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A guide to hacking a kit!

Started by Kevco5, November 27, 2012, 09:41:35 PM

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There been some talk lately about doing more for kit and extract brewers, so when a kit landed in the post as a birthday present from my UK based brother I knew I had to do something with it for the NHC.
Personally I started brewing with kits and found them a great way to dip into the world of home brewing before moving on to extract, plus I'm sure there's far more people who will use them as a starting point for their brewing obsession!

Kits are quick and easy to make but with a little extra time and effort (with minimal extra equipment) they can be made with far more quality and flavour by adding some steeping grains and hops.

So here's my guide to hacking a kit. I hope it's helpful.


Not something I would have bought myself to be honest, but a quick Google and there's suggestions that it's close to Tooheys New. A dietary stable of Paddy's in OZ and no doubt a sentimental nod from my brother to the time I visited him down under.

Worryingly the can expires in January 2013. The yeast packet under the lid doesn't look too appetizing either and with no indication of which variety of yeast it contains added to the fact its probably at least 2-3 years old it goes straight to the bin to be replaced by something more reliable, in this case US-05.

The instructions on the kit (ignore these!) call for 1kg of sugar, preferably brewing sugar. I'm looking for a more malt flavour from the kit as wel as more body than the sugar could add so I'm using 1kg of extra light spraymalt (DME)

I'm also steeping grains to give the final beer more body and head retention.

Grains       300grams CaraPils + 50grams Crystal 50

With my grains weighed out and tied in a muslin bag, they get steeped for 30 minutes in 3 litres of water at 66-70 degrees Celsius

After the 30 minutes remove and drain the muslin bag and bring the wort to the boil.
I'm adding 25grams of hallertau mittelfrüh hop pellets a German hop suited to lager, bock and pilsner.

Once boiling I add the hops and boil for 15 Minutes to add flavour.

This is a good time to leave the can steeping in hot water to soften the contents, as this will make mixing a lot easier later

Boil complete and it all gets strained into the fermentation vessel.

Pour in the contents of the can and mix very well, do the same for the spraymalt.
Make sure the ingredients are well mixed and fully dissolved as your original gravity reading will not be accurate otherwise.

Top up with water to desired amount, Most kits call for 23litres, I'm topping up to 20 litres for a slightly bigger beer with more flavour.

It looks a lot darker in the fermentation vessel than I thought it would be. This could be due to the age of the kit (I know I've read somewhere that LME can darken over time). I hope I don't get any stale or cardboard flavours from this.

Gravity came in at 1.047 so if I get to 1.014 it will give me 4.3%abv should make for a nice session beer for the Christmas.

I'm going to dry hop this for a week before kegging, using another 25grams of the hallertau mittelfrüh.

Will keep ye posted on how it comes out.


Dei miscendarum discipulus
Forgive us our Hangovers as we forgive those who hangover against us


Great write up Kev. Always interesting to learn a bit about the kit hacking!


Thanks for the post Kev. Great timimg, I was thinking of doing something similar myself this weekend.  I have a Coopers European Lager kit, 250g of Munich Malt & about 900g of Light DME.  I'll dry hop with EKG (it's all i have).

Did you use the yeast that came with your kit?  I'll probably go with a lager yeast and leave it fermenting a little longer.



Must bottle a bit of this and let the Galway lads have the final say!

Richie I binned the yeast that came with it, didn't trust it one bit! Swapped it for fermentis US-05.


Hi Kevco,

Was wondering how do you decide how to hack the kit. Are you experimenting based on intuition or are you using something like BeerSmith to be more scientific?

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QuoteThanks for the post Kev. Great timimg, I was thinking of doing something similar myself this weekend.  I have a Coopers European Lager kit, 250g of Munich Malt & about 900g of Light DME.  I'll dry hop with EKG (it's all i have).

Did you use the yeast that came with your kit?  I'll probably go with a lager yeast and leave it fermenting a little longer.

Hi Richie, though I'm not a kit hacker I'll add thet Munich cannot be steeped as the starch need to convert to sugar, unlike the crystal malts where sugar is already there and easily accessible.

You will need to do a mini mash to convert the starch, very similar but you need to be a bit more careful with temps. 66C is perfect and you can just wrap in a towel to maintain temps.

You need to be careful what malts you pick to use as some will not self convert, luckily Munich will.

I dont want to turn you off at all and it's a very subtle difference with munich. With some more roasted malts, you would need to add some base malt to supply enzymes.

Hope I didnt cause to much confusion ;D
I can add more if you like
Non modo......sed etiam


Nothing but intuition and some research!
I have Brew Pal for iPhone, it doesn't list kits but I find it great for extract brewing.
I'd advise to match your hops to the particular style of kit.
Lager kits with lager hops (saaz, hallertauer,spalt)
Pale ale/IPA (cascade, nelson etc)


Thanks for the pointers Spud, i wasn't aware of that.  I've made mostly kits up to now and I'm new to the extract/hacking kits side of things so welcome any tips at all.


My initial kit hacks were dead, dead simple:

Just use two kits!!

Want a full bodied crisp lager: Tin of lager + tin of pilsner

Want a rich brown ale: Tin of stout + Tin of Ale

I have done the above and the results were better than the sum of the tins

Then get weird:

Lager + Ale: Some form of pale ale??

Cider + Lager: Appfel Hefeweissen ( have drunk this commercially in Holland, brewed in .be and in summer was delicously refreshing

Mix and match I say

Remember: The Nationals are just round the corner - time to get brewing


I took advantage of the cold weather ths time last year and did a coopers aussie pale ale kit and a lager yeast, mauribrew lager yeast i think. I also added some hop tea and dry hopped it with some amarillo hops. I cant remember the exact amounts. I left it in the primary for a month somewhere cold (in the draft behind the front door), the dry hopped for a week before bottling.

It came out really nice, would definatly do it again.
...used to be NewBier