If you’ve been making homebrew for a while, you probably have thought at least a time or two of streamlining your efforts and making the procedure just a little easier. I’ve certainly had that thought more than once. Wouldn’t it be great to have a fully functional, turn-key solution to homebrewing that would both return more consistent results and allow you to be more creative? Aside from buying a kegerator for you homebrew, there’s no better way to improve the quality of your homebrew than with a home brewing system.
You’ll be happy to know that such a thing does exist in the form of a home brewing system. These home brewing systems are both efficient and affordable, and they will completely change the way you home brew. Now you can bring the latest technology into the beer brewing process and not only speed things up, but also hopefully produce better beer.
Below you will find the best home brewing systems and brewing system reviews 2017 to help you find the best option for you.
Haven’t gotten this far in your homebrewing journey yet? Check out our guide on what beer brewing equipment you need to get started.
Best In-Home Beer Brewing System Comparison Chart
Below you will find the best home brewing system for the money, as well best-rated home beer brewing systems reviews to help you find the best choice for you. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size fits all option, as different things are important to different people. The one thing that can be guaranteed though is that you’ll soon be serving up the perfect frothy mug of beer from your own tap. And nothing beats that!
To make sorting through the options of the best complete brewing system of 2018 easier we’ve come up with this handy comparison table. It lists all of the main features and specifications useful for picking out the right home brewing system for you.
How to choose the best brewing system
There are quite a few factors that come into play when deciding if a brewing system is right for you and then choosing the one that best fits your needs. First of all, every system is different and offers a completely different brewing experience. Have you already decided if you want to do extract vs all grain brewing? You can find systems that make pre-formatted extract brews that are incredibly easy but don’t produce the best beer, to systems that allow you to add your own recipe with all-grain ingredients, but then take care of the rest of the process automatically, to systems that are designed for advanced homebrewers who want to improve their beer making abilities dramatically, but still need to be able to do it in a small space.
What system you choose will depend greatly on the following factors:
- Ease of use (is it made for beginners with little or no brewing experience, or for advanced users)
- Variety and quality of beer
- Space limitations
- Ability to customize the process
- Amount of time needed to brew
We reviewed six of the top-selling homebrew systems to include the most important features and functionalities of the systems, in order to help you narrow down the choices and decide which one is right for you.
Home Brewing System FAQs
Before you leap into making a decision, here are a few of the top questions that get asked about home brewing systems. Hopefully these questions will help you make a decision.
Question: What is an automatic home brewing system?
Answer: An automatic brewing system like the ones listed below help you automate the process of making beer, which can be very involved and time consuming. Each system has its own method for helping you achieve the final result, which can include a lot of manual involvement from you during the process, to almost no interaction at all.
Question: Do I maintain control of the beer brewing process when using an automatic beer brewing system?
Answer: If you want to maintain full creativity and control of the final product, it is likely that an automatic system is not for you. Many of the current systems don’t allow you to make adjustments to the beer during the process. You basically set it and forget it, for the most part. Some brewing systems do allow some adjustments and interactions. So you need to make sure you find the one that suits you best.
Question: Can I create my own recipe to use in the machine?
Answer: The answer to this varies by machine. Some automated systems require you to purchase special recipes from their vendors and some allow you to put together your own recipe. Before making a decision on a brewing system, be sure you know the full details. It can be very easy to use a pre-packaged recipe – you don’t have to go to the beer store to purchase ingredients, you don’t have to worry about sourcing hard-to-find ingredients, etc. – but it can also be very limiting, especially if the choices aren’t vast. You also don’t get a say in adjusting the recipe if there’s some part of it you don’t like or want to experiment with.
Question: How is the beer stored after the process if completed?
Answer: Again, each system varies. You will find that some have the ability to keg the beer after brewing, for which you would need a kegerator or way to refrigerate the keg for serving. Many of these systems make a small batch that can be stored in a mini-keg in the fridge. You also have the option on bottling the beer once it’s complete. The system does not take care of this step for you, so keep that in mind.
Home Brewing System Reviews 2018
Use for brewing: Mr. Beer recipe refills only
There is a sturdy plastic fermenter barrel. The kit also comes with extract for an American pale ale style of beer with a mild flavor and crispness that you’ll find in most light American ales. The ingredients for this beer were formulated by master brewers at Coopers Brewery, one of the largest breweries in Australia. The kit also includes a high-quality yeast for fermenting the beer and carbonation drops for easy bottling.
The system is so easy because all you have to do is mix the extract beer ingredients that come in a sealed can with water, then leave it to brew and ferment in the fermenter barrel for about a week at room temperature. You then transfer the beer into bottles (which are not included in the kit) and give another week for secondary fermentation in the bottle. Then it’s ready to drink. The equipment can be reused, and the kit even comes with a cleaning solution.
When you’re ready for your next batch of homebrewed beer, you only have to buy Mr Beer refills. There are some fun choices, though I wouldn’t expect them to brew the best beer in the world. As long as your expectations aren’t set too high, I think you’ll find some good ones. Options include an Oktoberfest beer, an IPA, a honey blonde ale, and even one called Horse’s Ass Ale. Not sure about that one.
Click to read more reviews for the Mr. Beer Premium Gold Edition Homebrewing Craft Beer Making Kit
Use for brewing: The Beer Machine Beer Mixes
A definitive step up from the Mr. Beer brewing kit is the Beer Machine 2000. The main convenience that is missing from the Mr. Beer is available on The Beer Machine, though it’s still not a full on set-it-and-forget it brewing system like some of the more powerful options. The extra feature of the Beer Machine 2000 is a custom pressure gauge that allows you to monitor and control the carbonation level of your beer.
