Problems with woodforde's/muntons kits? Final gravity not reaching the advertised figure? Sticking at 1.020, then read on.
To date I have brewed three woodforde's kits. Nelson's Revenge, Great Eastern Ale and Wherry. All of these kits have failed to drop to an acceptable final gravity. I asked Muntons for help and advice via a 'contact us' link on their website. Unfortunately, I received no reply, so after three attempts I telephoned the sales department. They were very helpful, however were not aware of any problems with their kits sticking at around 1.020. After reading posts from brewers with similar problems, I decided to email Muntons to get to the bottom of it. What follows are the messages I sent and the replies. I have removed the names of the Muntons representatives.
further to our telephone conversation a few days ago, please check out the following link which will take you to Jim's Beer Kit forum. The subject of this link is Woodforde's kits stuck fermentation at 1.020sg. www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.p ... sc&start=0
If I was cynical person, I would assume that Muntons are fully aware of this problem and have been for some time. I (like the administrator of this forum) have sent emails on this subject via your website with no response.
To date, I have made three of your Woodforde's kits, Nelson's Revenge, Great Eastern and Wherry. All have failed to drop below 1.020. I have one kit left (Great eastern Ale) I also have a Great Eastern Ale in the barrel with about 2 weeks left and a Wherry fermenting. (yes it has stuck at 1.020 after 7 days)
I will send you a full report on them as promised.
Regards, Nick Moore (Cambridge)
Answer 1 from a homebrew sales rep.
Good morning Nick
Muntons sell over 20000 of these kits per year and get very few complaints. We purchase our yeast in batches of 5000 sachets, so if there was a problem, we would be inundated with complaints.
We did have some concerns regarding the rehydration temperature and have now removed this from the kit instructions. However, we do not feel there is a problem with either the kit or the yeast, but we will obviously continue to monitor the situation.
Homebrew Sales Executive
Hello, thanks for your reply.
I must point out that i am not on a one man crusade to try and prove anything here, I am just telling it how it is. My interest is fuelled by the fact that Woodforde's make some fine ales and I think there is huge potential in your kits if they ferment correctly.
I read your message with interest and would like to make the following observations:
I would assume that the percentage of Woodforde's kit consumers posting messages on 'Jim's beer kit' is relatively small, but a high percentage of these have problems with the final gravity not falling to acceptable levels.
I do not believe that the problem is with the yeast (although in one of the kits i made, the yeast was dead. You did replace this) as I used Safale S04 yeast in a Great eastern Ale which did not drop below 1.020 FG
Not all consumers will complain. Firstly, it is not immediately obvious that Muntons are the kit manufacturers. Secondly, some may put it down to experience and move on to a different kit manufacturer. Finally, a high percentage of consumers will never be aware that the final gravity and therefore alcohol content is not at the level advertised on the packaging. They may not check the wort with a hydrometer, especially if they have purchased the "Microbrewery' package, where the whole brewing process takes place in the barrel.
As I mentioned in my last message, I have used three different Woodforde's kits. All have failed to achieve a final gravity below 1.020. I have a friend who has exactly this problem with a Wherry kit. I have probably been unlucky but surely you must agree that there are problems here? I rehydrated the yeast in one kit, but at 25-30 degrees. Not at 40 degrees as recommended in the kit. The other kits I sprinkled the yeast directly into the wort.
I must make it clear that my hydrometer is accurate (reads 1.000 in water @ 20c) and that I brew from grain extract and kits. My most recent beer is fullers ESB which I have just transferred to secondary at 1.010 FG. (so it's not me!)
Finally, you will be pleased to hear that another friend has made two of your kits and both have been very good.
I have a Great Eastern Ale kit to brew. I will let you know how it goes.
Best regards Nick
Answer 2 from the homebrew sales manager:
I read your mail with great interest and concern as we don't want any one to move to other kits as we feel these kits offer the best beer in the market and have been key to the recent growth in homebrew starters in the UK.
We have a good relationship with the yeast manufacturers and since the first posting on the forum we have been keeping a eye on the yeast performance and extract fermentability and not seen any issues internally.
However the obviously seems to be some questions that need looking into and any complaints are bad and please be assured we will take every effort to look into this.
I would like to offer the opportunity to people on the forum to come and view our operation and see how we work and wondered if you think this would be of interest.
Homebrew Sales Manager
Muntons Malted Ingredients
Thank you for your message and your kind offer.
I can not speak for all but I would assume that there may be some who are interested. I will pass your offer on to one of the site administrators. In the meantime, with your permission, I would like to display the email communications between myself and Muntons on the forum to assist others who are experiencing problems. I will of course omit names and contact details.
It may be prudent for a Muntons representative to contact one of the homebrew forums (i would recommend jimsbeerkit.co.uk) to post help and advice on any problems consumers may experience. I plan to write a lengthy post of my personal experiences with the three kits i have tried when they have matured.
I look forward to your reply. Kind regards, Nick Moore.
Final answer from the homebrew sales manager:
Obviously I can't stop you writing on the forum but I would ask that you let us write a response on there when we have something to offer that is conclusive.
I am not saying that we have a problem but as yet we haven't been able to repeat the problems brewers seem to be having in our lab.
I will keep you informed as this develops and will place an invite on the forum for a visit when we have arranged a suitable time.
So there you have it! I have emailed a link to this post to Muntons as requested so that they may respond to any questions.
Are there problems with these kits? You will have to draw your own conclusions, but before you do so, please take a look at these posts:
http://www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/forum/view ... hp?p=55856
I promised Muntons that I would let them know how my kits turned out, so I thought I would tag it onto the end of this post, so here it is.
My first attempt at brewing since 1987, when I used to brew from grain using Mr Lines book.
Brewed 15 March. Used bottled water and rehydrated the yeast. Fermented at a steady 22C. Unable to get the final gravity below 1.020 (og not taken) After a couple of weeks conditioning in the barrel, the beer was not very good (it was this beer that inspired my avatar) Tart aftertaste and not clear. After four weeks it was clear and tasted better, but still had the aftertaste. Struggled to drink this one.
Great Eastern Ale
Brewed 3 April. Used tap water and rehydrated Safale S04 yeast.
Fermented at a steady 22C. Unable to get the final gravity below 1018. (og 1045, attenuation=60% ABV=3.4%)
This time I boiled the whole wort for 30 minutes and added 14g of Challenger and Cascade hops for the last 15 min. Dry hopped in the FV with a Goldings tea bag. Used 80g medium DME and gelatin to condition in the barrel.
Although weaker than it should be, this beer was good.
Brewed 12 April. Used tap water again with 1/2 camden tablet and two sache's of the kit yeast sprinkled onto the wort with 1/2 teaspoon of brupacks yeast vit. Fermented again at 22C.
Boiled for 30 minutes with 10g each of Cascade, Challenger and Goldings for the last 15 minutes and 250g of medium DME. Final gravity 1018. (og 1048, attenuation 62% ABV 3.7%) DME and gelatin to condition in the barrel.
This was marginally better than the Great Eastern Ale.
although the wherry and Great Eastern were good, I found the taste of all these beers a bit harsh and over bitter.
My observations on the quality of the finished beers are based on my own opinions and those of many family members and friends. I am not an expert brewer and therefore probably made a few mistakes so these results can probably be improved.
I have now returned to brewing from grain with the help and advice of many brewers on this forum and have found the results outstanding.
If you have brewed using a Muntons/Woodforde's kit, check out the poll question below.