Brooklyn Brew Shop brewing kits
Sometimes you just want to make a batch of beer in your apartment and say you did it. That's just fine, too, but that doesn't mean you have to use inferior equipment to do it.

The Brooklyn Brew Shop home brew kit was put together by Erica Shea and Stephen Valand after Shea found a vintage fermenter in her dad's basement and set about making brewing her business. After a beer tour of Europe, she and her partner decided that all a home brewer needed to brew in tight quarters such as, for example, a Brooklyn apartment, is a one-gallon fermenter, an air lock, a screw-top stopper, thermometer, plastic tubing, a clamp, a racking cane, some sanitizer and a kit full of ingredients.

The two showed fellow Brooklynites how to make these small batches at the Brooklyn Flea before taking their equipment-and-ingredient kits to the public for $40 a pop. Though the little system still requires boiling your mash, sparge and wort and finding bottles for the finished product, its creators made brewing as easy as baking a batch of cookies by providing detailed written and video instructions for free online, writing a recipe book for those who outgrow their kits and posting a blog full of formulas, pairings and events for those who hold to the gallon-at-a-time approach.

"As long as it's a trusted source creating the kit, it should be just fine for crafting a great beer," Simpson says. "Just make sure it's a kit meant for real brewing; any no-boil kit can be ignored from the outset."

As brewing training wheels go, the Brooklyn Brew Shops kits are a sturdy set. Available varieties for holiday starter kits include Gingerbread Ale, Chocolate Maple Porter and Chestnut Brown Ale, but $15 seasonal refill packs offered throughout the year have featured varieties such as Everyday IPA, Honey Sage Seasonal and Jalapeno Saison.

Buy the Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit, Everyday IPA on Amazon here.

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