"It doesn't get much easier than this." That is the slogan for a home brewing supply company called Mr. Beer. You can find their products online here:
The Mr. Beer brewing system is a 2 phase process. First, you combine the ingredients with water in the brewing keg and wait 7 days for it to ferment (turn to alcohol). Then, you simply open the spout to bottle the beer, top each bottle off with a small scoop of sugar for a nice carbonation, seal the bottles and wait 2-4 weeks for your beer to mellow and carbonate. The hardest part is waiting!
When you order your basic kit from Mr. Beer, everything comes included in premeasured amounts, except the water and white sugar. All you do is combine the contents of the cans and packets with water in the brewing keg. After you have a few batches under your belt, you deviate from the standard flavors and create your own recipes. You can add fruits, seasonings, spices, specialty yeasts, or premium beer mixes. Today, I used the Mr. Beer Hard Apple Cider Kit, but added my own personal touch. I added one can of apple juice concentrate, 2 Tbs. of pumpkin pie spice, and 1 cup of dark brown sugar to the fermenting container, in addition to the contents of the Mr. Beer cider kit. Yeeha, that's gonna be some wickedly high alcohol cider when she's done! Anything you add to the keg during fermentation that contains natural sugars will increase the alcohol content of the finished product.
The first thing I did to start brewing was to gather all of my ingredients. Next, I used the included one step sanitizer to treat the keg and my stirring spoon, in order to reduce bacterial contamination. Don't forget to sanitize the keg lid, too. After all of my equipment was sanitized, I filled the keg with 4 quarts of room temperature tap water. Never pour boiling water into your plastic keg, it could melt and warp.
Then, I measured out one cup of dark brown sugar and 2 Tbs. of the spice blend and added that to the apple juice concentrate and hard cider mix in a medium saucepan. I heated the mixture on the stovetop on medium heat until all the brown sugar was dissolved.
Then, I added the yeast packet to the brewing keg, stirred it up, and finally added the spice and cider mixture to the keg. Here is the sauce pan with the apple and spice mixture. And the other picture is stirring the yeast into the keg. Right now, the fermenting keg is sealed up and "sleeping". It is best to keep it in a moderate temperature zone around 70 degrees F and out of direct sunlight. The keg cannot be opened during fermenting. After 7 days, I can drain some cider out of the spout into a glass and check for clarity and taste. It should be relatively free of sediment and have a sweet, slightly yeasty taste. If it looks ready to bottle, I will then be able to bottle the cider with a little bit additional sugar and wait at least 10 more days to drink it, for carbonation and maximum flavor to develop.
I will be blogging again when the cider is finished with pictures! Until then, please follow our blog and keep reading about handmade items in Tennessee.
Along with brewing beer, I also operate the etsy shop Mylana featuring my handmade candles, soaps, and jewelry: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Mylana