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Brewing craft beer at home is a surprisingly easy hobby. Whether you’re a beer lover, a bit of a chemistry geek, or someone in between the two, you can get started with a minimal investment.
One of the easiest ways to get all of the equipment and ingredients you need is to buy a homebrew kit. Here, we’ll take a look at what you need to know before you start shopping, what to look for in a good quality kit, and we’ll give you the rundown of our top five homebrew reviews based on the value and quality of beer they produce.
While homebrewing is a surprisingly simple process, you’ll need to gather the basic equipment and ingredients before you can get started. Below, we’ve broken up our lists into items that you absolutely need to have, as well as those that are a nice addition to your gear and make it easier to get your beer just right.
While not every kit in our homebrew reviews will include every element, the best ones have everything you need to get started.
Must-Have Things to Brew at Home
The following items are the bare bones minimum you’ll need to brew beer at home.
- At least a four-gallon brew kettle or pot. This is an item that you can start with an inexpensive model that you can upgrade at a later time. Depending on how high-end you go, it can cost anywhere from $30 to $160.
- A stirring spoon that’s large enough to reach the bottom of your pot.
- Two separate fermenting buckets that hold at least six-gallons. One will be your primary and the other your secondary.
- A waterproof thermometer that registers temps between 120 to 190-degree Fahrenheit (the optimum range for many beer recipes).
- Measuring cups with various capacities to portion out ingredients for your brew.
- A bubbler and airlock device with a stopper to keep your beer fresh.
- A siphoning device.
- A bottle capper and enough bottles and caps to accommodate five gallons of liquid. If you use 22 oz bottles, you’ll need 30, and if you use traditional 12 oz bottles, you’ll need 55 total.
Extra Homebrew Accessories
While the basics we listed above will get you by, there are a few additional accoutrements you might want to consider. They will not only make the job of brewing and bottling easier but could also make your beer taste better too.
- Wort chiller
- Bottle filler
- Sanitizing bucket
- Cleaning tools
- Carboy carrier
- Turkey baster
How to Pick the Right Homebrew Kit for You
As you’ll see below in our homebrew reviews, starter kits come in many different shapes and sizes. To help you find the best package for your needs, ask yourself these questions.
1. What is My Budget?
Determining how much you have to spend before you start shopping can help to make your task much simpler. If you’re working with a limited budget, check out the homebrew kit reviews that get you everything you’ll need for less than $200. If you already know that this is going to be a pastime passion and want to invest a bit more, there are upgraded kit options that come with added bells and whistles that you’ll love.
2. Do I want equipment and ingredients as part of one package, or do I want to try my own recipes?
Some preassembled kits will come with both the equipment and ingredients to get you started on your first batch of beer. These are great if you want to get everything all in one place and are comfortable following manufacturer instructions. However, if you’ve found a beer recipe that looks amazing online that requires some specialty malt or hops, may want to consider a kit that only comes with the hardware you’ll need to do the job. You can source your brewing ingredients separately if required.
3. Will I need to upgrade my set up in the future?
There are several different types of kits you can start with, and as you’ll see in our homebrew review, some are more upgradeable than others. If you want an option that promises a fast, cheap, and easy beer, you’ll likely choose a different starting point than if you plan to craft different styles along the way. Selecting an option that has upgrade capabilities in the long-run is a great investment for some people.
Benefits of Buying a Kit vs Assembling Your Own
Homebrew kits are popular for several reasons. While it is possible to purchase each of the individual pieces of equipment needed from a specialty store in person or online, buying them together as part of a group offering ensures that you’ll have everything you need to get started.
Kits also take the guesswork out of whether an accessory is compatible with another piece of equipment, making them popular with at-home brewers who are just starting to learn the craft.
Finally, kits that come complete with instructions and ingredients take the guesswork out of your first batch of beer. It’s convenient to have everything you need to get started right away rather than having to shop and source individual hops, malts, and yeasts before you can try your hand at brewing your first batch.
However, once you become familiar with your equipment, it can be fun to experiment. The Adventures in Homebrewing reviews, a site where you can purchase a variety of equipment, accessories, and ingredients online, advanced brew smiths love combining some of their unique ingredients to get a one of a kind mixture.
