Monday, August 13, 2012

Mr. Beer - Yea or Nay?

Invariable, when anyone decides to try brewing their own beer, they will eventually come across the Mr. Beer kit.  The kit comes with everything you need to brew your first beer for $40, which gives you 2 gallons of finished beer.  A much easier amount to handle than the 5 gallon recipes that are typical in this hobby.  For an extra $15 you also get everything you need to bottle your beer.

So what's not to love?
While the initial cost if the Mr. Beer kit is low, the ingredient kits are fairly expensive, starting around $15 for a 2 gallon batch.  For not much more money, you could be making 5 gallon batches of beer.
The ingredient kits are made in such a way that you can't easily experiment with the recipes.  The kits are typically a can of hopped malt extract, some dry yeast and cleaner.  Because the extract is already hopped, you're limited in the ways you can experiment with different hops.  Sure, you can try dry hopping, or adding additional hops at different parts of the boil, but you can't get any less hoppy, or try different bittering hops.  Also, the extract that comes with the Mr. Beer kits don't really let you play with different specialty grains, because the flavor/color of the specialty grains has already been added to the kits.  

Now, for the yeast, sure, the yeast that comes with the ingredient kits is likely fairly neutral, but you could try buying different yeasts.  Then again, buying different yeast will run you an extra $5 from most suppliers.

I've also never been terribly impressed with the flavor of the beers that are made from the Mr. Beer kits, but a large part of that could come from the person brewing the beer being very new to the hobby, and not brewing the beer in ideal conditions.

But wait, there are redeeming qualities!
The Mr. Beer kit isn't all bad though.  It is a relatively inexpensive, easily approachable way to get into the hobby, and anything that promotes the hobby is good, in my book. 

I know several people that got their start in homebrewing from a Mr. Beer kit they received as a gift, or decided to buy on their own.  I also know a lot of people that have been scared away from the hobby because of how terrible their beer ended up tasting, but I'm guessing they either messed up somewhere, or just don't care for the type of beer they made.  I'm also pretty confident that the people that were scared away from homebrewing because of the beer they made with a Mr. Beer kit, are the same type of people that wouldn't have lasted very long in the hobby to begin with.

I also have a friend that still uses his Mr. Beer kit to brew experimental batches of beer, now that he's moved on to brewing larger scale batches of beer.

Final notes
If you're thinking about getting into homebrewing, I'd suggest finding someone that already homebrews, and ask to help them brew a batch of beer.  I've had people ask me that a few times now, and sometimes they go on to start brewing, and sometimes they decide they'd rather drink my beer than make their own.
If someone bought you a Mr. Beer kit, and it hasn't been sitting around, unused, for too long, give it a try.  Even if you don't end up liking the beer you make, it'll at least give you an idea as to what is involved in brewing beer, and whether or not you'd like to pursue the hobby further.

1 comment:

  1. Really Hit home on this. I agree that it is a great starter kit for anyone trying to get into brewing there own beer.. very cost effective to start. The one thing I was worried about was spending all my money on a big boy kit and not falling in love with the hobby.