- While it’s unfortunately not true that Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” it’s certainly a sentiment that most of us would agree with.
- If you’d like to brew a cold one yourself, our top recommendation for home brewing kits is the Northern Brewer Homebrew Starter Kit.
While it’s true that there is a nearly endless choice of craft beers these days – along with the ol’ standbys on the supermarket shelf – it’s a fact that there is something supremely satisfying about brewing up your own beer. Admittedly, you might not end up with results quite as tasty as those from the pros, but that’s not really the point.
It’s the joy of taking on an endeavor that’s part science experiment, part art, part a whole lot of patience (be aware that the entire process takes at least a month). The best part is, of course, ending up with a refreshing glass of beer straight from your very own home brewery when all’s said and done.
Like many hobbies, home brewing requires a fair amount of equipment before you can get started and that equipment – or at least a portion of it – is what beer-making starter kits come with in the box. With the majority of kits, you’ll need to add a few extra pieces yourself, but a kit is still a very convenient, and generally cost-efficient, way to gather up supplies.
You’ll need the following items to brew beer at home:
- A large stockpot, typically 5 gallons in size, but can be smaller if you’re brewing less beer
- A large plastic fermenter bucket (often referred to as a carboy), usually 5 gallons in size with an airlock that allows excess CO2 to escape during fermentation and a stopper to secure the airlock
- A large plastic bottling bucket with a spigot at the bottom
- A metal spoon that’s long enough to reach the bottom of your stockpot
- A racking cane and tubing to create a siphon for transferring your beer out of the fermenter and into the bottling bucket
- A no-rinse sanitizer, which is used to clean your equipment before brewing
- A waterproof thermometer like a candy thermometer
- A hydrometer if you are brewing from grain instead of from an extract
- A bottle cleaning brush, filler, and capper
- Bottles and bottle caps, which you’ll normally need to supply these yourself
Finally, you need beer ingredients: This is where the fun really starts. While you can visit a local brew shop and browse a vast assortment of ingredients, most beginners prefer to start with a kit. Ingredient kits typically contain the grain, sugar extracts, hops, flavorings, and yeast needed for beer production. You can find ingredient kits for a wide range of beer varieties, including many IPAs, but be aware that you’ll need to restock for each batch of brew.
With all that in mind, we sorted through the many homebrew kits out there to find you five of the best for the newbie on the brewing scene. Read on to see which of our top picks are best for your needs.
Here are the best homebrew beer kits:
- Best overall: Northern Brewer Brew Share Enjoy Homebrew Starter Kit
- Best small-batch kit: Brooklyn Brew Shop Everyday IPA Starter Kit
- Best for beginners: Mr. Beer Premium Gold Craft Beer Making Kit
- Best for repeat brewing: PicoBrew Pico C Beer Brewing Appliance
- Best for non-alcoholic root beer: Mr. Root Beer Home Brewing Kit
Prices and links are current as of 5/12/20. We added the PicoBrew Pico C as our pick for the best beer brewing kit for repeat brewing. We also added a selection of related buying guides.
The best overall
- Northern Brewer
The Northern Brewer’s Brew Share Enjoy Homebrew Starter Kit comes with practically everything you need to brew five gallons of Block Party Amber Ale.
If you’re eager to get up and brewing, the Brew Share Enjoy kit from Northern Brewer has everything you need (including a 5-gallon stainless kettle) to brew up five gallons of delicious Block Party Amber Ale. This rosy beer has a hint of floral and herbal flavor on top of the hops. All you’ll need to add are the bottles and the water.
The best thing about this kit is that it truly has everything you need to brew beer at home. In addition to the 5-gallon stainless steel kettle, it comes with an auto-siphon instead of the more-difficult-to-use racking cane. The kit also includes very clear easy-to-follow instructions that are laminated. Beer brewing can be a messy business, so believe us – You’ll appreciate the lamination when it’s time to wipe those instructions clean.
