When you are new to homebrewing, the number of different equipment options on the market can often be bewildering.
Do you choose a setup for a simple extract kit like one of the popular beer-in-a-box options?
Or do you go the whole hog and spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a full all-grain setup that at least will be future-proof and able to deal with any batch of beer you throw at it?
Or maybe you are looking at upgrading your current homebrew setup, or perhaps you need to tidy up and save a little space in that overcrowded garage.
There are now some amazing all-in-one beer brewing systems out there that won’t break the bank and won’t clutter up your home too much (my wife likes the idea of an all-in-one homebrew system – she loves her beer, but she hates the idea of mess!).
Whatever your reason may be for looking for some extra equipment, let’s take a look at some of the best options for anxious beginners and seasoned homebrewers alike.
Brewing for Complete Beginners
The best option for a beginner, many would argue, is a “brewery in a box” kit, which you often see advertised around the festive holiday seasons or even father’s day.
Although everybody thinks it’s every man’s dream to brew his own beer (which most of the time it is), many women are now just as interested in homebrewing. My beer buddy’s daughter now brews one of the best IPAs I’ve ever tasted!
A “brewery in a box” kit makes the ideal gift for anybody who may be interested in starting out in homebrewing. Online retailers such as Amazon and the like will often carry several options for beginners at a very affordable price.
Northern Brewer – HomeBrewing Starter Set
- Highest Rated Starter Kit! The Northern Brewer Brew. Share. Enjoy Homebrew Starter Kit is perfect for holiday gifts and beginners, complete with foolproof instructions.
- This all-in-one kit includes everything you need to start brewing beer at home today including siphonless fermenters and our Block Party Amber Ale recipe kit.
- Block Party Amber: It's deep garnet glow accommodates friendly flavors of toasty bread crust, caramel, and an inkling of floral and herbal hop character. Paired with affable neighborly company, Block Party Amber Ale is a true crowd pleaser.
One of the best kits I have seen is the Northern Brewer Homebrew Starter kit available on Amazon.com, which comes in at around the $150 mark including the ingredients for a 5-gallon batch of Chinook IPA.
You can also buy a version with a German wheat beer kit, Heiferweizen, or an Amber Ale kit, but these often don’t include the brew kettle.
If you are looking for absolutely everything you will need for brewing your first batch of beer, this kit from the acclaimed Northern Brewer homebrew supplies company even contains a stainless steel brew kettle.
This comprehensive kit includes:
- 5-gallon capacity stainless steel brew kettle
- 6.5-gallon fermentation bin with spigot, lid, and airlock
- Bottling bucket with spigot
- Hydrometer & Test Jar
- Lab Thermometer
- 21″ stainless steel stirring spoon
- 5 ft clear tubing and bottle filler
- Bottle brush
- Crown capper (and 60 caps)
- Cleaner/sanitizer packet
- Chinook IPA Partial Extract Kit with hops included
- Corn sugar for priming
When you choose this kit you have everything you need, including the test equipment, to ensure a perfect brew.
Northern Brewer has a full online support package including detailed recipe instructions for each kit, a free series of “101 Guide to Homebrewing” instructional videos, and troubleshooting tips.
Short of sending somebody around to hold your hand, it’s everything an anxious beginner homebrewer could need. Just add water and bottles for a tasty 5-gallon batch of beer.
The best part of this kit is that once you have brewed the initial IPA kit which is included, the equipment can be used for any future batches of beer you may want to try brewing.
Northern Brewer also sells many recipe kits designed for this system, but you are by no means tied to just them.
- A good option for beginners or experienced homebrewers looking to replace their kit.
- Can be re-used many times for any partial extract brew recipes up to 5 gallons of beer.
- Reasonable price considering all the equipment you get. Ready to go out of the box.
- The brew kettle is a little smaller than the 7- or 8-gallon pot we would normally recommend.
- Sanitizer provided is not quite enough. Order a bottle StarSan at the same time.
There are plenty more “beer in a box” kits available, although not too many of them come with the stainless steel brew kettle.
Brooklyn Brew Shop makes a smaller batch starter kit which is highly rated by most beer critics. With just a 1-gallon yield most people should have a pot large enough in their kitchen already, and this can be used as a brew kettle.
Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer – Making Kit
- The Chocolate Maple Porter Beer Making Kit is perfect for beginners. Brooklyn Brew Shop makes brewing beer at home simple, fun, and tasty with easy-to-follow videos and step-by-step instructions. Using only seasonally-inspired, real ingredients, we never include sugary malt extracts, meaning you brew the freshest and best-tasting beer possible.
- Created by published beer authors, our award-winning, all-grain kits are made in America and designed to be brewed on the stove top of any kitchen big or small.
- The kit includes: our Chocolate Maple Porter making mix (grain, hops and yeast), 1 gallon reusable glass fermenter, glass spirit-filled thermometer, vinyl tubing, racking cane & tip, chambered airlock, Brooklyn Brew Shop cleanser, and screw-cap stopper. Not included: strainer, funnel, pot and bottles
Available as a Bruxelles Blonde, Everyday IPA, or Chocolate Maple Porter variety, they come with a reusable 1-gallon glass fermenter and all the equipment you will need for bottling the finished beer (except the bottles).
With a current price of just under $50 at the time of publication, the Brooklyn Brew kits are a great low-cost introduction to basic brewing.
These extract systems give you a chance to make good beer right on your kitchen stove with a minimum of equipment.
If you would like to learn more about extract brewing, click here. Just about everyone offers a basic extract homebrew system that will get you started. If you’d like to learn about extract brewing systems, click here.
Automatic Electric Home Brew Systems
Although more seasoned homebrewers would argue it’s not really homebrewing, another good option for beginners can be the automated homebrewing systems which often take up little more space than an Espresso coffee machine in your living space.
An automatic all-in-one electric beer brewing system can often be as easy to use as a coffee machine too, with innovative features meaning you just add a pre-packaged sachet of raw ingredients, add water and let the machine take care of the entire brewing process.
The finished beer is even pumped into a mini-keg for serving with some systems.
The market leader in Automatic Homebrewing Systems is currently the BrewArt BeerDroid made by the folks at Coopers in Australia.
It’s a great temperature-controlled fermenter that is Wi-Fi connected and links to a mobile app allowing you to check on the current brew status and any changes in temperature (including cold crashing) from anywhere just using your phone.
BeerDroid Fully Automated Beer Brewing System
- The BeerDroid is Wi-Fi connected and with the BrewArt app you can monitor and control your brew, receive push notifications of brewing milestones, update your firmware and shop through the many available BrewPrints and accessories, making you a BrewArtist in no time. Each BrewPrint has its own brewing profile which is automatically downloaded when starting a brew using the BrewArt app.
A fully automated personal brewer, the BeerDroid produces 2.6 gallons of beer (10 liters) at the push of a button while sitting in its own small homebrew corner of your kitchen.
You can brew a variety of beers from the BrewPrint recipes, customize the recipes using BrewArt ingredients, or, for even more space for creativity, the experienced homebrewer can craft their own recipes.
Many of the more experienced homebrewers may dismiss this as a gimmick or complicated “toy” but the 2.6-gallon capacity makes it ideal for experimenting with smaller batches of beer before moving into full production.
One of my local brew pubs/restaurants used to have one of these amazing little devices on the bar to trial new recipes to regular beer drinkers like myself before letting full production loose on the public!
What makes brewing so easy with the BeerDroid is the precise temperature control and Wi-Fi connectivity.
You can easily customize the yeast propagation temperature, kegging temperature, and brewing temperature in between for making anything from fancy saisons to a simple lager.
For lagers where a consistent temperature can be vital, the BeerDroid is an absolute godsend.
BrewArt, the smartphone app, allows you to monitor a brew’s progress and record the brewing milestones even when you are not at home.
If a brew should finish while you are away from home, you can even switch the BeerDroid into storage mode where it cools down the beer temperature so the yeast doesn’t change the flavor. This will prevent off-flavors from developing.
A sleek tap allows you to bottle the beer or serve straight to the glass, and there is also a complete kegging solution available of 2 x 5-liter reusable plastic kegs with caddies or stands for them.
If you really want to splash the cash, there is also the BrewFlo dispenser, which is a refrigerated benchtop unit designed to hold and dispense from the 5-liter kegs. But at an extra $699, this makes it quite an expensive system.
- Sleek modern design which matches most contemporary home decor.
- Easy to use. Push button technology, with one touch of a button doing all the hard work.
- Wi-Fi connectivity with an online community and excellent support service.
- Easy to clean.
