September is a desperate time for me. All of my home brew from the previous brewing season is gone. And it's still too hot to do much in the way of new brews. . .the warm temperatures (and fact that I am unwilling to run the air conditioning all day) mean a potential for off-flavors, unintended fruity aromas, and the like. Spending $40 and many hours of careful craft-brewing just don't seem worth it if the end product isn't up to par.
Thankfully, there are some quick-and-easy kits out there! Last year I tried Coopers Irish Stout and was quite pleased with the results. So, it seemed like a good idea to try another kit. This time, it was Muntons Nut Brown Ale (from their Connoisseurs Range product line). The kit was cheap (only $21 from Vanguard Home Brew, plus another $10 for three pounds of amber malt DME), and promised to be a fast brew session.
The kit itself comprised a 1.8 kg can of hopped liquid malt extract, along with a packet of yeast. I soaked the can in a bath of hot water (to loosen up the extract). Meanwhile, I boiled up a few liters of water with the DME. I turned off the heat and added the hopped LME, and then added all of this to my fermenter. Then, I topped it up to around 5 gallons (with cold water). Unfortunately, the temperature was still too hot to pitch the yeast (90 degrees or more), so I sanitized some gallon freezer bags, put ice packs in them, and then let them soak in the wort to cool the whole mess down. Once it reached 84 degrees, I removed the ice packs and pitched the yeast. In addition to the mystery default yeast that came in the package, I also added a packet of Nottingham yeast that had been sitting in the fridge since last season. Not elegant, but it worked. During fermentation, the average temperature in the bucket was around 80 degrees!
I let it ferment for one week (from Sept. 2 to Sept. 9), and then bottled on Sept. 9 with 3/4 cup of corn sugar boiled in 2 cups of water. The original gravity was 1.050, and the final gravity was 1.012 (meaning an a.b.v. of 5.0%). I ended up with 23 18 oz. bottles, 6 22 oz. bottles, and 9 12 oz. bottles.