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[Review] Brewer's Choice Ultimate Traditional IPA kit

Started by LordEoin, September 24, 2013, 01:43:28 AM

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September 24, 2013, 01:43:28 AM Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 07:32:10 AM by LordEoin
This thread is a review of a Brewers Choice Ultimate Traditional IPA kit that I bought from Homebrewwest.ie for €28.95.
The 'Brupaks Brewer's Choice Ultimate kits' seem to be the same as the 'Brupaks Brewer's Choice' kits except it also comes with 3kg of Dry Malt Extract, hops and grains.
It also come in a 5liter bucket which will be handy as an primary for wine ;)

So now that we know about the ingredients and the provided instructions, I suppose it's time to get this thing opened and start brewing...

Included documentation :


1 - Ensure that all equipment is clean and sterile before use. Use Brupaks Bruclean for best results.

2 - Place the BruBags of hops and/or grains into a clean saucepan and cover with 2 liters of boiling water. Leave for 20 minute, then pour the liquid into your fermenting vessel

3 - Repeat step 2

4 - Repeat step 2 and siacard BruBags. Add the bags of malt extract to the fermenting vessel and stir until dissolved usinf a sterile spoon. Top up with cold (preferably filtered) water to 5 gallons (23liters) and stir Vigorously for ficve minutes to oxygenate. Check that the temperature of the liquid is between 20C and 25C then pour in the yeast and stir again briefly.

5 - Cover the fermenter and place where it can be left undisturbed between 18C-22C (15C-18C for lager styles). After 5 to 7 days fermentation should be over. Siphon into another vessel (preferably one with an airlock) and stir gently. After 2 days your beer will be ready for bottling/barrelling.

6 - Siphon into bottles primed with sugar (half teaspoon per pint) or a keg primed with 100grams of the same. Place your beer in a warm place for 7 days then transfer to somewhere cool for a further 7 days.

The BruBag is like a large tea bag. It allows the flavour of the hops and grains to 'flood out' without any messy straining.
The Brewer's Choice range of beer kits uses Tea Bag Technology to incorporate fresh roasted and caramel grains and aromatic hops.

Here's some more informatin about the hop and grains that I pulleed from HBW's Brewer's CHoice (normal) kit page:

Brupaks Brewer's Choice are unique in that they are the first dried ingredient kits that don't require boiling. The bber kits are comprised of first-grade, spray-dried malt extract, freshly crushed grains, pre isomerised hop pellets and genuine brewer's yeast. As the hops have already been isomerised (alpha acids, the bittering substances in hops, are insoluble until they have been boiled in wort for at least 20 minutes) all that is neccessary to release their biterness and flavour is to steep them in hot water for a few minutes.

First of all, there are a few bits in the instructions that I don't particularly like.
  • It's missing step 1 - pour a beer. I'm starting with a 'Geordie Lager, Red + hops abv 3.8%' Brewed by Garry. Nice hoppy blast on pouring, great head. Very drinkable for a girls' beer...
  • The instructions scream 'DME CLUMPS' to me, so i'm going to start by dissolving the DME by swirling it in 3 liters of boiling water. (edit - this step was not needed at all)
  • I'll reactivate the yeast in 70ml water instead of adding it dry.
  • Ambiguity in temperatures is bad. I'm going to keep it at 20C constant.
  • I will transfer to secondary onext week, but I'm going to dry-hop it and leave it in secondary for 7 days, not 2.
  • half teaspoon of sugar per pint is 5 grams per liter. I'll bulk prime at 6 or 7 grams per liter.

    So... What's in the bucket?

    The first thing you notice is the gigantic 3kg bag of DME. Lovely!
    Then there's a vacuum packed silver bag containing two 30gram teabags of crushed grain, and 25gram and 20gram teabags of hop pellets, a 7g sachet of yeast.

    I started with the DME and as expected, even with my clumping damage control, it's just too much dry malt to avoid the clumping.
    I ended up putting all the malt in a big pot and heating it up in water until it was dissolved.
    I figure the heat wont be a problem later on as it'll be at least another hour before I pitch the yeast.
    (edit - Just stick to the instructions for this bit, I tried it on another kit and the instructed way does not clump)

    Next it was time to add the first 2liters of water onto the teabags.
    All good so far.

    Wait 20 minutes. in the boredom, as Garry's LadyBeer was very nice, I decided to crack open another of his marked 'HBC Irish Red 5.3%'. It pours nice dark red with a whiff of chocolate grain. Strong but not overpowering chocolate taste. Well done Garry. Another fine brew!
    add liquid to FV.
    fill another 2liters, Wait 20 minutes, add liquid to FV.
    At this stage I put the 7grams of yeast into 70ml of water and a teaspoon of sugar.
    fill another 2liters, Wait 20 minutes, add liquid to FV.
    Dump teabags.

    That was a long hour. Good thing scrubs was on (as always). Goo old reliable scrubs.
    I also got the animals fed and the satellite dish better alligned.
    It was a very productive brewday!

