Home beer brewing kits have become more popular over the last few years, in fact, some are even available at your local department store. Why? well, people are beginning to realize that brewing beer at home isn't rocket science. The fact is, for the most part, it involves nothing more than boiling the mixture, putting it in the fermentor, adding yeast and waiting a few weeks. Considering just how easy and satisfying it is it's kind of amazing that more people havent started doing this. Now, to be honest, you are not going to save much money. The real benefit comes from being able to have a homemade, hadcrafted artisan beer at the same price as one of those mass produced off the shelf beers. If you're like me and truly enjoy a great mug of beer then why are you still drinking that terrible, mass produced flavorless swill touted by advertisers as 'hand crafted'. The right beer brewing kits are easy to find when you know what to look for and, home beer tastes better and costs less. Look for these components when your looking for your first beer brewing kits.
What items should be included in a good beer brewing kit?
To make home beer it has to be boiled, fermented and then bottled. You'll find two sizes of beer brewing kits on the market today; a large size capable of making about 4 cases of beer at a time, and a smaller size that makes just one case at a time. Generally the smaller size is perfect for people that live in an apartment. Just ask yourself if you have the room to store 4 cases of beer.
Here's the main items you'll find in just about all of the home beer making kits on the market today.
- A primary fermenter. This is where the boiled beer mix (called the wort) goes to ferment. These are most always nothing more than a plastic bucket with a special lid that fits an airlock.
- A secondary fermenter. After the beer ferments in the primary for a week it's moved into the secondary to ferment for another week. This is usually a 6 gallon glass 'bottle', smaller beer kits will not have this and will just use the primary for an additional week.
- An airlock. This is used to prevent 'nasties' from entering your home beer during the fermentation process. As the yeast ferments the wort carbon dioxide gas will be produced, the airlock will let the gas out without letting germs in.
- Some form of tubing. All beer brewing kits use flexible plastic tubing, you can't just go to the local hardware store to buy this since it has to be food safe.
- Bottling hardware. Once the beer finishes fermenting you'll need to bottle it. The kit will include the necessary hardware to accomplish this.
The above items are, without exception the most basic components of all the beer brewing kits you'll find out there. Some, such as the Mr Beer, will use just one fermenter. This is ok for that particular system.
Additional accessories sometimes found in beer brewing kits
A quick look at some beer brewing sites will reveal that there are hundreds of accessories you can get to make the beer brewing experience easier/tastier/cheaper etc... None of these are absolutely necessary so you can add select items as you get more into the home brewing hobby.
Scales, gauges and other measurement devices allow you to fine tune the amount of alcohol that there is in the finished product. Most of the time, especially if you buy the pre-mixed kits this isn't necessary. It only comes into play when you're making a new recipe.
A specific gravity tester. The specific gravity tester will give you an idea of the final alcohol content of your home beer.
Wort chillers. These consist of copper tubing or other piping that is immersed into the boiling wort to cool it quickly. Generally this is a time saver since normally you'd have to wait for the wort to cool to about 70 degrees before you add your yeast. If it's too hot the yeast will die and the beer wont ferment.
You'll also need a large pot to make your wort. No beer brewing kits include this that I know of so you'll need to head over to a housewares store and get a large pot that can hold a few gallons.
Thermometor. You can't add your yeast (called pitching) until it cools, using a thermometor takes out the guessing.
What if I'm unsure about making home beer?
If you're unsure as to whether you want to homebrew beer, whether because of the cost, room required or perhaps the effort involved then I'd suggest you try the Mr Beer kit, they are quite inexpensive and make a nice home beer without taking up too much space. If you like it, you can buy the additional beer making supplies individually.
Here's an example of a great starter beer making kits.
Here's a great article that'll show you the steps involved in making beer at home? Learn about the process to see if this hobby is something you want to get into.
How much do beer making kits cost?
Generally the best beer brewing kits cost about 40 - 100 dollars depending on the size. I would also suggest reading beer making kit reviews on such sites as ConsumerSearch or ConsumerReports. They have unbiased beer making kit reviews written by real people such as yourself and often times they'll list the lowest prices on beer brewing kits right there. You'll also find some useful links right on this page to help you find the best beer brewing kits.