Homebrew beer kits?

Is it possible to make decentish beer using a basic homebrew kit - like the ones found in Boots and here:
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Gareth wrote :
Can't really comment on the quality of beer kits these days - I gave up using them years ago - although I thought my results were good and would assume things are the same today. *Not* as good as *proper* home made beer though.
I can however comment on "The Home Brew Shop" - I buy my Wine kits from them - usually next day delivery - free delivery on orders over £65. Recommended :-)
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That's fair comment, I think. If you buy a good quality kit and follow the instructions carefully you will get pretty good beer at the end of it - but, as Troy says, it won't compare to "proper" home made beer (i.e. full mash). I had some of the latter at the Pendle Beer Festival a few weeks ago and it was excellent!
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For a plausible beer bur some malt extract and boilt with fresh hops
For a good beer you need a full mash.
Good beer needs two things: 1) Boiling - to drop out the harsh proteins as trub. 2) Hops. Most kits use isomerised hops which are destroyed by boiling.
Hence most kits don't work - they taste very metallic.
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Graham C
It is very possible to make homebrew taste as good as the best commercial real ale you can buy over a bar - and costing only 20 per pint.
However, for the best results you really need to do a full mash brew. At its most basic level it is not difficult - if you can make a decent cup a tea you can brew beer!!!
The price of a 5-gallon full mash brewery will set you back around £120. However at 20p per pint you can soon recoup the cost.
What you would get for your £120 is basically everything in a full size brewery - but for a 5 gallon brew and in plastic buckets; i.e. the mash tun is a modified picnic cool box and the boiler is a 30 litre plastic fermenting bin fitted with an electric kettle element. However, I have done well over 30 brews in my plastic full mash set-up and it is still going strong.
A decent book full of recipes and brewing instructions is "Brew your Own British Real Ale at Home" by Graham Wheeler & Roger Protz; and Leyland Home Brew are quite happy to make up full mash "kits" - just tell them the page number in the above book and they will weigh out all the ingredients for you (they do mail order - and have a web site).
If you haven't the time (it takes around 6-7 hours to do a full mash brew if all goes well) or space (my "brewery" only takes up about the same space as a fridge freezer) then the best suggestion is to buy a good quality kit, throw away the supplied yeast and buy something decent - Safale 04 would be a good choice, readily available at most homebrew shops.
I would also recommend trying the newsgroup.
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The kits made bu Munton's - eg Woodeforde's Wherry , Norfolk Nog etc are quite good , and surprisingly enough the beers are recognisable! But they aren't cheap either. Keep clear of kits which require added sugar - sugar adds nothing of quality to beer , it thins it and dries it too. If you go the full mash route - keep your eyes open for Burco boilers at car boot sales - I bought both mine for a few pounds each this way.It's better to have two , when sparging I run off the wort into one and rinse with hot water from the other. If you have any micro breweries nearby they may sell you ingredients at the right price - I get malt and hops at cost ( very little this is too) - and free genuine brewers' yeast which makes all the difference. Good luck.
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The cheap kits are not very good at all, but in my experience a good kit can produce very acceptable results. As someone else has said avoid the kits which require the addition of sugar.
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