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Are you a craft beer aficionado who's always dreamed of finally brewing up your own batch? Or perhaps you've been home brewing for a while and are ready to take your craft up a notch. Luckily, there are now a slew of pre-packaged home brewing kits on the market that give you most of the tools and ingredients you'll need to brew, ferment, and bottle your beer in the comfort of your own home.
We combed through the many options available out there to bring you our picks of the best home brewing kits so you can craft your ideal brew.
For a serious beer enthusiast interested in learning the intricacies of beer making and the science behind the process, the Brew. Share. Enjoy. Homebrew Starter Kit from The Northern Brewer is a great choice.
This beer making kit takes things up a notch from some of the more streamlined kits available. It includes a 6.5-gallon fermenter with airlock, bottling bucket with spigot, a bottle filler, 5-gallon stainless brew kettle, a spoon, auto siphon, sanitizer, oxygen wash, bottle capper and more. Another big plus to this kit is the customer service offered by The Northern Brewer. They provide phone, email, and text support in case you have questions during your beer making process.
The kit is designed to provide everything you need out of the box to brew your first five gallons of beer, except that you will need to buy the bottles once you’re done with fermentation. Overall, beer enthusiasts that have more than a passing interest in making their own brew will appreciate the hands-on nature of this kit and the quality of the finished product.
Mr. Beer home brewing kits have been in the game of at-home beer making for some time, and they’ve put together an easy, quality kit.
The Mr. Beer Premium Gold Edition 2 Gallon Homebrewing Craft Beer Making Kit comes with two beer refills (making a total of four gallons of beer), a two-gallon fermenter, plus bottles, carbonation drops, sanitizer, and more. The Mr. Beer kit is ideal for someone that wants to experience the process of home brewing beer but doesn’t want to invest the time or energy into learning the more intricate parts of the process (involving siphons, airlocks, and hydrometers).
Happy brewers find that the process was easy to understand, and the finished product was satisfactory. Many express the desire to tweak certain parts of the process or experiment with different aspects of fermentation or conditioning — but isn’t that the fun of making your own beer? Overall, most people found the beer to be drinkable and enjoyable.
For a smaller version of a beer making kit, check out The Northern Brewer’s 1 Gallon Small-Batch Beer Brewing Starter Kit.
Unlike many of the five-gallon beer making kits on the market, this starter kit is focused on making a small-batch beer. It also saves space compared to the fermentation containers of larger kits, thanks to its 1-gallon Little Big Mouth Bubbler with bung and airlock. It includes the other tools necessary for a hands-on beer brewing experience, including a blowoff hose, auto-siphon, bottle-filler, capper, 12 beer bottles and more. The included ingredients are for the company’s much-awarded Chinook IPA.
Users appreciate the instructive and helpful DVD included with the kit, as well as the support offered by the company’s customer service department. This beer making kit is perfect if you have limited storage space for fermentation, or if you simply want to focus on creating small-batch brews from home.
This kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop sets itself apart as the best buy if you’re looking for an all-grain beer making kit.
While many home brew kits use malt as a shortcut to the brewing process, the Brooklyn Brew Shop kits use only all-grain ingredients. The result is a fresher-tasting beer that many people find to taste better. Included with the kit is the ingredients to brew 1 gallon of beer (available in 6 different recipes), a 1-gallon glass fermenter, glass thermometer, vinyl tubing, airlock, cleanser and more. You’ll need to supply the strainer, funnel, pot and bottles separately.
Users find the ingredients and supplies to be of good quality, and the resulting beer to be enjoyable. However, note that an all-grain beer making kit will require a little more labor in the initial stages since you need to monitor the grain closely during the cooking process.
If you’re looking for a high-end and high-tech home brew experience, then look no further than the Pico Model C. This sophisticated take on making beer at home will be a significant investment, but the ability to have a wide variety of craft beer recipes with minimal work is worth it to many beer enthusiasts.
The Pico Model C brews 5 liters of beer (which is enough to fill thirteen 12-ounce bottles) and uses pre-packaged containers called PicoPaks that contain the proper ratio of grains, hops, and yeast. The PicoPaks are available for purchase from the company and feature craft beer recipes from breweries across the world.
The draw of a high-tech brewing machine like the Pico Model C is the ability to enjoy a craft beer from your favorite brewery without needing to spend the time and learn the process to replicate your favorite brews. This is not your typical beer making kit since the machine does the majority of the work for you. But if you’re looking for an easy way to enjoy home-brewed beer, this is the best option on the market.
