The Best Homebrew Beer Kits of 2018

By Ben Keough

It could be argued that brewing beer is one of America's great pastimes. George Washington famously scribbled a recipe in his field journal while serving in the Virginia militia, and hundreds of small breweries churned out a plethora of native styles before Prohibition paved the way for macrobrew domination. These days, however, craft beer is back and booming—and a dedicated collection of home brewers are adding their own creations to the landscape of American beer.

If you want to try your hand at homebrew, our favorite MoreBeer Deluxe Home Brewing Kit (available at MoreBeer for $129.99) includes basically everything you need to brew a batch of beer, saving you from individually purchasing tools like a kettle, fermenter, airlock, bucket, siphon, bottling wand, tubing, and more.

But the MoreBeer kit isn't the only one out there, of course. We took a look at nine of the most popular homebrew starter kits on the market to find the best ones for beginner brewers looking to make either large or small batches.

Here are the best homebrew starter kits, in order:

5-Gallon Options:

  1. MoreBeer Deluxe Home Brewing Kit
  2. Northern Brewer Brew. Share. Enjoy.
  3. Austin Homebrew Supply Beginner Homebrew Kit
  4. Midwest Supplies Beer. Simply Beer.
  5. BSG Brewer's Fundamentals Kit

Small-Batch Options:

  1. Northern Brewer Go Pro Small Batch Kit
  2. Midwest Supplies Micro Bru
  3. BrewDemon Signature Beer Kit
  4. Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit
— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated May 31, 2018

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MoreBeer Best Overall
Credit: MoreBeer

MoreBeer Deluxe Home Brewing Kit

Morebeer deluxe home brewing kit
  • Editors' Choice

MoreBeer Deluxe Home Brewing Kit

Best Overall

What's included: 5-gallon stainless kettle, 6-gallon Fermonster fermenter, bottling bucket with spigot, thermometer, hydrometer, test tube, tubing, bottling wand, bottle brush, bottle capper, bottle caps, Star San sanitizer, stainless spoon

What's not included: Bottles

Recipe kit: American Pale Ale

Of all the kits we looked at, MoreBeer's Deluxe Home Brewing Kit comes closest to providing literally everything you'd need and want to brew your first batch of beer. It costs more than some alternatives, but the included extras make it worth the price.

Many kits give you an opaque plastic bucket to ferment your beer in, but this one comes with a clear Fermonster fermenter that lets you see what's going on during fermentation. It also features an extra-wide mouth for easy cleaning and a spigot that makes it downright simple to sample your beer and transfer it to the bottling bucket. An included 5-gallon stainless kettle should last until you outgrow it.

The kit also includes a bottle of industry-standard sanitizer Star San (a very important brewing tool!), as well a hydrometer and test tube. You need the hydrometer to determine ABV, but its most important function is letting you know when fermentation is finished. If you bottle beer before it's done fermenting, you're leaving yourself vulnerable to "bottle bombs"—a messy and legitimately dangerous situation that involves a lot of glass shards flying at high speed through your house.

Rounding things out, the kit includes the ingredients for a simple American pale ale—the kind of recipe pretty much anyone can enjoy. The only thing missing? Bottles to put it in.

Northern Brewer Go Pro Small Batch Kit Best Small-Batch Kit

Northern Brewer Go Pro Small Batch

Go pro small batch beer brewing kit
  • Editors' Choice

Northern Brewer Go Pro Small Batch

Best Small-Batch Kit

What's included: 1-gallon Big Mouth Bubbler fermenter, airlock, blowoff hose, auto siphon, tubing, bottle filler, bottle capper, bottle caps, 12 bottles, 2 pint glasses, instructional DVD

What's not included: Sanitizer, hydrometer, test tube, thermometer

Recipe kit: Chinook IPA

If you want to start small, you can't do better than the Northern Brewer Go Pro Small Batch kit. While it doesn't include a kettle, you probably have one in your kitchen that's big enough for a one-gallon batch of beer. What it does include is a Big Mouth Bubbler fermenter, which is a real upgrade from the glass jugs that come in most small batch kits. The mini Bubbler's wide mouth makes cleaning easy—something you'll really come to appreciate after a few brew days.

The Go Pro kit also includes some extras you don't usually see in homebrew kits, like bottles, bottle carriers, and even pint glasses for enjoying your homemade beer. There's also an instructional DVD that guides you through the entire brewing process. You could probably find similarly informative videos on YouTube, but this one is specifically tailored to the Go Pro kit.

Like many homebrew kits, the Go Pro Small Batch kit doesn't include a hydrometer, test tube, or thermometer; you'll want to pick those up separately. You'll also need some sanitizer to avoid infections from wild yeast and bacteria. I recommend Star San, which has served me well over the course of several dozen batches.

Who Am I?

