Best home brewing kit – making beer for beginners and experienced brewers

Photo Source Beer is perhaps the greatest invention of all time. Sound like an exaggeration? Well, hear me out. When you are hanging out with your buddies and drinking you are actually participating a long human tradition that goes back many thousands of years. Beer has been used as medicine, money, and even used to save lives. 4000 years ago the ancient Egyptians paid workers in beer to build the great pyramids. 1 gallon of beer was a day’s wage for a pyramid builder. Not too bad, right? In medieval times the water (and everything else) was notoriously filthy. Thankfully the Knights of olde had beer. The fermenting process sterilizes the beer making it safer to drink than water. Medieval beer saved many lives. And nearly every revolution started with a bunch of guys drinking beer at their local tavern while planning their rebellion.Many of America’s founding fathers were brewers themselves, and they often paid patriot soldiers in beer. Beer built America! Check out the documentaryHow Beer Saved The World” to learn even more about beer’s important role in human history. Even though beer has been around for a long time, it hasn’t always been as popular as it is today. In case you have been living under a rock for the past 10 years; beer is getting big. America and much of the world is currently experiencing a brewing renaissance. Microbreweries are popping up all over the place, like Starbucks in 2005. Even small towns now have 3 or even 4 local brewers. The beer boom isn’t just limited to professional establishments either. Homebrewers are finding the art of making beer to be fun and rewarding. And thank goodness, too! Today we have an amazing array of brands and flavors that make me ashamed of the gross yellow water that our parents drank. But if you really want unique flavors then homebrewing may be for you. Homebrewing is a very fun hobby and is easy to get started. If you can follow the instructions on a box of brownies then you can learn to make a great batch of beer. Check out our Moonshine stills as well. What You’ll Need- Before getting started with your recipe you need to make sure that you have the right equipment. We have listed a number of brewing kits that come with almost everything you need. Almost. But you will need to be familiar with what is included and what everything is for. First, you will need a burner. Your stovetop can work but most people don’t like to use stovetops for a few reasons. One is that the limited power of a stove top could mean it takes hours to boil the large pot. Another reason is because brewing in your kitchen can lead to a mess. The most important part of brewing beer is keeping your wife happy so that she let’s you do it again. So spare the kitchen. I recommend buying a propane burner or induction cook top for a safer option, and brewing in your basement or garage. You will also need a large steel pot for boiling and a steel spoon for stirring. You can boil smaller batches using some of your larger kitchen pots but why think small? A big batch saves you time and money, so get a big pot. Also important for heating your brew is an accurate stainless steel thermometer. In order to follow recipes, or replicate your own, you will need to heat your brew to precise temperatures. That can’t be done without a thermometer. A fermenter is needed next. The fermenter is where the magic happens, where the sludge becomes beer. More basic kits will have a five gallon bucket as a fermentor. Better kits come with a large glass or plastic bottle called a carboy. And even more advanced kits will come with a keg where the fermenting can happen. You’ll also need a funnel, a strainer, an airlock, and a racking cane for transferring beer. Lastly you will need cleaning equipment. It is extremely important that anything the brew touches is completely clean and sanitary. Bacteria on any piece of equipment can get in your brew and ruin it. Be sure to use unscented dish cleaner so that your beer doesn’t end up tasting like hand soap. Also be sure to use food grade sanitizer. This is the best choice because it won’t affect the flavor or drinkability of your beer. How To Make Beer The brewing process is both complex and simple. It’s Complex because there are many steps and it takes time, but simple because the instructions are easy to follow. The first step in the brewing process is to gather your ingredients, your equipment, and make sure everything is clean and sanitary. The ingredients you use, will determine what kind of beer you will have. Most beer kts will come with recommended ingredients and recipesUse a checklist to make sure that you aren’t missing any key pieces of equipment or any ingredients. Next wash everything with unscented cleaning solutions. Now It’s time to start brewing.

Steeping grains in Brew         Photo Source

Start by pouring 2.5 gallons of water in your large boiling pot. Put it on your burner and bring the water  to a boil. If your recipe includes special grains, now is the time to add them. Pour your grains into a muslin bag and dip them in the water. Steep the grains for about 20 minutes, then remove the grains and let the bag drain into the pot. Bring the pot to a boil and then turn off the heat. Now it’s time to add the malt extract. Quick tip: malt extract is thick and syrupy, warm up the malt extract in warm water to make it easier to pour. After you have removed the pot from the heat, slowly add the malt extract while stirring. After the malt extract is completely dissolved, turn the heat back on and bring the pot to a boil.    Once it starts to boil, set a timer for an hour. Now you’re brewing! This brown sludge that you are boiling is called “wort”. Wort is unfermented beer. You need to learn the lingo if you want to be a real brewmaster. During this boil is when you will be adding your hops to the wort. Every recipe is different about what hops to add and when, so follow your instructions carefully. Once the boil is complete you will need to cool the wort to 80 degrees fahrenheit or below. This can be done several ways. Some people just let the wort sit overnight, some refrigerate it, some even use a fancy copper coil and run cold water through it. I recommend filling a tub with ice water and letting the wort sit in there for several hours. Be sure to have a lid on your wort while cooling so you don’t contaminate your brew!

