Getting Started, Part 1 – Getting Equipped to Brew

July 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm Leave a comment

Are you ready to try brewing your first batch? You’ll need to get supplies and they may come from multiple places. Most of them will come from your local homebrew supply store if you have one in your area so let’s start there. If you need to search for one, try Brewer’s Roundtable.

Meet and Greet at the HBS

Yes, you can go online and buy a beginner’s kit anyway if you want. I recommend talking to someone at the local home brew shop because they can answer any questions you will inevitably have. Be sure to describe to them your brewing environment: where you’ll boiling, and where you’re going to store the beer during fermentation. A good home brew shop employee will give you advice about getting the most out of your brewing equipment and set you up with a great recipe.

Expect to spend between $80 – $100 on your first kit. That does not including the ingredients for your first batch. Don’t blanch at this price because it’s a one-time cost. Brewing equipment can last a very long time if cared for properly. If money really is an obstacle then you may be able to cut down that price by searching Craigslist or garage sales in your neighborhood. You can also try splitting the cost with a friend and become brewing partners, which is how I got started.

It’s possible that there simply is not a homebrew store or any other resources I’ve mentioned within a reasonable distance from your home. In that case stay online and look at the kits at places like Northern Brewer, Midwest Supplies, and Austin Homebrew Supply.

Equipment List

Here is the typical list of equipment you will need to begin brewing:

  • Brewing kettle
  • Fermenting/bottling bucket with lid and spigot
  • Glass carboy
  • Sanitizer
  • Steeping grain bag
  • Hop bags (3)
  • Kitchen scale
  • Airlock
  • Racking/syphon tube
  • Bottling tube
  • Bottle capper
  • Bottle caps
  • Hydrometer
  • Thermometer (capable of measuring at least 60F to 180F)

Regarding the brewing kettle: you can buy a fancy steel brewing kettle at the home brew store. But if you want to save a little money, try a 16-qt ceramic coated, steel stock pot. I use one for when I brew 3-gallon batches in the kitchen and it works great. You can still use them for the standard 5-gallon batch, too, by adding extra water at the end of the brewing process.

The smaller brewing pot is nice because it takes less time for water to come to a boil and less time to chill the wort to pitching temperature. This is useful for Hop Dads like me who have precious little time available for brewing.

Storage

Everything needs its place. To store my brewing equipment I bought a large plastic tub from Lowes. All of my brewing items go in there, save for the buckets and carboys. For smaller items I scrounged around the house for clear plastic boxes. In those boxes I store airlock plugs, spigot parts, and small bags of brewing chemicals like Irish moss, gypsum, Campden tablets, etc. An organized storage tub makes finding important brewing items much easier.

Tips

When storing the bucket and carboy first make sure they are clean and dry. Then cover them so dust does not accumulate inside them between brewings. I wrap a piece of foil over the top of the carboy.

Often home brew supply shops will have a sticker on their fermentation buckets to mark fill lines. Don’t trust the sticker. Before your first brewing fill that bucket with three, then four, then five gallons of water to verify the sticker is accurate. If it isn’t, get a permanent marker and draw the accurate fill lines.

So, that is your basic list of items you need to start your adventures with home brewing. Next we’ll take a look at the ingredients you will need for your first batch.

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Entry filed under: Brewing. Tags: .

So You Want to Brew? Getting Started, Part 2 – Ingredients for Your First Batch

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