I'm Ben Keough, Reviewed's former Editor in Chief of News and Features. While I spent years writing about the hottest trends in consumer tech, my true passion is beer. I love drinking it, I love talking about it, and I love brewing it. I made my first batch back in 2009, and since then I've authored and brewed up countless recipes ranging from simple Irish stouts to complex fruited wild ales. Like most home brewers, I started with an extract kit like the ones we recommend here before eventually moving up to all-grain.

How We Picked

For this guide, we focused on starter kits designed for first-time brewers using malt extract, as opposed to all-grain brewing. Extract brewing has fewer steps and takes less time, but also costs a little more, while all-grain brewing is a more involved process that requires more equipment, but may also produce slightly better-tasting beer at a lower cost. Most home brewers start with extract and eventually graduate to all-grain.

Extract brews are usually designed for either 5-gallon or 1- to 2-gallon systems, so we looked for kits that target those sizes. Which you want to start with is a matter of preference. Larger kits produce more beer and are generally more cost-effective, but if you make a bad batch, you're wasting a lot more time and money. Small-batch kits are a cheap way to get comfortable with the brewing process and experiment with different recipes.

Once we nailed down those loose specs, we zeroed in on kits that include all of the basics you need to produce a great batch of beer. We favored those that include a recipe kit and other extras, since these can make it that much easier to get your first brew under your belt.


Other 5-Gallon Kits We Tested

Northern Brewer Brew. Share. Enjoy.

Brew share enjoy starter kit

Northern Brewer Brew. Share. Enjoy.

What's included: 5-gallon stainless kettle, 6.5-gallon bucket fermenter, airlock, bottling bucket with spigot, bottle filler, tubing, auto siphon, siphon holder, stainless spoon, bottle brush, bottle capper, bottle caps, oxygen wash

What's not included: Sanitizer, hydrometer, test tube, thermometer, bottles

Recipe kit: Block Party Amber Ale

Northern Brewer's Brew. Share. Enjoy. kit covers nearly all the bases. Not only does it include a stainless-steel kettle, a fermenter, a bottling bucket, and the siphon and tubing you need to move beer between the three, but it also comes with a tasty amber ale kit. Extras include a long stainless spoon to stir your wort, a bottle brush to clean reusable glass, and bottle caps—something some kits inexplicably leave out.

Another big plus is Northern Brewer's customer service. The company, which is owned by multinational beverage conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev, is quick to respond to questions from rookie brewers via chat or email. There's even an automated text message system that sends timed instructions to your phone throughout the weeks-long brewing process. On top of that, Northern Brewer's Beer Kit Guarantee promises that if you're less than satisfied with their recipe kits, they'll replace them—no questions asked.

However, while the Brew. Share. Enjoy. kit includes everything you'd strictly need to brew a batch of beer, it doesn't include everything you'd want. Most notably, you don't get a hydrometer, so you can't determine your ABV and might leave yourself open to nasty bottle bombs. Also missing are sanitizer, a thermometer, and bottles.

Austin Homebrew Supply Beginner Homebrew Kit

Ahs

Austin Homebrew Supply Beginner Homebrew Kit

What's included: 6.5-gallon fermenter, airlock, bottling bucket, no-rinse cleaner, auto-siphon, bottling wand, bottle capper, hydrometer, test tube, bottle brush, stick-on thermometer, illustrated guide to homebrewing

What's not included: Kettle (optional add-on), sanitizer, spoon, bottles, bottle caps

Recipe kit: Your choice of Amber Ale, Blonde Ale, Chocolate Stout, and Hefeweizen

The Beginner Homebrew Kit from Austin Homebrew Supply is a fantastic value, especially if you already own a large kettle. Even if you don't, it's still a good deal, and you can tack on a basic 20-liter (5-gallon) kettle for an extra $20. Kettle aside, this kit provides nearly everything you need to get going right away. Like many other starter kits, it comes with a simple 6.5-gallon plastic bucket for fermentation, plus another with an included spigot for bottling. We were pleased to see that it comes with a hydrometer and test tube—something missing from competitors like Northern Brewer's Brew. Share. Enjoy.

AHS also gives you four different 5-gallon recipe kits to choose from, which is a nice touch. Most other kits come with a specific kit, which may not suit your tastes, but the choices on offer here should appeal to a broad variety of drinkers.

Midwest Supplies Beer. Simply Beer.

Beer simply beer starter beer brewing kit

Midwest Supplies Beer. Simply Beer.

What's included: 6.5-gallon fermenter, airlock, 6.5-gallon bottling bucket, siphon, tubing, adhesive thermometer, hydrometer, test tube, bottle brush, bottle capper, oxygen wash

What's not included: Kettle, spoon, sanitizer, bottles, bottle caps

Recipe kit: Pale Ale

This starter kit comes with a low, low price tag, but it doesn't include a kettle. And because it gives you a siphon that isn't automatic, you risk introducing bacteria, wild yeast, and spoilage to your beer while attempting to manually create a vacuum. Also missing is sanitizer, which you need to ensure that your bottles and equipment are clean and bug-free.