- A wide selection (45+) of BrewPrint recipes is available including everything from a hearty Traditional Irish Stout to a West Coast IPA. There’s even a Low Carb Dry Lager Brewprint.
- Freedom to brew with your own ingredients, whether it’s an all-grain recipe, all-extract, or partial mash recipe. You can switch the beer brewing style and customize the temperatures.
- Not designed to brew less than 10 liters. Although you can add your own ingredients you MUST add 3.6 gallons of water for the device to work.
- Proprietary fittings can make the kegging system overly complicated.
BeerDroid’s only real competitor in the area of Fully Automatic Electric Brewing Systems, the Pico Brew range seems to have fallen by the wayside for the time being. Currently, they are seeking new investors or licensing deals to revive the brand.
Watch this space!
The Next Step – All-Grain Brewing
Back to the real world of homebrewing now.
Once you have made several gallons of beer from extract kits or played around with automated electric brewing systems like BeerDoid, you may want to enter the all-grain brewing arena.
You will have to do some reading about the brewing process first so you understand what you are getting into. The addition of a mash tun and hot liquor tank plus a chiller is about all the new equipment you will need.
This can be as simple as an ice chest with a braided steel screen on the bottom, or as elaborate as a refurbished keg fitted with all the bells and whistles.
All grain brewing entails mashing your own malted grains and sparging (rinsing) to get every last bit of fermentable sugar from them.
Extract brewing is a simplified brewing process where the mash and sparge have been done for you and the Dried Malt Extract (DME) or Liquid Malt Extract (LME) is the result.
With all-grain brewing, you will gain more control over your beer and have a more rewarding brewing experience.
Advanced Homebrew Systems
Some more enthusiastic homebrewers often like to make their own DIY all-grain brewing systems.
Most of the parts you need are available at a good plumber’s yard, timber merchant, or homebrew equipment supply shop. For some, the DIY aspect can be just as big a real brewing craft as a beer brewing hobby.
Click here to go to the DIY Projects and Gadgets for Beer Geeks
But there are some excellent all-in-one electric home brewing systems out there that cater to the all-grain brewer and larger batches of beer.
There’s no need to fill your garage or other brewing space with lots of major brewing equipment as most of these electric brewing systems will quite happily reside in a corner of your workspace.
In the past, we may have all started the beer brewing process with a very basic home boil kettle, a stovetop or a propane burner, and some large stainless steel buckets, but an all-in-1 electric brewing system means the whole brewing process can now be done in just one pot.
A good electric homebrewing system can help maintain a consistent mash temperature during the mashing process. It will regulate and distribute the heat evenly as your batch of wort boils in order to ensure more consistent results.
Flashy features like a built-in immersion wort chiller, a built-in pump, and a digital control panel mean you can streamline your entire brewing process and do away with a mass of brewing equipment.
To help you decide which all-in-one brewing system is right for you we have looked at three of the most popular electric systems on the market today.
Grainfather Connect All in One Home Brewing System-Best Overall
- SIMPLE AND USER FRIENDLY: The Grainfather is electrically powered and designed to be used indoors; No need for burners or hot plates; just plug in and go; Heating from mash to boil takes as little as 20 minutes; Instructions included; Instructional videos available on manufacturer website
- HIGHEST QUALITY CONSTRUCTION: The Grainfather is made from high quality 304 grade stainless steel with a 8 gallon capacity; designed to produce up to 6 gallons of beer from one brew
- INTUITIVE DESIGN: Programmable step mashing; delayed heating; waterproof digital display in Celsius and Fahrenheit
If you have been homebrewing for the last decade or so, you can’t have helped but hear the name Grainfather when looking at All-in-one brewing systems.
Grainfather was one of the first all-in-one brewing systems designed specifically for the homebrewing market.
When it first hit the shelves in New Zealand in 2014 it caused a seismic shift in the way homebrewers approached all-grain brewing and sold over 25,000 Grainfather machines in the first 3 years, exporting to Australia, the US, Britain, and Europe.
As well as a pretty cool name, the Grainfather is an uber-cool piece of stylish equipment made from # 304-grade quality stainless steel material – this is one device that won’t gather rust in your brew shop.
It’s designed to handle just grains with an inner stainless steel basket able to handle up to 20 lbs of grain where the mashing occurs and continues to recirculate.
