If you like beer (and who in their right mind doesn’t?), chances are you’ll have considered buying a home brew kit at some point in your life. However, it’s equally likely that you’ll have been put off by the thought of slaving over huge vats of foul brown liquid and turning your garden shed into a microbrewery.
Well, news flash: many of the best home brew kits and appliances available today make conjuring up your own beer (or cider) a pleasure. And with a vast choice of recipes to choose from, there’s something to suit every taste. Here, we round up our choice of the best DIY brewing solutions you can buy and where to find the best prices…
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What are the best home brew kits?
Our favourite beer-making solution has to be the Brewart BeerDroid. This gorgeous-looking appliance is largely automatic, but produces a fantastic drop of ale or lager. And thanks to the brilliant BrewArt app, it’s easy to customise your recipes and keep tabs on your brew.
It’s hard to choose between the non-electronic kits featured here, but the Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit just edges it due to the excellent range of modern craft ale recipes on offer, not to mention the reusability of its equipment. The kits are competitively priced, too – which is more than you can say for some pub beers…
Best home brew kits: what you need to know
If you’re thinking of buying a home brew kit or appliance, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. The first of those is how much effort you’re prepared to put in and how confident you are in your ability to produce a palatable pint.
None of the latest beer-making products are what you’d call complicated, but whereas with some kits you’ll have to stir and mash the ingredients, chill the wort, etc, others – such as the PicoBrew Pico C ‘automatic’ brewing machine – require you to do little more than insert a cartridge and wait (with this one, you can even monitor its progress on your smartphone, via an app).
Obviously, you’ll need to consider what kind of beer you want to make. Happily, the days of having to choose between one or two unidentified real ales are long gone, and you can now pick from a vast array of drink types – from refreshing saisons to authentic German goses – with many world-renowned breweries represented.
Fancy rustling up some of that Brewdog Elvis Juice you tried at the pub last weekend? The Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit has you covered. Want something a little stronger? Bulldog Brews Evil Dog Double IPA Craft Beer Kit will deliver the goods.
Other things to think about when selecting the best home brew kit for you is how much beer it makes – 40 pints is a common figure, but this can fluctuate – and how long it takes to yield its results. Both of these concerns take on extra importance if you’re thinking of hosting a party.
And don’t forget to check what the kit comes with, as many products contain the ingredients but none of the equipment, which would obviously be an added expense.
The best home brew kits to buy right now
1. BrewArt BeerDroid
The best home brew kit that’s controlled by an app
Makes: 10 litres (around 18 pints) | Type of beer: Various | Comes with: Ingredients and equipment
The awesomely named BeerDroid is a fully automated, Wi-Fi-connected, temperature controlled brewing machine. Via the iOS/Android BrewArt app you can monitor your home brew from wherever you are in the world.
You'll also receive notifications alerting you to brewing milestones, and this smart home brew kit even lets you know when it’s ready for the keg.
The BeerDroid comes complete with the American Pale Ale BrewPrint, formulated by master brewers and composed of all natural ingredients. Each BrewPrint has its own unique brewing profile, which is automatically downloaded to the BeerDroid when starting your brew with the app. Opt for preset lager and ale brewing programs, or go for a custom option to fine-tune your tipple.
As well as serving up delicious beer, the BeerDroid is one of the best-looking home brew solutions on the market. That’s a good enough excuse to pour another pint, right?
2. Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit
An affordable kit with reusable equipment
Makes: 40 pints | Type of beer: Various | Comes with: Ingredients and equipment (you’ll need to supply a large cooking pot and a sieve)
The canny folk at New York’s Brooklyn Brew Shop have taken full advantage of the craft beer craze by offering a range of these deliciously flavoursome ales as DIY kits.
Whether your favourite tipple is Brewdog’s Elvis Juice, Evil Twin’s Bikini Beer or Stillwater’s Gose Gone Wild, these simple set-ups contain almost everything you need to make a gallon of the stuff - including all-grain mix, a thermometer and a glass fermentation jug.
What’s more, all the hardware is reusable, meaning that once you’ve drained your drum dry, you’ll need only to buy some more mix and no-rinse sanitiser before you’re ready to go again.
3. Northern Brewer Deluxe Home Brew Starter Kit
One of the best home brew kits for beer aficionados
Makes: 40 pints | Type of beer: Various | Comes with: Ingredients and equipment (you’ll need to supply a four to five-gallon kettle)
According to Northern Brewer, this is “the best-selling beer starter kit in history”. And, while we aren’t able to back up that particular claim, we can certainly vouch for the kit’s beery brilliance.
