While it's always a treat to crack open a fresh can of beer or cider, there's something special about creating your own frothy brew at home and enjoying the fruits of your labour.
Home brewing is perhaps something you've thought about in the past, but the horror stories of a batch of brew gone wrong have maybe put you off. Add to that worries about incurring the wrath of family members thanks to a vat of sludge in the spare room, and you might just have thought it was more hassle than its worth.
However, with today's home brew kits, nothing could be further from the truth and it can be a pleasure in creating – and sharing – your brew of choice. And let's face it, boasting about your feats on social media accompanied by a picture of a perfect pour never gets old, right?
There's a large choice out there, so where exactly do you start? Here, we round up our choice of the best DIY brewing solutions you can buy and where to find the best prices. Enjoy!
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Which are the best home brew kits?
While there are many options out there, our favourite beer-making solution is the Brewart BeerDroid. This futuristic-looking bit of kit is largely automatic, but produces a fantastic drop or two of ale or lager. And thanks to the brilliant BrewArt app for your smartphone, it’s easy to customise your recipes and keep tabs on your favourite 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.
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Fancy rustling up some of that Brewdog Elvis Juice you tried at the pub? 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. 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.
2. Muntons Craft Beer In A Bag
One of the best home brew kits for simple beer-making
Makes: 25 pints | Type of beer: Dark Ale, Session IPA, Pale Ale, Golden Ale | Comes with: Everything you need
Wouldn't it be nice if home brewing was as easy as making a cup of tea? Well, according to Suffolk-based Muntons, its Craft Beer In A Bag kits require no more effort than it takes to rustle up a hot drink.
All you have to do is pour water and the supplied yeast into a sleek silver bag that looks a bit like an astronaut's lunch container, and within 30 days you'll be able to serve up 25 pints of delicious craft beer (there are four types available) from its built-in tap.
If you enjoy the whole blending and stirring aspect of home brewing, this kit might not be for you. But if you just want to make tasty ale with the minimum of effort and fuss, you'll be hard-pushed to find a better option.
3. Grumpy Old Bugger IPA Home Brew Beer Kit
One of the best home brew kits for value
Makes: 40 pints | Type of beer: IPA | Comes with: Most ingredients but no sugar or equipment
We're not suggesting that you're a grumpy old wotsit – but if you are, a few swigs of this premium-grade IPA are sure to put a smile on your face. And at less than £15 for 40 pints, your bank manager will be happy too.
Using brewer's grade dried yeast and malt extract, kept fresh by pouch technology, this home brew kit serves up a tipple that's 4.4 percent alcohol and 100 percent delicious, with a well-rounded taste and notes of bitter orange.
You don't get any equipment with it (understandable really, considering the price), so bear in mind that you'll need to buy that separately. Consider it a long-term investment, though, as the likelihood is that you'll want to make plenty more of this particular brew.
4. 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?
5. 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.
6. Craft A Brew Oktoberfest Ale Beer Brewing Kit
One of the best home brew kits for flavour
Makes: 8 pints | Type of beer: Malty red | Comes with: Everything you need
This year's Oktoberfest in Munich has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus, but you can bring the spirit of this boozy extravaganza into your home by purchasing the Oktoberfest Ale Beer Brewing Kit from Florida-based Craft A Brew.
The kit contains everything you need to make eight pints of this full-bodied, caramel-sweet red ale – including glass carboy, funnel, rubber stopper, thermometer and recipe kit. There's even a guide to general craft beer brewing.
And if you enjoy the results (we're sure you will!), there are numerous other similar kits to try from Craft A Brew, from stouts to IPAs, Belgian abbey beers to ciders. Who needs to go to the pub?
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. 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.
9. Klarstein Mundschenk Mash Tun Beer Brewing Set
One of the best home brew kits for showing off
Makes: 53 pints (approx) | Type of beer: Various | Comes with: Equipment only
The Germans know a thing or two about brewing beer, so you'll be in good hands with this Berlin-manufactured mash kettle. But as you'd expect from such an eye-catching piece of equipment, the Mundschenk Mash Tun Beer Brewing Set commands a fairly premium price.
For your money, you'll get a high-quality stainless steel machine that enables beginners or experts to make the beer of their choice with relative ease. Both manual and automatic options are available, depending on how much time and inclination you have.
What's more, the fact that the kettle and its accessories are all made of stainless steel means that your finished beer won't taste of metal. They'll also be easy to clean – ready for you to start the process all over again.
10. 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.
11. Balliihoo Complete Starter Set
One of the best home brew kits for build quality
Makes: 40 pints | Type of beer: Various | Comes with: All the necessary equipment, but no ingredients
From its base in Somerset, Balliihoo manufacturers kits for making beer, cider, wine and even jam. And the company must be doing something right, as its Complete Starter Set is a best-seller on Amazon.
It's probably fair to say that there are more attractive beer making kits on the market, but what it lacks in glamour, this home brewing solution more than makes up for in quality. All of the equipment that comes with it – including a fermentation bucket, a pressure barrel and a set of three funnels – is made from robust plastic that won't perish after a few months.
To spare you the disappointment when you receive the kit, we'd best warn you that it doesn't come with any ingredients. However, with a spectrum of tasty choices on the Balliihoo website, you'll soon be brewing with glee.