    Time for another brew, again one of garry's marked 'Brewers CHoice dry Ingredient lager 4.5%'. It pours nice. about the same colour as Budweiser and a light lasting head. It's oddly citrussy and wouldn't be my choice of beers.
    Because this is the normal cersion of this 'ultimate' range, I figure my IPA wont be too far of it and I have decided to dryhop in secondary.

    I then topped it up to 18 Liters with cold water and checked the temperature, 36C. damn.
    Cold water to 23C and still 32C. Into the freezer for a while I think

    My yeast starter is frothing away fine anyway, looks like good yeast :D

    Eventually I got it down to 22C, pitched the yeast and set it in my brewfridge at 19C.

    Gonna have another brew to relax, Garry's APA. yum, i like this a lot. it reminds me of nettelbrau, but in a good way!

    So, my impressions of this kit so far?
    1 - it takes a bit longer with the 3 teabag steeps
    2 - not quite sure that 60 grams of grain and 45 grams of hops will be enough for an IPA, I want to add another 150G of crystal but I'll leave it off to see how the supplied grains affect the head/colour/flavour of all that DME. But I will definitely be dryhopping.
    3 - expensive for a kit, but that's to be expected with 3kg of DME, grains and hops
    4 - Nice little bucket for use elsewhere

    I've not been disappointed by Brupaks before, so I'm hoping that their expert kit technicians are on the ball and have this balancing act under control. (still gonna dryhop though)


September 24, 2013, 07:56:30 AM #1 Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 09:14:36 AM by Garry
That is a beautiful bucket  :P

Did you get all the clumps out in the end? What was the OG?

45g of hops doesn't sound like much in an IPA. Unless they are super concentrated pellets or something? 60g of grain doesn't sound like much either but it does appear to have made a bit of a difference to the colour.

Edit: I did some googling and the hops are pre-isomerised pellets. I assume that means they're better than normal pellets?


I forgot to ask, will you add the crystal to the secondary?


Yes, it's a lovely bucket!

They don't look, feel or smell any different to normal hop pellets.
I left the crystal out to get a feel for the kit.
I got all the clumping out alright and the OG was 1.048


September 24, 2013, 11:37:57 PM #4 Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 09:54:52 PM by LordEoin
This is chugging away nicely now with a nice thick frothy krausen. There's a nice sweet malty smell around the room  :)

Edit - 30 sep (7 days)
It stopped after 5 days, so I upped the temperature to 22C for the last 2 days.
Today moved this to secondary, added 25g cascade and 25g willamette dryhop.
Lowered the fridge to 4C.
I'll leave it another week.

Edit - 7 oct (14 days)
Today I bulk primed at 6g/l and bottled. There was surprisingly little extra yeast dropped out.
It smells and tastes great, even without carbonation.
It's a lovely dark golden colour.
I'm not sure yet how the bittering will be as it has priming sugar and no carbonation. But I'll find out in a few weeks.
It all seems good so far and I'm looking forward it  :)


October 30, 2013, 07:19:34 AM #5 Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 07:33:44 AM by LordEoin
This beer is fantastic young.
It's only in the bottle about 3 weeks and I've already gone through a dozen of them because i wanted to 'taste its progress'! :)
There won't be many left to make it to the 3 month mark..

Since brewing this, I did a Brewer's Choice Ultimate Pilsner kit and followed the instructions.
The malt did not clump.

My fears about the bottering were also proven wrong. Whatever they did to 'pre-isomerize' the hops works great.
bittering is just right.
carbonation 6g/l (1 carb drop per 500ml) is perfect.
Head is light but lasting, with some lacing. Next time I'd probably add 150g carapils to the steep.
Aroma and flavour are fantastic. Lovely balance between the bittering, malt, and hops (but bear in mind that I did dryhop some willlamette).
Very slight and pleasant bubblegum touch.
Body is great.

Overall, I'd rate both the kit and the beer 4 out of 5. It only lost points because of the hour of steeps and the light head.
It does cost a bit more, but you don't have the extra costs of fermentables or electricity/gas for boils and 3kg of DME will set you back about €19 on its own anyway.
I'll brew this range again :)

- Great beer
- 3kg DME included - No extra fermentables needed
- Hops included
- Speciality grains included
- Preisomerized hops - No boiler needed
- 90 minute brewday
- Little waste
- Sweet bucket!

- A little more expensive
- Thin head (still better than most other kits)
- Waiting for steeps can get a little boring if you're impatient.


Carapils requires mashing, just so ye know ;)

Nice review. I'll do mine for the all grain kit in a couple of weeks when the time bottles are carbonated


Opinions differ. My opinion from personal experience is that it doesn't need mashing.

Adding carapils to a mash is probably better, but not necessary.
Mashing it on its own won't do anything because it has no enzymes (or something along those lines)
It can be steeped like crystal, and even cold steeped overnight.
John Palmer will tell you that steeping will add starch haze but I've never noticed it.

I think there a small few brands that need mashing, but not the weyermans (which is what's stocked by HBW and HBC).

This info is in my head from somewhere at sometime and I can probably track down source later if needed.
For now, bed time... night shift... :(