The Beer Machine system includes a convenient plastic fermentation barrel, with a solid construction that is built to last through numerous brews, which is great news because it only takes 7-10 days to brew a batch of beer in The Beer Machine, and then you’ll be ready to make a second batch from the various refill options available.
Another addtional feature to The Beer Machine is the inclusion of extra tap handles so you can further personalize your brewing system. The Beer Machine is an easy alternative to expensive homebrewing equipment. It comes with an instruction manual that is easy to follow and will help you brew your best beers.
Click to read more reviews of The Beer Machine Model 2000
Use for brewing: PicoPak preformulated recipes
The Pico craft beer brewing appliance is where it starts to get interesting, to me. Pico actually has two different home brewing systems (we’ll get to the second one in a minute). But first the PicoBrew. This Pico brewing system falls under the beginner brewing section because it’s not too much different than the first two on our list, though incredibly more powerful and automated. It’s a little like using a coffee maker.
You use a PikoPak pre-formulated recipe to brew the beer. The paks are made by various commercial breweries, so you might even be able to find one from your favorite brewery, like Rogue. All the user has to do to brew beer is sanitize the brew keg, pop it in the machine with the PikoPak of your choice and hit the brew button. The system has a screen that will walk you through the entire process, so there’s no need for brewer intervention. You can even track the process on your mobile device. You then cool the brew down, pitch the yeast and start it fermenting
If you’re in a hurry, the machine even has a quick fermentation option, to speed the process from 10 down to just 7 days. There’s no need for bottling with the Pico brew system either. It comes with a 1.25 gallon serving keg that can fit in your fridge. You do still need to clean the brew keg after brewing and make sure to sanitize all of the equipment. But the rest is super easy.
Click to read more reviews of the Picobrew Model C Beer Brewing Appliance
Use for brewing: any all-grain recipe you want
The Grain Father is an all-grain brewing system that brews up to a 5-gallon batch in about 6 hours. With a smaller footprint, you might also find that The Grain Father fits smaller spaces. It’s made to be used on the floor.
The different between The Grain Father and the PicoBrew system is that the entire process is not fully automated. If you like performing the steps of the brewing process, you’ll like The Grain Father more than the Pico. It doesn’t complete the batch for you with a push of a button. You still need to add in the ingredients at the right times.
For those brewers who don’t like the idea of brewing in plastic, The Grain Father is the way to go, with its 304-grade stainless steel body. They system also includes a wort chiller to cool down the beer inside the brew kettle, before you transfer it to the fermenter to pitch the yeast. As someone who lives in a small apartment with an induction cook top, it’s impossible to brew using the stove and a typical brew kettle. The Grain Father makes it possible to brew anywhere you have a power outlet. Issue solved.
And for a bonus with The Grain Father, it can be turned into a micro-distillery by changing the top parts and adding the Still Spirits Alembic Pot Still Attachments, according to their website. Fancy yourself a home distiller? Give it a try!
Click to read more reviews of The Grain Father Connect
Use for brewing: any all-grain recipe you want
☆ Read our full review of the Picobrew Zymatic
As mentioned before, PicoBrew has two home brew systems. The PicoBrew Zymatic is the more robust system, designed with advanced homebrewers in mind. PicoBrew was started with a PicoBrew kickstarter campaign and quickly found supporters who wanted an easier and more streamlined way to brew all grain beer recipes at home. The PicoBrew Zymatic is the answer to that wish. While the Picobrew Zymatic price is quite a bit more than the other PicoBrew, it has the capability to do so much more.
The Zymatic Picobrew can finish a brew in less than 4 hours, using all grain recipes that are fully customizable and can be programmed in the web interface. This allows you to store and adjust recipes, or reuse and share them. The best use case for the Zymatic, is for testing out, adjusting and creating new recipes without the wasted time and volume of beer with a normal brewing system. The output is only around 2.5 gallons. If you’ve ever wanted to brew smaller batches so you can test out different additions or mash steps, this is the way to go. The precision brewing process will limit the variables that can change the beer between batches.
The Zymatic is about the size of a large microwave. It is meant to sit on the countertop. All in, the Zymatic takes up a lot less space than all of the equipment needed for traditional brewing, but if you’re hoping for a huge space saver, this might not be it. The dimensions are 20.5″ x 14.5″ x 17″ (W x D x H). Though we haven’t tried it yet, the Zymatic also states that it’s good for sous vide cooking. Bonus!
Watch the PicoBrew Zymatic informational YouTube video:
Click to read more reviews for the PicoBrew Zymatic
Use for brewing: any all-grain recipe you want
The Braumeister is similar to the PicoBrew Zymatic as a single brew pot, electric, all grain brewing machine. The advantage being that it has a smaller footprint than the Zymatic and won’t take up as much counter space. The Braumeister also comes in three different sizes so you aren’t stuck to only brewing a 2.5 gallon batch. There are 10, 20 and 50 liter options, so you can brew up to 13 gallons if you bought the largest one. For small scale homebrewers, the best option is either the 10 or 20 liter. The latter will brew a 5 gallon batch.
The Braumeister process resembles a traditional method of brewing. You buy your own ingredients, brew your own recipes, make adjustments as desired, so you have a lot of control over the process. Unlike the Zymatic, you don’t put all of the ingredients into the kettle at once, you still must place them into the kettle at the appropriate times, but the rest of the mash and boil process is automated, so you don’t have to worry about temperatures and times.
You program the brewing information right into the interface and it works through the process on its own. If you buy the optional Braumeistermobil attachement, you can syncronize recipes with the unit and watch the process through your home network.
One thing to note about this unit is that it comes with a European plug, so it will have to be adapted to work in a U.S. outlet.
Click to read more reviews for the Eagle Braumeister
As you can see, there are many choices for home beer brewing systems. Once you understand all of the qualities of each, it’s much easier to narrow it down and decide which one is right for you.
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