Brew Day Gear

Probably the biggest hurdle when it comes to getting started brewing is getting all the equipment needed to actually start brewing in the first place. It can seem like a lot of money to part with to begin. But to be honest if you were to go out and buy the amount of beer you can make in just one batch you’ll see it isn’t all that expensive.

Some equipment is used to actually brew the beer, some equipment is used whilst the beer is fermenting and other tools are required for bottling. Really the amount of stuff you need is not a lot although it may look it on paper. Once you have invested in it though, most things last for years and the more beer you make the better return you get on this initial investment.

Large Pot (ideally 12+ litres)

The bigger the better really, the larger the pot the more you can boil. This may be the biggest investment.

Thermometer

A thermometer really is essential, you can’t measure temperature accurately without one and they are cheap. A regular spirit thermometer is ideal, if you want to get fancy then you could invest in a digital thermometer which tend to be easier to read.

Hydrometer

A hydrometer allows you to measure the amount of sugar in the wort and after fermentation find out how much alcohol is present in the beer. Check out this article on using a hydrometer to find out how it works. Even if you don’t want to know how much alcohol is in your brew, you’ll need a hydrometer to indicate when fermentation is over so don’t tell yourself you don’t need one.

Sanitiser

Keeping any bacteria away from your precious beer is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. If you don’t sanitise your equipment properly the beer could go sour and taste horrible, nobody wants that! In the next section cleaning and sanitising is covered in more depth so be sure to read through before you go and buy anything.

Jug

A simple jug that you can measure quantities with as well as move liquid about with.

Muslin Bags

These muslin bags cost next to nothing and are ideal for steeping your grains and boiling your hops in. They mean you can just pull the grains or hops right out and not have to mess around straining or sieving anything out of the wort. Your homebrew supplier will usually have muslin bags or something similar that are suitable for this purpose and are usually pretty inexpensive.

Fermenting Bin

If you are brewing 21 – 25 litre batches you’ll need a 30 litre fermenting bin to ferment the beer in. The extra headspace allows room for the krausen, or yeast to froth up, preventing any overflow. Obviously if you plan to brew smaller quantities then a smaller fermenting vessel will suffice, just bear in mind most beer kits and recipes are around 5 gallons or 22 litres.

Syphon tubing

It is never a good idea to pour beer from one vessel to another even in small amounts. Once the beer is fermented introducing oxygen is an easy way to introduce off-flavours that are undesirable. Aerating the beer, by pouring it, once it’s fermented will oxidise it and make it taste like sherry at best or wet cardboard at worst, also introducing all that air is a good way to introduce bacteria that can spoil the beer.

A simple plastic tube can be used to move beer around without introducing air and is pretty inexpensive. A guide on how to syphon can be found here.

Large spoon

This is a simple piece of equipment but you will make a mess without it. It doesn’t matter if you are making beer kits or if you brew all grain, you’ll need to stir large amounts of liquid that is often fairly deep. A long handled plastic spoon that can be sanitised is fine, if the handle is too short you won’t reach the bottom of your large pots or fermenting bins.

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Bottling Day Equipment

Once your beer is ready to bottled you will need to package it, here is what you’ll need on hand on bottling day

Sanitiser

As mentioned above, sanitising everything that will contact your beer is one of the most important aspects of brewing. Spend some money on proper sanitizing chemicals and do it as per the instructions.

Bottling bucket

A bottling bucket is not strictly necessary but is a huge help when it comes to bottling your beer. A bottling bucket is basically a fermenting bin with a tap at the bottom. When it comes to bottling your beer you will syphon your fermented beer out of the fermenting vessel into the bottling bucket and in the process leave behind all the old yeast. Now when you bottle you will have a lot less sediment in the bottles and a handy spigot to fill the bottles from. A bottling wand as explained further down can attach to the spigot and make bottling even easier.

Bottles

You’ve brewed the beer so now you need something to put it in. Bottles are the easiest option to begin with. You could opt to buy them from your local home brew shop, either glass or plastic will be fine as long as they hold pressure. My preference is to reuse bottles from beers you buy at the shops. Pretty much any beer bottle is suitable as long as it has a crown cap. Once it’s finished rinse it out and store them up until you have enough for your brew.

Bottle caps

If you plan to reuse glass bottles then you will need to cap them once they are filled. Crown caps are the same as the caps used by commercial breweries, they are supplied by home brew shops and are splayed out. You sit the cap on the bottle of beer and use a capper to fit the cap which makes the whole thing airtight and seals the beer.

Bottle Capper

A capper is a piece of equipment to properly seal the beers. As mentioned above the caps come with the edges splayed out. A bottle capper or crown capper simply pushes the splayed edges around the opening of the bottle and seals it. A variety of options are available from devices that use a hammer with to bench mounted cappers. The best to start with in my opinion is a plier type capper as pictured, these are pretty cheap and will seal thousands of beers without deteriorating.

Syphon Tubing with Racking Cane

As I said before, you should never pour beer- always syphon to avoid introducing oxygen. A racking cane is a rigid tube that attaches to the end of the syphon tubing, the end of the racking cane has a cap to ensure the end of the syphon sits above the sediment and doesn’t pull any up into the bottling bucket.

Bottling Wand

A bottling wand is truly a godsend when it comes to bottling day, if you can get one then consider it. You can attach the bottling wand to the end of the syphon tubing or even to the bottling bucket. You then insert the bottling wand into the bottle when it hits the bottom it starts the syphon and fills the bottle. When the bottles full you simply pull the wand up from the bottom of the bottle and it immediately stops syphoning.

This means you aren’t fiddling around with stopping and starting the syphon with beer splashing all over the kitchen flow, instead you can rattle through the bottling process much quicker and tidier.

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