After moving back home to the States, where those kits were not readily available, I took the next logical step and bought all the equipment needed to to brew craft-style beers from scratch, using steeped whole grains, hops, and specialty malts and yeasts. Each batch was boiled in my huge lobster pot and fermented in a heavy 6-gallon bottle, then transferred to a 5-gallon keg and stored in a special beer fridge in the garage where it was tapped with a restaurant-style carbonator and CO2 tank. It was a big deal.
And while NOTHING beats a fresh glass of homebrew, I never looked forward to spending the vigilant four hours it required to sterilize all the equipment, boil gallons of water, soak grains, avoid messy boil-overs, time the hops in the wort, siphon sticky wort (unfermented beer) from one vessel to another, carry the insanely heavy and fragile glass fermenter across the house. UGH.
Rather than becoming more and more excited about brewing beer, I began to dread the process. Plus, I don't have the room to store more than five gallons of beer at one time, so we found ourselves drinking the same beer for so long we got sick of it.
I missed that old British-style kit method that was so simple and easy. You avoid all the preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, additives, chemicals, and weird ingredients (like caramel coloring, propylene glycol and fish bladder, to name a few) and you still get the freshness and taste of homebrew without all the mess and hassle. These types of kits are more readily available in England and Canada, reason being that their liquor taxes are so high-- people just want good beer without a big fuss and without breaking the bank. For them, it's sensible to make your own, fast and cheap. Here in the US, beer's so inexpensive, most people don't bother.
So I did some research and found a terrific self-contained system that uses far less equipment, brews two gallons at a time, takes less than half an hour to get started (compared to 3-4 hours the old way), and best of all, can be used again and again with different recipes, reusing the same bottles and fermenter. How's that for efficient and eco-friendly? Instead of recycling your old beer bottles, just fill them up with your next batch of homemade beer!
Needless to say, I sell the system at the King's Roost now. And the refill recipes I carry are created by master brewers in two different breweries in New Zealand and Australia. You can make American ales, IPAs, amber ales, wheat beers, ESBs, winter ales, spiced ales, pilsners, lagers, Mexican-style cervezas, porters, seasonal brews, regional brews, countless hard fruit ciders (apple, pear, cherry, boysenberry!).... the list is endless. You can even use your fermenter to make wine or kombucha.
So the next time you buy cheap beer, just think: you could be paying the same kind of money for fresh, craft homebrew made in a fermenter whose footprint is no bigger than a dinner plate, with no artificial ingredients, while drastically reducing your recycling waste. Look how simple, fast, and fun it is-- in the video below, I walk you through the entire process in fifteen minutes!