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5 Home Beer Brewing Kits for Holiday Giving

Stocks in this article: SAM BUD

Mr. Beer kits
If you've ever shopped for a home brewing kit at Target (TGT - Get Report) or Wal-Mart (WMT - Get Report), this is likely what you found.

Mr. Beer makes no qualms about being the everyman's brewing kit and makes it as simple as possible for its buyer to get a beer in hand quickly. The kits come with a two-gallon barrel-shaped plastic fermenter with built-in airlock and tap, sanitizer, dry brewing yeast, hopped malt extract that puts hops and malt into one simple mixture and "booster" that serves as a sugar-producing substitute for actual grain. To top it off, Mr. Beer provides one-liter plastic bottles to avoid the messiness of bottle collecting or capping.

Since the whole concoction still needs to be boiled, it just clears Simpson's bare minimum for home brew kits. At $30 to $40 for basic beer and cider kits and an array of flavors including stouts, doppel bocks, blonde ale and English brown, though, it's about all a low-maintenance brewer-to-be can ask for.

If there's a chance that a home brewer is going to take up his or her hobby long term, however, there's only so much Mr. Beer can do. Mr. Beer's recipes grow along with a brewer as the booster-packet refills give way to bolder brews for which kits include actual hops and extracts.

That's going to be plenty to keep the casual brewer satisfied, but a beer lover who wants to experiment with different hops and malts or create some more technically challenging blends is going to feel a bit cramped by Mr. Beer's constraints.

"Many home brewers get started with the Mr. Beer and Coopers kits," the American Homebrewing Association's Glass says. "Those kits can make decent beer and they are very affordable, but anyone who really gets into the hobby will quickly outgrow the equipment included with those kits and will be seeking out a more complete equipment kit from a home brew supply shop."

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