I’m not really a beer drinker but a cold light ale can be perfect on a summer’s day. And I do like the idea of saying that I have made my own beer. Mad Millie has a Elderflower Ale Handcrafted Beer Kit available and you use all the same equipment as you do for making cider. The Tasting Notes sound amazing: “A zesty ale, full of citrus fruit flavour and the subtle aromatic delight of elderflower finished with a crisp, cleansing, bitter aftertaste. It makes for a refreshing summer tipple!” It also seems to be out-of-stock quite regularly so I figured it must be popular and snapped it up when I saw it in stock.
As with the cider-making kit, this kit comes with everything you need to make your brew: dried elderflower, malts, aroma hops and specialty yeasts, along with detergent and steriliser for your equipment. I love the idea of using elderflowers – I have a small plant in the garden and am waiting for my first flowers to make an elderflower cordial with, so this was a nice little introduction to using them.
The process is a little bit different than for cider but the instructions are very easy to follow. You mix the malt and dextrose in the fermenter with water and then add the dried elderflower and yeast. Then leave it to ferment for 5 days before adding the aroma hops. You can really see the fermentation happening with the ale – very foamy on top and the liquid darkens considerably. After another 5 days fermentation should be finished and you can bottle your brew – they supply a little muslin bag to put over the end of the siphon to filter out all the plant material. You have to leave it to mature for 3 weeks before you can drink it.
There was a good sounding ‘pop’ when I opened the bottle and a good head on the brew (somewhat diminished by the time I had got the camera to take the shot). The finished product is a little more bitter on first taste than I was anticipating but it is followed immediately by a wonderful fruity flavour that goes on for ages in your mouth. Overall a very pleasant and refreshing brew that I’ll be happy to enjoy on hot summer days.