The ingredients kit that accompanies the equipment includes the hops, yeast, pre-milled malted steeping grains, liquid malt extract, priming sugar, sanitizer, and a muslin bag for the steeping grains. Note that as is typical with homebrew kits, the beer ingredients are sufficient to brew one 5-gallon batch of beer. You’ll need to buy another ingredient kit, or assemble your own ingredients, for your next batch. Northern Brewer offers many such ingredient kits, however, including a variety of IPAs, stouts, and lagers.
Includes: Block Party Amber Ale recipe kit, 6.5-gallon fermentor w/ lid & Bubbler airlock, Bottling Bucket w/Spigot assembly, Fermenter’s Favorites Bottle filler, 5 Gallon Stainless Brew Kettle, 21″ Stainless Spoon Auto Siphon, 5 ft. Siphon Tubing & Siphon Tube Holder, Cleaner/Sanitizer – Fermenter’s Favorites Oxygen Wash, Bottle Brush, Royal Crown Bottle Capper & Caps (60ct.)
Pros: Comes with just about everything you need, including a stainless kettle and stirring spoon, the components are good quality
Cons: None to speak of unless you aren’t a fan of the amber ale
The best small-batch kit
- Brooklyn Brew Shop
With the Brooklyn Brew Shop Everyday IPA Starter Kit, you’ll brew smaller batches of beer in a space-saving system.
Brewing a full-size batch of beer takes up quite a bit of room. Not only do you need a 5-gallon cook pot, but you also need equally sized fermenting and bottling buckets, plus space to store the many bottles and other required equipment. Luckily, some brewers are taking this plight to heart, and creating homebrew kits that turn out smaller batches of beer – in this case, one gallon.
Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Everyday IPA Starter Kit has nearly everything you need to brew up that gallon of oh-so-good IPA. You’ll just need to add the stockpot, strainer, funnel, bottle caps, and bottles. When it’s time to replenish, you’ll appreciate the company’s very wide range of beer ingredient kits, including Grapefruit Honey Ale, Chocolate Maple Porter, Chestnut Brown Ale, Pumpkin Beer, and many other tasty brews.
Along with the equipment, you’ll get the recipe kit for the Everyday IPA, which includes actual grains, not extracts. That gives you full-bodied, tasty beer that you’ll be proud to offer your friends. If you’re willing to part with any of your hard-earned bottles, that is.
Includes: Everyday IPA making mix (grain, hops and yeast), 1-gallon reusable glass fermenter, glass spirit-filled thermometer, vinyl tubing, racking cane & tip, chambered airlock, Brooklyn Brew Shop cleanser, and screw-cap stopper
Not included: Strainer, funnel, pot, and bottles
Pros: Includes real grain, not extract, doesn’t require a lot of space, many ingredient kit refills to choose from
Cons: You’ll need to come up with a few pieces of equipment yourself
The best for beginners
- Mr. Beer
If you prefer to dabble in home brewing as a hobby before getting serious, you’ll love the simplicity of the Mr. Beer Premium Gold Craft Beer Making Kit.
If you’re looking for the easiest introduction to home brewing, you can’t go wrong with Mr. Beer’s Premium Gold Craft Making Kit. Like all of the many Mr. Beer starter kits, this comes with everything you need – even the bottles. Of course, the bottles are reusable plastic, as are their caps, and you’ll get a plastic, 2-gallon jug that serves to mix, ferment, and bottle your beer. There’s no need for separate fermenting and bottling buckets, or the various equipment required to move beer between them.
Admittedly, if you are a beer purist, this might not be your cup of brew, but if you just want to have some fun, brew some decent-tasting beer, and make it all as easy as possible, this is a terrific and inexpensive way to do it.
The Gold Craft Beer Making Kit comes with the ingredients for two batches of beer: one a classic American light, and the other an Oktoberfest lager. There’s no complicated mixing or measuring with Mr. Beer: The ingredients are already measured, mixed, and extracted to make it easy for you.
