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Buying Your First Home Brew Supplies Kit

July 26, 2014 by Rick Morris

The Basics of Brewing Equipment

So, you've decided to become a home brewer!  Congratulations!  Your desire to see what all the fuss is about has led you to one of your first considerations in brewing beer at home: where do I get my beer brewing supplies, equipment, starter kit, etc?

My advice for the newcomer is to first determine if there is a home brew supplies store in your area.  Check out our brewing supplies directory here

If a supplier can not be found close by, your next step would be to clearly search the internet.  There are plenty of businesses that sell supplies for the home brewer on the Net.

Regardless of where you go to get your home brewing equipment, you'll have plenty of choices on what to purchase.  Some items you will definitely need, while others, such as a 6-gallon glass carboy fermenter can wait. 

Perhaps the best approach is to just buy a complete brewing kit.  These typically are of the "ale pale" variety, and include everything you need to brew a basic 5-gallon batch of beer.  Generally speaking, five gallons is the standard brewing level for most brewing kits in the hobby.  From that, you'll get about 50 to 52 12-ounce bottles of beer.

The ale pale will arrive with the following items in the 6.5 gallon fermenting bucket:

1.  air-lock - this neat little device connects to the fermenter lid, and allows air to escape during the fermentation process, while keeping out bacteria, wild yeast, dust, etc.

2.  thermometer - self-explanatory.

3.  hydrometer - this floating device measures the potential alcohol content of your beer.  You use it to take a "specific gravity" readying of your cooled wort, and another after fermentation is complete.  The difference between the two is used to calculate actual abv of your home brew.

4.  rubber hose - gotta get the wort from the fermenter to the racking bucket.

5.  racking cane - connects to the rubber hose and is placed in the fermentor during the process of moving your brew to the racking bucket.  The racking cane has a small device at the bottom which helps move the brew while leaving as much yeast/trub sediment as possible in the fermenter.

6.  bottle capper - a tool for placing the caps securely on bottles.

7.  bottle caps - need I explain?

8.  simple home-brewers book - a quick introduction into home brewing is provided.

9.  bottle brush - used to clean bottles.  Hopefully, as you drink your home brew, you'll take care in immediately washing each bottle after pouring.

10.  bucket lid - goes on the fermenter.  Has a small hole with a rubber gasket where the air-lock is attached.

11.  spigot - a simple valve with handle which connects to the racking bucket and aids in moving your beer to bottles.

12.  bottle filler device - a 10-inch hard plastic tube, with a spring-loaded release valve at the bottom.  Allows you to fill your bottles from the bottom up, reducing the amount of oxygen in your bottles when capped.

13.  cleaner - usually a powder in a small tub.  Used for cleaning your home-brewing equipment.  It is not a sanitizer!  You'll need something like "Iodophor" for that.

14.  racking bucket - a second bucket into which your fully-fermented brew is moved just prior to bottling.  This one contains the spigot and bottle filler connection.

15 - carboy/secondary - This is the big glass "bottle" you see in the image above.  It is either 5 or 6 gallons in size, and usually replaces the primary (plastic bucket) as the source for fermentation, and sometimes acts as a secondary (5-gallon).

What you won't find in a home-brewer's starter kit is a beer recipe kit.  You know, the ingredients for brewing your first batch of beer.  You'll need to purchase that separately.  A typical home brew ngredient kit includes liquid or dry malt extract, hop pellets, and yeast.  Some come with a grain bag containing about 1 pound of crushed grains.  Cost?  About $30.  Add this to the $60 for the starter kit and your total initial investment is going to be about $100.

On thing I would recommend you buy early on is a wort chiller.  These cost about $40 to $60 (depending on the size).  Their function?  To cool the boiled brew to around 75 degrees F as quickly as possible - usually about 10 to 15 minutes.  If you choose to cool your wort in an ice bath in the sink, expect it to take at least an hour or more.  Honestly, I don't know why we didn't purchase a wort chiller in the beginning.  It is more than worth it's weight in copper...


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