I can still remember the taste of the very first beer I brewed myself.
I’d gone to my local home-brew shop and purchased the top-of-the-line of all the equipment they had available, and set about making my very first beer as soon as I got home with it: a chocolate stout.
What I ended up making was five gallons of liquid that looked more like dirty water than stout, and tasted like malt and pretty much nothing else. That magical look and taste was enhanced further by the fact that the majority of the bottles didn’t carbonate very well, so you were drinking some very, very lightly carbonated dirty water.
For my next attempt, I accidentally used lambic yeast in a raspberry pale ale recipe, resulting in a sourish fruity beer. Trying to prevent my errors of the past, that one I managed to heavily over carbonate. Opening one was like cracking open a bottle of champagne.
If you mixed the two together, they were almost a drinkable raspberry stout. Almost.
After those two amazing efforts, I invited some brewer friends over for my next attempt, figured out what I was doing wrong (spoiler alert: it was trying to come out of the gate writing my own recipes), and started brewing some beers that are actually pretty good.
Home brewing is fun, but it also takes a ton of skill. Through my own failures I ended up gaining more respect for the brewers in my life who come up with new recipes that are consistently delicious everyday. It’s a tough job.
May 7th is National Homebrew Day, so I thought it would be fun to round up a few cool kits for the occasion. While for the most part your average home-brew supplies don’t vary that wildly, the stuff you use to make your beer does. Here’s a rundown of some clone kits out there that can help you avoid the mistakes I made early on by using a recipe made my one of the professionals for one of your favorite brews.
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This Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout home-brew kit is actually sold on Rogue's website. The kit doesn't contain yeast but includes everything else you need to make the iconic stout.
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Are you a big fan of New Belgium's Fat Tire? Try your hand at making your own with this "Flat Tire" kit.
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Heady Topper is one of the best DIPAs out there. If you can't make your way to the brewery to grab a few, try your hand at making your own with this kit.
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While the perfect pint of Guinness may need to be brewed in Ireland, the perfect pint of Genius can be brewed anywhere.
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Pliny the Elder is a beer with a massive cult following. Even in Russian River's home state of CA the brew can be a hard one to come by. This kit at MoreBeer is supposedly the recipe that Russian River uses, given to them by the owner of the brewery. Based on the reviews, it looks like a winner.
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Love Bourbon County Stout? Try your hand at making your own with this kit.
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West coast IPA, yes please!