Brewing Basics - The Ultimate Homebrew Starter Kit
The magical art of brewing beer has been around for over 5,000 years! Since then, we've only made the taste and technique better, making it easier for you to achieve the delicious taste at home. Before you start preparing for brewing, read our article about Extract vs. All-Grain Brewing to learn more about brewing techniques.
Regardless of your brewing methods and techniques, all brewers need some basic equipment to get the job done. The higher quality your equipment is, the longer it will last you. Ideally, there are very few items that will need to be replaced in your lifetime of brewing, so investing in the best products is recommended. Let's discuss each of these essentials and their purpose in depth.
Brew Pot or Kettle - Used for boiling your mash and wort, a high quality brew pot will last you a lifetime and is an essential for the brewing process. We recommend a brew pot with graduated markings to easily and accurately measure during your brewing process. For additional convenience, some higher quality brew kettles include a thermometer attached to the kettle.
Brew Bucket - For your primary fermentation and a variety of homebrewing tasks, a durable food-grade plastic bucket is lightweight and versatile. The lightweight vessel is easy to carry and maneuver. It is also easy to clean and inexpensive to replace.
Airlock- This simple piece attaches to your fermentation vessel, allowing you to monitor the progress of your fermentation, release the CO2, and preventing debris from contaminating the brew.
Rubber Stopper - We recommend purchasing this small component to help seal wide-mouth carboys for the fermentation process.
Hop Bag - Essential for steeping your hops and for easy removal of hops from your brew. Like a tea bag, a hops bag contains all the hops and infuses your brew without the pain of trying to strain them out.
Auto-Siphon or Racking Cane - For easy extraction of beer and wort from your fermentation vessels, an auto-siphon allows you to draw out the liquid without disturbing the sediment on the bottom.
Beer Line - To help extract your beer or wort from the carboy, a beer line is an essential that needs to be attached to the auto-siphon to draw the liquid out.
Stirring Spoon - A stirring spoon with a long handle is ideal for stirring during the brew process. We recommend a stainless steel spoon, which does not corrode, absorb flavors, or harbor bacteria over time.
Sanitizer - An essential part of the brewing process is ensuring your equipment is clean and uncontaminated at all times! Dirt or residue from previous brews can contaminate your brewing process and affect your resulting beer. To prevent your brew from being contaminated, a food-grade sanitizer designed for homebrewing is key to maintaining the quality of your brew and your equipment.
Fermenting thermometer - To monitor your fermenting process, a thermometer is crucial for maintaining ideal fermenting conditions to ensure your resulting beer is perfect.
Beer bottles or Kegs - After you finish your brew, you will need to store it. If you've brewed a small batch, bottling may be more practical but if you have a large batch, the best way to store your brew is in a keg. Kegs also allow you to get that draft beer taste when dispensed from a kegerator that will make your brew much more enjoyable.
Extract Brewing Starter Kit
Beginning brewers will find extract brewing the most affordable method for brewing that requires a minimal amount of equipment. Since you don't need to mill grain, you get to eliminate a stage in the brewing process and minimize your required equipment. The easiest way to get started and ensure you have all the necessary equipment is investing in an Extract Brewing Kit. These kits include everything you'll need to start brewing except for the extract. Extract comes in two forms, dry malt and liquid malt. In addition to your extract, you will need to purchase some hops to complete your brew.
All-Grain Brewing Starter Kit
All-grain brewing allows you to truly customize and adjust every aspect of the brewing process. While it is a labor intensive process, the result is a unique and special brew with complex flavors. This method will require more equipment but if you invest well on your initial equipment, it will greatly enhance your brewing experience and the equipment will last you a lifetime. We have curated our favorite all-grain brewing equipment in these all-grain brewing kits.
If you started with an Extract Brewing Kit or if you selected each of your basics individually from the basics list above, you'll still need some key pieces to complete your all-grain brewing kit. These are the additional items you will need:
Grain Mill - Milling your own grain gives you so much control over your end result. While you can go to a brew supplier, like Beverage Factory, to have your grains milled, milling at home give you full control over the milling process. Afterall, the crushing process and the resulting grain will greatly affect the taste of your brew.
Hydrometer or Refractometer - Test the gravity, density, and the potential alcohol content with these simple tools. The information provided by these devices will allow you to adjust your brew accordingly to achieve your ideal brew.
Acid Test Paper - To achieve a crisp tasting beer, your mash pH should be approximately around 5.0 to 5.2 pH. Monitoring the pH will prevent you from irreversible changes in your brew by spotting any issues early on in the brewing process.
Small Scale - This is important for measuring a variety of additives and brewing ingredients, like hops. Accuracy is key for the appropriate chemical reactions to take place for a great brew.
In addition to the equipment, you will need grains, hops, and optional additives for your brew. All-grain brewing is more advanced and isn't recommended for first time brewers but it is capable of achieving such a vast range of beers! It is the methods that the professional brewers use but on a much smaller and manageable scale for homebrewers.
If you have any questions about homebrewing, we have homebrewing experts available to answer all your questions. Just contact us at 800-710-9939 and we can help you get started!