Brewferm Belgian Beer Kits

I began homebrewing in the 1980s, back when the only way you could obtain good beer was to buy expensive imported or make it yourself. I daresay I became pretty good at it and even accomplished 1st best-of-show and 2nd best-of-show homebrew competition honors, along with dozens of first place category wins. I hadn’t brewed in 14 years, and one of the reasons was the 3+ hours it took to complete a batch (which would have been doubled if I brewed all-grain), to bottle and the extensive cleanups. So, when offered to try out the Brewferm Belgian Beer Kits, with directions to craft your brew in a fraction of the time, I was intrigued. Step-by-step directions with pictures include cleaning the fermenting vessel, heating the can of malt in hot water (to make it easier to pour), mixing with table sugar and cold water, adding the dried yeast and sealing the top, all of which took well less than an hour. Fermenting and bottling took place in the same plastic vessel, bottling occurred 10 days later and after another 10 days the brew was ready to be consumed. This brewing method was completely foreign to the way I had brewed previously, as I always boiled the malt for more than an hour (sometimes with unfortunate boil-overs), added my own hops at intervals, cooled everything down with a wort chiller, never used cane sugar, used a secondary fermenter and separate bottling bucket and used liquid yeast instead of dried. Needless to say, I was pretty skeptical of how good the results would be and completely surprised and amazed at how good my batch came out. Some caveats and room for improvement include a few essential items and some key directions lacking in the starter kit I was sent. Included was a bottle filler (gadget for filling bottles) but no hose to attach it to the spigot; some starter kits do not contain a capper and caps, so if you don’t already have these and are not using swingtop bottles, be sure to choose the right kit for your needs; and the directions talk about the importance of cleaning, but give no info on how to clean and sanitize the bottles. I also recommend waiting two weeks after bottling before popping your first bottle, as mine were too lightly carbonated before then. Eleven varieties are offered, including several Belgian styles such as Dubbel, Saison and Tripel; and each batch makes about 20-30 pints. 

Pulp Culture

Many are looking for ways to improve their health, but how about alcohol? Pulp Culture, an L.A.-based company, is offering better-for-you drinks made from 100% raw, fresh juice naturally fermented over three months that contain live probiotic cultures, botanical adaptogens (crafted from medicinal herbs and superfoods) and weigh in at 4.9% ABV and only 99 calories with 0 carbs, 0 sodium and no added sugar. Four flavors are offered, all with healthful sounding names: Think—designed to boost brain power and deliver sustained energy with apple, guava, peach, ginseng, matcha and lion’s mane; Hustle—an uplifting buzz to support an active lifestyle with apple, passionfruit, strawberry, ginger, turmeric and lion’s mane; Restore—a cleansing elixir with apple, grapefruit, goji berry, dandelion, milk thistle and reishi; and Relax—a mix of apple, blueberry, lemon, lavender, valerian root and reishi. With all the healthy ingredients and no additives (with all ingredients listed on the can), you can feel good about imbibing.

Stone Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager

I continue to be impressed at how Stone Brewing has diversified its line of beers. After establishing itself as a brewery known for making bold, hop-forward ales and drawing a following of hopheads, it’s clear the iconic brewery is seeking to satisfy as many beer lovers as possible. Its latest release is a more flavorful version of the lime-flavored lagers which have been offered by the macro-brewers for decades and harkens back to the days when you could put a lime in any bland beer and mimic a Corona. This Mexican-style lager released nationwide just in time for Cinco de Mayo weighs in at only 4.7% ABV and is brewed with Liberty hops, lime and salt. The lime flavor dominates and its crisp, refreshing tartness make this a great thirst quencher for the warmer months.