The Best Home-Brewing Kits You Can Buy Online

The best recipe kits for beginner and experienced brewers, plus our top pick for a high-end system to fuel your brewing obsession.

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Northern Brewer HomeBrewing Starter Set
Photo: Amazon

Home-brewing is a fun and rewarding hobby that can yield seriously delicious results. "Much like cooking, what makes home-brewing rewarding is creatively hand-crafting raw ingredients to produce something to enjoy alongside friends and family," says brewer and distiller Justin Manglitz. The creativity of home-brewing is part of the appeal for Nick Greska of Omega Yeast, too. "I get to try a beer that I conceptualized, and that is not available for purchase, so if I like it, there's a unique sense of accomplishment," he says.

To brew beer, malted barley and water are cooked together to convert starches into sugars in a process called mashing. Next, the grain solids are removed, and then the wort is boiled together with hops to add bitterness, flavor, and aroma, before cooling and fermenting. "The mashing process can be omitted by beginners through the use of malt extracts available in both liquid (syrup) and dry forms, greatly simplifying the process," says Manglitz. "The quality of beer made from malt extract can be very good, though one loses a degree of creativity and control."

Home-brewing is easier than ever thanks to ready-to-use kits. One important distinction: Home-brew recipe kits are different from home-brew systems. Greska notes that a home-brew system is the setup one uses to make beer at home and can be bought pre-packaged or assembled piecemeal by the brewer. On the other hand, a recipe kit includes all of the ingredients you'll need for a specific recipe (like grains, extracts, and hops) along with basic brewing equipment.

There are as many home-brewing kits on the market as there are styles of beer, and Manglitz recommends heading to a home-brewing store or picking up Jon Palmer's brewing books for guidance and inspiration. Home-brew stores, and the expertise of staff, are the best resource for new brewers. Manglitz notes that starting off simply is key. "Use the step-by-step guide for your first batches," he says. "Then delve deeper into more complex information once you have built some confidence and know you can do it." Most beginners start brewing with extracts (included in many recipe kits), but Greska encourages homebrewers to learn about all grain-brewing and to try their hand at developing their own recipes as their expertise grows. If you don't have a home-brew store in your area, we've researched the best recipe kits available to buy online.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Northern Brewer Brew. Share. Enjoy. Homebrew Starter Kit

Best Home Brewing Kits
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies.

Pros: This affordable system includes everything you need to begin your home-brewing journey.

Cons: The brew kettle is slightly smaller than our experts recommend and bottles must be purchased separately.

This system is a great introduction to the world of home-brewing and includes the components our experts recommend. According to Manglitz, "most serious homebrewing kits will have a 6.5-gallon fermentation bucket, a bottling bucket, a siphon, a bottle filler and capper, an airlock, and a few odds and ends. The only other equipment you need to make a malt extract-based beer is a pot for boiling the wort. The bigger the pot, the better." While we would have liked to see a larger boiling pot (Manglitz recommends a 7- or 8-gallon pot), we still chose this as our top pick because of the included components, the easy-to-use instructions, and positive customer reviews.

  • Included in Kit: Hank's Hefeweizen Recipe Kit, hydrometer, test jar, lab thermometer, 6.5-gallon fermenter w/ spigot, lid and bubbler airlock, bottling bucket with spigot assembly, bottle biller, 5-gallon stainless brew kettle, 21-inch stainless spoon, 5-ft. clear tubing, Fermenter's Favorites Oxygen Wash, bottle brush, bottle capper with 60 caps
  • Capacity: 5 gallons

Best Value: HomeBrew Ohio Gold Complete Beer Equipment Kit

Best Home Brewing Kits
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

Pros: This is an easy-to-use system with the basic equipment you'll need to start brewing.

Cons: The pot and kettle are not included in this kit.

While advanced brewing systems can get quite pricey, you don't need a big budget to make beer. Greska urges homebrewers to remember that "if your brewing budget is small, then please understand that with your main components being a stock pot and a plastic bucket, you can still brew a recipe that you want to brew and end up with your own beer. Homebrewing is for everyone." We chose this brewing system because it gives you the basic components you need to make a batch of beer, without any extra bells and whistles that might drive up the price. Many of the other affordable systems we looked at had a smaller capacity and cheaper materials.

Unlike some of our other recommendations, this is a brewing system, not a recipe kit. That means that you can either buy a recipe kit separately, buy grains and hops and use a recipe in a home-brewing book or online guide, or experiment with building your own recipe. The versatility of this system and the quality glass carboy (rather than the plastic fermenters on many value models) made it a clear winner for us.

  • Included in Kit: True Brew Handbook and kit Instructions, 7.8-gallon fermenting bucket, one lid drilled with grommet, True Brew Rack and Fill Kit, 5-gallon glass carboy, fermometer fermentation thermometer, small Buon Vino drilled stopper, hydrometer, bottling spigot, bottle capper, 3-piece airlock, bottle brush, C-Brite sanitizer 8-pack
  • Capacity: 5 gallons

Best for Extract Brewing: Craft a Brew Beer Making Kit

Best Home Brewing Kits
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Williams Sonoma.