If you’re looking for a beer making kit that will make you feel like you have a micro-brewery in your house, opt for a kit that offers a conical fermenter — like this highly-rated version from BrewDemon.
The conical fermenter sets this beer making kit apart from many others since it mimics the shape and function of the conical fermenters typically used in larger breweries. The advantage of a conical fermenter is that it produces clearer beer and allows the trub to settle at the bottom. It also is compact but makes two-gallons of beer (versus the one-gallon production common with many small-batch brew kits)
The BrewDemon beer making kit includes the conical fermenter, recipe, and ingredients for your first batch of beer, temperature gauge, venting plug, 12 bottles, caps, and bottle filler and more. Many users report making multiple batches using the equipment included with the original kit and are very happy with the quality of the components and the finished product.
The Northern Brewer Brew. Share. Enjoy. Homebrew Starter Kit comes out on top because it makes the home brewing process simple and straightforward for serious beer aficionados. Plus, it makes a whopping 5 gallons of pleasant, light-flavored beer so you get more bang for your buck. New to home brewing? The Mr. Beer American Golden Ale Complete Beer Making Kit makes the process quick and easy. A bonus: it comes with bottles and the equipment is reusable.
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Erica Puisis is a writer who has been writing about all things home and lifestyle for The Spruce since 2017. In addition to the best falafel mixes, Erica has written similar roundups on kitchen must-haves, including the best microwaves and countertop water filters.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that makes cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.
The Ultimate Brewing Kit Buying Guide
Brewing beer at home is a fun experience, and kits make it convenient to get started. You can start out with the basic tools that will have a freshly brewed bottle of beer in your fridge within a couple of months—fermentation takes two to four weeks, while conditioning requires another two to three weeks. There are also kits for brewers who want more control of the process and for those who want to take an automated approach.
Brewing beer is an intriguing process that requires attention to detail and some troubleshooting. Many beer drinkers find that it’s a rewarding hobby that results in a tasty adult beverage. The popularity of home brewing ensures that there are beer recipes for almost any beer style, too. Whether you’re a fan of crisp lagers, malty ales, or hoppy IPAs, there are quite a few options worth exploring.
Home brewing systems can be very simple or rather elaborate. Some kits require little more than combining ingredients and letting the yeast work its magic until it’s time to bottle. Others are very involved and require a more hands-on approach for a successful batch of beer. If you’re not sure whether or not you’ll really enjoy the brewing process, it may be best to start with a basic kit to familiarize yourself with the process and work involved.
At the fundamental level, the brewing process requires a few simple supplies and steps. It starts in a lidded kettle—some kits include these, though a large stockpot works just fine—with a long-handled spoon. Grains, malt extract, and hops are added to the pot of boiling water to create a wort (sugary water). After cooling, the wort is added to the fermenter where more water is added along with the yeast. An airlock is inserted to let carbon dioxide into the tank while keeping oxygen out as the yeast converts the wort’s sugars into alcohol during fermentation.
Once complete, a racking cane and siphon help move the beer to the bottling bucket. For carbonation, a second fermentation is required. Called conditioning, this can be done by introducing a priming sugar to the entire batch or dropping a carbonation drop (or fizz tablet) to each bottle before capping.
Malt Extract or All-Grain
The average starter brewing kit is designed for malt extract recipes. These can be hopped malt extract (HME), dry malt extract (DME), or liquid malt extract (LME). This is a convenient option for flavoring the wort and often works well in beginner beer recipes. The alternative is all-grain brewing; many brewers find it makes fresher-tasting beer. These kits are not as numerous but do include the essential equipment needed to cook the grains into a mash, giving the brewer more control over the beer recipe right from the start.
The fermenting vessel is a key component of any home brewing system. At its most basic, a food-grade plastic bucket works just fine, and many kits use these for both fermentation and bottling buckets. Some kits include spigots for easy drainage and do not require a siphon. There are also barrel-style fermenters and glass jugs (called carboys), which are a little less industrial-looking than their plastic bucket counterparts. For that mini microbrewery feel, conical fermenters are a good choice that produces clearer beer.
Starter kits typically brew 1 gallon of beer per batch, and up to 5-gallon systems are available. This will affect not only how much beer you can brew at once but also the amount of space it will require in your home. Larger batches require larger vessels and may not be a good choice when space is limited. Though you don’t get as much beer, the smaller home brew setups do let you explore more beer recipes without a big commitment.
