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Let's Get Started: Brew Beer at Home

July 26, 2014 by Rick Morris

What Beginning Home Brewers Need to Know

One of the first things the new home brew enthusiast will need to do is order home brew equipment.  This basically consists of a 6-gallon glass carboy or plastic brewing bucket with an air lock, a brewing kettle (4 or 5-gallon pot), transfer tubes, thermometer, stirring spoon, grain bags, priming container, hydrometer (for measuring potential alcohol content), bottles, bottle capper, and some other basic home brewing equipment. 

If you have an extra 50 dollars, I would suggest you go ahead and purchase a wort chiller.  This is the copper tubing you may have seen at the brew store.  Without one, expect to wait an hour or so for your brew to cool before you can add your yeast.  A wort chiller does the job in about 10 minutes.  You'll thank me later!

Don't forget to get the ingredients for your first batch of beer!  I would just get a simple beer kit.  Choose something simple like a German Oktoberfest.

Here is what the basic ingredients and your first brew kettle will probably look like...

A basic home brew kit.   Steeping the grains is one of the first things you do in the home brewing process.

Oh, and a word about bottles... you can purchase beer bottles from your homebrew store, at about 90 cents each - or the cost of a typical beer!  So, to save money, simply start collecting the bottles from the beer you purchase. 

You'll need about 52 12-ounce bottles for a 5-gallon batch of beer.  NOTE:  No twist-off bottles!  You'll be capping your home brew with a beer capper.  And, foreign bottles like Heineken or Corona won't seal properly since they are slightly different in size when compared to the typical American bottles (and caps). 

If you are brewing a strong beer high in alcohol, such as a Belgian Tripel, then consider wire cap/swing top bottles or a cork bottling system.  Regardless the type of bottle, always shoot for collecting brown bottles.  Why?  Because brown bottles do not allow certain wavelengths of light to pass through - something that can produce off flavors in your beer.  For example, have you ever smelled the skunky smell coming off a Heineken?  That's not a production feature.  It's because somewhere during distribution, the beer has been exposed to light. 

Instead of ordering from a brewing supplies store in our directory and having to wait a week or so before you can get started in the home brewing hobby, make a quick visit to your local home brew supplies store.  Most larger towns have one or more anyway.  This is the quickest - and best - way to get started!  You can get your initial questions answered, and depending on how many brews the supply store people have drank today, most of the info will be accurate!  And, of course there are no shipping or handling charges. 

Obviously, if a brew store is nowhere near you, you'll have to get your supplies from one of our online stores.

Your next step?  Jump right in!  Perhaps asks a friend or neighbor to join you.  You'll need about 4 hours, generally, to brew your first extract-based beer.  Here are some guidelines on brewing your first batch of beer at home.


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