Sanitised Bottles             Photo Source

While your wort is cooling you should take time to sanitize your equipment. Sanitizing is important because bacteria can grow in your beer while it’s fermenting and ruin the flavor. Wash everything down with food grade sanitizer, including all your buckets, carboys, lids, locks, tubes, funnels and anything else that the beer may touch. When your wort is cool and your equipment is sanitized you can continue. Pour the wort into your fermenter. This could be a bucket, a carboy, or a keg. Leave behind goopy chunks in the bottom of your pot. Some people will even filter the wort to keep it clear of debris. Next add cool water to the fermenter until there is 5 gallons of liquid in the fermenter. Now pour in your yeast. Secure the lid on the fermenter and add an airlock. Pour sanitizer or alcohol into your airlock. Now shake your fermenter to mix the wort and the water. Shaking also adds oxygen to the mix which is important for fermenting. Next, move the fermenter to a dark, out of the way, space. Now the waiting game begins.

Beer in the Fermentation process                                            Photo Source

Your beer needs to ferment for about two weeks at which point you can transfer the beer from one carboy to another using an auto siphon. This step is to clear out some of the sludge that has built up on the bottom. Now airlock the new carboy and let it sit for another two weeks. It isn’t necessary to transfer your beer like this, but it helps make a clearer, better tasting beer. After a total of 4 weeks of fermenting, your beer is ready to bottle. Prepare by sanitizing a bottling bucket, hoses, siphon, bottles, and caps. Now mix five ounces of priming sugar in sixteen ounces of water and bring to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, let the solution cool for 5 minutes. Pour the sugar solution in the bottling bucket. Now add the beer by siphoning it into your bottling bucket from the fermenter. Now mix the solution together. Now you are ready for bottling. Pour the beer into your sanitized bottles by using the bottling siphon. Next cap each bottle with a sanitized cap. When all your beer has been bottled you now need to let it sit in a dark place for two more weeks. This is to finish fermenting and to carbonate the beer. And your done! You are now a brewmaster! Be sure to invite all of your friends over, crank up the gourmet sandwich maker, and crack open a few beers to enjoy, (or don’t, it’s your beer). Now that you know what it takes, it’s time to pick you brewing kit.

Beer Brewing Kits

Deluxe Home Brewing Equipment Starter Kit with Chinook IPA Beer Recipe Kit

This is an excellent starter kit from Northern Brewer. Northern Brewer is one of the big names in home brewing. They sell just about everything a brewer would need and tell you how to use it. You can find great tutorials, recipes, and videos online by Norther Brewer to help get you started. In fact, this kit comes with and instructional DVD so you can easily follow along.

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This kit doesn’t just come with the equipment, but also includes the ingredients and recipe for your first batch of beer. Here is what comes in the kit: Instructional DVD Recipe kit 6 gallon glass carboy (primary fermenter), bung & airlock 5 gallon glass carboy (secondary fermenter), bung & airlock Blowoff hose, funnel & fermometers (thermometer for beer) Auto-siphon & tubing Bottling bucket & spigot Bottle filler & tubing Bottle capper & caps Carboy brush & bottle cleaning brush Brewery cleaner & carboy dryer Here is what you will need to buy separately: 5 Gallon stainless steel boiling pot with lid Stainless steel stirring spoon Propane burner About 50 empty pry-off cap beer bottles Once you have everything listed above you will have everything you need to brew just about any beer imaginable. This kit by Northern Brewer is just about the best starter kit you can buy. All the materials are high quality and will last a long time. Just look at the glass carboys; many kits use plastic but this Northern Brewer kit includes high quality glass. You won’t be replacing parts left and right or have problems with any loose fits. Conclusion The Northern Brewer Deluxe Kit is perfect for anyone looking to brew at home. Both beginners and advanced brewers will appreciate the quality and versatility of this kit.

Master Brewer’s Equipment Kit with Kegging Setup

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The Master Brewer’s Kit is a little lesser know than Northern Brewer, but it comes with some extras. The Master Brewer’s Equipment Kit comes with equipment for kegging. The process for kegging is not much different than bottling other than you finish by putting your beer in a keg rather than a million tiny bottles. Many people (me included) believe that beer tastes better from the keg than from the bottle. Here is what comes in this kit: 5 gallon reconditioned pin lock keg Aluminum 5 lb CO2 tank (empty) Dual gauge CO2 regulator 3/16 pin lock beer line assembly 5/16 pin lock gas line assembly Barbed swivel nut and gasket Ball check valve Analog refrigerator thermostat control Two 5 gallon glass carboys Two universal carboy bungs 6.5 gallon fermenter and lid Three dual scale liquid thermometer Three airlocks

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You will be able to make a variety of beers using different recipes and applying different techniques. The choice will be yours.