Pros: These affordable beer kits are available in a wide range of styles and flavors.

Cons: These kits have a small capacity and do not include bottles or brew kettle.

Home-brew recipe kits can include ingredients to make wort from malted grains, or can bypass this step using malt extract. Manglitz notes that many people start with extract-based recipes for simplicity's sake, but urges homebrewers to avoid all-in-one cans with pre-added hops. Instead, "The ingredient kit should have about 6 pounds of liquid or dry malt extract, 2- to- 4 ounces of pelletized hops, and a package of yeast."

This kit is similar to our Best for Beginners pick, below, except that it uses dry malt extract rather than grains. In researching kits that use malt extract, we were especially interested in ease of use as well as the flavor of the final product. It is uncommon to find an affordable recipe kit that offers variety. In fact, most of the kits we researched only had a few flavors available. The Craft a Brew Kits are available in 12 different flavors, and customer reviews about these flavors were overwhelmingly positive. One expert tip from Manglitz for choosing a flavor: "Big flavors, like IPAs with lots of hops or stouts or browns with a bold malt character, will serve to mask any less-than-perfect aspects of your first attempts. Most people are very surprised how good their very first batch is."

  • Included in Kit: 1-gallon carboy, funnel, racking cane, rubber stopper, transfer tubing and thumb clamp, airlock, thermometer, Guide to Craft Brewing, sanitizer, and recipe kit
  • Capacity: 1 gallon

Best for Beginners: Brooklyn Brew Shop Everyday IPA Beer Making Kit

Best Home Brewing Kits
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Amazon and Williams Sonoma.

Pros: This an an easy-to-use kit with quality ingredients.

Cons: This kit requires separate purchase of a kettle, strainer, funnel, and bottles.

We were determined to find a simple and high-quality brewing kit after one of our experts referred to many beginner kits as "gimmicky," citing poor quality materials as a major concern. This kit stood out to us because it uses a glass fermenter, rather than plastic, but also because of the quality of its ingredients. While many beginners start to ferment with extracts, this kit made our list because it's easy-to-use and shows beginners how simple it is to brew with grains, rather than extracts, so they have the skills to do both.

Like many home-brewing kits, this one does not include a pot or brew kettle for boiling, so you'll need to purchase one separately. Manglitz says the type of pot you get is important: "Kettles should ideally be stainless steel or enamel-coated because the wort is acidic, which does not play well with aluminum." A big stock pot can be used in place of a brew kettle, too, and has plenty of uses beyond brewing.

  • Included in Kit: Everyday IPA making mix (grain, hops, and yeast), 1-gallon reusable glass fermenter, glass spirit-filled thermometer, vinyl tubing, racking cane and tip, chambered airlock, Brooklyn Brew Shop cleanser, and screw-cap stopper
  • Capacity: 1 gallon

Best High End: Unibräu All in One Electric Brew System

Best Home Brewing Kits
Courtesy of Brau Supply

Also available at Electric Brewing Supply.

Pros: This kit features high-quality materials and construction, it comes in two different sizes, and there are add-on features for different brews.

Cons: This kit is the most expensive pick on our list. It also may not be the best choice for first-time brewers.

Are you brewing-obsessed, and ready to take your hobby to the next level? If you're ready to brew with grains rather than extracts, then you'll want a brew system like this one that allows you to boil and quickly chill your wort. Working with grains rather than extracts gives you the flexibility to customize your recipe, and this also allows you to experiment with different yeasts and other additives to get the flavor you want and to make beers that pair well with food. For dedicated homebrewers who can afford a premium brewing system, we like the Unibräu All in One Electric Brew System, which works for bigger batches and includes temperature control, plus a chiller. This highly-rated system has almost unanimous positive reviews from customers, and its available in several sizes.

The standard system includes a kettle, grain basket and lid, controller, power element, a pump, fittings, and a plate chiller, plus the tubing to run your beer through the chiller. The premium system uses a coil counterflow wort chiller. "A clean and efficient chilling method" is the main feature Greska recommends when searching for a home-brewing system, adding that "counterflow chillers can be connected in line with your pump and can chill right into the fermenter pretty efficiently." The premium system includes other extras too, like a double element whirlpool arm kit to circulate your wort around your post-boil hops, helping you extract big hoppy flavors.

We like this system because it's well-made and offers options for customization and add-ons to support different styles of beer. Make sure to check that your brewing space meets the system's power requirements: The larger 240V model requires a standard 4-wire 4/30 dryer outlet, while the smaller 120V model can be plugged into a standard household outlet. The kit does not include a fermentation vessel or large brew spoon, both of which you'll need to purchase separately.

