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Best Home Brew Kits

Updated November 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. BestReviews and the newspaper publisher identified above may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. BestReviews and the newspaper publisher identified above may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 22 Models Considered
  • 6 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 180 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    BestReviews and the newspaper publisher identified above may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. BestReviews and the newspaper publisher identified above may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. BestReviews and the newspaper publisher identified above may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

    Shopping guide for best home beer brewing kits

    Last Updated November 2018

    Think that nothing is as refreshing as a cold beer on a hot day? Well, what about a cold beer that you brewed yourself in your very own kitchen?

    If you’ve never considered home brewing – or have considered it, but dismissed the notion as too difficult – you’re in for a pleasant surprise. While it’s true that brewing your own beer is a time-consuming endeavor, it’s not that hard, even for a beginner. That’s largely due to the many home brew kits available today. These convenient kits provide just about all the equipment you need – often including ingredients – to turn out a batch of your very own beer.

    If you’re not sure how to select a home brew kit, you’re in luck. We’ve provided you five excellent choices in the product list above, along with this buying guide to choosing and using a home beer-brewing kit.

    At BestReviews, we aim to provide accurate, unbiased advice to our readers. We never accept free products or manufacturer perks in exchange for a good review or a mention. Instead, we speak with experts in the field and listen to feedback from the owners of the products in question. So if you are ready to get brewing, please read on.

    Once you get the hang of home brewing, kick it up a notch by trying more complex recipes, different types of beer, or even all-grain brewing.

    What equipment do you need to brew beer at home?

    While it does take a fair amount of equipment to brew beer, most of it is not expensive, and several items are probably already in your kitchen.

    The following list covers the basic supplies you’ll need to brew beer using a premade extract (rather than extracting the sugars from the grain yourself prior to fermenting). The majority of beginners’ home-brewing kits contain extract, which cuts out several complicated steps.

    • Item 1: Large stock pot with lid, preferably made of stainless steel

    This is the pot you’ll use to boil your ingredients. While a five-gallon stock pot is standard, you can use a smaller pot if you’ll be making smaller batches of brew.

    • Item 2: Plastic or glass bucket, often called a carboy, for the fermentation process

    The carboy should be the same size as your stock pot. Carboys have an airlock that allows excess CO2 produced during fermentation to escape. A stopper secures the airlock.

    • Item 3: Plastic bottling bucket with a spigot at the bottom

    This is your fermenting bucket.

    • Item 4: Metal stirring spoon that’s long enough to reach the bottom of your stock pot

    You’ll use this to stir the ingredients as they boil.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Prior to fermenting, your beer mixture is called wort (pronounced wert).

    • Item 5: Auto-siphon or racking cane

    You’ll use this to siphon the beer out of the fermenting bucket and into the bottling bucket once your beer is ready to bottle.

    • Item 6: Waterproof thermometer

    This is to keep a check on the temperature of the brew.

    • Item 7: Unscented dish soap and food-grade sanitizer

    These items are needed for cleaning your equipment.

    • Item 8: Bottle-cleaning brush

    This is for scrubbing your bottles before filling them with beer.

    • Item 9: Bottle filler and capper

    This will simplify the process of filling the bottles.

    • Item 10: Bottles and caps

    These are for storing your homemade brew.

    A five-gallon batch of beer will fill 48 12-ounce bottles.

    What ingredients do you need to make home brew?

    Along with equipment, you’ll of course need beer ingredients.

    Once you’re an experienced home brewer, you might start buying your ingredients separately at a store that specializes in home brew supplies, but most beginners – and plenty of brewers who are past the beginning stage – appreciate the simplicity of an ingredient kit.

    Most beginner supply kits contain ingredients for one batch of beer, so you’ll have to restock after that first batch.

    Luckily, there are a huge range of ingredient kits on the market, so you can try a wide variety of beers or stick with a favorite.

    EXPERT TIP

    Cleanliness is crucial when brewing beer. At every step of the process, take the time to clean and sanitize your equipment.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    The four basic beer ingredients are:

    • Water

    Tap water is fine.

    • Malt extract

    This is basically concentrated sugar extracted from barley or another grain. Some advanced beer makers mash the grain and extract the sugar themselves, but most beginners use malt extract.

    • Hops

    This is the plant that gives beer its distinctive taste and fragrance. There are dozens of varieties of hops, and the variety used determines the type of beer.

    • Brewer’s yeast

    This tiny organism ferments the malt sugars to create alcohol. You’ll also need priming sugar and additional flavorings if desired or prescribed in the recipe.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Beer-making kits generally come with ingredients for one batch of beer. You’ll need to buy another ingredient kit before brewing your next batch, but never fear; there are hundreds of ingredient kits available for every variety of beer.

    About the brewing process

    You should always follow your home brew kit’s specific directions, as the brewing process can vary depending on the type of beer and ingredients. However, the following is a rough outline of the basic home-brewing process.

    Step 1

    Gather up your brewing supplies. Thoroughly clean and sanitize the stock pot and fermenting bucket.

