The emailed press release was intriguing.
MB Bottle Brew was boasting that they had launched the “World’s Easiest Beer Making Kit.” It was supposedly an all-natural, preservative-free, fermented-in-the-bottle-beer that takes just two minutes to make and is ready to drink in 10 to 12 days.
Perhaps most interestingly to a guy who spends a considerable amount of his paycheque on beer, MB Bottle Beer was touting the fact that it costs half the price of regular beer.
My Spider Sense was telling me to hit delete because a beer that advertises itself based on its low price point and the ease with which you can make it yourself typically suggests to me that it will taste like toilet.
But there was something about the email that I kept coming back to. Maybe it was this part:
“Unlike beer from commercial breweries, fermentation is completed under pressure in the bottle, similar to Champagne,” explains Steven J Best, Marketing Manager of MB Bottle Brew [by way of the emailed press release]. “The result is a fresher, smoother tasting, unfiltered beer with a natural fine carbonation, similar to Champagne.”
Ignoring the fact that the press release neglected to indicate what the result was fresher or smoother tasting than, I instead chose to focus on the fact that the product had just been compared to champagne twice in a span of less than 50 words.
It had to be good.
And to be honest, it kind of sounded like fun.
I hit reply and asked for a sample and received a prompt and friendly response from MB Bottle Brew’s communications person asking for my address.
Just two days later a large package arrived at my place and I had my very own MB Bottle Brew science project. Naturally, I let the package sit around for a while. Indeed, not properly motivated after receiving a few still-friendly-but-increasingly-persistent emails from MB Bottle Brew’s communications person, I instead waited for my wife to finally ask “Are you ever going to do something with this fucking box that’s been sitting around our living room?”
That’s when I knew it was time.
Purpose/Question: Is it possible to make decent, inexpensive beer that comes in a simple kit and ferments in two litre bottles in your closet?
Research:MB Bottle Brew is the brainchild of Stefan Riedelsheimer, who, according to the MB Bottle Brew website is German born and has a long, non-specific career in the brewing industry. Also according to the website, he first had the idea for MB Bottle Brew (aka Mister Beer as it was known until recently) 18 years ago but didn’t act on the idea until eight years later–presumably after he had finished sourcing a shit-ton of plastic two litre bottles.
What resulted is the kit that was mailed to me: Essentially “beer’ in a couple styles that you make yourself at home. The kit consists of a bottle full of what is ostensibly wort and the pseudo-homebrewer simply adds a little yeast, puts the bottle somewhere dark for two weeks and, voila, you’re a homebrewer.
Incidentally, my research also turned up the fact that, like a few other story ideas I’ve had, syndicated beer writer Jordan St. John was once again way ahead of me. I haven’t read it yet as I didn’t want to influence my own results or opinion, but Jordan covered this already for QMI–so I’m not as interesting and original as I thought.
With the noted addition that I have today googled “scientific method” to remind myself of the steps involved in an experiment, the above sentences represent the entirety of my research related to this experiment.
Hypothesis: My prediction is that if I follow the steps outlined in the MB Bottle Brew instructions as closely as possible, I will end up with many litres of a liquid similar to beer, about which I will probably say, “This isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever had, but it’s not exactly great.”
Experiment: (click on the first picture to begin a slideshow detailing my scientifically exhaustive experimental process)
Conclusion: This isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever had, but it’s not exactly great; however, I feel as though I’m applying a slightly-too-critical lens to this entire endeavour. Obviously, whether you agree with them or not, I have personal standards for what a beer should taste like and these beverages don’t meet those standards. I’m probably opening myself up to comments like “What did you expect from a beer that fermented in the bottle in your closet?” and that’s a fair comment, but by the same token, I guess I’m not entirely sure why you’d even want to drink a beer fermented in a two litre bottle in your closet. If that beer tasted great, then we’d be on to something, but this doesn’t and the gimmick alone isn’t enough to get me on board.
It is, however, kind of a fun activity to try once–like the time you grew crystals for your grade 6 science class. But much like those shitty crystals made of salt and sugar that held your attention for a few hours back when you were 11, they don’t really compare to the real thing.
I will say this though, this is the best beer I’ve ever made from a kit I received in the mail and then used to ferment beer in my closet so, if you’re extremely, extremely poor and you think you might want a beer 14.5 days from now, MB Bottle Brew is totally worth checking out.