Here’s a helpful video on how hops will affect the taste of your beer, and how to choose your own if you want to get creative with your brewing ingredients.
What to Know Before You Brew
Notable industry experts, the American Homebrewing Association, have lots of tips for new enthusiasts before you craft your first batch.
Once you decide which kit is best for you, make sure you:
- Read through all the equipment, ingredients, and steps in the process so that you’re comfortable with what you need to do to maximize your brew day.
- Understand what each piece of equipment is used for, how it works, and in which steps you’ll be using it.
- Get familiar with your ingredients. Brewing beer requires a little bit of science, so be sure you understand the basics of how the malt, hops, yeast, and water interact to make something both delicious and unique.
- Be comfortable with common brewing terms, and be sure to look up anything you don’t know before you get started.
- Finally, choose a recipe that both sounds like something you would appreciate and that matches your level of brewing ability. Beginners should always select a simple option, while more experiences brewmasters might try an intermediate or advanced technique.
Homebrew Starter Kit Reviews
The Northern Brewer: Homebrew 5 Gallon Beer Brewing Starter Kit with Block Party Amber Ale Beer Recipe Kit and Brew Kettle
This five-gallon starter kit from the brewmasters at The Northern Brewer is both budget-friendly and easy to use for beginners. At around a $100 investment, it includes nearly every item you’ll need to create a great beer.
Included in the package is a 6.5 gallon fermentor complete with a lid and bubbler airlock, a separate bottling bucket with a spigot, a bottle filler from Fermenter’s Favorites, a five-gallon stainless steel brew kettle, a stainless-steel spoon that’s long enough to reach the bottom and has an auto siphon feature, siphon tubing and a tube holder, cleaner, a bottle brush, and a bottle capper and enough caps for 60 bottles.
They’ve also included a recipe for their award-winning Block Party Amber Ale, as well as all of the ingredients as part of the starter kit.
The only thing you’ll need to purchase separately are the bottles themselves.
- Less than $100 investment for all the basic equipment you’ll need.
- Sold by a reputable company who has been part of the homebrewing industry since 1993.
- Comes with recipe and ingredients so you can get started right away.
- Instructions include detailed, step by step videos to give you a hands-on visual of the steps in the process.
- Need to purchase bottles and thermometer separately.
- This recipe is for beginners and only uses a one-step fermentation process. If you want something more advanced, there isn’t a carboy in this kit to accommodate that additional step.
- If you don’t want to start with an Amber Ale, you’ll need to buy ingredients or a separate ingredient kit for another type of beer.
The Deluxe Home Brewing Equipment Starter Kit, also by The Northern Brewer, is the best-selling homebrewing kit in history for a good reason. At around a $200 investment, this is the most expensive kit in our homebrew reviews thanks to the high-quality equipment included in the mix. If you are looking for equipment that is built to last and won’t need significant upgrades, this might be the right choice for you.
You’ll get one six-gallon glass carboy to use as your primary fermenter and another five-gallon glass carboy that will serve as your secondary fermentor. Also included are a bung and airlock for each carboy. Additionally, the kit comes with a blowoff hose, funnel and adhesive thermometers, an auto siphon, tubing, bottling bucket, a spigot, and bottle filler. To assist with the bottling process, you get a bottle capper and caps. Finally, to make clean-up simple, the kit includes a carboy brush, bottle cleaning brush, brewery cleaner, and a carboy dryer.
There is also a recipe kit for Chinook IPA in the package that produces five gallons of finished beer, as well as an instructional DVD that walks you through the entire process.
While the kit is very comprehensive, you will also need to purchase the glass bottles for bottling (around 50), as well as a five-gallon kettle.
- Ability to brew a wider range of styles thanks to the dual carboy set up.
- The glass carboys are an upgrade from the standard plastic fermentors which provides you with a beautiful and long-lasting starting kit.
- Includes a recipe and instructional DVD with detailed information on the entire brewing process.
- On the expensive end of the starter kit spectrum.
- Additional materials required before you can start brewing.
- Thanks in part to the heavy-duty glass carboys, this kit is heavy. You may need two people to lift and arrange the materials to get everything set up.
