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Basic Home Brewing Equipment

I’ve collected a nice assortment of brewing equipment over the last two years of brewing.  I started out using just the basic supplies, but I’ve been able to add newer, bigger, better brewing equipment as I’ve gone along.

As I refer to my brewing equipment a lot in my posts, I wanted to create a page that shows most of what I’m working with.  I’ll to this as I get new toys.

Most of my equipment has been collected slowly over the last two years, and can be used for extract or All Grain brewing.  I only have a few pieces of equipment that I specifically bought for AG Brewing: The Mash Tun, Hot Liquor Tank, larger Brew Pot, and Wort Chiller.  I purchased my pieces from a variety of places, but mostly my local homebrew shop & eBay.

Mash Tun and Hot Liquor Tank

If you’re going to make an All Grain batch of brew, you’ll probably want a Mash Tun and HLT.  Mine are simply converted Igloo coolers.  If you wanted to save money, you could easily make these yourself.  For the sake of laziness… or so I could brew sooner, I just grabbed these from an eBay auction for about $120.

Each of these coolers and 5 gal. coolers, which is plenty for almost any 5 gallon batch of beer.  If you make larger batches, they also sell these in 10 gal. and other sizes.  The Mash Tun has a stainless steel mesh hose in the bottom that is great for collecting wort, while leaving behind the crushed grains.  This would be in alternative to a false bottom.  The lid of the Mash Tun has a sparge manifold consisting of tubing with small holes in it.  The hot water flows from the HLT in to the Mash Tun through this piece, gently sprinkling the grains with water to rinse the sugars away.

Brew Pot & Wort Chiller

Once you move to All Grain, you’ll need to boil all 5 gallons of wort at once, usually starting with about 6.5 gal.  To get myself started, I purchased a Turkey Fryer on clearance at Lowes (after the Holidays).  Buying a kit gets you both the propane burner and a big brew pot in one purchase and can keep your initial costs down.  I made the mistake of buying a burner with a guard rail, though, so ONLY my pot will fit on it unless I make some ‘modifications’.

If you’re boiling 5+ gallons of wort, you’ll also need to chill 5+ gallons of wort.  A wort chiller of some sort is kind of a must-have device.

It’s fairly easy to make your own wort chiller, so I saved about $25 and did that part myself.  You’ll probably end up with a nicer looking wort chiller if you spend the extra money and buy a ‘good’ one… but does it really need to look nice to make beer cold?  Nope!  If I had it to do again, or more money, I would have gone with a longer spool of copper tubing.  More surface area should help the wort cool quicker.

I’ve recently updated my brewpot and burner. Will update the picture as soon as I have a chance. I purchased both from Amazon, and from what I can gather they are both very commonly used for Home Brewers like myself. The burner is the Bayou Classic SQ14 Single Burner Outdoor Patio Stove. My new stainless steel brew pot is Bayou Classic 1036, 36-Qt. Stainless Pot

The Boil & Misc Equipment

For my indoor, extract brews, I have always used a cheap 21 qt Stock Pot that I picked up for about $24.  There are MUCH better pots for boiling wort, but I’ve pulled off some pretty decent beer with mine, so it’ll work!

I have a small digital scale that I use for measuring hops and specialty grains.  Not sure how I’d be able to brew without one of these.

My stirring paddle is marked to show me the level of each gallon in my brew pot.  This can be really helpful, especially when collecting from the mash tun.

My strainer is semi-special in that it’s got some sort of coating on the wire mesh.  I’ve read with normal mesh you have to be careful about cleaning, as all the crevices can hide contaminants.  My strainer is starting to lose it’s awesome, but I haven’t been able to find a replacement.  I may try a colander, but I wouldn’t expect it to work as well.

Fermentation Equipment

My fermenting and bottling buckets are just your basic “starter kit” pieces.  My bottling bucket was picked up years before my fermenter, so they’re a little different.  I may eventually move up to a 6 gal. carboy for fermentation, but I haven’t seen a reason to drop the extra money yet.  There are 2 sticky thermometers on the fermenting bucket that barely work, but you can get a decent idea between the two of them.

I use a 5 gallon glass carboy for secondary fermentation.  As it’s a secondary, I don’t need a blow-off tube, just a stopper and airlock.

Atop the fermenting bucket is my sanitizer of choice, Star San.  I’ve also shown my racking cane (on the bottling bucket), and a short piece of tubing that I use for racking beer from vessel to vessel.

This Brewing Equipment Kitis similar to what I started out using.

Odds & Ends

Aerating System

At the time of writing, I haven’t even gotten to use this stuff yet, but I’m pretty excited.  While reading the Yeast book, I realized that I wanted to start aerating my wort.  To this point, I’ve poured the wort through a strainer and stirred, but that’s it.  Proper aeration can be crucial to good yeast health, so I’m hoping to get better beer in the future.

The Aeration Kit is pretty basic stuff.  My setup includes an oxygen regulator, a small oxygen tank (available at any home improvement store), tubing, and a stainless steel 2 micron air stone on a 22” stainless steel wand.

A person could use an aquarium pump, but you need to filter the air, and you’re looking at 15minutes vs. less than 60 seconds.

Beer Fridge

One of my first great acquisitions in brewing was my beer fridge.  My fridge was retired from an auto repair shop.  It was dirty, inefficient, and covered in stickers.  So, pretty much perfect.  I cleaned it up, and now I use to keep my fermenter and secondary at the perfect temperature.  If you don’t already have a beer fridge, it’s worth checking something like Craigslist.  If you’ve got a way to haul a fridge, there’s always somebody that wants to get rid of an old one.   P.S. – if you go the Craigslist route, confirm that it works before you haul it.   This is especially true if you get to haul it out of a small basement, up a set of stairs, down another set of stairs, and in to the bed of a truck for the better part of two hours.  Speaking from experience…

Temperature Controller

Combined with my old beer fridge, this Freezer Temperature Controller is a must have for me in the Summertime.  I can keep my fermentation temps right where I want them with this great device.

Basically, you put the temperature probe inside the fridge, and the unit will turn the fridge off and on to maintain the temperature.  I wouldn’t say that the temperature dial is incredibly accurate, but I also keep a thermometer in my fridge, so I can set it cooler or warmer based on actual temperatures.

They also make digital controllers and others that can work for warming as well as cooling.  These aren’t cheap, but very nice to have.

New to Homebrewing?

From time to time I like to write about products or equipment that I have used, or continue to use.  Check out these pages for some additional brewing info!

Buying the Best Beginner Brewing Kit
Book Review : Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation.
Making a Yeast Starter
Making a Wort Chiller

 

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