Like most, I’ve been spending much more time at home these days. So, I decided to use that extra time and finally try my hand at brewing my own beer.
Not only did the process give me a much deeper appreciation for what is in my glass, but a better understanding of brewing as well.
Whether you’re a total novice like myself, or have experience but lack the equipment or ingredients, these home brewing kits from Brooklyn Brew Shop, Northern Brewer and Mr. Beer include everything you need to start brewing.
Brooklyn Brew Shop Brut IPA Beer Making Kit
Inside the kit: Grain, hops, yeast, amylase enzymes, racking cane, tubing clamp, fermentation jug, sanitizer, airlock, tubing and screw cap topper
How much it produces: One gallon
The entire brewing process for the Brut IPA recipe takes around four hours, and you’ll need to monitor the brew’s temperature throughout. So, select a day when you have plenty of time and few distractions. The brew will also need to ferment in the jug for two weeks and then spend another two weeks in the bottles.
You can find the directions for your recipe as well as video tutorials online. The URL is listed on the box. The instructions include descriptions of helpful beer-making jargon like “mashing out,” “pitch the yeast,” and more to help you sound more official.
It’s helpful to get all the brew day equipment soaking in the no-rinse sanitizer and then read through the directions since there are many steps.
Once all your equipment is properly sanitized, you’ll go through the mash, the sparge, the boil and then finally cool your brew before funneling it into the gallon fermenter, to sit in a dark place at room temperature for two weeks. I kept mine stored in a kitchen cupboard.
I had four self-closing swing top bottles sitting around, so I washed those and used them.
Make sure you also have some honey on hand (which the directions call for). Boil it in water and add it to your brew—the extra sugar helps wake up the yeast to make sure the finished product is carbonated and has fizz.
Bottling with the siphon can be a challenge, but Brooklyn Brew Shop’s instructional videos will help. Instead of jumping right into it, I do wish I’d practiced with a few bottles and water (which the directions suggest).
If you choose to practice, make sure you sanitize all your equipment again before bottling your brew.
One of the best aspects of this kit is it was totally doable for a novice, like myself. But the process gave me a much greater understanding and appreciation for brewing.
Something else I enjoyed is that the gallon fermenter is clear, which allows you to see the yeast actively working. Just be sure not to expose it to too much light.
Recommended items the kit doesn’t include are a six-quart pot, a fine-mesh strainer and a funnel. And they are listed under “recommended equipment” in the instructions. However, in my experience, these items are absolutely necessary. The instructions also say that a “second pot is handy.” If you can, have at least two or three other pots accessible, as this particular recipe involves a lot of transferring of ingredients.
If Brut IPAs aren’t for you, be sure to check out Brooklyn Brew Shop’s other starter kits like Mikkeller Breakfast stout, Black is Beautiful stout and more. They also offer a hard cider kit, sparkling rosé and other winemaking kits.$48 Brooklyn Brew Shop
Mr. Beer Golden Ale Complete Beer Making Kit
Kit Includes: Two-gallon keg, spigot, 11 25-ounce bottles, brewing extract, yeast, no-rinse cleaner and a bag of carbonation drops
How much it produces: Two gallons
If you’re looking to get into homebrewing but don’t want to devote hours to the process, Mr. Beer offers the perfect kit. The website claims it only takes about 30 minutes to brew, which exactly reflected my experience.
Once you get everything sanitized, bring four cups of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, remove the pot from heat and stir in the can of hopped malt extract to make the wort.
Add some cool water to your keg (which looks like a barrel), pour in the wort and stir. Finally, add the yeast and allow the keg to sit for 10–14 days.
The process is simple and straight forward. After the bottles are sanitized, add the included carbonation drops (the amount varies based on your recipe), fill each bottle through the keg’s spigot, screw caps on tightly and then store in a cool, dark place for two weeks.
The Golden Ale recipe requires a fair amount of cool, filtered water. I recommend storing enough bottles in your refrigerator beforehand (just make sure they are sanitized) or fully sanitizing your Brita filter to have at the ready. I didn’t have enough water prepared ahead of time on brew day, and it slowed the process down a bit.$50 Mr. Beer
Last Updated: May 9, 2023