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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Wednesday 23 April 2014

No Fuss Home Brew

Chris Brady / 01.11.12

Brewsmith-2

Home brewing has come a long way from the foul-tasting concoctions of sugar and baker’s yeast that your granddad used to make. The modern home brewer has access to many of the same ingredients that commercial breweries use and this, plus the renewed interest in all things crafty and homespun, means it was only a matter of time before home brew got a makeover.

Enter BrewSmith – a new home brew kit especially pimped for the inner-city crafternoon set.

BrewSmith is the brainchild of Melbourne couple Adrian MacGeraghty and Carolyn Rowe who began home brewing in 2011 only to find, as MacGeraghty explains, that they were often disappointed with the results.

“We got good beer, we got bad beer, we got terrible beer we had to throw away,” he says. “So we wanted to make a consistent process that always gave a good result.” This led the pair to begin developing BrewSmith in February of this year and they wet their boozy baby’s head last month at Collingwood’s Robert Burns Hotel.

There, in the upstairs function room, the gentle glow of soft spotlights and flickering tea candles cast a flattering light upon what just might have been the most fashionably dressed home brewing event in history. This may not be saying much, but no one could deny that the quota of skinny jeans, ironic t-shirts and tidy beards was unusually high for an event of this kind. What’s more, as well as getting to taste the BrewSmith beers, potential home brewers were also well fed on a selection of cocktail tapas.

Touting itself as ‘Australia’s first premium home brew kit’, BrewSmith is ideally suited to those people for whom the traditional 23-litre home brew kit is just too much beer to store. The kit is ‘apartment-sized’ and comes complete with a dinky little glass fermenter that makes a five litre batch of beer. The ingredients come in a natty calico bag containing dried malt extract, genuine ale yeast and hops (Cascade and Fuggles) plus specialty grains or spices depending on the kit. Some ingredients – honey, for example – are not included.

To those unfamiliar with the world of home brewing, this differs from the traditional kit, which comprises a can of pre-hopped, liquid malt extract to which you add water and sugar, in that the home brewer must boil the ingredients together for an hour in order to develop flavour and extract hop bitterness.

MacGeraghty says that anyone can achieve good results with the kits so long as they are made with due care and hygiene, adding that “higher fermentation temperatures will result in beer that is fruitier and dryer, but it’ll still taste good.”

The BrewSmith kits currently come in three flavours – Chocolate Paradise Porter, Honey Bomb Wheat Beer and Summer Citrus Blonde Ale – and all three finished beers were available for tasting at the launch. They do pretty much what it says on the label: the porter is sweet and chocolatey, the blonde ale packs a citrus punch thanks to lemon zest and coriander seeds, and the wheat beer has a smooth, honeyed character. The punters’ reaction was overwhelmingly positive, with the Honey Bomb Wheat Beer a clear favourite.

With home brewing being such an established hobby it would be easy to assume that there’s little room in the market place for yet another kit. However, according to MacGeraghty, the BrewSmith home brewer is very different from the old guard.

BrewSmith-3

The BrewSmith masterminds

“We want to bring it to people who are young and active and just want to drink good beer,” he says. “That’s why it had to be a different kind of product. Basically, anyone who likes trying new things and making stuff themselves will probably like to make their own awesome beer. We’re not trying to sell it to the fifty-year-old who’s doing it by himself in his garage.”

On the evidence of the launch night – middle-aged onanistic hermits aside – BrewSmith certainly appears to be hitting its target market.

  • BrewSmith home brew kits are available from the website. MacGeraghty and Rowe will also be popping up at the St Kilda Twilight Market and the Collingwood People’s Market.

Written by Chris Brady, a man who is consumed by beer: he writes about it, reads about it and brews it. Often the tables are turned and Chris consumes the beer too. If you’d like to make contact, you can do so here.



Comments

Andy Graham — 01 November at 03:57PM

I thought all the major brew shops already had premium kits for years, but for 23 litres , not 5 litres. All that effort for 5 Litres. Sounds like expensive way of craft brewing.
Don't like the term homebrew, because of the bad reputation homebrew has. Anyway, it is beer, not homebrew.
PS Suspect the 5 l brews will soon become 23 l brew kits.
Andy

Toby Mory — 01 November at 04:13PM

As Chris points out, the Brewsmith product is both for places where a 23ltr product takes up too much space and for people who just want to give home brewing a first time go without investing in too much paraphernalia.

Would you be happier if they changed their name to BeerSmith?

Matt Hendry — 01 November at 10:15PM

Cooopers Kits dont take up much space and with thier PET bottles ,Pre Hopped Beer Kits and Brewing Sugars they have made homebrew beer foolproof and cheap and widly avaible at Big W and other big box stores ,While I like the idea of a i5ltr extract kit that you can make on the stovetop that will produce a better beer theres a whole lot that can go wrong for the beginer, that said the Brooklyn Brew Shop in the US produce 1 Gallon All Grain Kits that have done quite well .

Dwayne Taylor — 02 January at 08:28PM

Excited to try them out guys, curious what type of honey you recommend using in the honey wheat, if its a 'bomb' or a background flavour. Keen to try the choc porter

You also have the fridge based self contained Brewmaster (USA based) that flooded the market last Christmas out of target/kmart etc and only to flop when it came to supplies, leaving it to the home brew stores to figure out an unusual size. Be interested to see how this could work with these units

As for the apartment brewing, imake (brewcraft/coppertun) out of New Zealand are bring out new kits to match their apartment spirits air still range, think they are going to be 9L.

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