Included in system:

  • Standard: 10-gallon kettle and grain basket including grain basket lid, SV1 controller, 1650-watt element and power cord, BR-19 pump, Unibräu standard fitting kit, stainless steel plate chiller,8-ft. of supply and discharge tubing, clamps, and faucet adapter
  • Premium: 10-gallon kettle and grain basket including both kettle and grain basket lid, SV1 controller, 1650-watt element and power cord, BR-19 pump, Unibräu butterfly valve fitting kit, coil in coil counterflow wort chiller with quick disconnect kit, 8-ft. of supply and discharge tubing for the chiller along with a faucet adapter, 1650-watt element upgrade kit for a total of 3300 watts of power, hopBlock filter and dip tube double element whirlpool arm kit sparge arm kit and extra 3 piece tri-clamp ball valve and mash vorlauf kit.
  • Brew capacity: 10-20 gallons
  • Our Favorite

    Home-brewing kits vary in complexity and price, and some, like our top pick from Northern Brewer, include the ingredients you need to make a specific beer recipe at home. Make sure to choose a system or recipe kit based on your interests as well as your budget.

    Factors to Consider

    Completeness of Kit

    Not all home-brewing kits we looked at have every component you need to get started. Make sure to check what is included in your home-brewing kit first, and to gather any additional supplies (like pots or fermentation vessels) before you get started.

    Extracts versus Grains

    Some recipe kits come with malt extracts, which save you a step in the brewing process. While they simplify the process, our experts noted that beer made with extracts is best for beginners, and can help you jump into brewing more easily. The downside to extracts, though, is a loss of control, and many homebrewers are eager to move on from extracts as they become more confident. Greska notes, " All grain brewing just produces better beer in my opinion and you'll have more control over the process and final product. There are also all grain recipe kits available, but I do recommend making it a goal to create your own recipes and buy the separate ingredients."

    Capacity and Ease of Use

    Get a kit that is enjoyable to use and brews the capacity of beer you want. What are your goals with your homebrewing kit? How much beer do you want to make? Do you want a straightforward brewing process using a recipe kit, or would you rather brew from scratch? What features are important for the styles of beer you want to make?

    The Research

    To find the best home-brewing kits, we used our own fermentation experience and input from home-brewing experts, and we also scoured customer reviews and product specifications. We focused our research on what would be easy to use at a range of price points and skill levels.

    What Didn't Make the List

Mr. Beer 2 Gallon Starter Kits

Mr. Beer Complete Beer Making 2 Gallon Starter Kit
Courtesy of Amazon

The Mr. Beer recipe kit is a popular beginner's kit, and the box includes ingredients to brew two batches of beer rather than the usual one. However, it didn't make our list because its use is more limited than other systems: The system is designed to work with extracts, so if you move over to brewing with grains you may not have great results.

MoreBeer! Premium Homebrew Starter Kit

MoreBeer! Premium Homebrew Starter Kit
Courtesy of Amazon

We loved the large capacity of both the fermenter (7 gallons) and the brew kettle (8.5 gallons), as well as its reasonable price point. Ultimately it didn't make the list because some customers noted issues with the quality of materials and assembly.

Pro Panel Q+A

What are the steps of the brewing process?

Brewing involves several steps of heating, straining, and cooling to release the sugars in grains. Yeast is then added to begin the fermentation process. and Variations on these basic steps give us the many types of beer we enjoy. According to Greska: "When people think about beer styles with different colors, mouthfeels, aromas, and flavors, it's helpful to understand that all of those beers can be made with just four ingredients: Water, malt, hops, and yeast."

What are the best resources for learning more about homebrewing, or buying equipment?

Both Manglitz and Greska urge new and seasoned homebrewers alike to visit their local home-brewing shop to learn from the staff's expertise and connect with other beer enthusiasts. Greska says, "I cannot stress this enough, but the absolute best place to purchase your equipment, your supplies, your grain, your hops, and your yeast is your local home-brewing shop. You'll support small business and your community, and you'll be likely to make friends who have your similar interests."

Manglitz also encourages people to learn at home too, but to not be discouraged by all the information out there: "I would advise getting a good book on homebrewing. I like Jon Palmer's books, but there are many others as well. There are also videos, podcasts, and online forums to guide the beginner, but I think too much information too soon can be overwhelming and even discouraging. Get a book. Read it. Use the step-by-step guide for your first batches. Then delve deeper into more complex information once you have built some confidence."

What advice do you have for new homebrewers?

Homebrewing is all about learning, trying new things, and hopefully creating a beer you're proud to share. As Greska says: "Make the journey about brewing for yourself. Keep it fun. I might suggest that a beginning homebrewer should get away from extract brewing right away and figure out how they're going to brew all grain in their home, but some homebrewers out there are going to enjoy extract brewing, and they should do what they enjoy. There's no reason to take the fun out of homebrewing when you are brewing for yourself. Do what you like."

Our Expertise

Nick Greska is the Homebrew Manager at Omega Yeast, which produces yeast for craft brewers. Justin Manglitz is Master Distiller and co-owner of ASW Distillery in Atlanta, GA. He has been homebrewing since the year 2000 and owned and operated Blockader Homebrew Supply in Athens GA from 2005 to 2010. Julia Skinner, PhD is a fermentation educator, avid home fermenter, and author of Our Fermented Lives: How Fermented Foods Have Shaped Cultures and Communities.

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