Sometimes we just think up something brilliant. You know, like those Guinness commercials? It may be good, it may be a complete waste of time. Yeah well…we decided to put it here in this blog.


Best Beer Kit for Beginners

OK, you made the decision to try and brew beer for the first time. Problem is when you did your search, the number of options were staggering. Because we are going to focus on beginner kits we’re not going to cover all the options. In this post I will focus on the best beer kit for the beginner.

Before you can choose the kit that will work for you; you have to decide on what is most important to you. While there are many things to consider there are a only a couple of things that you need to consider to drastically narrow down your choices.

  1. Cost: Cost is dictated by complexity and/or quality of the equipment. For example, a simple extract beer kit is bare bones. It will come with everything you need but the items tend to be plastic and have a short life. Extract kits are bridge kits that allow you to test the waters without going to deep. On the other end of that spectrum is a “show” kit. These have everything you need but the main intent of the kit is to be a show piece. Generally given as a gift. As you can imagine that comes at a price.
  2. Complexity: The Complexity is usually driven by the type of method used to make the beer. Extract beer kits are like microwave dinners. All the work is done upfront to reduce the complexity. All grain kits require more tools, instructions and ingredients to get to a final product. This causes more complexity and more time.

These two criteria will help you to drastically reduce your choices for the best beer kit but it still leaves a ton of options. For beginners I always ask one additional question to help narrow down the choices further.

Are you testing the waters to see if you like the hobby or do you want to really dive in and get the full experience?

Either way a kit is the best option but this question will help to narrow the option down to the best beer kit for you and your needs.

So lets say you want to test the waters. Your not really sure what your level of commitment is but you want to at least try. In this case a simple extract kit is your best bet. The investment and complexity is low and you can get a few batches under your belt to see if you to go deeper and move to more complex kits.

For this I recommend:

Mr Beer North American Collection Beer Home Brewing Kitbest beer kit - mr beer

This kit comes with absolutely everything you need in one box for under $40. Including 2 cans of extract for that will make you 4 gallons of beer in two styles. You really can’t beat that. It is by far the least expensive and easiest option there is out there.

Next in line for a beginner kit would be the more complex all grain kits. These kits are designed to give you full experience of brewing beer and give you everything you need with the exception of the kettle. This also tend to be more aesthetically pleasing. Well though out designs that make them a show piece for your counter. If your looking for a great gift, these are typically the ones that will get the most Oooo’s and Ahhhh’s.

For this I recommend:

All Inclusive – Go Pro 1 Gallon Small Batch Beer Brewing Starter Kit Equipment Set with Chinook IPA Beer Recipe Kitbest beer kit -All-Inclusive-Go-Pro-1-Gallon-Small-Batch-Beer-Brewing-Starter-Kit-Equipment-Set-with-Chinook-IPA-Beer-Recipe-Kit-0

Like the Mr. Beer kit this is an all inclusive kit but with one major difference. It uses the full grain mash technique so you get the full experience of brewing beer but in a one gallon batch.  You basically brew in the same manner as the big boys. Just on a smaller scale and at a fraction of the cost with will run you about $75. The small batch size significantly reduces the time and is a great way to start.

Just remember, the best beer kit is the one you will use and enjoy. These two options are by no means your only options but hopefully they will help you find the beer kit that will be the best one for you or someone you love.

What is the Real Cost to Brew Beer?

For this blog post I thought I would address this common question.

“What does it really cost to brew beer?”

Ok…let me start this by saying, like anything else, there are many levels to what the cost to brew beer can actually be.

So let me qualify that statement. If you are just starting out, this is probably a curiosity. You like beer but going out and buying a six pack gets more and more expensive everyday. That is the double edged sword of the craft industry taking off. Classic supply and demand. So if you are at this level you are curious on how you can start with the minimal investment to get to a good beer.

Fair enough and to be honest it’s a great place to start. If you are serious about starting and want to know what it will take to go the full Monty then the answer to that question is much more complicated and, as you would imagine, more expensive. We won’t cross that bridge just yet.Mr-Beer-Aztec-Mexican-Cerveza-Home-Breiwng-Beer-Refill-Kit-0

Lets get start with the totally new beginner. You are curious on trying the hobby without a lot of spend. You want to give it a go but don’t want to get deeply involved just in case you find you hate it. I doubt it, but it could happen. In that scenario starting with a simple extract brew is the best way to go. In that cast the cost to brew beer works out to the following:

  1. Simple 2 gallon extract kit = $12 – 17

  2. Bucket for fermentation = free to $5

  3. Air lock= free to $1

  4. Bottles= free to $15

Grand total = $12 to $37

Why the variation. That easy. Most of the stuff you don’t need to buy. You either have it laying around the house or you can get cheap if you do a little research.

