If you’re looking to try your hand at homebrew a great way to start is with a beer brewing kit. We’ve run you through the reasons why in our blog, so let’s pick a good one to start with.
The Coopers kit is a popular place to start worldwide and with good reason. These guys aren’t just home brew suppliers, they’re a brewery. Based in Australia they’ve been brewing since 1862 and at some point, decided to share the brewing love with people at home. It’s a simple kit making beer from extract, dextrose, water and yeast.
The kit comes with a six-gallon plastic fermenter. Mixing and measurement are covered with a mixing spoon thermometer strip and hydrometer and you can make 6 gallons of lager with the included extract, dextrose and yeast. Once you’re ready to bottle the beer into the 30 amber PET bottles, use the bottling wand and prime with the provided carbonation drops. Just to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing they’ve also thrown in an instructional DVD
Pros: It has everything you need to mix up a batch and get fermenting. Most of what you get you will use again for future brews, even once you step up your skill level, and the fermenter has a huge opening at the top, so you can clean easily. The hydrometer is plastic, so if you drop it (like so many home brewers before you), it won’t shatter on the floor like its glass counterparts. When bottling the wand attaches to the tap at the bottom of the fermenter, eliminating the need for syphoning.
Cons: A lot of brewers aren’t keen on plastic fermenters (they aren’t bad to start off with though) and this one doesn’t incorporate an airlock. Without the airlock, it is difficult to determine when fermentation has ended without measuring specific gravity. Also, you can’t use boiling water for sanitizing plastic bottles and the kit doesn’t come with any cleaner or sanitizer. Lastly there is no choice in what type of beer to brew. If you don’t want a lager, you’ll have to pay extra for another can.
Most people have seen the Mr Beer kit with its amber plastic barrel shaped fermenter. It has gotten a lot of criticism over the years but is another good way to start. For those not looking to make a whole lot of beer while they are learning this two-gallon option might be a better place to start. Just like the Coopers kit, it’s easy to use and only requires mixing extract water and yeast.
As well as simple to use this kit is a little simple in its inclusions. The kit provides fermenter, extract yeast, no rinse cleaner and eleven PET bottles with carbonation drops. If you want a hydrometer, mixing spoon or bottling wand you’ll have to source them separately.
Pros: This kit is easy to use and won’t leave you with a big stock of beer if you’re not a big drinker. No need to syphon as it features a fermenter tap slightly above the sloped base which also reduces sediment in bottles. There is also a wide range of beer styles to choose from with the kit.
Cons: Doesn’t have everything you need to get started. Like the Coopers kit it doesn’t have an airlock so specific gravity testing in necessary for testing yeast activity.
This kit is not about learning to brew at all. This is all about getting beer made quickly and easily. This is the brewing equivalent of one pot cooking. It comes with a gallon keg that serves as the fermenter and keg to serve from. Malt extract, hop extract and yeast are combined with water and left to ferment. A week later, once chilled you can dispense straight from the keg you fermented in.
Pros: It’s quick. You have beer in a week and there’s no need for bottling.
Cons: You won’t learn much about homebrewing. It’s a single use keg, so you’ll have to buy a new kit every time.
This ‘starter’ kit is more for those of an intermediate level. It includes a lot of good equipment, but still needs a bit more to get going. What makes it more intermediate than beginner is the use of specialty grains and hops. You will need a big pot to steep the grains and boil the hops. For those just starting out this may be a bit daunting and time consuming. For the brewer who has a few kit brews under their belt it is a great stepping stone to making your own recipes.
The kit comes with two fermenters, syphon hose, racking cane, crown seals for bottles and a capper. You can also choose from three different beer style recipe kits. If you want a bottles, bottling wand, hydrometer or a mixing spoon those will be extra.
Pros: This is a great next level kit with recipes for some good beers. The fermenter includes an airlock to see ferment activity.
Cons: Not exactly a beer brewing kit for beginners. Needs a brew pot to make the recipe.
If you are just starting out and looking for the kit, the Coopers or Mr Beer options are a good way to start. If you just want quick beer and aren’t looking to brew so much as make beer, go for the Brew Barrel. Once you’re ready to make the next step the Northern Brewer kit is a great option.