Designed by brewers for brewers, this comprehensive package contains a veritable laboratory of high-quality equipment, including an auto siphon, a blow-off hose and two full-size glass carboys (that’s fermentors to us novices).
Equally impressive is the range of beers you can choose from. With easy-to-follow kits for making Fresh Squished IPA, Irish Red Ale, Caribou Slobber Brown Ale or Bavarian Hefeweizen, your gaff is going to become very popular.
4. PicoBrew Pico C
Meet the Nespresso of the beer brewing world...
Makes: Each PicoPak creates around 10 pints | Type of beer: Various | Comes with: Equipment only
You’ve heard of pod-based coffee machines – well, here’s the beer equivalent. Perfect for people who can’t be bothered to labour over a stinking vat in the garage, the PicoBrew Pico C is a nifty kitchen-top appliance that does all the work for you.
Simply bung in a ‘PicoPak’ – these grain-and-hop formulas come in a variety of flavours, from breweries all over the world – choose your bitterness and strength, and hit the Brew button.
OK, so the Pico isn’t as instant as a coffee machine – after two hours, you’ll need to add your yeast, and then you’ll have to wait another couple of weeks before you can sample your five-litre harvest. But at least you can monitor its progress on your smart device, which should help to bide the time before the beer starts flowing.
5. Home Brewtique Complete Brewing Kit
A great gift for beer and ale fans
Makes: 12x 330ml bottles | Type of beer: Various | Comes with: Ingredients and equipment (you’ll need to supply a large pot)
Set up in 2015 by two beer-loving women, Home Brewtique sells handmade craft beer brewing kits with an eco-friendly flavour.
As the name suggests, its Complete Brewing Kit comes with all the necessary equipment to ‘produce your own’. This includes two different starter recipes (there are plenty more available on the company’s website); a UV-blocking and a BPA-free ‘Fermo’ container. And that's not all...
Also included is a custom-made ‘Grainstay’ brewing bag and a dozen swing-top 330ml bottles to drink your ale from once it’s ready. The hardware is also reusable, which helps to save the planet – as well as saving you money.
The kits look great, too, their nicely designed, recyclable packaging making them the best home brew kits if you’re hunting for a gift for ale fans.
6. Bulldog Brews Evil Dog Double IPA Kit
The best home brew kit for strong beer
Makes: 40 pints | Type of beer: American-style IPA | Comes with: Ingredients only
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to get the party started, it’s having 23 litres (just over 40 pints) of double-strength craft beer at your disposal.
Bulldog Brews’ kit doesn’t come with any equipment – you’ll have to provide that yourself – but it does offer “unprecedented amounts” of malt extract, brewery-strain yeast, and Simcoe and Summit hops, enabling you to keep the pine and grapefruit-infused American IPA flowing all night long.
Be careful, though - neck too much of this smooth 7.1 percent brew and you might end up looking as rough as that hound on the front of the box.
7. Woodforde’s Real Ale Kit: Nelson’s Revenge
Brew award-winning beer on a budget
Makes: 36 pints | Type of beer: Norfolk bitter | Comes with: Ingredients only
Admiral Nelson wasn’t just a great sea captain, he’s also got a rather tasty ale named after him! A good choice for those who don’t like craft beer, Nelson’s Revenge (5 percent volume) is a more traditional bitter made with sweet Norfolk malts and citrus hops.
This kit provides the ingredients you need to rustle up 36 pints of the stuff – you don’t get any equipment but if you already have some at home, this sub-£20 product represents great value.
In case you need any more convincing to invest in this home brew kit, Woodforde’s is a winner of CAMRA’s Supreme Champion Beer of Britain award (the winning ale, Wherry, is also available as a home brew kit).
8. Vigo Presses 12Ltr Hobby Press Cider-Making Kit
Serve up delicious scrumpy at home
Makes: 12 litres (21 pints) | Type of beer: Cider | Comes with: Equipment only (although yeast is provided)
Prefer cider to beer? Don’t worry, you needn’t miss out on the home brewing fun. Vigo Presses’ comprehensive kit has all the equipment you need to produce your own version of this summer-friendly tipple.
Central to this set-up is an authentic-looking, and easy-to-assemble, ‘hobby press’ that’ll conjure up images of hot summer days crushing apples in the orchard - though we should warn you, it’s quite hefty.
The press can only make 12 litres of cider at a time (only!), but with an instruction booklet written by award-winning cider maker Alex Hill in the kit, you can be sure it’ll be good stuff.
About the author
An experienced journalist of 25 years, Paul Dimery has worked for the likes of Nuts, NME, GQ and T3. Around 70 per cent of his earnings has been spent on beer and he considers himself a home brew kit aficionado.