2022 Holiday Gift Guide for Homebrewers!
In this world of throw away commodities, it can be hard to know what to gift a loved one that will not only bring joy, but that will also translate into a fun and long lasting pastime.
Homebrewing has it all. As homebrewers we get to engage in many interests. Homebrewing taps into our creative side, and each brew provides opportunities to learn more about science and process. It truly is the best hobby.
Buying for a homebrewer can be intimidating. There are so many gadgets and knickknacks that look foreign to the non-brewer. On top of that, every brewer is different, and each one has her or his own plan for future growth and success. That’s why we love making suggestions for the homebrew master or homebrew curious in your life.
This guide is here to help you put together the right gift for the enthusiast you love (or for yourself, because you deserve happiness too!). We’ll offer some ideas for every level of brewer and experience. From starter kits to odd-looking devices that could only make a homebrewer stoked to brew their next batch.
Regardless of what you pick for your homebrewer, we know they’ll love it and will feel seen and appreciated. Why? Because homebrewers are the best kind of caring and loving people in the world. We talk to them everyday, so we know it to be true!
Don’t forget to pass along our when-to-brew guide to make sure your brewer is getting everything ready for the big feast!
GETTING STARTED: Gifts For The Recently Inoculated
That’s a nerdy brewing reference for you to get started. You’re welcome.
Homebrew started kits have come a LONG way from where they were 10-20 years ago. There are some duds out there, though; but don’t worry, we filter those out and we don’t even bother carrying them in our store! Read below for more detail and shopping considerations.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
5 Gallon Equipment starter kits don’t have to break the bank. There are several options out there, and you might feel like you have to spend more in order to get the best quality. It’s simply not true. These days, the standard for equipment kits is pretty much set. The main thing you want to provide your new brewer is a kit that includes cleaner/sanitizer, measuring devices (hydrometer, thermometer), something to ferment inside of, a good siphon setup, and bottling basics. All of these things are pretty standard these days.
HOW MUCH TO SPEND:
Why do some kits cost more? Well, they just add on more stuff, really. The quality of the items is likely to be comparable to most kits, and in some cases, the extra add-ons might be redundant to what the brewer already has at home, or they can easily be shopped for and added at a later date. A 5 Gallon pot is a good example, because you may already have something at home that you can use in its place, so it might be nice to just start without out, and then the brewer can add to it if needed.
SPRUCE IT UP:
This is where gift cards come in handy, because you could always grab them the kit, and then throw $25-50 on a gift card to help them grab whatever else they need, once they’ve assessed their own kitchen setup.
We’ve hand sold nearly a thousand of these kits, and we still stand by them as a great option.
Recipe Kits are a great way to gift the next brewing experience to the homebrewer you love. It’s also a great way to make sure they brew something you like! 😉
This is another category in which the quality in recent decades has greatly improved. Not only in ingredients, but in the recipe design and instructional material provided with each kit. In fact, when we first opened our store in 2012, we weren’t too keen on most recipe kits, so we didn’t bother selling them.
These days recipe kits tend to be much higher quality, and of more modern/trendy beer styles than they were in the past. That means you can find a kit for nearly everything, from old school favorites like brown ale, Pale Ale, Belgian Whit, to newer trends like Hazy IPA & even Seltzer.
Most 5 Gallon Recipe kits will range in the $40-75 range depending on the recipe. Generally speaking higher alcohol and/or very hoppy beers will drive the price up.
WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE?
Which style is the best to start with? Well, it depends. What does your homebrewer like to drink? What beer will they be the most excited to recreate at home? That is usually your best bet.
That said, some styles pose a few challenges (especially those higher ABV/hoppy beers we mentioned above). So we recommend keeping it to some of the classics, and to moderate alcohol strength (around 5-7% abv).
ANOTHER PLACE TO START:
One Gallon Starter Kits are extremely popular gift ideas. And for good reason. These kits are great ways to give the hobby a spin without dipping too much into your budget, and without taking too much of your potentially limited storage or counter space.
There are a few brands out there, but we have always like the selection and consistency of Brooklyn Brew Shop starer kits. So that is why we always make sure to have these on ready supply in our store.
The price range for the initial kit is about $50. This will include your basic equipment and your first recipe.
Refill recipe kits can be added on for about $20, so you can either add an extra brew for your new homebrewer, or you can set them up with a gift card for future batches.
There is one small caveat that we have always had with these kits: they don’t include an auto-siphon, and instead just include a piece of tubing. Starting the siphon yourself isn’t too hard, and they have some good videos on how to do so, but overall, we think the auto-siphon is one of the most valuable add-ons for a homebrew kit (most 5 Gal starter kits include them). You can add one of those on for less than $20, so not too big of a deal there.
The other thing to keep in mind is that these kits do not include a capper. That is actually something we can get behind with kits of this size, because you can use flip top (aka swing top or grolsch) style bottles. These bottles are bit more pricey, but you’ll only need about 6-8 for your one gallon batch, and you can reuse them for your next batch.
BEYOND THE BASICS: For New & Intermediate Brewers
So your brewer already has all of the basics, or you are looking for a few things to add to or spruce up that sweet new starter kit!
If you’re in the category of shopping where you want to add on a component to an equipment starter kit, then we would suggest looking at the 5 Gallon Recipe Kits above, or a gift card for their first batch.
