Anyone tried Craft-a-Brew kits?

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Neil346E

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So I'm a fairly new homebrewer, I've only done 2 extract-kit brews and 1 all-grain BIAB brew that's still carbonating. The extract-kits were both from Craft-a-Brew, one was an Oktoberfest Ale, the other one was Fat Friar Amber Ale. Both of them were surprisingly excellent, at least to my unrefined palate. Has anyone here tried any Craft-a-Brew kits?

I'd love to reproduce them in all-grain but I haven't found much in the way of reliable clone recipes. To be clear, I'm not specifically trying to stay in-style for either type of brew, I just want to get close to the same flavour as the extract-kits. The kits have a bag of powdered malt extract and a smaller bag of specialty grains, plus a sachet of hops and a sachet of yeast. They're very easy kits; you just steep the specialty grains for 15 minutes, then add the extract and hops and boil for an hour. On the company's website they list the ingredients of the kits, but not the proportions, and I'm also unsure how extract converts to all-grain. So I'm hoping that someone more experienced than me has tried the kits and can translate into an all grain recipe. Here's what is known from the website:

Craft-a-Brew Oktoberfest Ale
Dry malt extract: Pilsen
Specialty grains: Caramel 20L, Crystal 60, Aromatic Munich 20L
Hops: Perle, Mt Hood
Yeast: US-05
ABV: 5.5, SRM: 10, IBU: 30, OG: 1.056
Description: "This full bodied, malty beer recipe is based on the traditional Oktoberfest style. It has a light red hue, subtle bitterness, caramel sweetness and a clean dry finish. Typically brewed in the spring, signaling the end of the traditional brewing season and stored in cold caves during the warm summer months. To mimic this aging process we recommend aging the beer in your fridge (or a cave) for a few weeks before serving (after your beer is carbonated)."

Craft-a-Brew Fat Friar Amber Ale
Dry malt extract: Pilsen
Specialty grains: Biscuit, Special Roast, Chocolate Wheat
Hops: Willamette, Fuggle
Yeast: US-05
ABV: 5.8, SRM: 15, IBU: 25, OG: 1.055
Description: "Fat Friar is a crowd-pleasing amber ale, bridging the gap between light and dark beers. This recipe is all about balance - hence the friar's training wheels. This medium-bodied ale boasts toasty Belgian malt flavor, but packs refreshing hop notes from Willamette and Fuggle."
 

MHB

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Had a look at the craft a brew website and no surprise they are American, roughly when converting from US to rest of the world recipes where you see something like Crystal 60, that’s Lovibond, we would call it around 120EBC so look for a crystal around that colour and tweak the amount you use to get the right colour. With Crystal malts colour and flavour pretty much line up even if the names don’t.

With Stewed malts (Vienna, Munich1, Munich2, HonAromatic... Melanoidin) again flavour and colour are closely related. In your recipe Munich 20L, would be a stewed malt at around 40EBC (Munich2 is around 20EBC) so you would need something like Aromatic malt.
You can get a good approximation of the amount to use by applying a little formula, often put in the form Aa=Bb, where A and B are a Mass and a/b are the colour, remember that all the units must be the same so grams or kg for mass and colour in EBC.
Say you wanted to convert the 3% Gambrinus Honey in your recipe in the other thread and your grain bill was 5kg.
5kg *3% = 0.15kg (150g) and it has a colour of 20oL or 40 EBC and you were subsisting Simpsons Aromatic malt at 60EBC.
150*40=X*60, gives (150*40)/60=100g of Aromatic malt.

With base malt its more about the amount of malt you need to reach the right gravity, you will need to know your efficiency (how good you are at getting extract into the kettle) which has been covered lots of other places on AHB so you might need to do a bit of digging on basic brewing.

Here is a snip from the Almanac. Have a read and think about how you want to proceed.
Mark
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