    Step 2

    Pour one gallon of water – or the amount your kit specifies – into the stock pot and bring it to a boil.

    Step 3

    Turn off the heat. Add the malt extract to the hot water. Stir the pot constantly until the extract dissolves completely. Return to a boil.

    Different types of beer use different varieties of hops. The portion of the hops plant (its botanical name is Humulus lupulus) used to make beer is the flower, also called the flower cone.

    Step 4

    Add the hops, and boil for the time your kit specifies – usually around 30 minutes to an hour. Your brew is now called “wort.”

    Step 5

    Fill your clean, sanitized fermenting bucket to the halfway mark with cold water.

    Step 6

    Add the wort to the fermenter.

    Step 7

    Add more water until you reach the five-gallon mark. (This assumes you are making a standard five-gallon batch of beer.)

    Step 8

    Use your thermometer to track temperature. Once the wort reaches between 70°F and 75°F, add the brewer’s yeast.

    EXPERT TIP

    Once your wort goes into the fermenting bucket, it needs to sit undisturbed for a month or so. You’ll need a spot where you’ll be able to check on the fermentation process without bumping or jostling the bucket.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Step 9

    Make sure your airlock and stopper are in place, and then put the lid on the fermenting bucket. Shake the bucket gently for a couple of minutes. This helps oxygenate the yeast.

    Step 10

    Now the waiting period starts. Set your fermenting bucket in an undisturbed, room-temperature spot. Within a couple of days, you should see the characteristic bubbling of fermentation in the airlock.

    Step 11

    In three to four weeks (your kit will specify the time period), your beer will be ready for the next step: carbonation.

    Step 12

    Boil two cups of water (or the amount specified in your brewing kit) and add the priming sugar. Boil until the sugar dissolves completely.

    Step 13

    Pour the sugar solution into your clean, sanitized bottling bucket.

    It’s common to have a bit of sediment at the bottom of your bottle when the beer is ready to drink. Simply discard this sediment.

    Step 14

    Transfer the beer from the fermenting bucket to the bottling bucket with a cleaned, sanitized siphon or racking cane. You’ll see sludge at the bottom of the fermenting bucket; leave the sludge behind and just pour the liquid beer into the bottling bucket.

    Step 15

    Fill your clean, sanitized bottles with beer. Leave a little under an inch of headroom at the top of the bottle.

    Step 16

    Cap the bottles tightly.

    Step 17

    Store the capped bottles in an undisturbed, room-temperature spot for two to three weeks. During this period, carbonation is taking place.

    Step 18

    Chill a bottle, crack it open, and enjoy! If the beer tastes a little flat, let the rest of the bottles carbonate for another week.

    EXPERT TIP

    Don’t expect to crack open a cold one the very first night. The entire brewing process takes one to two months.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Considerations when choosing a home brew kit

    There are quite a few home brew kits out there, so ask yourself the following questions to determine which is best for you. Your answers will guide you to the best home brew kit for your needs and preferences.

    • Does the kit contain all or most of the equipment you’ll need? Certain supplies are often sold separately, particularly bottles.

    • Does the kit have equipment you don’t need? For instance, you may already own a five-gallon stock pot.

    • Does the kit include clear written directions? Does the company have a website with videos or instructions that are more detailed? The internet is a rich source for beer-making instructions and videos.

    • Does the kit include ingredients? If so, do you like the variety of beer it produces? Keep in mind that you can purchase different varieties of ingredient for future batches.

    • How large of a batch does the kit produce? While five gallons per batch is standard, there are also one-gallon kits if you don’t want too much beer or are short on space for storage.

    • Do you want to brew with extracts, which is easiest for beginners, or are you ready to try an all-grain recipe, which is more complicated but allows you the greatest freedom to flavor the beer just the way you like it? Keep in mind that all-grain recipes require a few more pieces of equipment than the extract kits.

    • Is the kit within your budget? Most good-quality home brew kits cost between $100 and $200. Less-expensive home brew kits may include supplies of poorer quality.

    There are many types of beer, including ales, stouts, IPAs, ambers, lagers, and blondes, so have fun trying a different kind of beer each time you brew. You may discover a new favorite!

    FAQ

    Q. What are the benefits to buying a kit rather than purchasing equipment separately?

    A. While you can of course buy your equipment separately – this can be a good option if you already own most of the supplies – for most people, a kit is far more convenient and economical.

    Q. Is there any way to speed up the brewing process?

    A. Good things in life often take time, and beer is no exception. Don’t rush your brewing process, or you’ll end up with flat, disappointing results.

    Q. Does homemade beer taste as good as beer from the store?

    A. Sometimes it tastes better; sometimes it does not. There is no easy answer to this question. Your results depend on your degree of care in following instructions, the quality of the ingredients you use, the temperature at which you store the beer while it ferments and carbonates, and a little bit of luck. But the more you brew, the better you’ll get.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Heather
      Heather
      Chief Content Officer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Michelle
      Michelle
      Writer

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