By Hope S. Philbrick
Whether you’re an experienced homebrewer or simply hoping to increase your at-home beer supply during the pandemic, look to Brewferm.
Brewferm is a Belgian family-owned business that makes homebrewing easy. What started in 1972 as a hobby has grown into “Europe’s most highly specialized wholesaler of products for homebrewing beers” according to press materials.
My husband Dean has been homebrewing for several years, but didn’t have ingredients on hand when the pandemic hit. Brewferm to the rescue. We received three different brew mixes: Beastly Belge, Belgian 1774, and Dubbel Dame. Whole kits are available if you don’t already have supplies on hand.
Brewferm kits are easy with no boiling required. They include the hopped malt and yeast. Since Dean is the head brewer here at home, I asked him about his experiences working with the Brewferm mixes:
How did Brewferm compare to other brewing kits you’ve tried?
The recipes are easy to follow. I didn’t use Brewferm equipment and fermentation took longer than the instructions suggested. The final ABV wasn’t as high as what the instructions indicated, but the appearance of the beer looks good, they taste fine at bottling (even before carbonation) and will taste better with bottle conditioning.
What are the steps?
I had to sanitize all the equipment—sanitation is the No. 1 success factor in beermaking—measure and mix water, add the appropriate amount of sugar to the fermentation bucket and add yeast as instructed. I then waited for fermentation to complete and did the bottling. I added carbonation tablets at bottling.
Why did you let the beers ferment longer than the recommended time?
To ensure that the fermentation was fully complete. You look at your bubbler and even though the instructions said two weeks I could see it was still fermenting slowly so I waited. I’d say that you should expect to let it ferment at least three weeks in the fermentation bucket.
How does Brewferm compare to Mr. Beer Kits?
Brewferm is really simple. All you do is mix syrup with water then add sugar, mix it, dump it into the fermentation bucket and add yeast.
If it’s so easy, do you still feel like it’s beer that you made?
I always equate these types of kits to making a packaged cake mix. You still have to make it, measure it, bake it.
Does the kit live up to your expectations?
Yes. It couldn’t be easier. The hard part is making sure everything is clean and sanitized and that you maintain sanitation throughout the process to ensure success.
Would you buy a Brewferm kit again?
Does the flavor of the beer live up to your expectations?
The jury is still out since we’re waiting on the bottle conditioning, but the initial flavor is good and it should improve. These are Belgian-style beers. There are no obnoxious flavors.
How much beer did these kits make? Are we all set through the pandemic?
Each of these kits had a different yield. With Beastly Belge I got 37 bottles, which was the highest yield. Belgian 1774 was 28 bottles. Dubbel Dame was 20 bottles. You can expect to lose the volume of about three to five bottles during the production process, which is totally normal. Of course, we’ll always need more beer!
Dean makes the beer, but I make the labels. For this trio, made during the pandemic, a coronavirus theme seemed appropriate. (From left to right, Beastly Belge, Belgian 1774, and Dubbel Dame.)
Photos © HSP Media LLC
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