On the plus side, you do get a thermometer and a hydrometer and test jar, two options often left out in budget kits. If you already own a big kettle and don't mind picking up an auto-siphon or living with the risk of inadvertently sour beer, this kit is a great value. We just think MoreBeer and Northern Brewer offer better all-around solutions for beginners.

Home Brew Supply Brewer's Fundamentals Kit

Bsg brewer%27s fundamentals kit

Home Brew Supply Brewer's Fundamentals Kit

What's included: 6.5-gallon fermenter, airlock, 6.5-gallon bottling bucket, auto-siphon, tubing, bottle filler, bottle brush, bottle capper, hydrometer, adhesive thermometer, cleaner, homebrew guide

What's not included: Kettle, spoon, sanitizer, test tube for hydrometer, bottles, bottle caps

Recipe kit: None

Like the Midwest kit above, this one from industry titan BSG (Brewers Supply Group) is pretty bare-bones, yet it lists for quite a bit more.

What do you get for your extra $20 or so? An automatic siphon, which is nice. But that's pretty much it. No kettle. No spoon to stir your wort. And while you get a hydrometer, it doesn't come with a test tube—you'll have to figure out how to take a reading on your own. Oh, and you don't get a free recipe in the bargain, either, so you'll need to spend at least another $25 to get your first brew day going.

There are better values to be had, so take our advice and skip this one.

Other Small-Batch Kits We Tested

Midwest Supplies Micro Bru

Micro bru

Midwest Supplies Micro Bru

What's included: 1-gallon glass fermenter, fermenter cap, airlock, thermometer, mini auto-siphon, transfer tubing, bottle filler, bottle capper, bottle caps, cleaner

What's not included: Kettle, spoon, sanitizer, hydrometer, test tube, bottles, bottle brush

Recipe kit: IPA

The Micro Bru 1-gallon homebrew kit strikes a nice balance between Northern Brewer's full-featured Go Pro Small Batch kit and bargain basement options like the Brooklyn Brew Shop kits below. This one gives you a simple 1-gallon glass jug fermenter—the kind grocery store apple cider comes in—plus a cap and an airlock. Also in the mix are a thermometer, an auto-siphon and tubing for transferring beer from the fermenter to the bottling bucket, and a bottle filler and tubing to get it into bottles. The bottles themselves you'll have to get elsewhere.

Besides bottles, this kit assumes you'll have a lot of other stuff: a kettle to brew in, a metal spoon to stir your wort, and perhaps a funnel to get the wort into the tiny neck of the fermenter. (You can use the included auto-siphon to do so, if you don't mind adding a few cleaning steps to your brew day.) You'll also want to pick up some sanitizer, since the included cleaner won't get the job done when it comes to keeping bad bugs out of your beer. If you've got that kind of stuff in your arsenal already, the Micro Bru kit is a great bargain; if not, get the NB Go Pro kit.

BrewDemon Signature Beer Kit

852602004821

BrewDemon Signature Beer Kit

What's included: Conical 2-gallon fermenter, fermenter base, adjustable flow tap assembly, airlock, stick-on thermometer, spoon, bottle filler, tubing, 8 amber 1-liter PET bottles, bottle caps, bottle labels

What's not included: Kettle, sanitizer, hydrometer, test tube, bottle brush

Recipe kit: Pilsner

If you've ever toured a brewery, you know that professionals tend to use conical steel fermentation tanks. Why? The conical design traps yeast and leftover gunk from brewing, which creates a clearer, cleaner tasting beer. BrewDemon's Signature Beer Kit brings that concept to small-batch homebrewing, subbing plastic for steel.

It's a smart idea, but we can't abide the price. It just doesn't make sense to spend this much money on a small-batch kit that you're probably going to grow out of. We're also a little skeeved out by the over-use of plastic; in addition to the fermenter, the spoon and bottles are also made of the stuff. They'll both work, but plastic is easy to scratch, which makes it hard to clean effectively. And maybe it's a little vain, but we'd rather not give someone our homebrew in what amounts to a soda bottle. It's not exactly classy.

Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit

Brooklyn brew shop everyday ipa beer making kit

Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit

What's included: 1-gallon glass fermenter, cap, airlock, thermometer, racking cane, tubing, cleanser

What's not included: Kettle, spoon, sanitizer, hydrometer, test tube, bottling bucket, bottles, bottle brush, bottle capper, bottle caps

Recipe kit: Many choices available

These simple 1-gallon kits give only the barest essentials, providing a taste of what it's like to brew your own beer without the hangover of being stuck with a ton of gear if you decide it's not for you.

That might sound like a great sales pitch, but the kits also don't come with everything you really need to get going. Brooklyn's kits assume you already have quite a few crucial items: a kettle or two, a spoon, a bucket or pot to bottle from, and a way to seal your bottles. And since Brooklyn Brew Shop kits come with all-grain recipes, rather than extract, you'll also need a strainer to remove the grains from your wort after mashing.

In short, this kit is a lot more DIY than some of the other options we've discussed, which will suit some brewers and drive others mad. Caveat emptor.

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