While you can now go to a bar in most states, not all of us are comfortable venturing out yet. And even if you are, it’s not necessarily a good idea. That doesn’t mean you have to go without freshly brewed craft beer. When you’re not tending to your new sourdough starter, you can pick up another new skill and hobby to help pass the time inside with a home brewing kit.
Check out quick info below on the top home brewing kits, then scroll deeper for more buying advice and full reviews of these models plus other high-ranking options.
Things to Consider
A full on DIY brewing experience can be a lot of fun, particularly if you’re looking for a new way to kill time. But you should expect it to be relatively time consuming, messy, and a bit smelly. While many brewers find this to be worth it for the end product—and really, how cool is it to hand your buddy a beer you brewed yourself?—you will want to make sure that you have the proper place to make and store the beer while it’s fermenting. Since these brewing kits can take weeks to produce a finished beer, you won’t necessarily want your whole setup cluttering up your kitchen for that long. It’s best to have some extra space in a basement or garage to keep it out of the way and not have your whole house smelling like the corner bar.
And among the range of kits, brewing machines are arguably a better investment for frequent home brewers, although the up-front investment is higher. They’re easy to use, require minimal effort, and often brew the beer faster. They also come with more options, so if you want a lager one month and a porter the next, you won’t have any problems. Purists will knock this as taking away from the experience and say that the taste isn’t quite as fresh. Ultimately it’s up to you. But if you truly want to get your hands dirty craft brewing, you’ll probably take to a DIY kit. It not only gives you a sense of accomplishment, but it also helps you better understand the brewing process.
How We Selected and Rated
We researched 10 expert sources such as Wirecutter, The Spruce Eats, and Business Insider, as well as 2,600 consumer reviews to select the top home brewing kits of the year. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of customers who rated each model at least four out of five stars on retail and review sites like Amazon, Walmart, and manufacturers’ webpages.
Northern Brewer Essential Brew
Consumer Score: 90% gave it 4 stars or more
In-depth info and easy instructions for enthusiasts
While home brewing kits vary in how hands-on or hands-off they may be, this one makes sure you understand what’s going on every step of the way. It provides you with everything you’ll need to make five gallons of beer—with the exception of empty bottles. It comes with detailed instructions that explain the process to not only make the beer but help you understand the chemical processes as well. And it’s a small thing, but the laminated pages are helpful, particularly if you’re prone to spills. As for the taste of the beer in this Block Party Amber: It can obviously vary with the maker’s preferences and proficiency, but customers praised the ale’s taste, describing it as bready and sweet.
Mr. Beer Starter Kit
Consumer Score: 79% gave 4 stars or more
Easy and inexpensive entry into beer making
If you’re new to brewing your own beer, or perhaps you don’t have the cash to drop on an expensive DIY kit, this is a good option that costs less than $50. Plus, Mr. Beer includes bottles, which could be a pricey added expense. Beyond saving you money, it will also save you time. The beer takes only 30 minutes to brew, after which the majority of labor is done. It also comes with easy to read, step-by-step instructions, leaving little room for error. Reviewers noted that the resulting brew had a full, hoppy taste—great if you like a beer with a bit of a kick.
Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer-Making Kit
Consumer Score: 73% gave it 4 stars or more
Brooklyn Brew Shop offers a wide range of recipes
With many beer kits, you have the choice of one type of beer and that’s it. Brooklyn Brew Shop, however, has kits for brewing everything from IPAs to porters. These setups all use grain without malt, which many other home brewing kits include to shorten the brewing period. Although this beer may take a bit longer to make, it comes out with a fresher taste. In addition to time, it may also take a bit more effort. However, the instructions are clear and the results are worth it. While it includes almost everything you’ll need, you will have to purchase the strainer, funnel, pot, and bottles separately—which isn’t too bad considering the kit costs less than $50.
—FOR SMALL SPACES—
Northern Brewer Beer-Making Set
Consumer Score: 76% gave it 4 stars or more
Brewery-level IPA designed for making in cramped quarters
IPA lovers, rejoice! This pack comes with everything you will need to make and enjoy your beer—including two beer glasses. Since it’s made for small-batch brewing (one gallon), it has a tiny fermenting container, making it ideal if all you have is a small space to fit the kit. It also comes with full instructions, including an instructional DVD and support from the company’s service department. The cult-favorite brew is a Chinook IPA that gives off a heady hop aroma with a light body. Keep in mind that while the result will be worth it, it does take a whopping six weeks to make, testing your patience along with your brewing skills.
—FOR THE TECH-SAVVY—
Consumer Score: 73% gave it 4 stars or more
Your favorite beers with minimal effort
Have you ever wished you could make insta-beer in your Keurig? Well this contraption isn’t too far off. Although it will cost you a hefty $500, you get 2.5 gallons of beer each time you brew—all you have to do is push a button. You can even control and keep track of your brew through an app when not at home. Buying a BrewDroid also gets you an American Pale Ale “brewprint,” which contains all the ingredients needed to make your beer. If that’s not your flavor of choice, you can also purchase separate brewprints that range in type from cerveza to porter to lager.
PicoBrew Pico Pro
Consumer Score: 64% gave it 4 stars or more
Easy brewing and distilling
Another hands-off system, the Pico Pro allows you to get a bit more creative. It comes with everything you need to brew, save for the Pico packs with the ingredients. The Pro allows you to fine tune your beer down to the alcohol content (ABV) and bitterness level (IBU) and comes with a professional carbonation system that speeds up the brewing process. This machine is also capable of distilling liquor with the help of the separate PicoStill attachment. The tradeoff for that fine level of control and versatility is the lack of quantity—the Pico Pro can only produce five liters of beer at a time. If you want bigger batches, opt for something else.