For many years, all-grain homebrewing was seen as the pinnacle of the hobby. Brewers would start out using kits that came with pre-hopped wort, or would use malt extract to create their beers. If a brewer wanted to start brewing all-grain, they would need a ton of equipment and specialized knowledge. Thankfully, nowadays you don’t need thousands of dollars in brewing gear to brew a great all-grain beer, and nothing exemplifies this quite as well as the Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit.
The Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit will have you making a one gallon batch of all-grain beer. This will equate to about 9-10 standard bottles of finished beer. Being a beginner’s kit, it includes most of the equipment you will need.
The kit includes:
- One gallon glass fermenting jug with screw on cap
- Three piece airlock
- Racking cane and tubing
- Tubing clamp
- Glass thermometer
- Packet of sanitizer
- Bag of milled grains
- Pre-measured hops
- Packet of dry yeast
Unfortunately, the beer making kit is missing a couple of essential items. To brew a beer with the kit, you will also need:
- A stock pot. Anywhere from 8-12 quarts should work well for this amount of beer.
- A way to strain the grains from your mash. Brooklyn Brew shop recommends a fine mesh strainer, but it may be easier to use a nylon bag and do a brew in a bag.
- Bottles. You can either use old non-twist off bottles or buy new, but you will need a bottle capper and some caps if you go this route. Swing top bottles or P.E.T. bottles (and caps) are an alternative to buying a capper.
- A way to prime your beer for carbonation. Brooklyn Brew Shop recommends honey, but I think the easiest way is with carbonation drops. No measuring needed, just pop the right amount into the bottle.
Outside of these essential items, there is also a couple other things that could make your brew day and bottling a bit easier. In my article Useful Add-Ons to the Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit I go into these items and how they will improve your brewing experience.
Also included in the kit is an instruction page, with more detailed instructions on their web site. For the most part, these instructions are valuable and what a first time homebrewer needs to know. There are a few spots in the instructions that I feel could be better:
- I think that the sparge stage should have been omitted from the instructions. A full volume mash (putting your grain in all 6.5 quarts of water) with no sparge would be simpler and have essentially the same result.
- There is no mention of temperature control during fermentation. Simply finding a cool spot in your house or apartment to ferment in will improve the beer considerably.
- Instead of honey, I think that carbonation drops should be used to prime your beer for bottling. This also makes it a bit easier in that you can bottle straight from the ferementer if you like, instead of using a bottling bucket. Just be careful not to pick up too much of the trub (solids at the bottom of the fermenter) if you go this route.
For a more detailed look at the homebrewing process and a bit more instruction than this kit gives you, I recommend some books in my article The Best Books for Beginner Homebrewers.
So how does the beer taste? Reviewing a beer kit can tough, since the way a beer is brewed is often more important than the ingredients that make up the recipe. The recipe that I brewed was the Everyday IPA, and the beer was as good as any IPA I have ever made. The ingredients were well packaged; the milled grains came in a sealed bag and the hops were vacuum sealed. The ingredients all seemed fresh upon opening and their flavors came through great in the finished product.
There was one small downside that I found in the Everyday IPA, and that was the lack of dry hops in the recipe. Dry hopping would have increased the hop aroma in the finished beer, and it felt a bit weird to make an IPA without it. This is limited to the one recipe however, and looking through the other recipes I couldn’t find any similar oddities.
Speaking of ingredients, Brooklyn Brew Shop also sells Beer Making Mix, ingredient kits for your subsequent batches of beer. This way you can buy a single beer making kit and continue using it to brew recipes from Brooklyn Brew Shop. They also sell a recipe book with 52 one-gallon batch recipes. They don’t make kits for all of these recipes, but the ingredients can be bought at any online or local homebrew shop.
With the few small tweaks and extra equipment mentioned, the Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit is likely the easiest way to start brewing all-grain beer. The small batch size works in the kit’s favor, promoting brewing often and learning from your mistakes. Even if you decide to start brewing larger batches, the equipment from this kit can be useful in recipe experimentation or creating split batches. The Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit is an easy, inexpensive and space efficient way to make all-grain beer.