Monday, August 8, 2011

Give you man the gift of brew

My brewery tucked under the spiral staircase
Ladies, there are only 138 shopping days left to Christmas and birthdays are always around the corner. I know these occasions can be a stressful time for female shoppers as you fret over what to get your special guy. If you haven’t figured it out by now, guys don’t really want anything, we are pretty much set if we have a nice TV. Plus if we have a ladyfriend stressing over a gift then we already have the best present (am I right other blogger?). I also know these occasions are the only time of year that you get to play dress up with you man and buy him a sweater with matching pants or something. This year spare us both the embarrassment, stop stressing and get your guy something that he will love and use throughout the years to come: a home brewing kit.

Home brewing is an awesome gift for any guy who likes beer, making things, science and spending a little time in the kitchen. He will quickly find that there is nothing more satisfying than serving his own beer to friends and family.

If your beau doesn’t like beer, is to inept to boil water, too lazy to spend a few hours in the kitchen or too selfish to share his bounty with friends than brewing is not for him (and you should be looking for a new boyfriend rather than a gift).

First thing you need to do is see if there is a homebrew shop within a reasonable distance of your house. This shouldn’t be an issue if you live near a major city. Its always best to go to a homebrew shop, they are much more knowledgeable than I and not so many girls visit, so you are assured great service.

If there is not a homebrew shop nearby you can order everything you need online, I get a lot of my stuff form Midwest Supplies.


For first time brewers, you are going to want to purchase your man a beginner home brewing kit which has (almost) everything required to get started. Prices begin at around $70 and go up from there. For under a hundred bucks you can get a good kit, just make sure it includes….

  • 5 Gallon Glass Carboy 
  • 6.5 Gallon Plastic Fermenter/Bottling Bucket with Lid and Spigot (the fermenting bucket and bottling bucket can be the same bucket, sometimes there are two buckets)
  • Carboy Bung 
  • Airlock  
  • Hydrometer 
  • Bottle Capper
  • Bottle Caps
  • Bottle Filler
  • Siphon Tubing
  • Shutoff clamp
Non-essential but Nice to Haves:
  • Star San Sanitizer (highly recommended MUCH easier than bleaching)
  • Bottle Brush
  • Carboy Brush
Essentials that can be found outside a homebrew shop:
  • Thermometer
  • A large stock pot, ideally one large enough to boil 5 gallons, but you can get away with boiling 3 gallons
  • Bleach (if not using sanitizer)
  • A gas range, boiling large volumes on an electric stove top can be challenging
  • 48 empty NON-TWISTOFF bottles, collecting them is a fun activity
My kit was a gift from my parents who bought it a Home Sweet Homebrew in Philly, if you are ordering online I like this one from Midwest Supplies.


Most kits will come with instructions of some kind, but if you are looking for something a little more in depth there are plenty of home brewing books out there. My two favorites are:

The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, the classic 'beer bible' is a laid back approach to brewing.

How to Brew, a more scientific engineer-like approach which really goes deep into the brewing process (I favor this one).


Sadly beginner equipment kits do not come with ingredients, so you are going to have to shell out another $30-$40 dollars to buy your man an ingredient kit. An ingredient kit comes with everything you need to brew any particular style of beer (malt, hops, yeast, and other flavoring ingredients). The kits are all pretty much at the same skill level, just make sure you avoid 20-minute boil kits (lazy mans brewing) and partial mash kits (a more advanced technique that requires additional equipment).

Midwest has dozens of recipe kits that have everything you would need to make a particular beer. I have brewed a couple of the kits and would recommend any of them. But if you beau likes hoppy IPA's I would suggest getting this one, it has 4 kinds of hops which makes the brewing process a bit more fun. The recipe kits offer a choice of different yeasts, an upgrade to a liquid yeast is a nice touch, but not necessary. Kits are a nice way to get started, but before you know it your guy will be creating his own recipes. 

Well there you have it ladies, everything you need to know to buy your guy the perfect gift the next time he is due a present. Most guys our age haven't had a hobby since we stopped collecting baseball cards and brewing will quickly fill that vacuum. Home brewing is the kind of thing that if a guy likes it the hobby can turn into an obsession. Not to mention that every time he brews he will think of you. I am confident that any guy that meets the criteria stated above would love this gift. If not you can always go back to buying him matching outfits next year.


  1. Picked up the starter kit and Milk Stout package at the Little Homebrew Shop in Falls Church when I was home. Jon is thrilled. :o)

  2. That's awesome, save a beer for us!