You can even use the digital control panel or app to set up different automatic step-mashing regimes.
The Grainfather runs on a standard household 110v power with a 1600-watt heating element which can heat your wort from mash temperature to boiling in just 20 minutes heating time.
This is a true no-mess brewing system that eliminates the need for extra pots or metal plates on a stove, and there’s no external heat source needed.
For cooling the wort down after the boil, the Grainfather features an integrated counter-flow chiller that uses an inner copper coil to take your wort down to pitching temperature.
The Grainfather was one of the first all-in-one electric homebrewing systems I ever invested in (it still proudly sits in the homebrewing corner of my garage complete with an insulation jacket).
The Grainfather has always had a programmable control box, but this latest version adds Bluetooth connectivity so you can keep track of the brewing process remotely.
The App gives you access to hundreds of delicious beer recipes, allows you to set the temperature for your boil and sparge, and you can even switch from manual mode to automatic mode and back again using the app.
Suitable for beginners and experienced homebrewers alike, the Grainfather is one of the easiest all-grain, all-in-one electric brewing systems you can find, and the customer support from the team at Grainfather is unrivaled, even coming with a 24-month warranty.
- Easy to set up, use, and clean. Comes with a full step-by-step instructional video and is backed up by a great customer service team of experts who love brewing as much as you do.
- Solid stainless steel construction that is non-corrosive and easy to clean.
- A control box with an integrated power cord and an Intuitive App allows for better control of your brewing.
- Includes a counterflow wort chiller and built-in pump.
- Can only be used for all-grain brewing. If extracts are added or instructional videos are not carefully followed, the Grainfather has been known to clog.
- Limited to 6 gallons of beer – although a Grainfather G70 Connect with a 70L capacity is available for larger batches of beer.
Anvil Foundry All-in-one Brewing System with Pump – Best Value
- Switchable Between 120V 1600W, 13A and 240V 2800W, 12A for Faster Heating & Better Boils.
- Unique High Flow Grain Basket with 150% More Perforations to Virtually Eliminate Stuck Mashes.
- Double Wall Insulation Maintains Mash Temps and Increases Heating Speeds.
If you can’t quite stretch to the nearly $1000 price mark of the Grainfather, Anvil Brewing makes a 10.5-gallon all-in-one brewing system that offers the over best bang for your buck at just under $500.
It may not have some of the extra features such as Bluetooth connectivity or the ease of use as the Grainfather, but it is a more affordable price.
You can even purchase a version without the pump to keep the costs down, or maybe you already have a pump you use for recirculation during the mash.
If you are a more experienced brewer, you won’t struggle at all with the Anvil Foundry All-in-one brewing system. It’s a well-designed brewing system made from industrial-grade 304-stainless steel and packed with features.
The electric boiler kettle is switchable between either 110v power or 240v with a total power output of 1600 watts or 2800 watts respectively, allowing for more flexibility and substantially faster heating or boiling times.
Three heating elements allow for a more even dispersion of the heat and ultra-low watt density to avoid scorching your wort during longer mashes.
Although not as comprehensive or easy to use as the Control Box of the Grainfather, the Anvil Foundry’s onboard control panel allows for precise linear temperature control of the hot mash.
The double wall insulation of the Anvil Brewing system helps maintain those mash temperatures for more accurate mash schedules.
A removable grain basket has 150% more perforations than similar systems to avoid those stuck mashes of the grain bed which can occur when changing the grains or adding hops during the mashing process.
A built-in stainless steel immersion chiller rapidly cools your wort, with that high-flow grain basket and malt pipe also reducing the chance of a stuck sparge.
Although not as programable as the Grainfather, and with no connectivity to external apps or mobile devices, if you are an experienced homebrewer who knows what they are doing you’ll find the Control Panel offers enough versatility for most beer recipes.
You can even add extracts with this system.
- Offers the best value-for-money all-in-one brewing system. You would struggle to buy a quality stainless steel fermenter and boil kettle with a 10.5-gallon capacity for this price. Not to mention a triple-element heat source, a regular wort chiller, and an electric built-in pump for recirculation.
- Solid industrial food-safe 304-stainless steel construction.
- Dual voltage capability (110v power and 240V)
- Delay timer for up to 24 hours.
- The digital control panel is easy to use for precise temperature control.
- No integrated programs or recipes.
- No connectivity, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
- Not quite as user-friendly as the Grainfather for beginner homebrewers.
