beer you'll ever taste.
How much space do I need to make beer?
Brooklyn Brew Shop originally designed their Beer Making Kit for New York City apartments, but soon discovered that people across the country didn't want to dedicate an entire kitchen (basement, or garage) to making beer. That's why the kit takes up less than 1 square foot of space. It can be left in closet, under the sink or anywhere you want while it's fermenting. The only rule is you want to keep it somewhere dark.
How is your Beer Making Kit different from others?
The Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit takes the brewing process used in craft breweries around the world and scales it down to fit on the stovetop. It simplifys brewing without dumbing it down by making it feel more like cooking. If you want to turn it into a science project, you can do that with our kit, and if you just want to make beer -- real beer from real ingredients -- this is the only kit designed specifically for you.
Can I use your mixes to experiment with my own recipes?
Absolutely! One of Brooklyn Breww Shops first customers turned their Grapefruit Honey Ale into a Ginger Honey Ale by grating fresh ginger into it while brewing. Brewing has a long history of people putting, what might be thought of as, strange things into beer, and you're limited only by your imagination. The same goes for leaving certain things out of your beer. If you can't find chestnuts (or are allergic to them), leave them out of the Chestnut Brown Ale. You'll still end up with a great, full-flavored English Brown Ale. All of the flavors are for you to brew, play with, and make your own.
Where does alcohol come from?
Yeast is creepy, but it's also really cool. It turns sugars into alcohol. While brewing, you're extracting sugars from grain (usually malted barley). The liquid you're left with will become your beer.
What are hops?
Hops do a lot for your beer. They're bitter, so they balance the sweetness you get from malted barley. They also contribute fresh aromas to your beer that can range from citrus, pine, flowers, grass, pepper, to an old man's couch (yes, really). There are dozens of varieties of hops in existence, and every year new ones crop up.
Beer Making Questions
Other than a kit, what else do I need to start brewing?
If you've ever made pasta, you should have everything you need to start brewing. Except for what's in the kit, you'll just need 2 or 3 stockpots, a large strainer, and a funnel. Check out the How to Brew Video for a better look at what you'll be using.
Two weeks after you brew, you'll need bottles with swing-tops or 12 regular, non-twist-off beer bottles with a capper and caps.
My mix is a little old. Is it still good?
Bright light, extreme heat, and oxygen can be enemies to beer making ingredients, but thankfully we pack our ingredient m
What do I do if my fermenter isn't filled to the One Gallon mark with liquid when I'm finished brewing?
While your beer boils, water evaporates. You want to keep it at a low, rolling boil. If your boil is very vigorous, extra water will evaporate from your beer. This means when you fill your fermenter, the liquid won't go all the way up to the One Gallon mark. To fix this, just add cold tap water to the fermenter until you're up to the One Gallon mark. Then proceed as normal.
I just finished brewing, and my beer looks crazy. Did I mess up?
A lot goes on while beer is fermenting. Your beer is becoming alcohol before your very eyes. It will change over time, and it might not even look like beer for a few days. So don't worry if your beer looks cloudy. Everything will settle to the bottom. Don't worry if your beer looks green for the first few hours. Hops are green, and they will settle to the bottom. In the end, don't worry. Beer will be beer, but if you're still not sure, just send us an email, and we'll help you out.
There's crud around the inside of the fermenter. Is that bad?
That crud is just yeast and sediment from your beer. It's a sign of an active fermentation, so it's definitely not a bad thing. If it gets in your blowoff tube, clean it out with a sanitizer solution and flush it with warm tap water. It may appear a little cloudy afterwards, but that's fine. Switch to the airlock if your beer's activity has slowed down.
How do I know if my beer is ready to be bottled? Is an extra week in the fermenter reason to worry?
Once you're finished brewing, keep your beer in a dark place and try your best to forget about it (the occasional peek is fine). After two weeks, check on your beer. Look at the surface of your beer for any sign of bubbles. Even the tiniest can mean your beer is still fermenting, so if you notice any, just come back in a few days. It's better to wait an extra week than it is to bottle too early. Bottling too early can contribute to over carbonated beer.
What do I do if my beer is over-carbonated?
Bottle conditioning means you're carbonating your beer in bottles with a little sugar, usually in the form of honey or maple syrup diluted with a little warm water. You'll find bottle conditioning used in traditional breweries around the world, but it's also what you do at home. Over-carbonation can happen for a few reasons. The first possible reason is that your beer was bottled before it finished fermenting. See the question on knowing when to bottle to avoid this problem. Another possible reason is that too much sugar was added when bottling your beer. This can happen if you boil off too much liquid when brewing but still add the full amount of sugar for one gallon. See the question regarding what to do if your fermenter isn't filled up all the way to prevent this from happening. If your beer is over-carbonated, move all your bottles into the fridge. Colder temperatures will help stop additional carbonation while helping the beer absorb some of its CO2.
I just got my kit. Where are my hops & yeast?
To extend the life of the ingredients in our beer-making mixes, the packets of hops and yeast get packed along with the grain. They sometimes get buried under the grain like a kid's toy in an old box of cereal, so you may need to dig for them. If you still don't see them after looking through the bag, please send us an email.
That was great. Can I reuse my kit?
Sure! Brooklyn Brew Shop made their Beer Making Kit with a high quality glass fermenter because glass doesn't harbor any bacteria that may otherwise be bad for your beer. All you need to do is clean your equipment with sanitizer and figure out what you'd like to brew next. All you need is another Beer Making Mix.