Cracking open a cold one with the boys is always a treat, but making your own frothy brew at home takes the enjoyment to a whole other level. Home brewing is something that has become very popular in the past few years, and it may be something you’ve thought about yourself. This is due to the fact that homebrewing is one of those hobbies that’s not only fun, but can also save you some money.
Plus, homebrew beer kits have become more affordable and widely available thanks to the internet, and you can now get all the equipment and ingredients you need to create your own beer from the comfort of your home. The key to a successful homebrew is choosing the right kit. As a beginner, it can be difficult to asses what you need, which is the whole purpose of this article – helping you find the right homebrew beer kit.
Quality of the Kit
This refers to the quality of the finished product, and not the quality of the equipment included in the kit to produce the finished product. For example, if a homebrew beer kit comes with a plastic tub for fermentation instead of a stainless steel one, but the final product is a flavourful, robust beer that you’ll be proud to show and serve to your friends, the cheap plastic fermentation tub can be overlooked, to some extent.
On the other hand, if the kit includes equipment and ingredients that aren’t something to be proud of, then you should stay away from such kits. It takes some trial and error to settle down on the best kit, and it will depend on the type of beer you prefer and personal preference.
To quickly narrow down your choices, read some reviews online about the experiences other people have had with the kits you’re considering. Trust, but always verify yourself. Keep in mind that people’s beer preferences vary greatly, and what may be the best beer ever to someone may be underwhelming for you.
Ease of Use and Cleaning of the Kit
Of course, the reason you’re buying a homebrew kit in the first place is because you want the ease of use and convenience of brewing your own beer. If the kit you choose is a nightmare to use, then what’s the point of having one?
Some homebrew kits are much easier to use than others, because they include things like a kettle for boiling, hoses to siphon and migrate the wort to the fermenter, allowing you to brew beer with the press of a few buttons and a few days worth of waiting. Some kits also include cleaning tools such as sanitisers, bottle brushes, etc. However, such kits are rare, and more often than not you’ll have to get your own cleaning materials.
But even though most kits don’t include cleaning tools, they come with instructions on how to best clean them. To save you some time, here are some basic cleaning tips:
- Get a quality cleaner, such as Oxiclean or PBW;
- Clean the fermenter, airlock, funnel, mesh colander, thermometer and stirring spoon on brewing day;
- Clean the hoses, siphon, bottling bucket, bottles and everything else that comes in contact with your beer.
Does the Kit Need Extra Equipment?
Some homebrew kits require you to supply the kettle yourself. Some require more, and some are completely self-contained. Whether the kit requires you to get some of the equipment yourself or not is a problem only if you decide it is. All that matters to me personally is whether the kit is easy to use or not. If you need to spend days searching for extra equipment in order to go through with the brew probably means that the kit you bought isn’t really all that great.
How Long Does the Brewing Process Take?
There are a few factors that impact the amount of time necessary to brew beer. If you have your own brewery and do everything yourself, the process can last anywhere from a couple of weeks up to two months. Preparing the ingredients, boiling the wort and transferring it to the fermenter only takes a few hours. Once in the fermenter, it’s a game of waiting. Modern brewing kits have streamlined the process to some extent, but you’ll still have to wait at least a week for the batch to ferment properly.
Can You Open the Fermenter During the Fermentation Process?
Yes, you can, but make sure you don’t contaminate the brew in the process. One of the most important things you have to do in order to make sure things are sanitary is minimise the amount of time the fermenter is open. During fermentation CO2 will move out of the fermenter when you open it, which will repel outside contaminants. However, this process will only last for a short while, so you shouldn’t leave the fermenter open while you aren’t nearby. Additionally, you want to ensure anything you bring in contact with the brew has been thoroughly sanitised.