If an English Style IPA is on your list of most-wanted beers, this kit from Brew Naturally might be the right one for you. At around $60 it’s a budget-friendly option, though it doesn’t come with every piece of equipment you’ll need to get started. It also uses a one-gallon jug rather than the standard five-gallon variety, which will limit your options down the road regarding recipe kits your equipment can accommodate.
That said, the kit includes a one-gallon glass jug fermentor with a cap, a separate cap with a hole for the airlock, required tubing, cleaner and sanitizer, and an adhesive thermometer.
You’ll also get the IPA recipe, all of the ingredients, and written instructions on how to put it all together to make a delicious hoppy brew. The company brew masters rate the recipe difficulty at an “easy” level, making it a great choice for first-time brewers.
You’ll need to invest in a few additional things before you get started including a bottle capper, bottle filler, the bottles themselves, and a brew pot. You may also want a separate pot for sanitizing at the end of the process.
- Beginner-friendly IPA recipe included with the kit.
- The 1-gallon jug is easy to maneuver and handle and is a space-friendly option if you have limited brew space like in an apartment.
- Affordable starter kit.
- Several pieces of additional equipment needed to brew your first batch.
- Written instructions only.
- It’s more challenging to find pre-made ingredient kits and recipes for one-gallon sizes so you may need to get creative for future brews.
Midwest Supplies: Platinum Pro Homebrew Beer Brewing Starter Kit with Front Porch Pale Ale Beer Recipe Kit and Brew Kettle
Another popular starter kit that has very good homebrew reviews is the Platinum Pro kit from Midwest Supplies. This five-gallon option includes a 6.5-gallon fermentor with a lid an airlock, a bottling bucket spigot, a bottle filler, and a five-gallon stainless steel kettle as the primary pieces. You’ll also get a stainless spoon and racking cane to assist with the brewing process. Finally, the kit is equipped with tubing, a holder, Oxywash cleanser, as well as a bottle capper and 60 caps.
There’s also a recipe, instructions, and ingredients for a batch of Front Porch Pale Ale which is a beginner-friendly recipe.
This option costs around $110, and your only additional investment is in the 50 12-ounce beer bottles you’ll need to store your brew.
- A comprehensive kit with all materials needed, except bottles, to get started.
- Easy, highly rated pale ale recipe included with your purchase.
- Kit frequently comes with a coupon for future purchases allowing you to upgrade or buy more ingredients at a discount.
- Minimal instructions included. You’ll need to be familiar with the steps in the process and brewing terminology to follow them.
- No bells and whistles on any of the equipment. If you want automated processes, like an auto siphon, you’ll need to buy upgraded options.
- Not compatible with an electric stove.
Northern Brewer: Go Pro 1 Gallon Small Batch Beer Brewing Starter Kit Equipment Set with Chinook IPA Beer Recipe Kit
The last kit in our homebrew reviews is another favorite from Northern Brewer. Their Go Pro 1-gallon small batch starter kit is a fantastic option for beginners that gives you everything you need for around $75.
With the same type of complete DVD instructions that you get with all Northern Brewer products, their one-gallon Chinook IPA recipe kit is a fan favorite that’s simple to make for first-time brewers.
Unlike the other kits we reviewed, this one includes not only all of the supplies you need for brewing but also comes with 12 beer bottles to store your creation.
- Includes all needed equipment for brewing.
- Very affordable. Costs less than $75.
- Easy to follow, in-depth video instructions.
- One gallon ingredients kits are sometimes more challenging to find so you might be limited in options for future batches.
- All included equipment is very basic. If you want high-end or upgraded features, you’ll need to purchase separately.
- One gallon of brew usually makes around 9-10 bottles of beer so you won’t have a full dozen at the end of the process.
While every one of these homebrew kits has a lot of merits, the Deluxe Homebrew Starter Kit by the Northern Brewer has our vote for the best of the bunch.
Not only does it come with nearly everything you need to start brewing right away, but it also provides detailed video instructions to walk beginners through every step of the process. While it is one of the pricier starter kit options, it comes with high-end equipment that will not only make the job easier but also keep you from wanted to purchase upgraded components right away.
With everything you need, including the ingredients and a recipe in one box, you can try your hand at homebrew as soon as you get the kit.