Whether you’re a seasoned homebrewer or a complete novice, brewing your own beer is an exciting experience, but with so many kits on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you.
Don’t make the same mistake I did – my very first kit was a cheap jobbie that didn’t include very much, so I ended up improvising. Bad idea.
Some of the bottles exploded, and the ones that were left contained what my son-in-law called “Loopy Juice”. It must have been about 20% alcohol content!
To prevent you from having the same fate, I’ve highlighted the best kits and answered any questions surrounding the legalities of brewing your own drinkable beer.
Best Starter Home Brew Kit For UK Beginners
Lager 40 Pints Home Brew Kit by Brew Buddy
(Check Amazon’s Price)
Strength: 4.5% ABV
If you just want something simple to make lager as homebrew yourself, this kit by Brew Buddy (available on Amazon) is a great addition to any home bar.
The lager made is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans, which is great as many draft ales and lager can contain ‘isinglass’, also known as fish guts!
The set comes with easy-to-understand detailed instructions and most of the equipment needed.
All you’ll have to supply is 1kg of brewing sugar, water, and somewhere to store the lager whilst it brews – either a 5-gallon pressure barrel or beer bottles. I’d suggest purchasing amber bottles like these ones to reflect the light.
One of my favourite things about this particular starter kit is that the recipient doesn’t have to wait months on end for their brew to be ready, it only takes 21 days!
- Only takes 21 days to brew, but can be left for over a month
- Comes with clear, easy to understand brewing instructions – perfect for beginners
- Once you have the basic kit, you can purchase refill kits to make other flavours without the need to purchase additional equipment
- The lid to the bucket does not come with an airlock so there is no way for the gas to escape during the fermenting process, the best way to get around this is to drill a small hole yourself and insert an airlock
- Have to purchase a barrel/bottles yourself
Best IPA (India Pale Ale) Home Brew Kit
Everyday IPA Beer Making Kit By Brooklyn Beer Shop
(Check Amazon’s Price)
Strength: 6.8% ABV
IPA beer gives a more equal malt-to-hop ratio and this award-winning kit by the Brooklyn Beer Shop has almost everything you need to make a gallon (around 8 pints) of it.
This kit includes a glass fermentation jug, a thermometer, and the all-grain mix which includes dry yeast, hop, and malt.
All the equipment provided is reusable, meaning that you only have to sanitise the equipment and then buy refill kits in order to continue on your home brew journey.
The beer itself balances the citrusy flavours of grapefruit and tangerine with bitterness to provide a delicate flavour that’s suited to beginners and more experienced beer drinkers alike.
- Suitable for vegetarians
- Reusable equipment
- Brooklyn Beer Shop is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to making fresh beer, so there are plenty of forums online detailing how to tweak the recipe
- Doesn’t include a strainer, funnel, pot or bottles so you will have to purchase these separately
- Takes more effort than kits made specifically for beginners
Best Home Brew Lager Kit in the UK
Thomas Golden Crown Homebrewing Kit By Coopers
(Check Amazon’s Price)
Strength: Around 4.5% ABV
This Cooper’s Golden Crown beer brews a delicate tasting, less sweet beer of the Dortmunder variety that will please even the pickiest of beer drinkers.
I’m a big fan of this kit as all the ingredients are natural from the highest quality barley and hops, are GMO-free and contain no added sugar.
The kit makes 6 gallons (48 pints) of craft beer and the proprietary brewing yeast provided in the kit is designed to perform well at a variety of different temperatures, so there’s no need to stress about finding the optimum place to store it.
This is a great gift for an experienced homebrewer who already has all the equipment needed, as this is a refill pack rather than a full kit.
- Takes 3-5 weeks after bottling to become clear
- Easy to use
- Pub quality flavour
- Takes around 3 weeks to brew
- Does not come with any of the equipment, so this all must be purchased separately
- Need to buy extra ingredients for brewing, such as 1kg of sugar
Best Craft Beer Brew Kit in the UK
Chestnut Brown Ale Beer Making Mix By Brooklyn Brew Shop
(Check Amazon’s Price)
Strength: 6% ABV
Brooklyn Beer Shop has hit the nail on the head once more with this craft beer kit that produces the freshest beer with a lovely rich, nutty flavour.
The mix recommends adding chestnuts (although it still tastes great without them), but you could even add pecans or coffee to flavour it, making it perfect to warm you up on those winter nights or brew as your signature Christmas beer.
