Get creative and brew beer at home if you enjoy drinking beer and visiting craft breweries. There are many brewing kits to get you started, and most of them contain all the ingredients and equipment you’ll need to make beer for your family and friends.
The Basics of Homebrewing
Brewing beer at home is easy and fun once you are familiar with the process. Gather your equipment and ingredients, and you’ll have a home brewhouse in no time.
What Equipment Do You Need to Brew Beer at Home?
The best home brewing kits to help you make beer include the following equipment:
- At least a four-gallon pot, preferably five or six gallons
- A six-gallon fermentation bucket with a lid and hole
- Airlock and stopper
- Iodine or acid-based food-grade sanitizer
- Three or four nylon bags (for adding hops to the water)
- Waterproof thermometer
- Racking cane or auto-siphon to siphon beer out of the fermentor or kettle
- Hydrometer or hydrometer jar
- Bottle capper and bottle caps
- Bottling wand
You can use a five or six-gallon carboy instead of a fermentation bucket. (Carboys look like giant glass or plastic jugs.) A stainless steel kettle with a ball valve can be used in place of a pot.
Most of the best home brewing kits on our list contain all the equipment mentioned above, except for bottles, thermometers, and nylon bags. You will probably need to buy additional food-grade sanitizer, as most kits only contain a small amount.
Tips for Choosing the Right Home Brewing Kit
Look for a small batch brewing kit if live in a small apartment or have shared space and don’t have much space for huge plastic pots, bottles, and kettles. “Brewery in a box kits” from department stores are a great starter choice if you’re not sure about brewing as a hobby. These kits usually have a small fermentation bucket, bottles, caps, and ingredients.
Experienced homebrewers can look for complete home brew kits, which include brew pots for mashing and boiling, brew spoons to prevent boilover and activate the yeast, a straining bag to hold grain during mashing, and upgraded thermometers. Even complete kits rarely contain beer bottles, although you can find bottling kits with up to 48 bottles and caps to add to your homebrew kit.
Most brewers learn to make beer at home by using malt extract to make their first batch. You’ll need to gather your supplies including ingredients. Malt extract, hops, yeast, priming sugar, and water are the basic ingredients used to make beer.
Malt extract is created from brewing-specific malt barley. Homebrewers can purchase hopped or unhopped liquid malt extract or unhopped dry malt extract. Pale, wheat or amber malt extract are some of the types of malt extract available to give your beer its flavor.
Almost 100 different varieties of hops are available to add balance and flavor to your brew. Bittering or kettle hops are added at the start of the brew to balance the sweet malt. Flavoring hops are added in the middle of the boil, and aromatic hops are added in the last few minutes of the boil.
Brewer’s yeast is used in the fermentation process to excrete alcohol and CO2. You can also use lager yeast at lower temperatures (as low as 40 degrees F) or ale yeast at higher temperatures (60-85 degrees F).
Priming sugar is added to the fermented wort when you bottle the finished brew. Dextrose is the most common priming sugar.
Making Beer with Malt Extract
Heat one gallon of water in your pot until it boils. Take the pot off the heat source and pour in malt extract. Stir in the extract until it dissolves. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil again and add bittering hops. Boil for 30 minutes. Now you have wort; the unfermented mixture used to make beer.
Follow these steps to complete the brew:
- Sanitize fermenting bucket and other equipment.
- Chill the wort in the fermenting bucket.
- Add yeast.
- Seal the bucket.
- Shake the bucket
- Store for a week or two in a location with the appropriate temperature.
- Monitor fermentation with a bubbling airlock.
Package beer after three to four weeks in the fermentor. Add priming sugar to boiling water and pour it into the bucket. Transfer beer from the fermenting bucket to the bottling bucket with a siphon. Bottle, cap, and store beer.
The steps may be slightly different based on what type of beer you are making and how much you need.
Watch this video to learn the basics of using your choice of the best home brewing system. There may be some trial and error when you first use your kit, but after some practice, you’ll be able to brew beer you can enjoy at home. You won’t have to worry about running out to the store for a few bottles of your favorite micro-brew. It will be right there in your kitchen (or other room) at your fingertips.
Top Home Brewing Kits
Now, we can dive into a few of the best homebrewing kits out there and show you what makes each one stand out from the next.
Best Home Brewing Kit for Beginners
Unlike many brewing kits, this IPA beer starter set has two glass carboys as the primary and secondary fermentors. The secondary carboy helps the beer mature better, giving it a fuller flavor.
The kit has a recipe for five gallons of Chinook IPA, which gives you a lot more finished product than other kits. The beer produced with this kit has a 4.5 ABV (alcohol proof).
Other equipment includes a bung and airlock, bottling bucket and spigot, bottle capper and caps, plus a bottle filler and tubing.
