Are you ready to get started brewing beer? You have options and you only need to decide how much time and money you want to spend.
Making beer is as simple as cooking by following a recipe. You have options whether you want a microwave TV dinner (quick to enjoy) or a 5-course meal (lots of ingredients and timing critical).
Level 1 – Easiest to Get Started
If you are unsure of your commitment to brewing, this is where you would want to get started brewing beer. Your equipment costs will be lower as they have designed the kits to make sure you are getting good beer. In general, each kit will contain:
- Beer recipe
- Sanitizing solution
They have taken out the math for you. You boil a small amount of water to dissolve the beer recipe and then add it to the fermenter with yeast and cold water. Wait 7 days and then you are ready to bottle your beer, another 7 and then you can enjoy.
There are many options to choose from. To help make your decision easier, I have a review comparing both Mr Beer and BrewDemon 2-gallon brewing kits.
Why would you want to start with these kits?
- You don’t want to spend a lot of money on equipment or don’t have a lot of room available.
- To learn the concepts of brewing and minimize the chances for messing up the batch
- Get the brewing experience without a significant time commitment
Why would you not want to start here?
- There is limited flexibility to make the beer your own
- Although improving, batch sizes are generally small (1 to 2 gallons) so you will only get about 10 to 20 bottles of beer
This is the perfect place to start as you get into brewing. You will learn the concepts and perfect your ability to sanitize your equipment. As you gain confidence, you will begin to want more of a challenge and can move up in difficulty.
Level 2 – New Equipment Needed to Start Brewing
If level 1 is your microwave TV dinner, this will be your step up into a frozen lasagna that you just throw in the oven. Unfortunately, if you started in level 1 you won’t be able to use any of your equipment since you will be making 5 gallon batches. Except the bottles, those are always good.
The good news is all you will need to get started brewing beer here is a fermenter and the bottling equipment. These batches will require you to heat about a half gallon of water. You then mix all the ingredients in and wait for the beer to be ready. At this point you are making about 48 to 60 12-ounce beers.
This is the process used by Cooper’s DIY beer. Check out my recipe review page to find out how the recipes turned out as I make them.
Why would you want these kits?
- Develop a better understanding of the fermentation process
- Small initial investment to get bigger batches of beer
- Wide range of beer choices to make
Why would you not want these?
- You do not gain an understanding of creating a wort
This is the perfect spot to start if you want to make large batches without having to spend on lot on equipment. You will gain a good understanding of fermentation and how sanitization effects the quality of your beer.
Level 3 – Learn to Brew
If you have gone through the first 2 levels then this is where you put it all together. Sticking with our same cooking analogy, here you are making the lasagna.
As long as you have been moving through the levels, or at least started at level 2, then here you will only need your stuff to get started brewing beer. You should already have the fermenter and bottling needs taken care of.
Here you will get recipes that begin to show you the process of all-grain brewing (level 4). Your ingredient kit will include:
- Malt extract
Your time commitment on brew day will go to about 6 hours as you beginning learning the brewing process. You will steep the grains and create a wort. Hops are added and you will develop an understanding of how the affect your beer.
Why would you want these kits?
- To gain more flexibility in your beer flavoring
- You want to eventually make your own recipes (Level 4)
Why would you not want these kits?
- Brewing day takes a long time
- There are plenty of steps where you could wind up with off-tasting beer
This is a good spot to stay if you want to brew beer and add a twist. At this point you will be able to explain what goes into the beers you make. This is where I sit in my home brewing process…just need the motivation to make the step.
Level 4 – Expert Status
All-grain brewing removes the malts used in any of the previous levels and you get to make them. Unless you know people who brew and can guide you, this is probably not where you want to get started brewing beer.
Think of it as making lasagna, but first making the noodles. You will need some additional equipment, but at this point you are already into your brewing journey enough that it shouldn’t stop you. Unfortunately, you are adding a few more hours to brew day to extract what you can out of the grains.
You can make your own recipe combinations, test them on your friends, and adjust to perfect your favorite craft beer.
Why move to this level?
- You want a more challenging experience
- Those last beers were good but you think they need something else
- The next step in you brewing journey is to start a brewery
Why not move to this level?
- The added time is more than you can afford
- You are comfortable with the flexibility you have at level 3
When you make it here you have made it as far as you can making 5-gallon batches. The next step would be to make larger batches of beer, but that is not covered here.
Ready, Set, Brew
Now you know where you are going to get started brewing beer or have found the next level you are going to. For starters, Level 2 will prevent you from not having smaller equipment as that level starts the 5 gallon batches.
I hope you enjoyed this recap of the different levels of brewing. If you have any questions, comment below or email me at email@example.com.