Homebrew Recipe and Review: Mountmellick Brown Ale

Brown AleRemember the easiest homebrew recipe I published a while back? It turned out okay but not great. Drinkable but not exciting. I was at the homebrew shop not too long ago and saw a can of Mountmellick Brown Ale. Similar story here – pour the syrup in a sanitized fermenter, online add a kilo of dry malt extract, and add boiling water. Bada bing, bada boom, you have wort to ferment. It was only $20. How could I go wrong, I wondered.

I just kegged and force-carbonated the brown ale this past weekend and it turned out surprisingly well. It is smooth, has a pleasant mouthfeel, and does not have a lot of hoppy bitterness. Very nice indeed. The hops could be a bit more, but overall it is fine as-is. I highly recommend doing this if you want a basic brown ale to sip while your more complex brews are bubbling away.

Mellick's Brown AleThere's a problem with this product, though. Note the condition of the can at left. The recipe for the beer, not that there is much of a recipe, is on the back of the label. I tried cutting along the "cut here" line, but found that the entire label was glued on, or at least appeared to be, around the whole of the can, not just where the label overlapped itself. I soaked the can in soapy water for quite a long time but the glue never released its hold on the label, and when I tried to gently peel it, the paper more or less disintegrated. The label never really came off, certainly not in one piece, so I did not get to read the directions. Oh well.

Here is the recipe I used:

  • One can of Mountmellick's Brown Ale pre-hopped malt extract
  • Two pounds or one kilo of dried light malt extract
  • The package of yeast that came with the can

Two days before making the beer, I made a yeast starter with the little packet of yeast. I will write more about this later. In this case, it was mostly because I do not trust those little packets that come with these kits. Making a starter is the best way to ensure the yeast are, in fact, alive, and help them prosper.

Pour the syrup and DME into a sanitized fermenter and boiled two gallons of water in your brew pot. Pour the boiling water into the fermenter and mix it until the DME lumps are all out of the mixture. Be sure to splash a lot to get oxygen back into the liquid you just boiled. Fill the fermenter the rest of the way with water, let it cool to room temperature, and pour in your yeast slurry.

A best practice would be to let it ferment for a week or two, then transfer it to a secondary fermenter for clarifying. I skipped the secondary fermentation and kegged it after two weeks in the primary. It turned out fine. Again, highly recommend this beer if you want something quick and easy.

5 comments for “Homebrew Recipe and Review: Mountmellick Brown Ale

  1. Charlie
    August 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I just bought this today looking forward to starting a new batch this week. I was confounded by all attempts at getting the label off to get to the recipe on the back. My can looked surprisingly similar to the picture you posted. I was about to go back to the store tomorrow with the mutilated can and some righteous indignation…..then I saw your posting and it made me laugh.

    Thanks for the recipe. Here’s hoping for a good batch!


    • Carl
      August 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      I am glad I wasn’t the only one! The beer is still in the cooler and still tastes great. I think you will like this recipe. Cheers!

  2. Chip
    May 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Another mutilated wrapper victim here. I googled for a recipe and came across this site. I have a question, though. The brew supply store said that the can contained everything needed to make an easy batch. I see that you also added a kilo of dried light malt extract. Was this part of the mutilated instructions or just a personal preference on your part? I brewed some simple beers years ago and I’m just jumping back into it. I’m hoping to get some easy beers out of the way before going into full Frankenstein mode. Any tips from an experienced brewer would be much appreciated. Thanks Carl

    • Carl
      May 22, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Chip. Welcome back to the brewing world! I used some DME to kick it up a notch, alcohol-wise. The can has everything you need, but it makes a small beer. I think it was Henry VI who said he would make it felony to drink small beer, so I figured I would play it safe. 🙂

      I used light DME because it would have a pretty low impact on the flavor. I could have easily used fine sugar instead.


      • Chip
        May 23, 2013 at 12:17 am

        Excellent! Thanks for the quick reply, too! My past efforts usually had some corn sugar in them, but I’m looking to do some more ‘brewing’ rather than just making instant soup. I’ve been reading through some of the archives and I see I have found a good source of information. Thanks again for the clarification, and I’ll be checking the blog regularly.

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