Homebrewers quickly learn one important lesson: Many different pieces of equipment are necessary to brew a batch of beer from start to finish and there are optional types of equipment that can be helpful, but not necessarily essential. If you’re ready to get started, keep in mind that certain items are essential. At the very least, the homebrewing operation should include:
1. Steel pot (for boiling the wort- should have a large capacity around five gallons).
2. Hydrometer and holder
3. Stainless Steel Brewing Spoon
4. Measuring cup
5. Funnel with filtering insert
7. Glass Carboy or other fermentation vessel
8. Rubber stopper for carboy with small opening
10. Plastic tubing for siphoning/transferring
11. Bottling bucket
12. Bottle Brush
13. Approx. 50 clean, 12 oz. bottles (or size and number that will accommodate five gallons of beer).
14. Bottle caps
15. Bottle capper
Once the homebrewer is more familiar with the process, he/she will likely want to upgrade to more sophisticated and more time- saving equipment. Optional equipment includes:
1. Wort chillers
2. Special filtering devices
3. Grain and hop bags
4. Aeration systems
5. Brewing pumps
6. Bottle racking tree
7. Table mounted bottle capper
8. Carboy handle
This is just a sample of the many items available to help the homebrewer make a better batch of beer. Beginners and others can often save themselves some money by seeking out brewing equipment packages. These already include the necessary equipment to get started at a discount from the price it would cost if each item was purchased seperately. A basic set of equipment can be purchased as a package, often for less than $100.
Basic equipment isn’t very expensive, but it is only a matter of time before the homebrewing enthusiast recognizes the need/desire for better equipment. Most of these more advanced pieces of equipment are very useful, but they also carry a price. Wort chillers, brewing pumps, and aeration systems can easily add anywhere from $100 to $500 more to the cost of your equipment. One needs to think carefully about making this type of investment. If homebrewing is quickly becoming a tried- and- true hobby and multiple batches of beer are brewed each year, then the investment could prove to be a good one. On the other hand, those with a fleeting interest in homebrewing would be wise to stick with the basic equipment package.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to purchase plenty of cleaning and sanitation chemicals. Equipment that hasn’t been properly cleaned and sanitized can result in a ruined batch of beer that could be undrinkable. The hours of effort and the weeks of aging could all be for nothing. This is why is it critical to clean and sanitize everything that comes in contact with the beer.
Keep your equipment in top shape, replace anything that breaks, and invest in better equipment if a practical need exists. And enjoy your homebrewing hobby to the fullest!