When it comes to the beer brewing process, there are many different approaches the home brewer can take with their set up. You can choose to purchase equipment especially made for beer brewing, you can use some house hold items, and you can even make some items yourself.
There is a wide range of possible combinations of equipment you can choose for your set up. It really boils down to your budget, experience, space considerations, and individual preferences. For those new to beer brewing, it is advisable to start with some sort of all inclusive brew kit. There are many options with these, as well, but the key reason these kits are the way to go is simple: convenience.
These kits will have at least the very basics that you need to get started beer brewing, and some even have a few extras that come in handy. You can start simple with a kit like Mr Beer–inexpensive, and doesn’t take up too much space. This will allow you to try out beer brewing as a hobby and see if it is something you will enjoy and stick with.
Many beer brewing enthusiasts enjoy making hand crafted beer that is cheaper and better than commercial beers. For some, the process is too much a hassle, and they don’t brew again. Beer kits comprised of separate components make a great starting point for new brewers. They contain the bare essentials to get you started, and allow you, the new brewer, to focus on what is really important: learning the fundamental process of beer brewing.
Once you understand the basics and have a solid foundation, you can then determine what is the best way for you to go about the process. After that first batch of home brew, you can then determine if this is a hobby you will continue. If you like this hobby, you can continue to brew on your starter kit, whether it is a Mr Beer or a component kit.
You can always upgrade or add on accordingly as you learn more about beer brewing. With component kits, it is not necessary to break the bank to upgrade. As mentioned previously, many of these kits come with some extras, so upgrading may not be necessary until further into the hobby. The basic kits still will get you through the process, and upgrades basically consist of extra equipment that are better materials or make parts of the process easier–but aren’t absolutely essential.
In fact, one of the cheapest, easiest, and best upgrades to do is to upgrade the ingredients you use to brew. Most beer brewing starter kits come with plastic buckets for fermenting. You can upgrade these to glass carboys, and there are several reasons why you might decide to do this–however, fermenting in plastic buckets is completely fine, and it really is a matter of personal preference.
If you decide to upgrade, you can always keep the buckets for sanitizing equipment/utensils and as bottling buckets. You can even use them as additional fermenters for additional batches of home brew! If you started with a Mr Beer type kit, you can still get use out of it after you have brewed your first few batches. If you live in a small space, these kits still work fine for brewing. Many home brewers that started with these still use them–they are perfect for experimenting. Create your own beer recipe, and since the batch is smaller, if it doesn’t work out, you waste less beer. Or, perhaps 5 gallon batches are too much for you, and you like smaller batches.
Besides an upgrade in ingredients, the first upgrade you may make is an additional fermenter – this will allow you to make multiple batches of beer at the same time. This way, you will have many different flavors of beer on hand. Or, if you have a special occasion coming up, you can have lots of beer available!