If you're new to home brewing, then you may be wondering what the best way to begin brewing is. Luckily for those of us who enjoy drinking beer, there are many options that are available to us that will get us started as soon as we get our kits home. The question becomes what are the best beer kits for beginners to start making their own beer? Well, just like most things in life, there is no perfect kit out there that will suit the needs of everybody. So, you have to determine what your needs are, and make a decision based on those needs.
Home Brewing Kits for Beginners
Two of the more popular systems out there are the Mr. Beer home brewing kits, and the Cooper's home brewing kits. I have used a Mr. Beer kit, and from my experience, it's a quality unit that I never had issues with. The nice thing about these kits is that they are very easy to use, and as long as the instructions are followed, they make pretty good beer. Like all kits, you can make the transition from pure extract brewing to partial and pure grain brewing with these kits. Though, you'll most likely have to scale the recipes down to suit the 2 gallon fermenting bucket.
The down side of the Mr Beer kits is that they only produce 2 gallons of beer, as opposed to the typical 5 gallons that most buckets produce. This means that if you purchase ingredients online, they will be too big for your fermenting bucket, and you will have to measure and store the excess materials. This isn't too difficult, but it is more convenient to just use all of the ingredients in one sitting. A positive aspect of the 2 gallon fermenting bucket is that if you make a bad batch, it's only 2 gallons of bad beer, and not 5 gallons of bad beer.
The Cooper's brewing kit comes with the traditional 5 gallon fermenting bucket. It comes with pure extract ingredients, which makes it very easy for beginners. The Cooper's kit is a little more advanced than the Mr. Beer kit, and it comes with an airlock and a hydrometer. These tools will be necessary if you plan on becoming a more advanced brewer. In my opinion, it's probably easier to grow with a Cooper's kit than a Mr. Beer kit.
Another alternative is purchasing a kit from your local home brew store. You will usually get everything that you need in these kits, and you can definitely grow into them. An added advantage of going through a home brew shop is that you can get tips from the owner (they're usually pretty passionate about brewing), and often times they will have their own recipes that you can try out. My local home brew store offers beginners brewing classes occasionally, which is nice because you can see how it's done before trying to brew on your own.
And, last but not least, you can purchase brewing kits on Amazon. Usually they will come with a bucket or two, and the tools that you will need. You'll more than likely have to buy the ingredients separately, but the kits themselves are usually a decent value for the equipment that you get.
How to Decide Which Beer Kits are Best for You
So, now that you know a few of the options that are available, it's time to decide what the best kit is for you. A good question to start with is do you plan on moving on to grain brewing, or are you happy with pure extract brewing? Extract brewing can produce good results, and it's still fun to brew your own beer. If you're happy with pure extract brewing, then the Mr. Beer kit is as good as any. If you plan on advancing, then I would suggest that you go with the Cooper's or a kit from your local brew shop. There's no sense in purchasing a kit that you're going to grow out of. And if you're happy with pure extract brewing, would you be happy with brewing 2 gallons, or would you prefer to brew 5 gallons per batch?
In the end, it all comes down to how far you intend to go with brewing, and how much beer you need to brew. Mr. Beer is the most basic brewing kit that I've seen available. I think that for most people the Cooper's is a great kit to begin with because you get exposed to using tools such as the hydrometer and airlock. These aren't difficult to use, but it's good to get the experience in while you're still young in the world of brewing.
Finally, you should be able to find kit for between $40 and $100 to get you started. You may need to shop around to find the best price. If you want to get started brewing, then get your kit and start brewing. You'll be happy you did.