Are you looking to put together your first batch of homebrew beer? You'll need the right beer brewing equipment to create the beer you're looking for.
Firstly, congratulations. You're making a great choice, and joining 1.1 million wise Americans in the pursuit of happiness.
The decline of homebrew is much overstated in our opinion. It will never disappear, simply because it's so much fun. But you'll also learn lots along the way.
Plus, it's a really cool garage project to enjoy with friends. And you'll make some delicious beer to drink!
It's important that you get everything together first, rather than rushing around during your brew trying to find everything. Some things need to be done promptly to ensure good results.
So here are the bits of kit you'll need to make your first brew into a tasty success.
Your beer brewing equipment needs to be cleaner than clean when you start your brew.
You should clean all your kit thoroughly. Certain parts will need to be sterilized using a sanitizing product.
Specifically, any part of your kit which will come into contact with the 'wort' needs to be sanitized. The wort is the liquid you pour out after the mashing process.
If you don't sterilize your kit, this can lead to the yeast being picked off, and your brew turning into a disaster. Never forget this key step!
Keeping an eye on the temperature of your brew is crucial.
You need to keep a close eye on temperature throughout the process to get the best results, so make sure you use it frequently (cleaning it well between uses).
It's useful to have a spare, so that if you suspect one thermometer is damaged, you can carry on brewing without pausing and risking a dodgy batch.
Digital thermometers are a good choice, as they're easier to read than traditional ones, and there isn't a risk of them breaking and spoiling the pot.
You'll need a big stainless steel pot. And we mean big. 5 gallons as a minimum.
This pot is used to kickstart the brewing process. You heat up water, and when it's boiling, stir in the malt extract. After that, it's time for the hops. At the end of this procedure, you'll have yourself a wort.
The process is a little bit more complicated than we've made out here, so don't dive right in without looking up further details.
But always remember to use a big enough pot. Water bubbles up as it is heated, so you need extra room to compensate for this.
Wort needs to be cooled properly before you add the yeast. Yeast will die in temperatures around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
This can vary a little depending on the family - check the pack or have a search online if you're not sure.
If you drop the yeast into almost-boiling wort, it'll taste gross and your beer will not become alcoholic.
That's why wort chillers are an important piece of kit for your project. These coils are immersed in the wort. You then run cold water through the coils to quickly bring the wort down to a sensible temperature.
The quicker the better. If left to cool down gradually, the wort will oxidize, and there is also the chance of contamination as it passes through temperatures suitable for bacteria growth.
We've just been talking about yeast, but what is it and why is it crucial? Well, without yeast, your brew will go nowhere.
This is the fungus (yep, fungus) which is active during the fermentation process. It's perhaps the most vital piece of beer brewing equipment.
It turns sugars from the wort into alcohol and CO2.
This is where the wort sits while it's being cooled, and subsequently while it's fermenting.
You can use a big plastic bucket (sanitized and covered) if you want. But it's difficult to pour out the beer at the end, and you could lose some to spillage if you're not careful.
We prefer to use plastic fermenter storage tanks. They come with a built-in airlock, which allows CO2 to escape, while keeping oxygen out.
These clever tanks also have a built-in spigot for you to drain them with, instead of trying to tip a heavy bucket over safely.
How do you know how much of each ingredient to add?
If you guess, you might end up with an awful beer. Which will feel really bad after all of that effort.
Invest in an accurate digital scale which can measure both metric and imperial measurements - just in case you need to reference a recipe written in either.
You'll be working with a lot of hot beer brewing equipment during your homebrew adventure.
Heat proof gloves can save you from a nasty injury - or worse still, dropping your beer because the container is too hot to handle!
You'll now need somewhere to store your tasty beer.
Bottles are useful, as they're airtight and keep beer fresh for quite a long time. You'll need bottles, caps, and a capper. And for a small batch there's nothing wrong with an affordable hand-operated model.
Alternatively, you could siphon your beer into a keg with a tap. This is helpful if you intend on throwing a party soon, but if you're not, bottling might be better. Kegged beer will not stay fresh for as long as bottled.
Woody's Home Brew loves everything about home brewing, and we're pleased to sell all the bits and pieces you'll need to create the very best beer.
Our beer brewing equipment store sells all the ingredients, systems, pumps and cooling units you'll need to ferment and keep your brew under control.
If you're very new to the world of brewing, our 5 gallon homebrew starter kit is a good place to start. It includes all of the key equipment you'll need to brew your first batch, and instructs you on a basic four-step process to get started.
Now hop to it. There's good luck brewing for you!