You want to get into brewing fast?
It was 2001 and I was a young man who loved beer. My favorite at the time as Bass Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale ale. I had just starting working with some new friends. ‘
They were avid homebrewers and they had successfully making beers for years to this point. I was completely devoid of any brewing knowledge other than I knew yeast, with malted barley and hops made beer.
I had one attempt under my belt from years before on the Mr. Beer Kit I bought my dad in the 90’s that he never used. That beer was MEH and that is being kind.
Anyway I was soon embroiled in long conversations at work because of my intrigue about beer and brewing I picked the brains of my friends and made plans to get into the hobby. I was still lost don’t get me wrong. I didn’t know a mash paddle from a canoe paddle but my desire to learn drove me into it.
Were do I start? I asked them. There advice which is generally universal in the brewing community. Start with an extract kit from your local homebrew shop or online retailer.
Intro to extract beer kits
The fastest and easiest way to get into homebrewing is by purchasing an extract brew kit of your favorite type of beer. They include all the ingredients you need to clone your favorite brew or beer style. Some even include a few extras to help get craft your favorite beer. A kit normally includes the dry/syrup malt extract needed for given batch size, the hops, yeast and finings needed and sugar for bottling if necessary. Many of the more complex kits also include specialty grain that is used to build the character of the style of beer your brewing.
You can also purchase extras like hop bags or grain bags to help with straining and keeping hop particles from getting into your fermenter. Adventures in home brewing Adventures in Homebrewing includes a huge selection of grain bags and other optional items to improve your beer.
These kits include the raw ingredients for what ever beer your going to brew but they do not come with the tools to brew the batch. The essentials you need to are covered in my previous article here What you need to start brewing.
Pros and Cons
- All ingredients included to produce final product “BEER”.
- Comes with exact instructions.
- All ingredients are measured and weighed out.
- Best way to learn brewing process without over complicating it.
- Quickest brew day.
- Only good to brew exact style not much room for experimenting.
- Extract syrup can be sticky and malt extract powder can get messy. Handle with care.
- Still can be a bit daunting for newbie without a bit of research.
- Kits have a long shelf life but some local shops may let them sit around past prime.
- Some styles or clones will contain specialty grains which need to be steeped which is an extra step in the process.
Where to buy?
Extract kits can be purchased at your local homebrew shop or online. I recommend if it is your first brew day to purchase from a local brew shop as they will be a good resource for any questions you might have.
They will also make sure you have the basic equipment you might need to brew the particular kit you choose. When I got into homebrewing in the early 2000’s I was lucky enough to live close to the same town where Mark and Tess Szamatulski’s shop Maltose Express is.
They are the authors of the clone brew series of books on how to clone your favorite beers. I still frequent the shop to this day and have found their advice invaluable.
Once you have done an initial brew day successfully you can opt to purchase kits online. The sheer volume of choices is the advantage of buying online.
Your local shop will likely have a very good inventory of styles and clones of your favorite beers but online you can get a kit for just about any craft or commercial beer produced on the planet!
Not all of them but a heck of lot more than you can find locally. I obviously recommend Adventures in Homebrewing as I have purchased a lot of stuff from them over the years and they are one of the top online homebrew shops out there.
“Disclaimer I am also an affiliate so any purchases using any of the links on this site I will earn a modest commission. It helps supplement my ability to create free content.”
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IMHO brewing with extract kits is a fun and easy way to break into brewing beer. This method will teach you the brewing process and help get a feel for the art of brewing while learning it’s nuances.
Kits come with all the ingredients you need and detailed instructions on how to make really good beer. Think of it as practice to hone your skill and broaden your brewing knowledge.
Some brewers never even go to other methods because they are happy enough brewing with extract kits or formulating their own extract recipes.