I am planning on upgrading from my Mr. Beer to a "real" homebrewery after Christmas. Space and money are somewhat of a concern, so I don't want to go overboard and I also want to get equipment that is durable and will last for a while.
- I do not like the idea of fermenting in plastic pails (I like to see what's going on), and glass carboys are not an option (big glass containers, all-tile floors and a young child = bad combination), which means that Better Bottles are pretty much the only option for me.
- I do not necessarily need a two-stage system to begin with - adding another Better Bottle later on is not a problem.
I am looking at the following:
Northern Brewer Basic Kit: $67.99 + $7.99 shipping.
Positives: Comes with AutoSiphon, which I like. Can use the primary bucket as a sanitation bucket instead.
Negatives: Seems to be the cheapest possible bottle capper, I would need to buy a Better Bottle separately.
Midwest Supplies Brewing Basics Kit $59.95 + $9.49 shipping
Positives: Instructional DVD, Thermometer, slightly better bottle capper than NB kit, Can use the primary bucket as a sanitation bucket instead
Negatives: No AutoSiphon, I would need to buy a Better Bottle separately
Austin Homebrew Supply Deluxe Beer Making Kit (modified) $99.99 + $6.99 shipping
Positives: Owner is willing to substitute a 6-gallon Better Bottle for the 5-gallon glass carboy that usually comes with this kit, includes thermometer, has AutoSiphon, reasonably affordable stockpot upgrade, Can use the primary bucket as a sanitation bucket instead
Negatives: unknown Bottle Capper type
Considering the need for a Better Bottle, all three come out to about the same price. So I was wondering: Is there any reason to prefer any one of the kits over the others? if not, I'll probably go with the AHBS kit.
Finally, will my Mr. Beer keg have any use after I upgrade? Would it make a good backup bottling or sanitation bucket?
Thank you for your help!