If you’re still in that category of shopper that just wants to add on something physical that you can wrap up or gift bag, then we have a few ideas for you. This can be tricky, though. We liken it to buying something for a chef: we don’t really know what tools they already have in their kitchen, and we the chef probably already has a good idea of what they would like to buy next.
That said, we’ll do our best to give you some options below.
Oh books. We love books. They’re like google, but before google. And other than knowledge and a love for homebrew, they won’t track your movements and try to sell you s#!t just because they overheard your friend tell you about it the other day.
Books truly are an amazing resource for your homebrewer, and the research and new material keeps coming, so there is likely to be a book that even your most experienced brewer doesn’t have yet.
For beginners, we have a few favorites that we think EVERY brewer should have. How To Brew by John Palmer is the gold standard for homebrew books. This book covers everything from very basic processes, to more advanced technical design and process. We reverence this book regularly. It is thorough, well explained, and very well organized.
Brewing Classic Styles is a joint effort from John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff. When people ask if we have a recipe book, we usually point to our collection, and to this book. There is a beer recipe for every style in the BJCP Guidelines. The book is only a bit outdated because it uses the 2008 guidelines, and was published before the more recent 2015 (and subsequent addendum) guidelines.
The book goes into detail about each style, and gives tips/warnings for brewers that will end up teaching them about balance and process on the grand scale.
BEYOND THE BASICS:
Other great options are The Beer Bible Second Edition by Jeff Alworth. The four elemental series: Hops, Yeast, Malt, Water (various authors), will greatly expand their knowledge on ingredients and process. The New IPA by Scott Janish is a fascinating compendium of recent research on hop flavor and aroma that will simply blow your mind.
There are several gadgets worth of mention in this category. Like we said above though, it can be hard to know what your brewer has at home already. Here are some ideas. You may need to do some subtle sleuthing or ask some nosey questions like: how was your last brew day? How are the brews going? Do you feel like your beers are improving? What do people do to make their beers better?
The refractometer is one of those cool gadgets that most homebrewers want, but they may not fork out the cash for themselves. This is a useful tool for checking the progress of the sugar content of our wort during brew day. It can also be used during fermentation, but the readings become a bit less accurate in the presence of alcohol and a simple free online calculator will need to be used. That said, it is still a very nifty tool.
Some of the most useful beer gadgets are simply overlooked by new brewers. Aeration and oxygenation tools are among those. They don’t look particularly cool, and seems like a waste of money when you could simply shake the wort for free. The thing is that shaking the wort is a pain in the arse, and it doesn’t really do that great of a job. These can range in the $25-50 range, and you’ll taste the results!
Yeast health is also overlooked by new brewers. Making a yeast starter is a proven way to greatly increase the quality and consistency of our homebrew. Thats why we have this nifty yeast starter kit available.
You can’t really go wrong with any of these ideas, and your homebrewer will thank you in the long run (and so will your taste buds as the quality of their beer greatly improves.
Don’t want to over think it? Want to give the gift of shopping?
No problem. Gift Cards are a great way to show your enthusiasm and support. And you can leave the decision making up to your homebrewer. It will give them a chance to bounce ideas of us as well, and that way, you know they’ll be upgrading their hobby in a way that suits them best.
You can send a personalized message to your homebrewer right away, or schedule for the email to be sent a later date. Either way, they’ll be grateful.
HOW MUCH TO SPEND?
But what about how much? We think $25 is a good starting point. That could go towards an equipment upgrade, a recipe, or a book. depending on the item, it won’t likely cover the entire cost; but it will get them 25-50% there on most upgrades/gadgets. $50 will cover most or all of their next batch, and $100 would cover most gadget upgrades, and will likely leave a little left over.
BIG TIME UPGRADES: For the Experienced and/or Pampered Brewer
Spike Brewing has been manufacturing some of best quality stainless steel brewing equipment of the past few years. The sanitary welds are some of the best quality we’ve seen on the homebrew level (well, even better that some of the welds we’ve seen on professional tanks).
The Anvil Foundry Brewing System has quickly become one of the favorites among brewers. Mostly because of its rugged and simplistic design.
These systems take up less space than traditional all grain brewing systems, and are a synch to clean.
https://www.homebrewingco.com/shop/easydensbyantonpaar/The EasyDens is one of those gifts that any brewer would appreciate, but may not purchase for themselves. Its function is pretty simple: it takes gravity readings. But what makes this tool so cool is that it only requires 2-3ml of liquid to take the sample, and it connects to your phone via bluetooth. This makes taking samples super easy, and it also cuts down on the potential waste from pulling multiple samples over the course of several days.
Stocking (Stuffer) Up On The Essentials.
There are always plenty of supplies that you know your homebrewer is going to need on hand. So here are a few options:
- Dry Yeast has become even more popular because of its ease of use, reliability, low cost, and an expanding selection. They’ll be ok in the stocking for a few days too, but after that, they should be refrigerated.
- Cleaners and Sanitizers. It’s no joke, that brewing is about 95% cleaning and sanitizing. We always need these supplies around. We recommend a good non rinse sanitizer like Star San or Iodophor. And it never hurts to have a good cleaner like PBW or Craft Meister Alkaline Wash or Craft Meister Oxygen Wash in supply.
- Bottle Caps never go stale, and nothing is more frustrating than running out of bottle caps at the last minute. You can browse the many options here.
- While you’re at it, why not upgrade that capper to a more sturdy Bench Capper?