Homebrew beer kits make great gifts for the aspiring home brewer, whether experienced or just starting out. This is because no matter what the experience level of the brewer, homebrew kits still contain all of the ingredients necessary to brew beer. It is important, however, to discover the brewer’s favorite type of beer – this is the type of homebrew kit you should buy them. There are also quite a large number of homebrew kits that are made up of supplies and tools for home brewing, but do not contain the ingredients. Some kits have some supplies, and some ingredients. There are a lot of kits on the market, so let’s look at them.
First, we will look at beer ingredient kits. There are basically three categories of these kits – malt extract kits, extract/malt kits, and all grain kits.
Malt extract kits are ideal for the beginning home brewer, as they are easier to make. These kits cut out the technical problem of getting the grains to mash properly. The mash is the process by which the starches within the grains are converted into sugars, which the yeast devour to make alcohol. Usually these kits are tailored to the most basic types of beer making – pale ales, porters, stouts, red ales, brown ales – really fundamental types of beers.
Extract and malt kits encourage the intermediate home brewer to experiment with mashing the grains, but also provide the sweet malt extract that ensures a good beer will be made. We see the range of beers opening up here a bit; with the more subtle flavors supplied by the mashing if specialty malts, a more exact palate of flavors can be opened up.
All grain brewing kits are for the dedicated home brewer. These homebrew kits require a knowledge of how to mash and sparge grains properly. The result is an exacting beer in which a variety of grains are brought together for a precision tasting beer. Specialty ales such as Scottish ales, IPAs and Barley wines are offered with these kits.
All of these kits can come with varying amount of equipment. Usually, homebrew kits do not come with priming sugar for the bottling process, or with bottle caps, unless you get a larger, premium kit. If you get a smaller kit, it will be a good idea to acquire some priming sugar and bottle caps to go with it, especially if it is a gift.
Some home brew kits come with a bag in which to ferment the beer. These kits are ideal for someone who is interested in home brewing, but has not acquired much home brewing equipment yet. Brew bag kits offer a way to make beer at home without a carboy, the five to six gallon glass jar that most home brewers brew into.
Homebrew kits are often put together by brew stores, so sometimes visiting your local brew store is a good place to start. If you do not have a home brew store in your town, you can acquire some excellent home brew kits from HomeBrewing.com (see www.homebrewing.com). They have some excellent home brew kits, including starter kits, which come with fermenting vessels, bottle brush, and other useful tools.
Home brew kits make great gifts, but keep in mind that you should buy the right kind for the right brewer. Find out what your home brewer’s favorite beer is, and inquire about how long they have been home brewing and what kind of brewing they are doing – malt extract, partial grain, or all grain. Then, you can customize your gift accordingly.