Home brewing is one of the finest hobbies known to man. It is relatively inexpensive, especially if you would otherwise be spending your money on store bought brews. Home brewing is relatively easy, especially if you have any cooking experience at all. It is therapeutic, and, most importantly, fun. For the beginner, a pre-arranged beer kit is all but a necessity.
Two years ago my girlfriend and I decided to buy home brewing equipment for my roommate. We got everything we needed to get him (us) started, including two beer kits. He and I sat down and with zero experience between the two of us, gave a shot at a Pale Ale. The home brewing beer kit came with every ingredient we would need and explicit, yet easy to follow, directions. We didn’t know how things would turn out as we were merely beginners. Much to our surprise a month later we were enjoying some of the finest craftsmanship to ever cross our lips. Were we really that good? No. We used a kit, a tried and true recipe for success.
I will go one step further and say that home beer brewing kits are good for any home brewer. We have become better brewers and have had several successful originals and yet we still like to go to the standbys every now and then, just because we want to ensure a quality product. Even when we make our own originals we often use recipes from kits as guidelines for our new recipes. Sometimes we take an existing recipe and tweak by using a different type of hops, or by adding honey.
If variety is a concern of yours it shouldn’t be. There are so many different brands and types of kits, that I think it would be impossible for a single home brewer to cover every one in a lifetime. There are also different challenge levels. A Pale Ale is a relatively simple kit, perfect for a first timer. A Hefeweisen, or certain lagers may be more of a challenge.
Is it possible for a beginning home brewer to be successful without the help of a home brewing beer kit? Absolutely. However, there would be a lot of extra work required. First, the brewer must research ingredients. Then, he or she must purchase said ingredients (and probably will not save much if any money). Then said brewer must undertake the various processes for an appropriate amount of time. If all goes well, this new brewer will be lucky if the beer turns out as well as that of a kit. Even if it does turn out as well, was the extra effort really worth it?
In conclusion, it is my belief that any new brewer should start with pre-made home brewing kits. After three or four successful beers, if you are comfortable with the process, then you can move on to original recipes.
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