Who buys kits & who assembles their own ingredients?

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rhys333

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Just wondering, since I have yet to actually buy a kit myself from anywhere. I either assemble ingredients for a popular recipe or design my own from scratch.

Any time I've considered buying a kit, I start wanting to change the hops, adjust ABV, yeast, etc. Plus, the kits I've see in the LHBS are dodgy at best, and I wonder how the online stores in my country come up with their recipes.

Do you guys prefer kits or creating your own?
 

j1n

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bought 2 kits for my first 2 batches and haven't got a kit since then. Just started getting in a group buys in my area. buying grains in bulk will help out the cost of brewing.

i dont ever see myself buying a kit again. i think its for people that are just starting out or are just lazy to weigh out some grains.
 

Krieger

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I buy a kit when it's something that sounds good, or I want to try, or has an ingredient that I've never used(some examples are a Citra Pale Ale - never used Citra hops, and they were almost impossible to find that year, and a Coconut Lime Session Ale - coconut extract and lime peel). Other than that I use recipes from here, and tweak them to work for me, or for taste or what I can find at my LHBS. I also use extract kits when I'm pressed for time, or don't have any real plan for what I want to make. Those usually end up being something like those above though. I also have a few 1 gallon fermentors, so I'm also looking to do one off batches.
 

Yooper

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I buy in bulk, with grain by the 50-55# sack for the most part, so I have no problem making up my own ingredients.

When I brewed with extract, and before I got a grain mill, I usually bought kits though. I really liked the ones from austinhomebrew.com and northernbrewer.com.
 

SquidPope

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I assemble my own ingredients mostly out of necessity. The only equipment I have right now is a Mr Beer kit that SWMBO got me for my birthday this past June, and of course it's only large enough to make 2-gallon batches. So far the only two-gallon extract kits I've been able to find are from the Mr Beer website, which charge a pretty penny for shipping to Canada.

So for now at least, I follow recipes and jot down notes for my own experiments in the future :)
 

dkevinb

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I buy my own ingredients. It's cheaper and more flexible, plus I can look over the ingredients before I buy.
 

Qhrumphf

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I've only brewed from a kit once, and it was bought for someone else and brewed with someone else (brother in law's first batch). Other than that, I assemble on my own. Like Yooper, I buy in bulk. I have a few ingredients I tend to keep on hand (Maris Otter malt and German pilsner malt, both bought by the sack), I keep a stock of East Kent Goldings in the freezer (bought by the pound), and then I usually keep a few pounds on hand of various specialty malts (45L, 77L, and 150L English crystal malts, Biscuit malt, and Carapils), as well as maybe a half pound of Challenger hops (which I could order online by the pound but my LHBS only stocks by the ounce). And then I usually have some 1469 West Yorkshire on hand, either via smack pack or harvested slurry. Beyond that, I buy other grains/hops/yeast as I need them. Also keep ready stocks of corn sugar for priming, DME for starters, and all the other misc stuff (Star-San, whirfloc, yeast nutrient, water additives, campden tabs, PBW, pH meter calibration solutions, and so on).

There's nothing inherently wrong with kits, and at the end of the day there's no inherent difference betwee brewing a kit or brewing someone else's recipe outside of the actual ingredients being assembled already, but unless the store has super high turnaround I'd be worried about the freshness of the ingredients. I'd be fine buying a kit from Northern Brewer or the like, but I'd be cautious buying one from a local shop unless you know them really well. If you assemble the ingredients yourself, with yeast and hops that have been stored properly instead of in a box at room temp, with grains that were crushed right before you use them instead of sitting crushed for god only knows how many months, you're going to get better results.
 
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rhys333

rhys333

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And then I usually have some 1469 West Yorkshire on hand, either via smack pack or harvested slurry.
I don't want to derail this thread, but Qhrumphf, do you find 1469 West Yorkshire tricky to deal with? I really want to try it, but hear it can be a little high maintenance.
 

Qhrumphf

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I don't want to derail this thread, but Qhrumphf, do you find 1469 West Yorkshire tricky to deal with? I really want to try it, but hear it can be a little high maintenance.
As far as being high maintenance, I've never had a problem. The issue it has in my experience (and I've seen echoed elsewhere) is taking a little longer to flocculate than other English strains, and sometimes leaving behind a perma-krausen well after the beer below has dropped bright. Basically, you can't use the krausen falling as an inidcator like you can with other strains. I usually hit FG at or before 7 days into fermentation (I don't check earlier than that), but it may take another week or two after that for the krausen to drop. And once or twice where it's taken longer, and I've ended up just racking out from underneath it.
 

ArkotRamathorn

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Started from scratch formulating recipes as soon as I switched to all-grain. It just appealed to me to pick my own formulations, I learn better by doing than reading about what I should be doing.

I will use this website to request critique and feedback on my recipes, as well will look at other peoples recipes when I have a recipe and I think it just needs that one last thing to 'complete' it. I guess it never occured to me to buy premade kits, if I think about it, the only thing I would do with a kit is try and say "I like this this and this about it, but I would adjust this and this thing too and itd be perfect" so I'd end up just doing my own thing with it anyway.
 

Racedog

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I started with a couple of kits from Northern Brewer, but since I have been researching styles and creating my own.
 

bbrim

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Making recipes is my favorite part of the hobby. I've really stripped things down with most beers and focus on simple grain profiles and only 2-3 types of hops.
 

carlpb

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I enjoy making my own recipes so I don't buy kits. While I don't buy in bulk yet. Researching ingredients and different recipes is part of the fun for me.


