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Ever dreamed about crafting your own small-batch beers? Thanks to a spate of home brewing kits available, brewing and fermenting beers can be a relatively painless process. “As far as equipment goes, you don’t have to have fancy equipment to make great beer,” says Fal Allen, master brewer at Northern California's Anderson Valley Brewing Company.
The best home brewing kits cater to a range of brewers, from beginners making their first brew to the seasoned home brewer taking their practice to the next level. When looking for kits, Joey Johndrew, head brewer at Grist Iron Brewing Co., advises, “Reach out to a local brewery in your area and just ask the brewer questions; a lot of times they're more than happy to pass on some knowledge."
With that in mind, these home brewing kits, as recommended by brewing experts, will help start your journey in crafting the perfect pint.
Best Overall: Northern Brewer Homebrew Starter Kit
Northern Brewer offers an excellent system for those looking to dip their toes into the home brewing world. This all-in-one kit comes with everything you need to start your first brew, including a 6.5-gallon fermenter with spigot, lid and bubbler airlock, bottling bucket with spigot assembly, bottle filler, 21-inch stainless spoon, five-foot siphon tubing and more.
Plus, the included Block Party amber ale recipe kit has enough ingredients to make 5 gallons of finished beer (or 50, 12-ounce bottles). Once you’ve mastered the amber ale, try out Northern Brewer’s other recipe packs: crisp Mexican lagers, Irish red ales, rich chocolate milk stouts and summery lemon shandies.
Good to Know:
“Extract brewing,” like the options Northern Brewer offers, “is the easiest and simplest way to begin brewing at home,” says Justin Forsythe, innovation manager at Brewery Ommegang. “These concentrated malt extracts contain all of the 'fermentables' needed to create wort."
Best for Beer Enthusiasts: Mr. Beer Craft Beer Kit
In the brewing scene, Mr. Beer is known as the kit pro brewers start off with before moving on to professional-grade brewing equipment. This craft beer kit comes with step-by-step instructions with simple ingredients for beginners. Still, it's also a great option for seasoned brewers: Mr. Beer has an impressive selection of over 100 different recipe options. There are whiskey barrel-aged imperial stouts complete with oak chips to add to your fermenter, hazy amber ales and hoppy IPAs.
Every kit includes all of the essentials needed to brew 2 gallons of beer in 30 minutes flat, like a keg fermenter. Beers will be ready to drink in three to four weeks (fermentation takes 10 to 14 days and an additional two weeks to age in-bottle).
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Best Value: Northern Brewer Beer Making Starter Kit
This Northern Brewer beer making kit is perfect for creating your own makeshift home brewery. It includes a 5-gallon kettle and stirring spoon, a wort chiller, faucet adapter, 8-gallon megapot, 6.5-gallon plastic fermenter, bottle filler and tubing, bottle capper and more. An upgrade to its best-selling starter kit, Northern Brewer subs out a manual siphon for a racking cane in this version. A small upcharge will tack on a keg system or a Dark star burner, too. Choose from either a Fresh Squished IPA or a Caribou Slobber brown ale recipe. All in all, this kit packages together hundreds of dollars worth of brewing equipment at a reasonable price point.
Best Low-Effort System: Muntons Craft Beer in a Bag
For a truly low-key brewing system, just add water to the Muntons Craft Beer in a Bag kit to make 25 pints of beer. Developed in collaboration between Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham in England, this kit makes and dispenses beer from the bag to your glass in 30 days. Each kit yields one use.
This particular kit crafts a dark ale at 4.2 percent ABV and includes a brewing bag, caps, hopped malt extract and dried yeast packet. Note that this isn’t ideal for brewers who want to get creative with their beers?—each recipe is cut and dry and requires minimal effort to create.
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Best for Beginners: Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit
Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Kits are designed for those who are interested in brewing but don’t want to commit to a full kit. All beers can be made in six steps, right on your stove. This kit is the baby of several noted beer authors, designed to bring their favorite home brews to the masses. "[These kits] were a really easy entry point and allowed me to try brewing many different beer styles," says Alex Biederman, a brewer at Strong Rope Brewery.
Each kit comes equipped with everything needed to make each flavor (including grains, hops and yeast), a 1-gallon reusable glass fermenter, glass spirit-filled thermometer, vinyl tubing, racking cane and tip, chambered airlock and more. Pick from flavors like an everyday IPA, Bruxelles blonde, chocolate maple porter and a Jalapeno Saison. Each kit makes 10 beers.
Best Splurge: Grainfather Connect Complete All-in-One
One of the more advanced brewing systems, Grainfather comes equipped with the tools to continue brewing time and time again. This system is made with high-quality, 304-grade stainless steel and can hold up to 8 gallons of brew at a time, resulting in 6 gallons of beer with each brew.
This innovative system can be hooked up to the Connect App: through it, talk through your favorite brews and beer-making tips with the online Grainfather brewing community. Via the machine’s Bluetooth capability, check in on your beers, and set the next step of the process into motion. Even more, Grainfather includes detailed instructional videos on their website. Note that this unit is designed for the more experienced home brewer.
Good to Know:
"Be sure to sanitize anything that will come into contact with the wort after boiling it," says Allen. "Boil the full volume of the beer you want to brew." He explains, "You want to boil all the water used because there are microbes in your water ... [which] may create off-flavors in your beer.”
Best Personal Brewer: BeerDroid Beer Brewing System
The world’s first fully automated personal brewer, BrewArt’s BeerDroid crafts 2.6 gallons of premium quality beer with the press of a few buttons. This brewer is Wi-Fi connected so you can monitor and adapt your brewing process through the BrewArt app. Use the LCD screen to check in on your brew, tweak the temperatures and customize the beer. Equipped with patented end-of-fermentation technology, the BeerDroid automatically detects when the beer is finished brewing and ready for kegging.
All of the "BrewPrints," BeerDroid’s pre-programmed beer-making guides, have been designed by master brewers?—this particular kit comes with an American pale ale "BrewPrint." The ingredients that make up each recipe are also 100 percent natural and free from any preservatives.
Good to Know:
“The biggest thing one can do to improve their home brew (especially the first time out) is to use a healthy liquid yeast starter to ferment the beer,” says Allen. "Good yeast and good water are the real two cornerstones of making great beer."
Best for Serious Brewers: MoreBeer Brewing Kit
This brewing kit from MoreBeer, says Jeremy Tofte, founder of Melvin Brewing in Alpine, Wyo., "gives a beginner everything they need to get started and make great beer." This kit can brew 5 gallons of beer from your home and includes a stainless-steel kettle, an American pale ale recipe kit, step-by-step instructions and a Fermonster-brand brewing fermenter, which lets brewers see how the fermentation is unfolding.
Tofte particularly likes the additional offerings from MoreBeer. “As you learn more about brewing, you can simply add on more items to this existing kit to make your brew day go smoother," he says.
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Best Design: BrewDemon Conical Fermenting System
BrewDemon’s Conical Fermenting System comes with handcrafted beer recipes from New Zealand’s highly regarded Speight brewery. A smooth, durable inner surface and translucent amber finish allow you to watch what you are brewing while protecting the beers from UV lights. Despite its compact size, the fermenting system brews a hefty 2 gallons of beer.
Each kit includes a conical fermenter, C02 venting system, flow spigot, temperature gauge, recipe ingredients, bottles, caps, labels and other essentials. Once you’re stocked up with all this equipment, there’s no limit to the amount of beer you can brew.
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Kate Dingwall is an experienced spirits writer and glassware collector. She has been writing about the bar and spirits world for five years, from the best glassware to the best beer cocktail recipes.