For many people, the process of starting off in brewing can seem overly complicated and very difficult to understand. One of the problems is that there is so much jargon within the field, that reading advice or forums is much like trying to translate a foreign language. For some people, the answer to this problem is to get a kit, like the partial mash beer kits that are available.
Using kits for brewing has multiple advantages for new brewers, particularly as kits provide brewers with most or all of the components that they need to brew beer, as well as instructions to follow. This can make starting out much easier, and also means that if the person finds that they don’t enjoy brewing, then the amount they have put into the hobby is not huge.
However, not all kits are equal, and kits can have some advantages. Before purchasing a partial mash beer kit, it is really important to know the advantages and disadvantages of some of the more famous kits and to know exactly what to expect.
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The Mr. Beer kits are probably the most well-known partial mash beer kits and they do provide a good starting point for people new to the process of brewing. There are actually a range of Mr. Beer kits, which have some differences between them. However, in general, Mr. Beer kits make use of single-stage fermentation and offers a brew size of slightly over two gallons. This can be limiting, particularly to people who are seriously interested in brewing.
In general, the ingredients provided in the kit are good enough to make a batch of beer, although some people feel that kit beers do not produce good beer regardless. At the end of the day, the quality of beer produced is more than adequate for people getting into the hobby, and experienced brewers have found that it is possible to make high quality beer with the Mr. Beer kit and its ingredients.
Perhaps the most significant limitation of this beer kit is the quality of instructions. Most experienced brewers say that the instructions provided in the kit are terrible and are not up to date with current brewing practices. For people starting off brewing with a Mr. Beer kit, it may be worth using an alternative source of instructions.
I've seen quite a few YouTube vids with beer mishaps, this one below included!
Midwest Supplies Partial Mash Kits
The homebrewing supply company Midwest Supplies offers a number of starter kits for partial mashes. The company produces different kits depending on the style of beer that the brewer is looking for, such as a pilsner kit and a pale ale kit. These kits generally receive good reviews, however, it is important to note that they are ingredient kits only, and do not contain the equipment needed to get started in brewing.
The company does actually carry a range of starter equipment kits for getting started in brewing. However, none of these are specifically designed for brewing partial mash.
The only problem with Midwest Supplies and their beginner kits is that there are a few different kits!. If you know what you're looking for, great, you can pick one you like. But if you were like me when I got started, I was still very confused about the process. I was actually looking for all grain kits, but the principle is the same.
At some point I'll pick apart the kits and show you what you need or don't need. For the Brewing Starter Kit is my #1 recommendation from Midwest Supplies.
Barn Brew Partial Mash Kit
Barn Brew is another company that offers an official starter partial mash kit that contains both equipment and ingredients. Unlike this Mr. Beer kit, this kit contains a larger (five gallon) brew sizes, although the kit does not actually contain a brewpot. This kit is not as well-known as the Mr. Beer kit, but it does contain quality equipment and ingredients, making it a good, larger, starter kit for brewing partial mash beer.
This one is a pricey at $209 without the brew pot, and those things can cost up to $100-$200 if you get a nice boilermaker. If you are going to get something like this, you might as well do all grain.
photo credit: Plutor