Sent from my iPad using Home Brew
 

FinchSCF

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I've done both, but my preference is to use organic malts, so even if I like the setup of a kit, if I can get it's grain and hop bill, I'll order the ingredients that I need from it. Some of the better beers I've made have been from taking a recipe from a kit and modifying it.
 

stru

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I've never bought a kit... started with my own recipes from the very first batch. I will say it's been a tough road, with several batches that, while drinkable, weren't very good. I've finally dialed it in and produce consistently good beers.
 

trujunglist

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I assemble my own ingredients mostly out of necessity. The only equipment I have right now is a Mr Beer kit that SWMBO got me for my birthday this past June, and of course it's only large enough to make 2-gallon batches. So far the only two-gallon extract kits I've been able to find are from the Mr Beer website, which charge a pretty penny for shipping to Canada.

So for now at least, I follow recipes and jot down notes for my own experiments in the future :)
But, that's not necessary at all and probably generally gives you not great beer. You can formulate a 2 gallon recipe using something like Brew Toad and source your own ingredients. You'll save a lot because those Mr. Beer kits are pricier, and you'll make better beer. You can just scale any recipe to 2 gallons if you don't feel like making your own. For what it's worth, the Mr. Beer keg can actually hold a bit more than 2 gallons; something like 2.2-2.4 before you have to worry about it blowing out.
 

SquidPope

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You can just scale any recipe to 2 gallons if you don't feel like making your own.
Don't worry, that's what I've been doing :) When I said Mr Beer charged a pretty penny for shipping, I meant they charge a "Holy **** there is no way I'm paying that, F you guys" penny for shipping :p
 

Hamaki

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I've never bought a kit... started with my own recipes from the very first batch. I will say it's been a tough road, with several batches that, while drinkable, weren't very good. I've finally dialed it in and produce consistently good beers.
Same for me. If I were advising someone just getting started and going it alone I'd suggest going with a kit the first few times.
 

ColeVet67

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Im a fairly new guy to brewing as well (roughly a yr). And i would reccommend to start with a kit. This is what i did, i did 2 kits, this allowed me to have a reference for how to brew (process). Now i have moved up to partial mash/mini mash. I too agree that 1/2 the fun is researching grains, yeasts, styles, IBU's and then formulating a recipe, then executing. I have made about 4 PM/MM batches, and i cant see ever goin back to premade kits. I find more enjoyment out of something i had more involvement in. If i just wanted to make beer, well then, i would just buy kits.

All in all, i think it really comes down to what type of person are you, and how much involvement you wanna put into makin beer.
 

Oginme

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Started on a Mr. Beer kit and brewed three of their 'kits' before checking out one of the LHBS. When I questioned the owner about options for brewing 2-gallon recipes out of the 5-gallon kits he offered, he said just to use the whole kit and I'd get a higher ABV beer. Not exactly what I was looking for. Visited another LHBS (which is actually closer to where I live) and the people there were much more helpful. They offered to scale down their kits, but also suggested that I look at brewing software and use that to design my own recipes or scale down those that I found on the net. I've shopped there ever since. I've been designing my own recipes ever since as well.
 

unionrdr

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I've been brewing pb/pm biab for over a year now. This spring/summer I decided to try some kits again, but for beers I've never brewed before just to get a taste of them first. Then use Beersmith2 to design a PM equivalent, or modded version to suite my take on the style. For instance, I took the BYO AG recipe for Dampfbier & made a PM recipe for it. Not bad, but needs work & process refinements to get closer to what I perceive as proper style. Sometimes you just wanna take a break from all-day brew days. I'm ready to get back to PM again myself, since I now have some fodder for new versions of some new-to-me styles. Lazy has little to do with it, or lack of ability. But they can both be factors of course, depending on how new one is to this hobby. I just go with the flow of what my mind feels like.
 

troglodytes

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Before my switch to AG I brewed 4 extract brews, two of which were kits. The two that weren't kits ended up to be far superior brews. Then, when I realized that I was spending less $$ by coming onto these forums and building/amending recipes from the great brewers on here, I never looked back.

After switching to AG, I don't think I will ever get a kit again, just because I always have extra grain, hops and my yeast bank on hand to keep costs way down. I'm at the point where I can experiment now and even if the beer doesn't come out fantastic, it was a learning experience and I didn't have to spend $35-$45 on a kit.

I'll go out on a limb and say that this community is so helpful that even if you are new to brewing, you don't necessarily need to ramp into it by starting with kits. Recipes are provided in great detail. Ingredients are easy to come by in both LHBS and online, and any questions you have about the brewing process will most likely only be glossed over in the kits instructions anyway, and you'll end up here looking for answers regardless.
 

DromJohn

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Another "yes" here.

While I am stretching out creating recipes, I don't have a LHBS, so I order online. I don't brew enough to justify ingredient storage. I am very impressed with the Austin Homebrew Supply kits (both theirs and the clones), but have mostly left AHS because of their lack of organic ingredients, at least they allowed ordering to the ounce. Brew Brothers allows ordering to 1/10 pound. However, Northern Brewer has organic LME which I have used in my created recipes. Unfortunately they sell in whole pounds. Leftovers have some influence on my created recipes. Yet, NB's kits were intriguing enough that my current brew (La Petite Orange Blanche) and my next (The Plinean Legacy) are keeping me pretty much in a "yes, I buy kits, and yes, I assemble ingredients" mode.
 

Peruvian802

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Some online stores put their kits on sale for less than I could buy the ingredients for, particularly double IPAs. Otherwise I buy my ingredients (bulk 2 row, hops by the pound, etc) and save that way.
 
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