This deluxe brewing kit was tested for efficiency by the manufacturer and has received compliments from customers for years.
- Makes five gallons (640 ounces) of beer
- Includes copy of instructional DVD
- Comes with two a 5 gallon and 6-gallon carboy
- Has a blowoff hose
- Unlike many kits, it includes funnel and adhesive thermometers
- Doesn’t come with a five-gallon pot or bottles
- The bottling wand may leak
- Magnet for bottle capper may fall out
Best Home Brewing Kit for Porter Beer
This five gallon home brewing kit will let you join an exclusive club – you’ll be one of the few people to enjoy Goose Island Sweet Porter outside of the brewery’s Fulton and Wood Tasting Room. Northern Brewer partnered with Chicago’s most famous craft brewery to bring you this starter kit, complete with detailed instructions on how to replicate one of Goose Island’s best brews.
The kit has everything you need for brewing Goose Island Sweet Porter except bottles and sanitizer. (A small amount of sanitizer comes with the kit, but you’ll need to buy more.) The kit includes a Goose Island 6.5 gallon fermentor w/ lid & Bubbler airlock.
(The fermentor is a seven food grade plastic bucket.) There’s a five-gallon stainless brew kettle with a 21-inch stainless steel spoon. The Goose Island bottling bucket with spigot assembly helps you ready the fermented brew for drinking, and there’s a bottle capper with 60 caps included.
- Comes with 6.5-gallon fermentor bucket with Bubbler Airlock and lid
- Exclusive recipe for Goose Island Sweet Porter
- Includes two buckets – one for bottling and one for fermentation
- Contains siphon tubing
- Has stainless steel brew kettle with spoon
- Doesn’t have a thermometer
- Bottles of beer must be purchased separately
- You will need to buy additional sanitizer
Best Home Brewing Kit for Pale Ale
The Platinum Pro Homebrew kit has all the equipment most other brewing systems offer, plus a bottle capper and caps. It comes with a long handled stainless steel spoon, racking cane, tubing and holder, OxyWash cleaner and Front Porch Pale Ale recipe.
Pale ale is one of the most popular beer flavors today, and this kit can help you brew five gallons of Front Porch Pale Ale. The beer has 4% ABV and is reminiscent of Blue Moon.
- Has a 6.5-gallon fermentor with airlock and lid
- Works with other Midwest Supplies extract beer recipe kits
- Comes with bottle capper and caps
- Includes a five-gallon kettle
- Has gallon markings on the side of bucket
- Minimal instructions
- Kettle may not work on electric stove|
- No hydrometer included
Best Home Brewing Kit for Small Batches
The usual five-gallon brew kit may be too much if you’re just starting out and not sure if you want to pursue brewing as a hobby. The Go Pro small Batch kit has just enough equipment (and a recipe) for one gallon of Chinook IPA beer. One gallon produces 10-12 bottles of beer.
The “Little Big Mouth” glass bubbler makes it easy for you to tell when the stored brew is fermenting and ready for bottling. You’ll save time making the brew, as there’s also no need for secondary fermentation with this Go Pro set.
You can find the best homebrew recipes online, or from home brewing companies to make the most of this small batch kit.
- Has the “Little Big Mouth” bubbler glass fermentor
- Experiment with different beer recipes without wasting batches
- Commercial-quality equipment
- Only needs primary fermentation
- Includes everything you need to bottle beer
- No thermometer or brewing kettle
- One gallon size may not be enough for some brewers
- You’ll need to buy boiling pot separately
Best Home Brewing Kit for Amber Ale
Make amber ale with this homebrew starter kit that includes a brew kettle. The kit has a recipe for Block Party Amber Ale and will give you five gallons of finished beer. The process will take about a month between set up, sanitizing, boiling, fermenting, sugaring and bottling.
This kit features a 6.5-gallon fermentor with lid and bubble airlock, five-gallon stainless steel brew kettle and stainless steel spoon auto-siphon, a bottling bucket with spigot assembly, oxygen wash and bottle brush.
The alcohol percentage for Block Party Amber Ale is 4.5 ABV.
- Can bottle swing and capped bottles
- Brew any beer with this kit
- BPA-free buckets
- Includes yeast and sugar
- Helpful online video instructions
- No hydrometer
- Doesn’t include beer bottles
- You’ll need a smaller fermentor to make less than five gallons
Based on our research on best home brewing kits, the Brewery in a Box Five-Gallon Home Brewing Starter Kit with Block Party Amber Ale is the easiest, most complete kit for beginners, though more experienced homebrewers can use it.
You can make any beer with this kit, not just amber ale, as long as you have the ingredients. (Consult one of these candidates for best home brewing book to learn more about brewing and recipes.)
The brew kettle and bottling bucket take you from set-up to capping the bottles with ease. (You’ll need to buy bottles, though. They’re the only component this starter kit lacks.