With a significant portion of the United States currently following some sort of shelter in place order, people are finding ways to keep themselves occupied. It could be any number of things, from attempting to learn an instrument, to painting or simply cleaning and disinfecting the entire house. In these uncertain times, Americans are also stocking up on beer but with so much free time, if you’ve ever considered homebrewing, why not brew your own quarantine libations?
Now really is the perfect time to create your own beer and before you get intimidated by all of the ingredients, all of the equipment and the potential mess it’ll make, just know that there are plenty of companies out there that make kits for any skill level – even for the most novice of beginners. And that was me just a few weeks ago, when I decided to delve one of my Christmas presents. I’ve always had a passion for beer and the process of brewing it, so I was given a Northern Brewer homebrew kit for Christmas but with no knowledge or experience, I was a little intimidated. But it couldn’t have been easier, with each step, ingredient and process laid out perfectly. So, here are five homebrew kits that you can order and try, since you clearly have the time for it.
Northern Brewer: If you’re looking for a kit that has everything, this Minnesota-based company makes arguably the perfect kit. It comes with all of the hops and ingredients you need for the recipe but it also offers a kit that includes bottles, caps and even a glass to get that perfectly Instagram-able photo when you’re finished. If you want something that allows you to do the process from boil to pour, Northern Brewer is it. You will need to pick up a boiling pot and a couple of bags of ice as well, however. There are varying sizes to the recipe kits and include just about every kind of beer you could imagine. I made the one gallon Citra IPA recipe and it turned out great, though I have to jostle the bottle before opening to get a little more head but even the friends I gave it to complimented that it had the quality of a small brewery in both taste and look. Next up might be the Chocolate Milk Stout and with free shipping for orders over $40, why not?
Mr. Beer: Another great kit that offers supplies from start to finish, the Arizona-based company also offers caps, bottles – and even labels – along with the ingredients to make several kinds of beer, about a dozen actually. There’s even a recipe to make root beer if the kids are bored. One disadvantage here is that there are no physical hops but, rather, brewing extract, which takes some of the fun away from opening the hops and smelling and touching the ingredient. It does make the process a little quicker, however. One positive for some might be that the fermentor is made of plastic rather than glass, so that it’s much more lightweight and easier to clean both before and after the brewing process is completed. Mr. Beer is offering several specials too, like buy one, get one refills and 15 percent off all kits.
Brooklyn Brew Shop: Whether it’s beer, wine or kombucha, Brooklyn Brew Shop has something to make for everyone during these bizarre times. One of the best parts of these kits is that several include the recipes to Brewdog efforts, so you could make a beer you’re familiar with. These mostly one gallon kits come with the physical hops and the malts but it does not include the bottles, so you’ll need to find your own storage when you’re finished. The company does offer bottles and caps for an additional charge, however. One cool thing is, for a flat rate, you can just build your own kit, allowing any level of homebrewer to customize their experience – and there are a number of different gift sets for the “hop head” or “kitchen newbie.” There’s free shipping over $59 but it doesn’t look like there are any other significant sales right now.
Craft A Brew: With close to 20 different kits of beer styles, there’s a decent selection including the Stone Brewing Company kit, allowing brewers to recreate the California brewery’s classic Pale Ale. It’s unclear if the physical hops are included or it’s simply brewing extract, since it’s listed on Craft A Brew’s website as a recipe kit. We think it’s actual hops, because the five gallon kits come with the physical hops but it seems like it might be for a slightly more advanced brewer. The company does a great job explaining some of the specifics of the beer you’re about to create, like the ABV, the IBUs and the specific flavors, however like some of the other kits, there are no bottles included – unless you purchase the hard seltzer kits. This might be the best online option if you’re looking to make the trendy drink. There’s free shipping over $75 but no other offers currently highlighted.
Home Brew Ohio: Sure, this company might be geared a little more towards the advanced brewer but there’s plenty of kits for those who are just getting their feet wet. It’s not well listed as to what exactly the kit includes other than “everything a beginning brewer needs” though you will have to purchase your own boiling pot, bottles and bottle caps as they’re not included. It might be priced a little high but this glass fermenter kit has what you need to get going and once you’re done one, the recipe kits on Home Brew Ohio’s website are fairly inexpensive, so you might actually save some cash in the long run – if this is a hobby you plan to expand on in time. You can even buy individual equipment, so if money is no object, you could simply build your own deluxe kit, from pot to bottles, and now is the time to do it, thanks to free shipping over $50. But it doesn’t look like there are any other offers that the company is highlighting online right now.