Clawhammer Digital Home Brewing System from Claw Hammer Supply – Best High-End All-in-One Brewing System
- stainless steel, digital, electric, complete, turn key,
If you are looking for a premium-level All-in-One Brewing system, this Clawhammer supply kit wouldn’t look too out of place in any small micro-brewery operation.
Unlike most electric brewing systems we looked at, this Clawhammer Supply system takes a modular approach to the construction with a stainless steel kettle, a separate PID digital controller, and a high-volume brew pump.
If one part goes wrong you can fix the issue by replacing just that part instead of the whole unit.
Available in both a 10-gallon or 20-gallon capacity with both sizes having a choice of 120v or 240v and ultra low-watt density heating elements for a more controlled temperature of the fermenting wort.
All the systems, both the 10 and 20-gallon versions, come with a 304-stainless steel brew kettle, a 304-stainless steel removable grain basket, a 15 or 30-amp digital controller, and 1650 watts (110v) or 5500-watt (240v) low-density dual heating elements.
The more outlets for heat ensure the individual rings don’t get too hot and prevent the risk of scorching your grains throughout the mashing process.
The construction of each part is of the highest quality with industrial-grade 304-stainless steel used on all parts, and food-grade high-temperature silicon hoses, fittings, valves, and clamps ensuring the entire batch of beer you brew is protected from outside bacteria, etc.
Even the extra-long power cord from the PID control panel has been given extra consideration as a safety feature to prevent any accidental tripping in smaller spaces. It can be quite easily draped behind a workbench.
Clawhammer Supply utilize a brew-in-the-bag (BIAB) technology to enable you to brew an entire batch of beer in the stainless steel kettle with the additional help of stainless steel grain and hop baskets.
A simple “set it and forget it” process makes the Clawhammer Supply All-in-Oner brewing system a joy to use.
For the more experienced homebrewer who wants complete control over their brew, there are no pre-packaged recipe kits required like many of the smaller all-in-one electrical brewing systems.
Instead, you choose your own ingredients for creating your own signature brew and have complete control over the mashing temperatures and the boil process.
Safety features like heat-resistant silicone-coated handles help to protect you from higher temperatures during the mashing process.
Other features also include a removable temperature probe, a 20-plate heat exchange wort chiller, and a high-volume pump designed to work at higher temperatures. The durable silicon hoses and quick-release hose fittings ensure getting the finished beer from the vessel is easy too.
Yes, it may be the most expensive option we have looked at, but it’s the closest you can get to having an automated microbrewery in your living space without making it resemble a factory.
In fact, a couple of buddies who were building their first microbrewery invested in a couple of the larger all-in-one electric homebrewing systems from Clawhammer Supply to trial their new brews before adding to the larger fermentation tanks.
- Easy assembly – modular design.
- Constructed from quality 304-grade stainless steel and solid industrial fittings.
- Includes all necessary equipment such as wort chiller, hop basket, drain basket, hoses, and brew bag liner.
- Best quality wort chiller on any all-in-one brewing system.
- Good support including cool instructional videos online.
- Versatile for the experienced homebrewer.
- Not as easy to use as some other all-in-one electric brewing systems, especially for beginner homebrewers.
- Needs a larger flat surface than many other all-in-one systems.
- Pricey, but in my opinion definitely worth it.
Best Homebrew Systems – Final Call
No matter which of the homebrew systems you choose, extract or all grain, you will be making good beer right from the start.
Just think, no more buying beer at the store. You will have an endless supply of different beer styles that you’ll be proud to share with your friends and family.
You can even make great beer to serve at your daughter or son’s wedding for that special gift from dad or mom (and save a ton of money in the process!).
For super nice beer labels that add the final touch to your homebrew, click here.
- WATER RESISTANT - Labels are created to withstand moisture.
- SELF ADHESIVE - On the back of each printable beer label is a strong adhesive that peels off easily, leaving no residue on the beer bottle.
- PERSONALIZE ANY BEER BOTTLE - Perfect for home breweries and homemade beers.
- WATER RESISTANT – Labels are created to withstand moisture.
- SELF-ADHESIVE – On the back of each printable beer label is a strong adhesive that peels off easily, leaving no residue on the beer bottle.
- PERSONALIZE ANY BEER BOTTLE – Perfect for home breweries and homemade beers.