Whether connoisseur, college student, or somewhere in between, you’re a guy who’s looked into getting the best beer making kit at one point.
Home brewing comes as a diversion or relaxation to some, while to others it has become a lifestyle.
Basically, beer is produced by fermenting the sugars of cereal grains like barley. Beer brewing undergoes the careful process of malting, crushing, and mashing.
The process can be both exciting and easy when you have the correct knowledge.
What do I need to get started?
There are a few basic pieces of equipment necessary to accomplish this hobby or way of acquiring your favorite beverage.
You may either purchase the equipment separately or get yourself an all-in-one beer making kit.
The advantage of buying a kit over individually buying components is that with a kit, you will have everything you need and each item was designed to fit the other parts. This is important especially if you’re just starting out as a brewer.
Here are a few tips to guide you before you buy your beer making kit:
Determine your budget for a good home brewing kit
What are you willing to pay for the equipment? Appraising your financial resources will help you decide whether to acquire a low-budget beer brewing kit or an expensive one.
If you’re a newbie, prudence dictates that you get an inexpensive brewing starter kit with prices ranging from $30 to $100.
There is always room for improvement and expansion of your equipment later on.
With low-cost brewing kits, however, you may have to settle for equipment with lesser quality like plastic buckets for fermenting instead of the more expensive glass counterparts, or an ice bath instead of an immersion chiller to chill your wort.
You may also pick one without buckets or stock pot, if you already own these items.
You may also opt to reuse empty beer bottles for your brews to cut on the cost.
High-end sets call for much higher investments, but they provide most of the components needed to jumpstart your project and will last longer than cheaper models.
Acquaint yourself with the basics of beer-making
Do you know what steps are involved in making beer? This way, you will also know what pieces of equipment must be included in the best home beer making kit you buy. Here are the essentials:
Boiling kettle – stainless steel or ceramic on steel are good choices
Fermentation vessel – choose glass, but if plastic is used, make sure that it’s food-grade plastic
Fermentation airlock – prevents contamination from the air
Stirring paddle or spoon – food-grade plastic
Measuring cup – glass cups are easier to sanitize than plastics; with capacity of 1 quart or more
Hydrometer – measures the specific gravity of the brew
Thermometer – with temperature range from 40-deg F to 180-deg F
Auto siphon – with clear plastic tube; with or without bottle filler attachments
Bottling bucket – or food-grade plastic bucket
Bottle cappers – either hand bottle cappers or bench bottle cappers (versatile but more expensive)
Bottle brush – with nylon bristles
A kit may or may have all these items, as mentioned earlier.
Some kits even add in a beer recipe of your choice, an instruction manual, or even Beer Brewing 101 DVD for coaching.
Choose kits that exclude those items you already own to lower the cost.
Know the regulations in your state regarding beer making. Beer-making may not be allowed in your state, and if you’re brewing for profit, licensing may be required.
You don’t want to invest in an expensive kit with the objective of distributing beer for profit, only to learn later that it’s not allowed in your state.
Assess the available space for your brewing area
Do you have the space? The size of the work space where you intend to brew will determine which brewing kit to buy.
A brewing starter kit requires adequate work space – a 10-foot square area, or thereabouts.
A nice option to set your kit up would be your garage or better yet an outhouse or shed, where it would be easy to drain exhaust water to the sewer.
If you’re an apartment dweller facing space limitations, you’ll need a spare or utility room to set it up and squeeze in some stackable plastic containers for bottling and fermenting.
Proper room ventilation is also vital as fumes are produced during brewing.
Make sure that the brewing area is easy to sanitize, because the enclosed space and all pieces of equipment must be kept thoroughly clean at all times.
Decide your purpose
Will this be a one-event kind of thing, like a highlight to a beer-party?
Or, will it be something for the longer term, like a shift in drinking style from commercial beer to home-brew?
If it’s the latter, then you can invest in a more durable kit, albeit more expensive, too.
If it’s just for a one-time fun, find one that’s simple, fuss-free and cheap.
Browse online or visit beer making supply stores
Before making any purchase, you can shop online for home brewing equipment from several different retailers and manufacturers, along with their customer reviews.
Compare the available kits and check out the seller, the price, and the condition of the items (for used kit components).
Or if you’re up to it, find time to visit home brewing supply stores near you.
Photos can be very deceptive, though, so actual shopping and personally inspecting items is still recommended.
Besides, there’s the benefit of passing up on shipping costs.
Consider the size of your burner
If the burner you have is relatively small, choose a kit that requires a partial boil of about 3 gallons or 11 liters.
You’ll find larger (5 to 10 gallons) boils pretty difficult to achieve over a small burner.
At this point you should now be raring to go and set your beer making venture in motion.
After having imbibed some points in buying a beer making kit and acquiring all the necessary equipment and supplies, a dry run of the brewing process should be in order to ensure you have everything you need.
For your initial batch of brew, choose a beer type that you’re most familiar with or one that your friends and buddies enjoy drinking most.
This way you can compare the taste to regular beers sold in the market. Cheers and happy brewing!