The 10 Best Home Brew Kits
10. Home Brew Ohio Gold
9. Craft A Brew American
8. Brewer’s Best Deluxe
7. BrewDemon Signature
5. Ohio Maestro
4. Midwest Supplies Simply Beer
3. NorthernBrewer Box
2. Midwest Supplies Platinum
1. NorthernBrewer Starter
Home Brewing and You
So you have decided to become a home brewer. Or perhaps you already are and you would like to step up your skills. Regardless of your level of brewing expertise, anybody with the proper equipment can brew a palatable batch of the suds. Let's walk you through the beer making process.
Most beer making kits, especially for beginners, will include the basic ingredients for brewing: yeast, grains, and hops. The fourth ingredient is water and it is assumed you will supply that yourself. Most brew kits suggest you use distilled water for sanitation purposes.
With the exception of the Picobrew Zymatic, brewing beer from a kit can vary in two ways: you will be brewing with a malted barley or a malted barley extract. Brewing with a malted barley grain is a bit more difficult than the barley extract and it requires extra steps. The process is extremely similar to making oatmeal, with the end product being distilled into a wort. The wort is then pitched with yeast and left to ferment. You will allow the wort to experience the fermentation process for at least two weeks, storing the substance in a cool, dry, dark place.
Most brew kits will include a fermenter, which may look like a large jug, or can simply be a five gallon bucket you might pick up at a hardware store. The fermenter will not be locked airtight but do not worry; the carbon dioxide needs to escape in this part of the process.
When the beer is ready to be carbonated you will add sugar, syrup, or Carbodrops to airtight bottles. Without this step, you will simply have flat beer. You might ask, why can I not just add sugar to the fermenter and call it a day? Well, the fermenter is not designed to handle the pressure of carbonation. The carbon dioxide gases build and expand, and it can crack the glass. This is why champagne bottles are designed with such thick glass as opposed to the glass of a bottle of wine.
Some kits includes bottles for you; either plastic or glass. If it is not included, at your discretion you can accumulate empty beer bottles. Bottoms up!
Tools in Your Brew Kit
Beer making kits are designed to make the brewing process as simple as possible. The stigma that brewing is overly complicated and reserved only for the professional is changing rapidly. In a matter of thirty days, you can have a homemade brew that can pass for a craft beer on draft!
The largest item in your beer making kit will be your fermenter. As previously mentioned, the fermenter is a large container, in some cases it might simply be a five gallon bucket that you could pick up at a hardware store. Do not pay a premium price for this inexpensive item you can purchase on your own for a much more affordable deal.
The most important tool in your kit is sanitizer. A perfectly executed brew can be ruined by unwanted bacteria that could have been prevented solely by sanitizing each item you use. Being a brewmaster has been compared to being a janitor; the stress on cleanliness is not unfounded. If sanitizer is not included in your kit, or you have used it all, I recommend you purchase more at your local beer supply store, or if in a pinch, hydrogen peroxide will do the trick.
Hops are an ingredient that cannot be purchased at your local grocery store. Hops are flowers from the hop plant which give beer it's characteristic piney and floral flavor.
Active yeast is a living organism that aids the fermentation process for the beer, by converting carbon dioxide into sugars. Beer making yeast is different from active yeast one might purchase at the store for bread making. Make sure you are purchasing brewer's yeast.
Malted barley is the most important ingredient to determine the type of beer you will brew. A longer roasted malt will appear amber to brown in color with deep rich caramel and chocolate or coffee overtones. A shorter roast will yield to a light and crisp lager.
A Brief History of Home Brewing
Ancient civilizations have brewed beer or a beer-like substance in their homes for over five thousand years. When we speak of modern day home brewing, however, it only recently has risen to popularity as the craft beer revolution has caught on.
During the Prohibition of 1920's in America, all alcohol consumption was made illegal. This prompted creative home brewers to brew or distill liquor in the privacy of their homes. The most common example would be bathtub gin.
It wasn't until 1977 when home brewing became legal in America, thanks to President Jimmy Carter, who signed H. R. 1337. Since the late seventies, home brewing and craft breweries alike began to expand at a rapid rate. In 1980, there were only eight craft breweries in the United States. Today, that number has escalated to over two thousand.
In 2016, American president Barack Obama released his recipe publicly of the first ever home brewed beer in the White House!
Whether you are a president or a nine to five salary man, brewing your own beer is accessible to all. It's a satisfying feeling to drink a concoction that you have created; a sense of pride ensues. Good luck out there and happy brewing!