Many brewing kit manufacturers also sell ingredients for brewing beer. The kits often come with everything you need for one batch of a particular style of beer. Many companies also sell recipe kits that include all of the ingredients you need—grains, malt extract, hops, and yeast—for various styles. Or, you can buy the ingredients individually for custom recipes. With manual brewing systems, these ingredients are pretty universal, but more automated brewers may require proprietary ingredients. For instance, some will use a “pod” similar to those for single-cup coffee machines, which may limit the variety of beers you can brew at home.
Types of Home Brew Kits
Home brewing can be either a manual or automated process. The majority of kits are manual and require the home brewer to move the beer throughout the various stages. These require more individual pieces of equipment that must be sanitized but can also be upgraded individually. This hands-on approach is preferred by many home brewers and is the most affordable way to get started.
All-in-one automated brewing systems are most often a single machine that does the majority of the work for you. The initial cost is higher, and some models require a significant investment. The primary benefit is convenience, as well as the fact that most of the variables are controlled with a precision designed to increase the chances of turning out successful batches of beer. Due to the internal workings, it is important to properly maintain the machines.
Among home brewers, Northern Brewer is one of the most trusted suppliers. The company is dedicated to helping home brewers, offering brewing kits that cover all the basics as well as a vast range of equipment for upgrades. Recipe kits and individual ingredients are also available. It’s all reasonably priced, and the company provides good support for customers. Its website also includes very detailed tutorials that can help anyone get started or take their home brews to the next level.
For gifts and the most basic kits, Mr. Beer is a reputable company that can get any beer lover started in home brewing. The kits use a barrel design that takes up very little space, and they’re one of the most cost-efficient setups for people who aren’t sure if they’re ready to commit to home brewing. The refill kits let you explore a variety of beer recipes and they offer some rather unique and fun beers to try. Some users were underwhelmed with their results with Mr. Beer at first, but found that subsequent batches fueled the desire to pursue home brewing further.
Craft beer lovers have found that the BrewDemon system is a nice upgrade. The company claims to be the first small-batch conical fermenting system producer. The design mimics that of commercial brewers and produces what many home brewers say is a better-tasting beer. It also simplifies the process slightly; plus, the company provides detailed instructions, and the system is a little more stylish if you want to brew in a visible area of your home. For all the perks, BrewDemon's systems retain an affordable price.
No matter which brewing system you purchase, cleanliness is of the highest importance. Everything that comes in contact with the beer after the boil—including the vessels, hoses, tools, bottles, and even the scissors used to cut open ingredient packages—needs to be sanitized before each use. It is a critical step that prevents bacterial contamination, which can affect the yeast’s health and produce unwanted flavors in the beer. Home brewing suppliers offer a variety of cleaners that are proven to work well with brewing equipment. Bottle and hose brushes will also help clean some of those hard-to-reach places. The second step is to sanitize the cleaned equipment; the food-grade sanitizers used for brewing are typically liquid, and many do not require rinsing.
Automated brewing systems will have their own maintenance requirements outlined in the product’s manual. These instructions should also be followed without any shortcuts because there are many parts in these machines where bacteria can grow. Some manufacturers have cleaning tabs or solutions that they recommend, and some have automatic cleaning cycles. When using tap water, you may also need to descale the brewers regularly. As with the manual brewing kits, sanitization is required before each batch of beer.
The nice part about starting your home brewing experience with a kit is that, for the most part, each piece can be upgraded individually. With any of the manual brewing systems, you can try fermenting beer in a glass carboy or conical fermenter rather than a bucket. Likewise, if you find that the airlock provided with a kit isn’t working as well as you hoped, you can purchase a separate three-piece or S-shaped bubbler replacement at a minimal cost. In most cases, pieces of equipment that get worn out or damaged are also available without the need to purchase a new kit and replace everything.
If you find that you really enjoy home brewing, there are many tools and accessories that you can add to your system to upgrade it. For example, though it is pricey, a wort chiller is convenient: It is significantly faster than an ice water bath for those times you need to quickly cool the wort after boiling. Adding heat mats or an electric thermometer will help regulate the beer’s temperature during fermentation. This is particularly important when brewing ales, which should be kept around 68 degrees Fahrenheit, or when brewing in a basement or garage that’s prone to seasonal temperature differences. Bottle racks can be helpful when cleaning bottles for reuse, and there are a number of small cleaning tools and solutions that will help ensure your equipment is properly sanitized.
It is difficult to make a bad choice when purchasing a home brewing kit. Stiff competition has led to a fierce market in this area and propelled companies to cater to today’s beer aficionados. Your budget and how involved you want to be will be the biggest considerations. Look for the manufacturer’s instructions on its website to learn the exact steps before buying. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have to cost much to give it a try and see if home brewing is something you really want to pursue.