The weather is starting to warm up for us in the northern hemisphere and thoughts are beginning to turn towards summer and relaxing with friends and family over a brew or two in the sunshine. But rather than buying all your beer and cider ready-made, have you considered exploring the best home brew kits to make a few drinks?
If the mere mention of home-brewing fills you with fear and brings to mind horror memories of baths full of high-strength, almost unpalatable alcohol, then don't worry as things have definitely evolved since my days hunkered down in a crowded student flat.
I've come up with a list of the best home brew kits available right now and you’ll find my picks below along with information about exactly what you need to know before pouring a perfect pint.
Paul has spent the past eight years testing and writing about gadgets and technology for the likes of Louder, T3 and TechRadar. He might not have the wealth or the looks of Tony Stark, but when it comes to knowing about the latest cool kit, Paul would surely give Iron-Man a run for his money. As for his musical leanings, Paul likes everything from Weyes Blood to Nirvana. If it's got a good melody, he's on board with it.
The best home brew kits: Product guide
+ Makes 40 pints
+ Reusable equipment
+ Various beer styles
- You still need to buy bits
New York’s Brooklyn Brew Shop offer a range of ales as DIY kits. Whether your favourite is Brewdog’s Elvis Juice, Evil Twin’s Bikini Beer or Stillwater’s Gose Gone Wild, the simple set-ups contain almost everything you need to make a gallon of the stuff - including grain mix, thermometer and glass fermentation jug, although you will need your own large pot and sieve. All hardware is reusable too.
Best kit for red ale
+ Makes 36 pints of red ale
+ Malt, hops and yeast provided.
- You'll need your own container
Tiny Rebel Brewing Co. have been creating waves of fizzy craft beer goodness for more than a decade with a large variety of styles including the awesome Clwb Tropica which is also available as a non-alcoholic beer. Now you can brew your own batch of Cwtch Welsh Red Ale thanks to this refill kit. The pack contains two tins of hopped malt extract, hop sachets and yeast. All you need add are water and sugar to prime your bottles to make 36 pints of ale
Best kit for a tasty stout
+ Makes: 40 pints of stout
+ Includes malt & brewing yeasts
- Not very hands-on
Muntons have built a solid reputation for delivering some of the best home brew kits for simple beer making. They're primarily known for their Dark Ale, Session IPA, Pale Ale and Golden Ale, but their imperial stout kit is another knockout from the Suffolk-based company. This lip-smacking beer kit comes with two tins of malt extract, a sachet of brewing yeast and the final product will give you 40 pints-worth of creamy stout at 4.5% ABV.
Best kit for beginners
+ Makes 32 pints of IPA
+ Everything you need
- Takes time to learn
If you’ve been mulling over the idea of getting into home brewing, then this starter kit might be just what you’ve been waiting for. It might look intimidating but put everything together and you’ll soon have 32 pints of St Peters IPA at a tasty 5.5% ABV to tickle your tastebuds. Everything you need to get started is here and is a great option for those taking their first steps into the wide world of home brewing.
Best for a variety of beer
+ Makes 8 pints
+ A variety of styles
+ Comes with everything
- Only 8 pints
Florida-based Craft A Brew have barrels full of fizzy goodness that you can tap into right now if you fancy a bit of home-brewing. They have everything from Oktoberfest Ale and American Pale Ale kits, to this Irish stout and Brown Ale. Each pack contains everything you need to make eight pints, including glass carboy, funnel, rubber stopper, thermometer and recipe kit. There's even a guide to general craft beer brewing.
Best IPA home-brew kit
+ 5 litres of IPA
+ Everything included
- Can be fiddly to set up
Instead of buying a few cans or bottles of IPA, take a look at this rather fab Brewery In A Box kit by Brew Bros. Everything you need for 5 litres of IPA is included in this neat bit of kit – and it's fully reusable so you can quaff away to your heart’s content knowing you’ll be able to whip up another batch in the not too distant future. Full instructions are included and there’s also a demo video on YouTube with tips to get the very best out of your Brewery In A Box.
Best for home-brew cider fans
+ Makes 40 pints of cider
+ Can also be used for beer
+ Everything included
- Too complex for some
This cracking bit of kit from the team at Bigger Jugs has everything you need to make a delightful drop of the apple-y stuff and is a great gateway into home-made cider for those just beginning their journey. All you’ll need are some bottles to store the end result in and water. That’s it. One of the things I particularly like about this starer kit is it can be reused to create more cider, beer or lager by purchasing the company’s many concentrate kits.
Best for budget brewing
+ Makes 36 pints of bitter
+ Ingredients included
- No equipment
This kit provides all the ingredients you need to rustle up 36 pints of Nelson’s Revenge Norfolk bitter weighing in at 5% ABV. The downside is there's no equipment provided, but if you already have that in place, you're on to a winner. And, in case you need any more convincing about this product, 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.
Best for for strong beer
+ Makes 23 litres of IPA
+ Ingredients included
+ High strength of 7.1%
- No equipment
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to get the party started, it’s having more than 40 pints of double-strength craft beer at your disposal. This Bulldog Brews’ kit doesn’t come with any equipment, but it does offer malt extract, brewery-strain yeast, and Simcoe and Summit hops for a great bit of home-brew. However, be warned, at 7.1% ABV, drink too much and you might end up looking as rough as the hound on the front of the box!
The best home brew kits: Buying Advice
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? 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.
You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.