On a hot summer afternoon, I just love an ice cold glass of beer – any kind of beer really, but I particularly enjoy a lighter beer. In fact, I enjoy a beer any time of year. I also enjoy making beer myself, AND I love to make lots of things from scratch! (Link to I am the Little Red Hen story here).
Before I discuss my latest brewing project – a quick story about my kids. There was at one point a commercial for beer, with a song that went “Beer, beer, beer, beer” and so on.
My 4 kids then aged 4 to 9 were hard to manage in those days. At one point I really needed to go to the grocery store and had them all on the loose in the parking lot. Trying to get them under control I thought that I would get them in order by counting off “march 1,2,3,4”. They loved the idea and proceeded to march through the parking lot and grocery store chanting “beer, beer, beer beer” at the top of their lungs. It’s funny today – but embarrassing at the time. They were always in control and had one personality as a group – kind of like the Borg in Star Trek.
Anyhoo – back to beer!
I received a Mr. Beer Home Brewing Kit for Christmas a few years ago and posted about it here.
For Christmas this year, I received some lovely refills for my Mr. Beer Kit, so I will update with a new product review!
Where to Buy Mr. Beer Refills in U.S. and Canada
The original Mr. Beer Brewing Kit and refills can be purchased directly from Mr. Beer in the United States. In Canada they are a little harder to get but it can be found at Walmart.ca, Amazon, BeverageCraft, GraintoGlass, CoopersKits, or possibly even your local home brewing store. There are other home brewing kits – like BrewDemon
My Mr. Brew Kit came with plastic bottles, a keg with a spigot, the beer mix, cleaning solution, and carbonating drops. All I needed was water (I used filtered water) and time. When I received refills, I was given the three different flavours of beer to try out, new cleaning solution and new carbonating drops.
I re-used some of the plastic bottles (although some of them were bent – so I threw them out – as I like to put them in the dishwasher – which can warp them!). I also have a collection of glass bottles with sealable spouts, and in a pinch I can use commercial beer bottles, as I have a beer bottler tool!
I had carefully cleaned and put away my original keg and spout, after my last batch of beer. When I started my new batch, I just rinsed and used the cleaning solution. The keg should last for several brews – but it is plastic, so it’s important not to scratch the interior when cleaning, or warp it with hot water!
Mr Beer Instructions:
Link to detailed Mr. Beer Instructions here. Use Mr. Beer’s instructions, but my edited version is below!
Assemble Mr. Beer Keg and Spigot
The first step in Mr. Beer brewing is to assemble the spigot and clean the keg. Place the washer on the spigot with beveled washer outside of keg. Next screw on the nut inside the keg. Do not over tighten. Fill the keg with water to test for leaks – let the water sit in the keg for about half an hour – somewhere that you can easily clean up. Each time I use the keg, I start with some leaking – and fiddle with the spigot a few times before I correct the leak!
Clean Mr. Beer Keg and tools
Next, clean the keg and spigot to kill off bacteria! Put clean warm water in the keg up to a line 1 on the back of the keg. (I needed my reading glasses for this!) Add 1 tablespoon no-rinse cleanser (saving the rest for the bottles later). Stir without scratching the keg until the cleanser dissolves. Screw on the lid and shake the liquid around gently in the keg. (There are air holes under the lid where some liquid may splash out). Leave for 2 minutes or so, then swish it around some more. Then release some of the liquid through the spigot into a large clean bowl. This cleans the spigot and puts liquid in the bowl to sterilize your spoon and measuring cup or tools that you may use. Let them soak for at least 2 minutes. Do not dry off!
Mr. Beer Brewing:
The Mr. Beer refill cans contain everything needed to produce the wort – you just need to add water. The first step is to remove the packet of yeast from under the plastic lid. Then you remove the can’s label, and let the unopened can sit in hot water.
Measure four cups of water into clean pot. (I used distilled – to avoid chlorine and tap water sediment). Some brewing packages come with booster packs – mine didn’t – but dissolve in the cool water if you have one! Bring water to a boil and turn off heat. Open now-heated can from bottom and pour into boiled water. Stir.
Fill the keg to line one with refrigerated filtered or distilled water. Pour contents of pot (the wort!) into the keg – it should reach line 2. Stir – but be careful not to scratch inside of keg.
Sprinkle the yeast package into the keg liquid (over the surface of the liquid).
Screw on the lid.
Place the keg in a cool (70 to 72 degrees) dark place for 10 to 14 days. Do not open keg at any time!
After 14 days – sample the beer – it should just be flat beer. If it’s not ready, it can ferment for another 7 days – but that’s all.
I had a collection of plastic screwtop and glass bottles – enough to bottle 2 gallons of beer.
Mix another tablespoon of the cleaning solution with water and pour into each bottle – swooshing liberally – to clean each one. Shake out the cleaning solution to empty bottles – but do not dry.
My kits came with carbonation drops – so I put 2 into each 740 ml (25 oz) bottle and one into each 12 oz. bottle. If there are no carbonation drops – about one teaspoon of sugar is equal to one carbonation drop.
Pour beer from spigot into bottles – tilting bottles to avoid foaming – fill each bottle to 1 inch from the top.
When filling the bottles I was careful not to swish the keg around. The sediment had settled nicely into the bottom layer of the keg. Just leave the sediment – don’t try to get every drop! Nobody wants a chewy beer!
Seal bottles with screw top or cap. Place bottles in location out of direct sunlight at room temperature – above 70 and below 78 degrees. After 14 days the bottles should be ready to place in the refrigerator – for 48 hours prior to serving.
Waiting is the hardest part!
Clean your empty keg and bottles as soon as you are finished with them – because the beer is wonderful and you will want to make another batch.
For my first batch of beer – I made a Canadian Blonde, which was entirely appropriate for me. This time around I made a Classic American Light – which was nice and light – but not too light and almost had an amber colour. The carbonation was just how I like it – although if I left the bottle opened for the length of time to consume a double sized bottle – it would fade a bit.
I look forward to making more beer all summer long to serve at the cottage. I’m just not sure these bottles will still be full when cottage time arrives. I’m starting to make my next batch now!
The Mr. Beer kit has just the right sized 2 gallon keg for me to prepare myself without too much trouble, and the pre-mixed wort makes the process much easier than the traditional wort making process that comes with other kits (Pouring boiling water through grain – as I recall). This process was easy, just right for me and – bonus – it tastes good.
Someone who wants to really get involved with home brewing can try different recipes, order more ingredients, or expand to a larger system, but this 2 gallon kit and refills is just right for me.
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