After spending a few weeks doing some research on the Internet, stopping into the local home brew supply store, More Beer and watching You Tube videos, I decided on what kit I would purchase to get back into home brewing. I placed an order from Homebrewing.org and their Beginning Homebrew Kit Upgrade #3 (#99-3464). This, like many other starter kits, provided everything needed for that “first batch” as well as some upgrades, which stayed within a reasonable price point.
The kit started with an 8 gallon, stainless steel boil kettle with top. This is the main vessel used when adding all the ingredients for the boil, from the steeping of grains to the malt extract and hops. Anything included that requires boiling will be done in this big kettle. There are also two, 2 1/2″ NPT threaded ports that come with kettle plugs if you don’t intend on using them. I purchased the optional 2 piece ball valve and dial thermometer with 6″ probe. The valve is used to drain the cooled liquid to the fermenting bucket when done cooking. The thermometer will allow me to maintain the proper temperature, which is keep when boiling and cooling the wort.
Also included in the kit are two 6.5 gallon “Ale Pails” to be used as the primary fermenter, which a drilled and gommeted lid and the bottling bucket, which has a spigot for easy bottling. There’s also a 5-gallon glass carboy, #7 bung, carboy brush, bottle brush, twin lever capper, airlock, auto siphon with bottling setup, hydrometer, graduated cylinder, liquid crystal thermometer (strip) and brew paddle. This is the basic equipment in most all kits I was researching, available online from Brewer’s Best or another retailer of your choice. This kit represented the best value, but also included a few upgrades to other basic home brew kits I was reviewing and comparing including a coil wort chiller, while not necessary was recommended by other home brewers.
The wort chiller is a simple piece of brewing equipment used when the boil is done. This copper winding of pipe is sanitized and placed into the 8-gallon kettle. One end of the wort chiller is attached to the sink’s faucet, while the other end is allowed to drain into the sink. Once the water is turned on, cold water swirls around the boiled wort to decrease the temperature of the wort quickly to room temperature, before you pitch your yeast. in preparation for transferring to a primary fermenter. A 5-gallon boil using a wort chiller could decrease the cooling time to 15 minutes, down from a few hours using a conventional ice bath, cooling the entire kettle in the sink.
The final piece of the kit, the ingredients. While I could have spent an additional $40-$50 on a more desirable recipe kit, I selected the AIH American Pale Ale (k99-2671) included with the #3 kit. This is an easy to brew beer with no additions, outside the 1 lb. Cara-Pils/Dextrin , 1lb. Crystal 10L specialty grains, the liquid extract malt, and hops. The grains will give the home brew its light amber color. There are 1 oz. Chinook hops used during the boil that will give the beer it’s bitterness. During the boil, 1 oz. of Willamette hops will be added to provide a floral, incense and elderberry flavor. Finally near the end of the boil another 1 oz. of Willemette hops to give the floral, fruity and herbal aroma.
All together, this kit cost me $224.95 with the added ball valve and thermometer for boiling kettle. I decided to purchase two cases of 12 oz. beer bottles for $12.99 each, a FastRack Beer Bottle Drying Rack & Storage System for $31.49, 144 gold bottle caps, at $3.19 and a Sanitizer Injector for $9.99. Before tax and shipping I spent $295.60 on my home brew supplies. At this point, I am ready to brew. I have read over the instructions and watched a few different You Tube videos and the boil process is simple. I’m ready to brew!