Today we will cover my Brewcraft beer kit review for the Brewery Series Rogue Shakespeare Stout that was brewed on March 2, 2019. I picked this one because I wanted to use a secondary fermenter for the first time and stouts are a little more forgiving.
So, how did it go?
4.5 out of 5 Mugs!!!
As a quick summary, I brewed both this stout and a witbier at the same time. This recipe was similar to the Rogue Dead Guy recipe so I was able to balance two batches on brew day. Fermentation temperature was again 60 F so control may be difficult. I used my basement which sits around 60 F during the winter. After 1 week I transferred the batch to the secondary fermenter for some finishing (more on that below). There were no surprises in the bottling and the stout tasted as I expected (always a good thing).
First, here is a brief overview of how I came to my ranking:
Ingredients: Pretty standard for a half water kit…almost identical to the Rogue Dead Guy
Brew Day: No surprises here either. I will note that the bags for the hops were a nice addition that I hadn’t previously seen and made up for the logically replaced yeast (see below).
Fermentation: As stated previously, the 60 F target fermentation temperature is difficult to control.
Drinking: I skip bottling because that is pretty standard. The beer tasted great and as I expected.
Ingredients – What’s In The Box
Overall, the ingredients were a 5 out of 5. I wanted to lower the grade for not having the Pacman yeast that is recommended by the brewery, but I couldn’t fault them for me not reading the instructions before brew day. Plus, the awesome hop steeping bags were a nice bonus.
- Hops: This recipe contained the hops for only 2 of the 3 steps (bittering and flavoring)
- Grains: Specialty grains (an unknown blend) were supplied to help create the wort
- Malts: Malt extract and Brewers Crystals (sugar) were supplied to supplement the grains
- Yeast: There was yeast supplied. Had I read the instructions prior to brew day I would have gone and purchased the recommended Pacman yeast…oh well…and yes I did it again.
Bottling supplies also supplied:
- Priming sugar: Helps carbonate the beer
- Bottle caps: Necessary and glad they are included
Bonus supplies given:
- Grain Steeping Bag: Usually comes standard with your recipe kits
- Hop Steeping Bags: Great addition! You can extract all the hop goodness without the residual hops in the fermenter.
Additional needs to make the recipe:
- Water: You will need distilled or purified water. The recipe calls for 3 gallons added to the fermenter, but I buy 6 gallons so I can also boil with the bottled water. I don’t trust my water and wanted to ensure the recipe turned out.
- Pacman Yeast: Not required, but highly recommended to get a beer closer to the Rogue Dead Guy you can find in stores.
In general, the added hop steeping bags were a nice surprise when I opened the kit. I wish I would have read the instructions before brew day to get the correct yeast, but what they supplied worked well.
So I graded them down a touch because I didn’t read the instructions, but they made up for it with the hop steeping bags. I understand that the kit is packaged and sent out so it is not reasonable to pack the Pacman Yeast that needs refrigeration. So for the ingredients in this Brewcraft beer kit I give it a ranking 5 out of 5.
Brew Day – Set Aside Some Time
As I mentioned earlier, I anticipated this batch being similar to the Rogue Dead Guy so I also made a witbier. For the same reasons as the Dead Guy, I give this recipe a 4.5 out of 5 for brew day. So what did I like and dislike?
- Again, Brewcraft did well and only asked for 3 gallons to be boiled…speeding up brew day which is always good.
- The hop steeping bags did not break this time so my wort came out nice and clean.
- Much like the Dead Guy, the table and the recipe are slightly different. After a couple batches, this won’t be an issue for any brewer…but it may confuse those new to brewing
To save any confusion, follow the table at the top of the recipe for times and steps. Read the instructions (do as I say not as I do) for any useful notes. This includes ordering the yeast prior to brew day.
Relative to the Dead Guy, this one smelled the best so far. It is probably because I enjoy a good stout a little more than a maibock, but either way I couldn’t wait to drink it. Since you only boil 3 gallons, there is less time waiting for the temperature to come up to boil and cool down so you can add the yeast. Remember to place the water you will add into the fermenter in the refrigerator to get extra cooling…or put it on the porch like I did, but make sure it doesn’t freeze.
I warned during the Rogue Dead Guy to cut a large hole in your extract bags so it doesn’t get clogged. That is the same for this recipe (and every recipe with powdered malt extract). I did notice that this recipe boiled up more than the Dead Guy. Remember to monitor the water so it doesn’t boil over.
Overall, for the brew day experience, I give this Brewcraft beer kit a ranking 4.5 out of 5.
Fermentation Details – Time to Wait
A standard step in every batch you will make is fermentation. The yeast used in this recipe (and most lager recipes) requires good temperature control. I give this recipe 4 out of 5 for fermentation due to the ideal temperature being 60 F.
If you have brewed before, or have a way to control the temperature, the fermentation step is a 5 out of 5. For the purposes of my rankings, I am assuming this is your first batch. You will be able to ferment the beer a little warmer (up to about 70 F), but the result may taste a little different than expected.
Again, in the north it is the perfect time for me to brew these cooler fermenting beers. When it is cold outside my basement will stay around 60 F…I take that as a sign I should brew.
For this batch, I tried secondary fermentation and it worked out well. Since this was a stout, I couldn’t really see any difference in the beer before and after secondary fermentation. I will try again on another beer and hope I can add more.
Fermentation is again a 4 out of 5 due to the temperature. If you can easily control the temperature at 60 F then this is a great recipe to start with.
Bottling Day – Your First Sip
As I will do with every recipe review, I want to touch on the most important aspects of bottling day.
- Taste Your Brew:
- Does it have any funny after taste? Nope
- Are you tasting what you would expect? Yup
- Then on to the next part
- Bottle Your Beer:
- Did you invite a friend? Yup, but none available – plan extra time (and really not smart because I made two batches…almost 100 beers!)
I will always recommend that you phone a friend to help with bottling. It speeds it up if you can fill while your helper caps. I made the bottling day extra difficult and still didn’t ask for help…next time I either ask or I will keg my beer.
First Drink – Finally Here!!!
The beer tasted great…except I wasn’t really ready for a stout. My taste testing night started off with the Witbier I made at the same time…let’s just say that wasn’t the best place to start. On a lighter note, the beer tasted as I expected…slight bitterness, but full like a stout.
- Head: Obviously I haven’t perfected this part quite yet.
- Color: Can you see through it…nope…good stout color
- Smell: Looks like a stout and smells like a stout…could it possibly…
- Taste: Yup…tastes exactly like you would expect from their description. It has a full flavor with some bitterness, but overall is great.
I give this one 4.5 out of 5. It tasted great and did not have the hoppy after taste as my Rogue Dead Guy Ale. This is because the hops stayed in the bag and did not wind up in the fermenter.
4.5 Mugs For Brewcraft Rogue Shakespeare Stout
All-in-all, for a new brewer the fermentation temperature may lead to a different tasting beer. This one may be a difficult one to start with. After you get some experience then I highly recommend this recipe kit. Here are the rankings again (out of 5):
- 4.5 for ingredients
- 5 for brewing
- 4 for fermentation (5 for experienced brewers)
- 4.5 for taste
Give this one a try and let us know how it turns out in the comments below or the various social medias at the top of the page.
If you have any questions about this recipe, have made this recipe and want to share, or want me to try another recipe, comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org