Want to set on a new adventure into the world of beer? If you like drinking beer, you have probably tried a few craft beers made in home breweries by fellow beer aficionados. Those distinct flavours make these beers worth the hard work put into every bottle. If you think you can add your own unique taste to the market or at least impress your friends and family, then you can get yourself a home brewing kit and start experimenting. Who knows, this journey might take you to a new place in your life, and if not, you will have loads of fun and plenty of beer to enjoy.
Before you get overwhelmed with too much information on the needed home brewing supply, we’ll cover the essential equipment and ingredients you need to get started. Once you have mastered the beer-making process, you can upgrade your setup with additional tools and decide on the fine details like whether to use malt or all-grain extracts.
Don’t Get Gadget-Crazy
Brewing a good batch of beer is not about all the fancy gadgets, it’s about love and commitment, as with all good things in life. You need the basic equipment of course, but before you go all in and spend a small fortune on tools you have no idea how to use, check the list of essential brewing equipment. Specialised home brewing supply stores offer a wide range of products as well as beginner kits for first-time beer-makers.
This is the first item you will use to make your wort. Since you will need extra room to avoid overflowing, get a bigger size. If you plan on starting with five gallons of liquid, you need at least an 8-gallon pot. Some of them come with built-in temperature gauges, so it’s easier to keep track of the temperature at any time.
This could be a plastic bucket with a lid, a glass carboy, or even a keg. Basically, a fermentation vessel is where the wort and yeast are combined and allowed to sit for several days. It needs to be airtight with a spot for an airlock if it doesn’t have one already fitted in. For more advanced brewing you can find more upgraded fermenters.
This could be a plastic bucket that you can use for sanitizing all the home beer brewing equipment and bottling.
Once the yeast has done its job, it will settle on the bottom of the fermentation vessel and you need to transfer the liquid to another container. The siphon makes this job easier. The simplest design for an auto-siphon is a length of a plastic tube with a valve on the top that lets air out but prevents liquid from escaping.
During the fermentation process, as the yeast eats up the sugar in the wort, you get two by-products, alcohol and carbon dioxide. Since the container is air-tight, you need a way to release that gas without letting outside air in. The airlock, which needs to fit securely, allows the built-up gas to escape and prevent explosions.
It needs to be long enough to reach all the way to the bottom of the pot while you stir during the boiling process. Don’t use wooden implements as they may be harbouring microbes that could spoil your beer. Stainless steel ones are ideal.
Bottles, Caps, and a Capper
Once you finish the brewing and fermenting you will need to bottle the beer. Brown glass is best as it blocks out UV light. Proper caps to close the bottle and a capper to help you in the process.
This is an essential piece of equipment that measures the density of the sugar content before it’s fermented. It helps you decide if your beer is ready for fermentation or if you need to add sugar or water. It also measures the alcohol content of your brew, so it’s a must-have accessory.
Additional home brewing supplies might include tap dispensers, a thermometer, a bottle washer, a bottle drier, a wort chiller, or a kegerator (keg refrigerator). As you get more serious about home brewing, you will discover plenty more accessories.
Cleaning and Sanitizing Equipment
Before you start using any of the items on the list, clean and sanitize them well. Anything that comes into contact with the beer should be sanitized properly, or you risk throwing away a good batch. You can find cleaning products specifically for brewing equipment that won’t leave any unwanted smell or flavour and no-rinse sanitisers that kill microbes you can’t see.
If you opt for a brewing kit, it will usually contain all the ingredients you need to make the beer, together with the recipe and step-by-step instructions. This is probably the safest bet for your first attempt. The four main ingredients you will need are malt, hops, yeast, and water. Once you feel confident enough to try your own recipe, you can adjust the ratio of the basic materials and you can add brewing sugars, spices, flavourings, finings, and adjuncts to modify the recipe and make your own personalised beer flavour.
Home-brewing can be time-consuming but the results are rewarding. Making your own beer will give you the opportunity to enjoy not only fresh, delicious beer, but to appreciate all the steps of the process of getting there. Once you taste your first batch you will be proud of your creation and may be encouraged to design your unique recipe.