Again, this is a refill kit so doesn’t come with any of the equipment needed but if you’re well versed in the art of home brewing then this shouldn’t be a problem for you.
It’s designed to be brewed on the stove top, no matter the size of your kitchen.
The kit makes 3.5 litres which will be around 9 pints of beer and you know that you’re getting a quality product as these home brew kits have been featured in the likes of The New York Times, Glamour, and Vogue!
- Amazing flavour that can be adapted according to personal taste
- Reputable producer
- Takes around 4 weeks
- Refill kit
- No sanitiser provided so a separate purchase must be made
Bonus: Best Cider Brew Kit in the UK
Cider Making Kit By Brewbarrel
(Check Amazon’s Price)
Strength: 4-6.5% ABV dependent on temperature during fermentation
Here’s a bonus listing in case you get fed up of beer, or just want to try something new. This cider making kit is optimised to make the brewing process as easy as possible for refreshing apple cider every time!
It’s a great gift for those who love trying something different DIY-wise, or even an 18th birthday present. My daughters also prefer cider to beer, so it’s one of those presents for everyone.
I love this kit, as all you need to make the cider is purified water and a bit of space in your fridge – all the ingredients and equipment is included in this kit and amazingly, it’s ready in 7 days!
The kit includes a 5 litre keg that is also used as a fermentation tank, an air valve, hops, malt extract and yeast, the end result is a slightly sweet, refreshing apple cider.
I plan to use this to impress guests at my next summer barbecue!
- Extremely easy to make
- No extra purchases necessary
- Great flavour
- The equipment is not reusable
- It has been reported that the cider is not carbonated
Is It Legal To Make Home Brew Beer In The UK?
It’s important to know the legalities surrounding home brewing before you begin.
For non-commercial purposes, it is legal to brew naturally fermented alcohol in unlimited quantities for personal consumption only.
However, distilling your own alcohol is a different story.
If you are looking to start distilling spirits at home, then you will need a license granted to you by the government. Beer, wine and cider are all fine though.
Can I Sell Homemade Beer In The UK?
Although it is perfectly legal to brew your homemade beer, selling it is a different story.
In short, the answer is that you can’t legally sell your homebrew whether that’s to friends or strangers.
Legally, you theoretically can’t even give your friends a bottle of your homebrew to take home with them as it’s only legal for personal use, but I’m not sure how well this could ever be enforced.
However, if you really want to sell your homebrew you can acquire licenses from the government – you’ll have to get in touch with both HMRC and your local EHO (Environmental Health Organisation).
Registering with the EHO is a legal requirement if you are planning on starting a food and drink business, it’s likely that they’ll have to inspect your premises and pass the hygiene requirements in order to sell.
HMRC’s Beer Duty Excise Notice details how to register your ‘microbrewery’ and what you need to do in order to work out how much tax you’ll need to pay, which includes working out the ABV of your beverages.
If you rent your home, you should also check your contract for rules surrounding what you can and can’t do, a lot of tenancy agreements state that you are not allowed to form a business within the premises. You’ll need to get permission from your landlord too.
How Do I Start Brewing My Own Beer?
Of course, each beer has its own steps to perfect its recipe, and each kit is likely to come with detailed instructions.
As a quick overview, there are 4 basic steps when it comes to brewing beer.
Gather all your brewing equipment before you start. Beginners kits tend to supply everything needed, but you can purchase them separately too.
The equipment must be entirely sanitised in order for your beer to be successful, also sanitise anything that comes into contact with your beer afterwards too.
Steep your specialty grains in water for 20 minutes or until the mixture reaches 170°C.
Remove the grains and strain them through a straining cloth, be careful not to squeeze the grains as this can lead to extra tannin within your brew that may add unwanted flavours.
Bring your mix to a boil, remove it from the heat and add malt extracts. Once the extracts are dissolved, return to the boil. Then cool the wort.
Sanitise all your supplies and then pour the wort into your container, add the wort, yeast and then seal.
Boil your priming sugar and add it to the bottling bucket.
Transfer your beer from the fermenter into the bucket, leaving as much sediment in the fermenter as possible. Then fill, cap and store your bottles.
Honestly, it’s not as complicated as it sounds, and many of the beginner kits will tell you everything you need, step by step. Take a read of this article for more details on the steps, and enjoy your home brew adventure!