2 oz PBW 2oz Midwest Oxygen Wash Hydrometer and test jar Funnel with strainer How To Brew, by John Palmer Instructional step-by-step DVD 5/16 Auto-Siphon 5/16 siphon tubing Carboy brush Here is what you will need to buy separately: 5 Gallon stainless steel boiling pot with lid Stainless steel stirring spoon Propane burner This is a great kit to get started with kegging. I actually think kegging is easier than bottling and the beer tastes better. Plus, there is hardly anything as cool as having your own keg full of beer. One of the great features of this kit is the CO2 cartridge for forced carbonation. You can still carbonate the beer the natural way, by mixing in priming sugar, but forced carbonation can speed up the process. Conclusion This kit is great for anyone who wants to start kegging. The kit includes everything you need, including CO2 equipment for forced carbonation.

The PicoBrew “Pico”

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The Pico from PicoBrew isn’t so much a brewing kit as it is a brewing appliance. PicoBrew is a startup that launched their product on Kickstarter. The home brewing appliance went viral and became one of the most popular Kickstarter campaigns ever. With Pico the brewing process is about as easy as it could ever be. The machine handles heating the water, steeping the grains, mixing in the malt extract and the hops. It follows the recipes digitally and is able to heat to precise temperatures and mix in ingredients at exactly the right times. Basically the brewing process is entirely automated. Even the recipes and ingredients are automated. You don’t need to find your own recipes or gather your own hops. Just pick out some of the PicoBrew brewing packs, and order. The ingredients are then shipped to your house in a PicoPak and the digital recipe instructions are sent to your Pico brewing appliance. Then you just put the PicoPak cartridges in the machine and press start! The best way to describe this machine is to call it a Keurig for beer. The brewing process takes about 2 hours and is entirely hands off. You still need to wait two to four weeks for the fermenting process to take place. There are no shortcuts there. When finished the Pico produces about 1.5 gallons of beer, or about 12 bottles.

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The Pico is connected to the internet and you can even monitor your brew from your smartphone using their app. Brewing beer has finally made it to the 21st century. One of the great features of the Pico is the PicoPaks that you order online. Famous microbrews from across the country submit their recipes of which you can order and make at home. It’s like a beer recipe marketplace. You can also design your own custom recipe online. Unfortunately the recipes aren’t as customizable as some may like because of the way the machine is designed. But most hobbyists will absolutely be satisfied with the selection. Conclusion The Pico is a beer brewing appliance that can easily sit on your countertop. It’s perfect for beginners or people looking to take the work and mess out of home brewing.All of the work has been done for you. Because the process has been made automated you may not get the satisfaction of creating your beer totally by hand, there is no flexibility in your beer brewing, however, this may suit you.

PicoBrew Zymatic

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The Zymatic is yet another home brewing appliance by PicoBrew. So what’s the difference between the Zymatic and the Pico? Well, the Zymatic is a much more advanced machine. The Zymatic excels where the Pico falls short. Unlike the Pico, the Zymatic is fully customizable. You find your own ingredients, and your own recipes and put them in the machine to make your custom brew. So while the Pico is great for making beer designed by others, the Zymatic is great for making beer designed by you.

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The customization and the precise reproducibility are the Zymatics strongest features. In fact large breweries like Red Hook use the Zymatic to design and test new recipes. They Zymatic can also help you make money with your beer hobby. Once you have designed a beer that you like, you can upload the recipe to PicoBrew’s website where people can buy the recipe for their Pico. The Zymatic also produces about twice as much beer as the Pico and reduces the cost of each bottle you brew. Even though the Zymatic is a more expensive machine, it may end up costing less over time because of the reduced price of beer. Like the Pico, the brew process for the Zymatic is automatic. After you pour in all of your ingredients, just press “start” and it will be done brewing in four hours. Also like the Pico, the Zymatic is internet connected and you can monitor your brew on your smartphone. When the brew is finished you will still need to add your yeast and let it sit for 2 to 4 weeks to ferment. Once the process is complete you should have between 2 and 4 gallons of beer, or about 24 bottles. Conclusion The Zymatic is a great machine for people who want to automate the brewing process but also want to be able to customize their brew. The Zymatic is perfect for no-mess home brewing and professional brewers too. Anyone who wants to test custom beer recipes in their kitchen will love the Zymatic by PicoBrew.

Brewing Made Easy

Don’t forget to check out our other great gift ideas, Watches, Pens, Gold, and other unique gift ideas, like Pancake Printers and Tactical Diaper Bags

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