Most beer brewing starter kits include nearly everything you would need to start brewing beer as soon as you receive your package. However, these kits usually lack one or two critical pieces of equipment that you’ll need to buy before the brewing can begin. The most notable of these items that most beer kits do not include is a kettle of some kind, which is a necessity.
A claim that could be difficult for some kits to live up to is the name of this kit itself; “Brewery in a Box” implies that you can open the box and get right to work crafting your latest brewing masterpiece. While this is not supposed to be taken literally, it still puts an image into the minds of customers regarding what they’re going to get when they buy this home brewing kit.
The only way to know if it comes close to fulfilling these claims is to check it out, so let’s poke around inside this box and see if there is an actual brewery inside, complete with a “revolutionary” new feature.
Northern Brewer Brewery in a Box General Features
Northern Brewer isn’t kidding when they say this is a brewery in a box, because this is one of the few home brewing kits available on the market that will allow you to open the box and start brewing the same day, with no additional purchases necessary.
Not only is a kettle included in the kit, but so is a stir spoon. Also, when you open the box, you’ll find a recipe for an amber pale ale included, and Northern Brewer has included every single ingredient this recipe calls for, including the malt extract, grains, and even the hops.
The recipes included are part of the reason Northern Brewer claims that your first brew with this and other kits they produce will be a “guaranteed success.” It’s a lofty claim, but the reviews on other kits that feature the same recipe and instructional materials seem to back up the claim, and this one is no exception.
All the tubing, siphons, bungs, and airlocks are included, along with a bottle capper and caps, a bottling bucket, and all the supplies you’ll need to clean your setup and prepare it for your second batch and all the ones to follow.
The instructions for brewing are some of the best on the market, with a “follow along” video on DVD that makes it extremely difficult to brew a bad beer your very first time.
Did I mention that this kit has a kettle included? It’s tough to find a kit of this quality that also includes a kettle for brewing; this is one of the only brew your own beer kits on the market that truly does allow you to start brewing on day one with nothing else to find and buy.
The only thing you’ll need to complete your first batch is bottles, but Northern Brewer can be forgiven for not including them in one of the most complete starter kits on the market today. With a minimum of two weeks before you bottle your brew, you’ll have plenty of time to get a supply of bottles.
This kit packs a lot of high-quality items into one box, including some that aren’t found in most starter kits.
- Includes everything needed to start brewing beer immediately
- Includes an amber pale ale recipe and all necessary ingredients for your first batch of beer
- All cleaning supplies are included
This kit is designed with one thing in mind, and that’s allowing complete rookies to brew a good beer on their first try.
As a result of this focus, there are some things to remember. First off, this kit is targeted at beginners, so experienced home brewers may not find much to be excited about with this kit. Veterans, or even those with prior experience of any level, may be underwhelmed by the plastic secondary fermenter, and anyone that already has some of the included items may be getting duplicates of things they already have. Backup gear isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but it may still not leave a veteran brewer with a good feeling about their purchase.
It’s a high-quality kit, but with only the amber pale ale recipe and ingredients included, beginners may be left wondering what to do once they’ve finished their included batch of beer. Hand-holding is good for beginners, and as I’ve said before, making the first attempt by a new home brewer more of a guaranteed success dramatically increases the odds that a “first-time brewer” doesn’t become a “one-time brewer.” Waiting a month only to learn that their new beer isn’t good can be a deflating experience.
This kit takes the guesswork out of someone’s first brew, even if they have no experience whatsoever. A bit more information on the next steps after completing the included ale would be a good improvement.
Amazingly enough, there aren’t many things to list under “shortfalls” for this kit, which is the sign of a well-designed product. If you take your experience level (and intentions for the kit) into consideration, the shortfalls are minimal.
While this is a solid kit, there are a few things that would take it from very good to great if they were offered.
- There is no thermometer included
- While not necessary to brew a batch of beer, there is no hydrometer included
- The secondary fermenter is plastic rather than glass
Is The Northern Brewer Brewery in a Box Worth Buying?
The easiest way to sum up the Brewery in a Box is with the phrase, “setting you up for success.” This kit has a lot to recommend it.
The star feature of this kit, of course, is the fact that it honestly is a “brewery in a box.” It’s one of the few kits available that will allow you to start brewing on day one with nothing other than what’s in the box. The rest of the items included with this kit are high-quality, as we have come to expect from Northern Brewer.
On the downside, while the kit includes a bottle capper and caps, it doesn’t contain any actual bottles, which adds to the cost of getting started. Also, other items are missing, although they admittedly fall into the category of “helpful” instead of “necessary.” The inclusion of a hydrometer and a gas burner would go a long way toward bumping this kit up to the top of the rankings. However, it’s tough to give Northern Brewer too much criticism over what’s included here, because it’s one of the best starter kits for sale today.
The plastic secondary fermenter will give those with more experience pause, especially since it’s almost the same as the bottling bucket. However, despite the lack of a familiar look and feel, it does the job and does it well.
With all of that said, there’s a lot to recommend with the Brewery in a Box. Reviews are overwhelmingly favorable for this box, and it has become the highest-rated home brew starter kit on many of the markets where it’s available. There are hundreds of happy customers that have already completed their first beer brewing experience with this kit.
What’s the verdict of this Northern Brewer Brewery in a Box Review? If you’re a veteran, this could make an excellent start to a second setup and is worth a look for that reason alone.
If you’re new to home brewing, this kit is a slam-dunk choice to start with. With nothing else to buy and a process the manufacturer describes as “foolproof” and “guaranteed success with your first brew,” it’s tough to go wrong with the Northern Brewer Brewery in a Box.