Problem with kit beer


I know this is a forum aimed at real brewing but, as a would-be brewer, I thought I’d start out with some kits and, having problems, would really appreciate some help.

I seem to be suffering from a very marmitey beer whenever I make beer from kits.

I’ve tried 5 or so now, different types of beer by different manufacturers. The final result always tastes or smells very marmitey. Yeasty isn’t even the word. If you said I was sniffing or drinking bovril I would believe you.

At first I stuck to the manufacturers instructions religiously, did the gravity tests daily, and took the beer from the fermentor to the bottle when the gravity was as described in the instructions. Always the beer, after a few weeks in the bottle, smelt very yeasty.

Lots of users on another forum suggested that the instructions in kits are always wrong and that I should leave the beer in the fermenter for weeks, sometimes months, in order to ferment it correctly and remove the smell or taste. I’ve just tried one that was left for nearly a month and STILL it tastes like bovril (not unpleasant if you wanted bovril beer).

I’m guessing I’m doing something wrong but I can’t see what. Some people also say, with a shrug, that thats what you get with a kit and call it ‘tang’ common with kits. I can’t believe this at all. I appreciate kits may not be amazing compared to all grain but I assume they must be drinkable as beer (this isnt though it clearly does have alcohol in it).

I actually have the all grain gear all ready to start grown-up brewing but I’d prefer to know that I can do it before I start (that and my misses wants to know I’m not going to waste it while we can still return it :slight_smile: )

Any suggestions? Any ideas?



Whoa, never heard of doing daily gravity tests.

What are you doing for sanitizing?

Could you define for me to the use of the words “brovril” and “marmitey”

Glad you asked. I was starting to feel very stupid.

While I’m not sure what flavors I can assciate ‘Bovrily’ or ‘Marmitey’ to on my own palette, I can try and offer a few ideas of things I have experiences with my brews.

1st off, brewing with extract is real brewing. Don’t let anyone every tell you otherwise. Not everyone has the space or time to dedicate to All Grain brewing, and there is no shame in making extract brews. In fact, done properly, it is nigh unto impossible to distinguish between a well made extract vs all grain beer. That said, I do brew All Grain myself, I like being able to control the process more fully and appreciate the associated cost savings, but there is nothing wrong with extract.

2nd (and on to your real reason for posting):

  • What are your fermentation temperatures like? Many of my first beers had weird tastes to them because i wasn't able to or didn't watch their temps as closely as I should have.[/*]
  • Many of my first beers also had a weird yeasty type of flavor, I got rid of it in 2 ways: First I made sure to always allow my beers to sit on the yeast to clean up for about 1-2 weeks after primary fermentation had completed. This meant my beers were sitting in the primary for 2-3 weeks total. Second I started using a secondary fermenter to help drop even more yeast out of suspension and clear up the beer a bit. I don't this often any more, though I think with some of my early beers where I wasn't perhaps as detail oriented as I should have been, it helped with the overall flavor.[/*]
  • You can stop taking daily gravity readings, you're doing more potential damage due to infection than good. Check your FG gravity only 2-3 times at the end of fermentation to make sure its done and ready to bottle.[/*]
  • What yeast are you using? Have you been using the same one each time or has it varied? Have you been making yeast starters for liquid yeast? Rehydrating dried yeast?[/*]

Just a few ideas, hope some of this helps.

First of all - brewing with kits is “real brewing” - pretty much how everyone starts into this.

Second, I would say that 90% of any problem with beer can be traced to a few areas - it rarely has much to do with ingredients or things like that.

#1 - Sanitation - this is almost always the problem if there is something really wrong with your beer. What is your process for sanitizing your fermenter, bottles, siphon, buckets, bottle filler, etc.? Everything that happens from the time you shut off your flame.

#2 - Yeast/Fermentation - what kind of yeast? What temp. is your wort at when you pitch the yeast? What temp. are you fementing at?

I would say start there - that is usually where a problem would arise.

The one thing that jumps out to me that you said so far is “daily gravity tests.” EVERY time you come in contact with your beer after you shut off the boil you have a chance to infect it. If you are touching it every day - you are really increasing the chances of infection. Describe the process you use for all of these gravity checks.

For what it is worth - I shut off my boil, cool my wort, pour from a spigot on my kettle into my 6.5 gallon bucket, pitch yeast, put the lid on and airlock, put a new sandwich bag over the spigot with a twist tie, and I do not take the lid off or the bag off that spigot for 2-3 weeks. If I am going to dry hop, I boil a muslin bag, put my hops in, crack the lid and throw it in, close the lid. I honestly never check gravity until about 3 weeks + and I am planning to bottle/keg. It is almost always ready to go - if it was not, I would clean my spigot with starsan very thoroughly, put the bag back on and warm it up to high 60’s for a few days.

A little more description of a couple areas of your process will maybe shed some light on potential problems.

** If I am going to dry hop, I boil a muslin bag, put my hops in, crack the lid and throw it in, close the lid.****

Not to sidetrack, but in regards to sanitizing the dry hop bag. I just dry hopped my first batch, and honestly i did not even think of boiling the muslin bag.
I dipped it in my star san bucket for a few minutes then let the extra liquid drain off before putting in the hops.

Did i potentially screw up my beer with the star san addition this late in the process???


Thanks for the response.

Firstly, by Bovrily and marmitey (excuse spelling) I mean that it tastes yeasty I suppose. As kids my nan would make Bovril for us with a spoon of bovril and hot water. A yeasty tasting drink (though I think bovril is, itself, a meat left over made from boiled blood or something like that).

