Hambleton Bard
Hambleton Bard

Better Brew Beer Kits - Why better?

Beer kits from Better Brew - Why better? For several decades the Homebrew beer kit market has been dominated by a handful of malt extract manufacturers, we feel they have become a little complacent and despite the enormous number of different labels of canned beer kits available, many taste the same. We believe the Homebrew Industry is looking for something a little different now.

beermaking homebrew kit

Two years ago we decided to take a fresh look at beer kits, what other malt extracts were available? What other beer yeast strains could be used to differentiate between different beer styles? Two years later, after many hundreds of brews we believe we have a quality alternative to the canned beer kit.

Our approach is based on painstakingly going through the raw materials, the yeast strains and the packaging and choosing the best without compromises. Fortunately, modern packaging is cheaper than metal cans, allowing us to go for real quality raw materials.


Better Malt Extracts

One of the problems if you’re a malt extract manufacturer who produces 50+ different canned beer kit recipes is there’s a pressure to use the same basic malt extract in every kit. Close your eyes and they’ll often taste the same. Each of the seven Better Brew beer kits uses a malt extract selected only for how well it makes that style of beer – We are using malt extracts from several countries, from Europe to America.

We can cherry pick like this because we have no ties with any malt extract manufacturer but it’s of course rather unlikely that a maltster with a canning line would use a better malt extract from a competitor. Just think about it – how likely is it that one manufacturer happens to make all the best malt extracts for every type of beer kit?

Better Yeast Strains

The same is true of beer yeast strains, rather than using the same baking yeast strain across all canned beer kits and then one ale yeast strain across all premium kits, Better Brew looked at all professional dried brewing strains available worldwide and brewed out hundreds of beers to determine which strain gave the best result for each style of beer. So the wheat beer kit uses a genuine wheat strain, the different ales and bitters in the range contains different strains according to style and the lagers contain a particularly neutral strain.

You may think that your favourite canned beer kit contains a brewers yeast strain because it says so on the packaging in some wording, while in fact many canned kits (but not all) contain rebranded baking yeast strains. Albeit particularly chosen to work with fermentation of malt extracts, these strains will ferment a bit too fast and brutal and will not work as well as professional brewing strains (which are more expensive).

No colourings

Pages could be written about ‘better ingredients’ – we didn’t want to use any colourings at all, not only leaving out caramel, but also malt colourings. Better Brew derives all its beer colour from the malt extract used. Caramel colouring needs to be declared in the ingredients list (look for E150’s) but malt colourings don’t need to be in the declaration so unless a manufacturer expressly states “no colourings used”, you simply don’t know what is in there. We don’t use any colourings at all. Better Brew beer kits are as natural as they come.

Better Packaging

Unless you’re Heinz – cans are very expensive. They are also quite fragile if you drop them or if sent on mail order. So we decided to go for DOY pouch because of the lower cost (allowing us to use more expensive raw materials) and the lower carbon footprint. We think the DOY packaging also allows for better shelf presentation and speaks of a new age for Homebrew. We believe in the long term future of this industry and invested heavily into the very latest Toyo type pouch filling technology with all the bells and whistles (below 0.5% oxygen in the pouch, latest sterilisation methods etc). Shelf life is 24 months and pouches don’t dent if you drop them.

Better all round

If we’re to attract a new generation of brewers we need to tick ALL the boxes;

  • Simplicity 
  • Commercial beer quality 
  • Modern, environmentally friendly packaging 
  • Value for money

It’s not enough for our customers to ‘get used to how homebrew tastes’ after they’ve made a few brews, ‘word of mouth’ will never become a powerful tool unless we make beers which tastes fantastic.

Important – new instructions

Using genuine brewers beer yeast strains means slower and more gentle fermentations especially during the later stages of primary fermentation.

After the initial strong fermentations from the Better Brew kits, it can take another full 7 days to drop the last 5 or 6 gravity points. Such slow second week fermentation means the airlock won’t be bubbling and the gravity will only be dropping by an average of 1 point per day.

Better Brew instructions clearly say to leave for 10 days in the primary (between 20-25C). This is very important, even if you are an experienced brewer and you are used to bottle when airlock stops bubbling or when you seem to get the same specific gravity for two days (you may not notice the 1 point drop!).

If you ignore the 10 day primary fermentation time, you are very likely to end up with gushing bottles! If you are kegging your beer, you can of course get away with doing this a bit sooner because of the kegs pressure release valve, however we strongly recommend always leaving the beer for 10 days in primary fermentation.

For the lagers, you could ferment cooler than the 20-25C. That would mean a small quality improvement, but it's only small as the yeast strain we use performs very well for lagers at say 20C. If you do decide to go lower, aim for 15-20C and expect MUCH longer fermentation time. You are on your own with the end bit of the primary fermentation, you then really need to monitor the gravity drops and only proceed to bottle when you get the same gravity for a number of days (make a mistake here and you'll get gushing bottles!). There is no quality improvement if you ferment cooler for any of the other types of beer.


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