Beer Brewing Kit: Ale Pail Homebrew Beer Kit
To brew beer at home, you should first start with a
basic beer brewing kit.
July 25, 2014 by
And, the most common beer brewing kit is the "ale pale" starter kit, a
plastic 6.5-gallon fermenting bucket, with the basic
equipment and step-by-step instructions to successfully
brew, ferment, bottle, and enjoy beer at home. What
isn't included is an actual brewing kettle/pot. You'll
need at least a 4 or 5-gallon pot, which is purchased
separately. Included are typically the following
pieces of equipment...
6.5 Gallon Fermenting
Bucket with Lid
3 Piece Airlock
One-Step No-rinse Sanitizer
Siphoning Package (Racking Cane, 4 ft. Hose & Springless
Liquid Crystal Thermometer
Triple Scale Hydrometer
Quality Bottle Capper
"Home Beer Making" Book
Your choice of one Alpine Brew Kit
This is the actual holder of your brew while it is
fermenting. Is is usually 6.5 gallons in size.
Since most home brew recipes call for a 5-gallon batch
(about two cases of beer, or 48 - 50 bottles of the 12-ounce
variety), this larger size allows for space often needed as
the wort expands during fermentation. Fermenting
really is nothing more than bacteria (yeast) eating its way
through the sugars in your brewed "tea" - called wort.
The process produces two things... alcohol, which stays with
the brew... and CO2 (oxygen) which must be safely expelled
from the fermenting bucket. The bucket is sealed
tight, with an air-lock attached for offing the CO2 while
keeping other harmful bacteria out. As fermentation
takes about a week, at minimal (more for some beers), the
bucket is perfect for the job it does.
This neat little device is a simple little piece of
plastic that is attached to the rubber grommet/hole in the
lid on the fermentation bucket (or glass carboy).
About an ounce of water (or distilled spirit) is added.
The airlock allows the CO2 to escape from the bucket while
fermenting, and keeps the bad stuff out of the brew.
Some airlocks are "s" shaped. The more common type is
a two-piece that has an inner float that "bounces" up and
down as CO2 is released.
Sanitation is the most important element in the home
brewing process. Everything must be clean and
sanitized. Though you can use just about any
sanitizer, the most common in the home brew hobby is a
No-Rinse sanitizer by One Step.
Siphons are for moving your homebrew from the primary
fermenter carboy/bucket to the secondary, or from the
primary/secondary to the racking bucket, and then to the
bottles or kegs. It basically consists of a 3/8" hose
(6 feet), 3/8" curved clear racking cane (24" long), 3/8"
plastic bottle filler, shut-off clamp, and a bucket clip.
A floating thermometer which usually is weighted at the
bottom via steel shot. They typically use an alcohol
solution as opposed to mercury to measure the temperature.
Used to measure the potential alcohol by volume and
specific gravity of your home brew. Usually calibrated
at 155 degrees F (68.3 C). Used to take samples from
the mash tun or your brew pot after the wort has cooled.
Used to hold the racking cane steady while transferring
wort/beer. It attaches to the fermenting bucket or
carboy. Does not work with auto-siphons.
A device used to secure the caps onto the bottles.
In brew kits this is usually the "Red Baron" style with the
double level action and magnet to hold the cap. It is
spring activated and easy to use. Remember, don't use
European and other imported bottles with caps you've
purchased in Americanwhen bottling your home brew!
Used to clean old beer bottles. Speaking of which,
it's beyond my understanding why anyone would purchase new
beer bottles for their homebrew. Expect to pay
anywhere from about .75 to .95 cents for each. Why not
just buy your favorite beer and use the empties?
You're not going to pay more than about $2 more for them,
and you get the beer! Just make sure you use American
brand beer bottles, though. European ones are a
millimeter off in size and won't seal properly.
Beer Brewing Book
Every kit comes with a basic beer brewing instruction
manual or book. The popular one is Home Beermaking:
The Complete beginner's Guidebook by William Moore.
People often confuse the kit with the recipe. A
beer brewing kit generally refers to the ale pale kit
containing the basic equipment for brewing beer at home.
But the beer recipe kit is what you want to ask for when
trying to brew your initial beers or for identifying clones
of your favorite beers of the world. Check out some
websites that have excellent
So, now that you know what is included in a typical
homebrew beer kit, you'll no doubt want to know where you
can get your first kit. Well, here are some of the
more popular beer brewing kits...
Their two basic starter kits range in price from about $80 -
$150. With the
Essential Brewing Starter Kit, you get a 6.5 gallon
fermenting bucket with lid and airlock, a 6.5 gallon
bottling bucket with spigot, bottle filler, and
tubing/siphoning equipment. It also includes a bottle
brush, capper, 60 caps, instructional DVD and sanitizer.
You get to select from three brews as well (your first beer
ingredient kit!). The
Northern Brewer Deluxe Brewing Starter Kit is what I
would recommend. IT contains a 6-gallon glass carboy
primary fermentor, 5-gallon secondary glass carboy fermentor,
6.5 gallon bottling (racking) bucket, and the aforementioned
equipment for bottling. For each, I would recommend
you invest the $70 additional for the
Midwest Supplies Homebrewing &
A very nice selection of beer brewing kits, ranging from
basics, starters, and intermediates. For $65 you can
Brewing Basics Equipment Kit, containing instructional
homebrewing DVD, 6.5 gallon fermenter with lid, 6.5 gallon
bottling bucket with spigot, cleanser, airlock, hydrometer
(for determining alcohol content), bottle brush, bottle
capper, caps, thermometer, bottle filler, racking tube and
siphoning tube. On the other end you can get the
Master Brewers Kit with Kegging Setup. This is a
$350 kit perfect for those who are ready to expand to a
basic kegging operation for their homebrew. You get
the 6.5 gallon plastic fermenter, two 5-gallon carboys,
hydrometer, siphoning tubes, etc. But, what separates
this from other simple home brewing systems is the kegging
A nice selection of basic bucket kits can be found here.
From about $70 for the
Maestro Homebrew Kit, to $95 for the
Gold Homebrew Kit with a 6-gallon Glass Carboy, and up
to the $140
Maestro Homebrew Kit with 3 Ingredient Kits. With
all the usual brewing equipment, MonsterBrew also has a nice
beer homebrew ingredient kits.
Many people have started brewing beer at home using a
Mr. Beer kit.
They are basic, inexpensive, and simple to use. But,
in our opinion, all the fun of brewing has been eliminated.
You essentially get a 2-gallon plastic "barrel" for
fermenting, and an ingredient kit. Since the hobby
standard is a 5-gallon batch, we recommend Mr. Beer for
absolute beginners. Honestly, there isn't much in the
way of brewing with Mr. Beer. We also don't care for
the plastic bottles. Real brewers use glass bottles
with some form of capping system (press or wire-top).
Also, the high cost for refill recipe kits places a batch of
Mr. Beer at about twice the cost of the typical ale pale