As far as the yeast being used, well I use whatever yeast comes with the kit. The kits rarely say whats in the yeast packet itself.

The daily gravity readings were taken because a friend swears by taking his kits out of primary as soon as the gravity hits the number in the instructions. I sanitise everything used from the spoon to the gravity meter and it’s tube.

I sterilise everything involved. I’ve tried various things, from the white crystals you get from the brewing supply shops, Domestos Original as suggested by some other forums, and even baby bottle sanitiser. All used in specific amounts for the volume of water being used to sterilise the gear. Mostly I do this in the primary fermenter tub but I’ve even tried soaking it all in the bath so that I literally take things out as I use them and put them back.

The temperature of the primary fermenting stage is harder to keep stable I’ve found. Thats the big issue I suppose I have, finding a place in the house with the right, stable, temperature, as well as room for the primary fermenter to sit around for a while (not a large house). However I’ve tried various places from the cupboard under the stairs (external wall, no heating), airing cupboard (warm and constantly so) and the loft (loads of room but fluctuating temperature really). All get the same.


Domestos is bleach ??? correct? “white crystals” I assume is one step or b-brite???

Bleach (in my opinion) is not a good route to go - excellent chance of introducing chlorine into your beer if you don’t rinse, if you do rinse with tap water, excellent chance of introducing bacteria.

the white crystals only “clean” your equipment, not sanitze.

My process is as follows:

Two 18 gallon plastic tubs from walmart. One hot with A cleaner (like B-brite, or one step, or PBW). One cool with Starsan or Iodophor. Soak things first in the hot cleaner and wipe/scrub with a soft cloth or paper towel. My fermenters are buckets - I take the spigots apart. Everything get soaked in the cleaner. I then rinse everything and throw it in the tub with Iodophor or starsan - which sanitizes. Take the stuff out a little before it is needed ( no rinse), place it on aluminum foil until needed with aluminum foil over any openings, stuff that is going to hit the beer.

You still never said what your temps actually are - 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s???

Personally, I think if you are using bleach in your bathtub . . . I would start with that as a potential issue.

Don’t know where you’re getting your kits, but the yeast packet should say what it is. If not, sounds like a bo-bo yeast. I would buy from another supplier.

As for gravity readings, most kits I know of don’t give a final gravity reading, because all fermentations are different. We could make the exact same kit and my beer may finish a few points higher or lower than yours does. The only way to know that a beer is done fermenting is to take gravity readings a few days in a row. If the number doesn’t change, it’s done. But even then, the beer should stay on the yeast cake a little longer to clean up after itself. Meaning, yeast make all kinds of different biproducts. Once all the sugar is eaten up, the yeast move on to consumer other things in the beer, including some of their own biproducts. You DO want this to happen. Some of your off flavors may be coming from things in the beer that would normally be eaten up by the yeast but you may not be giving it time to by racking to early.

My suggestion would be to order a kit from a reputable company (our hosts here at NB come to mind). Let the beer sit on the yeast cake for no less than 2 weeks, but preferably 3 weeks. Don’t take any readings for those 2-3 weeks. After that time has passed, take 1 gravity reading a day for 3 days. If they are all the same, rack the beer to whatever (keg, bottle). Give your bottles 2 weeks to carb then drink :smiley:

marmite is a yeast spread that is common in “crown” countries…New Zealand, Australia, etc.

don’t know what the brovil is.

it looks like you might be using “kit and kilo” kits? a can…i know a guy who uses them and his beer is not my first choice.

depending our your location, i would obtain or order some spray malt extract (doesn’t clump as much as the other stuff) and make nice, simple ales with recently produced yeast.

so what’s your region?

“kit and kilo” - “spray malt extract”???

Where you blokes from?

I think it’s the quality of your beer kits and the lack of fermentation control that’s causing the issue. I honestly didn’t start making beer that I really enjoyed until I bought a dedicated chest freezer to control fermentation. This was prior to switching to all grain also.

Starsan is a great sanitizer, I’d get some of that before your next batch. And try buying a kit from our host, Northern Brewer. They make awesome kits and I wouldn’t hestitate to buy one.

remember those large canned beer kits that you would add sugar to?

I feel like it never hurts to state the obvious just in case so here goes:

You say your beer tastes too yeasty from the bottle. I have run across homebrewers (and was one at one point) who drank or poured the entire bottle of beer, including the little whitish yeast layer coating. A few bottles in when someone taught me how to correctly pour a homebrew I found it much better tasting after leaving out that layer of yeast at the bottom of the bottle.

If that is not the case ignore that tidbit; everyone else has given good advice it seems. And I would especially second buying a kit with labeled yeast. Try Northern Brewer; I love their kits.

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So how does that work? Just add sugar, water and ferment? Do you boil or no?

By kits I mean those big tin cans with a thick malty extract in them. You add sugar and a packet of yeast.

A chest freezer isn’t an option unfortunately, just not the room.

I’ll have a look for some other kind of kit now that there are a few recommendations.



Never done one; but i do believe that they boil. don’t require a lot of equipment, probably wouldn’t be so bad with the right yeast…maybe i’ll toss a smack pack at the guy i know who uses those kits and see what he thinks, might tempt him to get into it further. ... light.html

it’s hard to see on the bag, but it’s spraymalt, and in my small experience, it is really nice to have a non clumping malt for my partial mash recipes or starters.