Home brewing has made a comeback in the UK over the last five years, the company claims, due to the recession and high beer prices in pubs, spurring it to launch its kits – pictured, recommended retail price £25 ($40.50) - into 140 UK retail outlets including Lakeland and The Garden Centre Group.
A team of brewers and engineers – including experts from the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University – spent two years creating a single-use kit with a low-cost non-return valve, which will provide 25 pints inside 14 days, with the beer then keeping for a month.
The invention won the Most Innovative New Product Award at the Food and Drink iNet Awards 2012, with judges praising the product’s export potential – all the consumer need do is pour in 23 pints of water and an enclosed sachet of ‘Moondust’ – and claiming that home brewing is the UK’s fastest-growing hobby.
Clever laminate bag design
Robert Constable-Maxwell, Moonshine Drinks spokesman, said: “The real ale brewing bag is unique to the world. The secret is in the design of the clever laminate bag, its special valve, and the high quality ingredients.”
The bag’s inventors, Roger Wilson and Jeremy Jones, named the three ales after famous UK TV comedies The Two Ronnies (Four Candles Bitter) Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Cheesemakers Golden Ale) and Blackadder (Dark Adder Dark Ale).
A simple non-return valve allows fermentation inside the laminate bag, and although such valves are already in use, Wilson told BeverageDaily.com that this one was simple and cheap enough for a disposable kit.
“When you brew something, CO2 is given off. It’s a very simple method of allowing the CO2 to vent, without oxygen entering,” Wilson said. “It’s a single-use product, so therefore it’s got to be affordable.”
Wine, cider, perry launches planned
Although home-brewing kits have been available for some time, Wilson said, “We thought we could make this better and more appealing, and decided we would only use top-end ingredients.”
The beer bags are currently only on UK sale, but Wilson said Moonshine was seeing “incredible interest from all over the world”, and was thinking of expanding into New Zealand, Scandinavia and Canada.
Moonshine Drinks is working on brew-it-yourself bags for wine, ciders, and perrys, due for launch in early 2014.
Customers will be able to add water to the packs to make Merlot, Pinot Grigio and Zinfandel Rose varieties.
“Right now, we’re just experimenting to see whether the wine will bottle off,” Wilson said.