Includes: A reusable Little Brown Keg fermenter, two brewing extracts to brew 2 batches (4 gallons/32 pints) of beer, 11 25 oz. shatterproof reusable bottles, pre-measured carbonation drops, No-Rinse Cleanser, instructions
Pros: Includes everything you need to brew a 2-gallon batch of beer, very easy to use, two ingredient kits included
Cons: Fermenting jug is prone to leaks
The best for repeat brewing
The PicoBrew Pico C is a solid choice for those with a bit of space in the garage, those who want a tidier, easier process – it’s self-cleaning – and those who might want to consider distilling, too.
Beer brewing, as you’ve probably surmised, is not for the faint of heart or light of pocket. It is time-consuming, it requires a bulk of gear made up of unwieldy tubes, and supplies (i.e. hops and malt) are not cheap. Brewing a case-worth of your own beer (it puts out five-liter batches), contrary to what you might expect, will likely cost you more than even the most expensive case of microbrew on the shelf at your local supermarket or microbrew purveyor.
With all that out of the way, if you want to make a hobby of the process but you (or someone with whom you live) don’t fancy forfeiting your probably already overcrowded kitchen to a mess of kit, consider the Pico C by PicoBrew, and consider keeping it up and running in your garage.
We reviewed the Pico C with outwardly mixed results. But if you prefer tidiness, convenience, and a little handholding, and don’t want your kitchen (or entire home) to be left smelling like a brewery every time you get a batch going, the Pico C makes a good argument for itself in those regards.
The Pico C is exponentially more expensive than any of the other simple kits on this list, but again, unless you’ve got a privileged source on materials, your foray into beer brewing was never going to be a cost-cutting endeavor, and the Pico C is an investment in an appliance that makes beer brewing an easily repeatable hobby.
You’ll brew your beer using a PicoPak containing all the necessary hops, malt, and other ingredients you’ll need for your finished brew. Unfortunately, they’re sold separately from the appliance, but you have tons of options from lagers to stouts developed by craft breweries all over the country.
In the end, the Pico C makes things much easier and tidier, and if you’ve got the space and money, and don’t want to tear apart your kitchen every time you decide to make a batch of beer, it might be the way to go for you. Did we mention that you can also purchase a still attachment, with which you can not only infuse and re-distill (a good solution for cheap booze) but make your own liquor? Just be sure to check with your local laws first.
Includes: Pico C brewing machine, Pico C brew keg, keg cozy, 5L serving keg and dispensing bung plug, racking tube, cleaning tab, bucket, hops pack cradle, step filter and lid, quick start guide
Pros: Tidy, self-contained, easy to use, other components available to do more (e.g., Pico Still)
Cons: Price tag, only makes five liters at once, brew packs sold separately
The best for root beer
- Mr. Root Beer
If you’re brewing with your kids, or you just want to cut down on your alcohol intake, make a delicious creamy root beer with the Mr. Root Beer Home Brewing Kit.
Sure, technically this is not beer, it’s soda. But sometimes, you need a cold, delicious drink that isn’t alcoholic, and for those times, it’s a lot more fun to brew your own root beer than simply drive to the store and buy some, especially when the Mr. Root Beer Home Brewing Kit makes it so simple.
Brewing up a couple gallons of root beer doesn’t take nearly as long as beer. You can be sipping your non-alcoholic beverage in as little as three days, as opposed to the month or longer for beer. It’s not nearly as complicated, either. Just pour the packets of ingredients and water into the included bottles, cap, and wait a few days while natural carbonation takes place. Then enjoy creamy, old-fashioned root beer with an excellent head of foam, just like you remember.
Mr. Root Beer includes enough mix for two 1-gallon batches of root beer. All you need to add is sugar and water.
Includes: 2 Packets Root Beer Mix, 2 Packets Flavor Crystals, 1 Packet Root Beer Yeast, 1 Packet No-Rinse Cleanser, 4 Plastic 1-liter Bottles (PET), 4 Bottle Caps and Gaskets, 1 Plastic Funnel, 4 Root Beer Bottle Labels, 1 Easy to follow Instructions/Science Fun
Pros: It’s a fun project for kids, doesn’t take a lot of time, and produces tasty root beer
Cons: Some buyers felt the root beer was too yeasty, and some had trouble with carbonation
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