Mr. Beer. It is the innocuous box you see at the Bed Bath and Beyond, or at your local liquor store that has a picture of a plastic beer barrel on it with promises of making your own beer. My Aunt once tried to get me a Mr. Beer kit for my 18th birthday, until my Mom found out and put a nix on that because I was underage. It took a long time to get into the hobby after that, but I think I probably started off with a better foundation.
Don’t get me wrong, you have to appreciate Mr. Beer since so many people have gotten into the hobby through the Mr. Beer kit. The problem is with the basic ingredients you get with it. You get pre-hopped malt extract and a booster. I believe the booster is a mixture of refined fermentable and unfermentable sugars made from some form of corn syrup solids, which will help to give the beer body and a higher ABV. Reports are that it tends to give the beer a cidery taste despite claims by Mr. Beer to the contrary. Using corn sugar at bottling or kegging to naturally carbonate your beer is very popular, but I think the difference is in amounts, and I’m not really sure what the difference between corn sugar and corn syrup solids.
Coopers is a popular brewery in Australia that also provides its own brewing kits. Now that Coopers has bought Mr. Beer, they plan I replacing the malt extract with superior malt concentrate.using their malt extracts. In addition, they will provide a new yeast specially designed for the kit. This sounds like it could be the end of probably the biggest downside of a Mr. Beer kit, the booster. An end that I do not think anybody will be sorry to see. It also bodes well for those first coming into the homebrew hobby.