Learning to brew your own beer doesn’t have to be hard. For a basic brew, I liken it to making boxed macaroni and cheese. If you can measure ingredients, add in items at specific times, and maintain a relatively steady temperature, you can make beer. However, it can be expensive to buy (and inevitably to upgrade) the equipment and homebrewing is a large time investment. An all-grain brew day can easily take up an entire Saturday — and that’s not including all the clean-up.
For those with small spaces, limited time, and some cash to spend, counter-top appliances and straightforward, beginner craft brew kits are all the rage. These homebrewing kits fit right in beside toasters and microwaves but promise to make brewing beer as simple brewing as a pot of coffee. Or maybe even microwavable mac n’ cheese.
The Pico brand debuted on Kickstarter, but now makes its products available to non-backers as well. Pico offers a broad range of homebrewing products for different needs and price points. For $399 you can purchase the introductory level Pico Model C which is capable of brewing 5 liters of beer in two hours using proprietary PicoPaks. The PicoPak concept is similar to single serve coffee pods. You can buy recipes from professional breweries such as Coronado, or craft your own via the Pico website. The Pico C can even be expanded to make spirits using the PicoStill attachment and it’s capable of sous vide cooking right out of the box.
The higher end of Pico’s offerings includes the Zymatic which retails for $1,999 and is geared toward professional brewers. The shiny stainless box is a miniature all-grain system designed for mad scientists who love to tweak recipes and go off-script, or for production breweries to create test batches. The Zymatic produces two and a half gallons of beer and has a large library of
Newest to Pico’s portfolio is the Z Series, a modular system which can be upgraded to brew anywhere from 2.5 to 10 gallons of beer at a time. The Z Series can use the prepackaged PicoPaks or loose hops and malt. It is a pre-order offering, with configurations ranging from $1,999 to $6,999.
Brewie makes a single model, the Brewie+. With a global buyer in mind, it comes in various plug and voltage configurations. It is a beautiful piece of machinery, with sleek, clean lines. It’s also very large with a 20-liter capacity. Like the Zymatic, this is a fully realized all-grain system with the ability to fine-tune mash and sparge settings and automate four different hop additions.
BeerDroid by BrewArt retails for $499 and promises to brew 2.6 gallons of premium quality beer with the push of a button. “BrewPrint” recipe packs are available for dozens of styles to get you brewing quickly or you can craft your own beers using all grain ingredients. The BrewFlow add-on allows you to carbonate and pour your beer at your preferred serving temperature.
Using a patented conical fermenter system, BrewDemon’s small-batch craft brewing kits bring the vibe of the brewery right into your kitchen. With a similar style and function to those sleek conical fermenters used by and seen in larger breweries, this smaller version (available in one- and two-gallon sizes) allows the sediment (or trub) to settle at the bottom during fermentation, creating a clearer brew. Their highly rated, $119 Signature kit makes a mean golden Pilsner, and other smaller sets come with ingredients for IPAs and Stouts. Included in each are the eye-catching conical fermenter, ingredients, instructions, and all necessary equipment like venting plug and temperature gauge. Best of all, the two-gallon model means there’s plenty to go around for friends and family!
Northern Brewer’s beginner home-brew kits are among the most popular on the market, with easy-to-follow instructions, compact equipment that works in any space, and tons of options that allow you to experiment. A great place to start is with the brand’s one-gallon craft beer kits, which feature siphon-less fermenters that simplifies the brewing process, requiring fewer tools and steps. The brand’s kits also go up to five-gallon sizes, and you can choose your own beer recipe for a list of options that includes IPAs, Pale Ales, Belgian-Style, and Porter/Stout. Instructions are included in the form of a DVD that guides you through the process, and Northern Brewer’s customer service reps are on hand to answer questions by phone or email. You can also get kits based on what kind of brewing method you want to experiment with, like all-grain or extract. And if you’re looking to take your homebrews to the next level, Northern Brewer also sell kegging systems, brew pots, and much more.
Brooklyn Brew Shop
This simple, low-tech homebrew kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop can be easily set up and left to ferment on any countertop or work area. Delivered in a stylish brown box, each kit includes a one-gallon glass container and screw cap, a bag of all-grain mix, beer-making yeast, thermometer, vinyl tubing, chambered airlock, and racking cane, along with straight-forward directions. There are over twenty different varieties of kits and beer recipes, from Saisons to Oatmeal Stouts, but the brand’s most popular is the Everyday IPA kit, made with Columbus and Cascade hops.
Last updated July 2020.
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