For example, the bucket can be had for free if you have a local restaurant. They throw food grade buckets away every day. If you don’t mind stopping in and asking they would love to just get ride of them and not pay to fill a dumpster with them.bottles-1-liter-plastic-beer-bottles-cost to brew beer

Another example would be the bottles. You don’t have to use glass. Yeah, yeah there are brewing snobs going nuts over that statement but lets talk facts. one, we are only talking about 4 four liter bottles or 8 one liter bottles. You will drink this fast and the chances of the beer going bad are astronomically slim if you store them right. I myself use one liter plastic bottles that my favorite root beer comes in. badda boom! free bottles.

Last example is the air lock. These are really cheap at a $1 for a simple one or you can make one with a tube and a jar.cost to brew beer air lock

The only other piece of equipment you have to have is a pot to boil in (You don’t have to boil using this method but that is a topic for another post.) and I can almost guarantee you have that already in your kitchen.

So you see, the cost is very manageable and down right attractive. If you are resourceful it will cost less than that 12 pack you just bought. So the next time you are wonder about the real cost to brew beer you know the answer is…cheap!

Hope that helps and if you need more info, just drop me a line.


How Long Does It Take To Brew Beer?

This is another common question from those that are trying to get into brewing. I usually get questions like “How long does it take to brew beer?” or “Is brewing my own beer going to take a long time?” Basically the same question.

The real answer is…it depends. In another post I wrote about the different methods of brewing your own brews. In that post I describe the 3 basic methods.

  • Extract Brewing

  • Partial Mash Brewing

  • Full Mash Brewing

They all have their pluses and minuses but the biggest difference is time. The fastest method is and to be honest, the best method for newHow Long Does It Take To Brew Beer brewers. Why? Because with extract brewing all the hard work is done. The boiling, the hop addition, and the additional flavoring have been done prior to the going into the can. You don’t even have to bring the batch to a boil. Only hot enough to melt the syrup and sterilize the wort. (Wort is just a fancy traditional way of saying, not beer yet. It’s what will turn into beer after fermentation) Which is about 160F. Once you melt the syrup you transfer to your fermentor, and go. Total time for something like the Coopers Real Ale is about an hour of touch time, 1 week of fermenting, and 4 weeks of bottle aging. Badda bing, badda boom and you got yourself 3 to 5 gallons of some tasty beer! (3 gallons if you just use the can. 5 if you add additional sugar.)

Whenever I try and get the feet wet of new brewers I always start here. As you move to the different methods you learn more techniques, build on your experience and, the best part, the beer only gets better and better.

So the next time you think to yourself…”Self, how long does it take to brew beer?” tell yourself “Not long enough to not try it!”

How Many Beers Are in a Gallon?: Justification for Small Batch Brewing

When it comes to brewing the fear is also about volume. When it comes to small batch brewing this issue is almost eliminated. So this is a question I get all the time when it comes right down to it. “Jim, how many beers are in a gallon?”

The answer is 10. OK so it’s 10.6 but with spillage and what gets lost in the settled yeast it’s roughly 10. Almost 2 six-packs! Not bad for small batch brewing.

For those of you that are looking into brew, is the best way to get a decent amount beer with little effort.

Think of it this way, it only takes about an hour of touch time to do up a small batch brew. That’s with everythingsmall batch brewing. Brewing, bottling (if you choose to) and enjoying. Ok, for me it’s about an hour but I enjoy my brew fast. Lol. As an added bonus you get some of the best brew you ever had. Home brew is such a rewarding hobby and is one you can share with friends and family. But why start so small? Why wouldn’t you just go all in and brew 5 gallons? Well you could but it’s much more involved and takes much more time and effort. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s not worth it but for getting started, this is the best way to get your feet wet and have a positive experience. Just to put it in perspective, I have been brewing for years but I always do a first time recipe in small batches to prove it out. Plus my friends love it because I always share those batches to get feedback. I get asked all the time, “Got any test’s batches going?”

There are many kits available to get started but the truth is you probably have everything you need and can do it with little or no investment. (Except for the ingredients but I would be remise for not pointing that out.)

Check out some other posts on this site if you want to find out more but next time you ask “how many beers are in a gallon” think…more than enough to justify making it yourself.