A homebrew kit is one of the best gifts you can ever receive (or give!). But it can also be overwhelming if you are brand new to the homebrew scene.
The following is a guide to figure out the quickest route to making extract beer with your new kit! If you are feeling ambitious and would like to jump straight to all-grain brewing, check out our Let’s Brew section for even more tutorials and equipment profiles.
Much like the word “beer,” “homebrew kit” can mean many different things. Did you get an equipment kit or a recipe ingredient kit? Maybe you got both! Did it come with everything you need to get going on your first batch of beer at home, or do you need to get your hands on a few more things?
Many kits will come with a list of everything included, but it’s still never a bad idea to double check what you have on hand. Make note of all the equipment, from bottle caps to tubing, and any ingredients that may have been included in the kit.
Armed with your list of equipment, download the Zymurgy: An Introduction to Homebrewing magazine or head over to our Let’s Brew: Beginner section to see what other equipment you may (or may not) need to make your first batch of beer. Some of these things you’ll likely find in your kitchen, while the rest can be purchased at a local or online homebrew shop. Find a homebrew shop near you.
Pick a Recipe
If your kit came with a recipe that you are interested in making, then you can skip this section. Follow the directions that came with the ingredients and you’ll be well on your way to make beer! If you didn’t receive a recipe kit or are interested in making something different, start by browsing our extensive archive of tried-and-true homebrew recipes.
For a first time homebrewer, it’s recommended to stick with an extract ale recipe. Extract brewing takes out some of the more complicated steps involved in all-grain brewing, and ales allow you to ferment at standard room temperature whereas lagers require refrigeration for the signature lager cooling stage. It’s also not a bad idea to stick with a fairly simple recipe that doesn’t include to many adjunct ingredients outside the typical hops, malt and yeast, but if you’re feeling ambitious and want to brew a pumpkin vanilla coffee stout, we won’t stop you!
If you find an all-grain beer recipe you’d like to brew, use this guide to convert all-grain homebrew recipes to extract.
Learn the Proccess
Many kits will come with a guide to walk you through your first batch of extract beer, and this is a great place to start. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the entire brewing process so you don’t run into any surprises that could hinder your brew day. It’s even better if you can put together a list of steps to follow on your brew day and check off steps as you go, so as not to forget anything.
Our free Zymurgy: An Introduction to Homebrewing magazine has everything you need to know about making beer, from start to finish. It will walk you through the extract brewing process step-by-step and arm you with all the knowledge you need for fermentation and bottling, as well. You can also check out our Let’s Brew: Beginner section for more tutorials on making great extract beer at home.
Brew Your Beer!
With all of your equipment compiled, a recipe’s worth of ingredients at the ready and a basic understanding of the homebrewing process, you’re ready to start brewing! Stick to your list of steps, keep notes if you’re feeling fancy, and most importantly…have a good time! After all, you’re making beer!
If anything does “go wrong,” whether you forget a hop addition or boiled for too long, don’t sweat it. Even the most seasoned brewers run into unexpected issues, but most of the time you’ll still end up with beer that you can drink and share with friends.
As the Charlie Papazian, the founder of the American Homebrewers Association, always says: Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew!
As your first beer is fermenting and getting close to being ready, start planning your next brew day! This is a great time to browse through different beer recipes, explore new homebrewing techniques and expand your homebrewing horizons. After taking your first sip of your first brew, even if not perfect to the tee, you’ll surely be hooked and ready for batch #2.