If there’s a would-be homebrewer on your shopping list this holiday season, you may be considering a homebrew starter kit. But shopping for said starter kit might leave you feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available. No fear, the homebrewing experts at Craft Beer & Brewing have got you covered!
Starter kits offer an affordable and convenient way to dip one’s toe into the hobby. Most include equipment that can be reused and repurposed, so if you or your gift recipient becomes increasingly obsessed with making beer (obsession is a common side effect of homebrewing and no cause for alarm), the pieces of your starter kit can continue serving the greater good for years to come.
Homebrew starter kits typically fall into one of three general categories.
Department store kits
These are the most widely available “brewery in a box” products that include such brands as Mr. Beer and Coopers. They usually include a small fermentation vessel, plastic bottles and caps, and ingredients for a basic beer. These kits usually have good equipment, but brewing beer with the included ingredients can leave one wanting more. Fortunately, with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can still make excellent beer with such kits. See “Hot-Rod Your Beer-Making Kit” for more information.
Small-batch homebrew store kits
A fast-growing segment of the homebrew market, small-batch homebrew kits such as Craft A Brew let brewers make 1 or 2 gallons (3.8 to 7.6 liters) of beer at a time using the same processes and ingredients that award-winning brewers have used for years—just on a small scale. These offer excellent value and an easy introduction to the hobby, and both the equipment and the ingredients are usually top-notch. In an upcoming class in our online education lineup, we’ll even tell you how to get the most out of these small-batch kits.
Classic homebrew store kits
These are the kits upon which veteran homebrewers have cut their teeth for years. Although a little pricier than the other options, classic kits let one brew 5 gallons (19 liters) at a time, which only takes slightly more time than brewing 1 or 2 gallons (3.8 to 7.6 liters). That means two cases (48 bottles) of homebrew, which is usually a good thing. Those with limited space, however, may find that the equipment takes up more room than they’d prefer.
All three of these options are excellent choices and can make great beer at home. One of the most satisfying aspects of homebrewing is that the hobby can be as small or as large as you like and can easily adapt to fit your lifestyle. As long as you use fresh high-quality ingredients and treat them right, you’ll enjoy a lifetime of great homebrewed beer.