By JoAnne Carilli
In the last few months I have spent much of my time
(which has been quite enjoyable I might add) speaking and visiting local
homebrew supply shops. The topic of kits is one that continues to come
up in these discussions.
Local shops are not just offering advice and brewing
recipes to their customers. They are making it easy for them to try new
styles through their own private-label kits, which constitute a
considerable percentage of sales at many shops. The kits include the
recipe along with the ingredients (malts, hops, liquid yeast, grains).
One shop I visited, Beer at Home
in Englewood, Co., has a section of its store dedicated to displaying
their kits. A customer can choose from at least eight different beer
styles including a monthly special. These kits are a great service for
customers because they expose them to new styles they might never try.
But perhaps more importantly, ingredient kits, along
with equipment starter sets, provide a beginning brewer with all they
need to get started. Here are some reasons why kits are good for both
beginning and advanced homebrewers, and how White Labs can assist shops
with kit development:
— For beginners: Many extract kits provide great
detail on how to make beer, and lay the groundwork for a great-tasting
product. Thus, they make it easy on the beginning homebrewer by offering
things such as extract hops and malt, but make no concessions when it
comes to yeast. Start them out with liquid yeast because it is simple to
use and could vastly improve the flavor of their beer and the chances
that they will brew again.
— The next step: Our yeast strain posters,
available free to homebrew shops, provide details about each yeast
strain and which beer styles they can be used for. So, if a beginning
homebrewer does not request otherwise, the shop owner can match them
with the perfect yeast strain. Or, if the beginning or experienced
homebrewer wishes to experiment, the shop owner can point them to the
poster and have the customer pick which one he or she thinks best
matches their taste buds. For instance, when consulting the chart the
customer will notice that when making an extra special bitter, both
English Ale Yeast and Irish Ale Yeast have the highest number of stars.
They can then base their decision on the various differences in the
strains. In addition to the chart, White Labs also provides extract kit
labels. These provide an additional means to suggest appropriate liquid
yeast styles. To order yours, call us at 1-888-5-Yeast-5.
— Going the extra mile: When putting together kits,
one thing to keep in mind is that you want to provide an occasional
breath of fresh air. We can help you do this through our Platinum Strain
program. As many shops know, every two months we release two unique
homebrewing strains, called Platinum strains. Thus, during those two
months shops can offer kits that feature these strains (we do have
recipes for each platinum strain if you do not want to create your own).
You might want to make a Platinum strain kit for the entire year that
will work with various yeast strains so that homebrewers can learn to
truly appreciate the differences between yeast strains. We’ll be happy
to discuss with shops the ways they can alter their kit recipes to take
optimum advantage of the Platinum program.
We’d like to hear your comments about how we could
improve your brewing kits. You can call me with your comments at
1-888-5-yeast-5 or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JoAnne Carilli is brewery products manager in White Labs’ Colorado