With my interest piqued and support from my adorable wife I decided to give home brewing a crack. This was over 15 months ago now and I have learned a lot during this time. I would characterize myself as a beginner still, working through all the basic styles, trying out various techniques such as dry hopping, brew additions, different boil times, and playing around with the various ingredients. Brewing is a journeyman profession you never stop learning.
Before you can get started with home brewing some basic equipment is required:
The brew kettle: Required to boil your ingredients. They come in various sizes, I have found the 5 gallon works for me. Useful for boiling lobster also.
A Carboy. They come in all shapes and sizes and are made in both glass and food grade plastic. I prefer the glass, they last forever assuming you don’t drop them of course. A carboy is used to ferment your brew. You will also need a good supply of bungs and airlocks to allow the CO2 to escape and the outside air from getting in.
A Brewers Bucket. This is one of the most useful pieces of equipment you can own. I use the bucket primarily for bottling but they can be used as a cheaper alternative to a carboy (above). I highly recommend getting a bucket with a spigot pre-installed. No other bottling equipment is required if you do. All you have to do is position the bottle under the spigot, turn on the tap to fill, turn off when you are done.
Beer Bottles. You need something to put the ale in to condition and serve. We will get to kegging in a much later post as it does require some additional expertise. Bottling beer is clean, efficient and cheap. You can either buy them online or reuse the bottles from your local beer store. Either way you will need a good supply of caps and a bottle capper.
The above list is enough to get started. I would also recommend purchasing a bottle and carboy cleaning brush, some good quality siphon tubing, a large funnel, and a hydrometer (to figure the alcohol content of your brew). Most good brewing suppliers provide a good starter kits to make getting up and running as smooth as possible. I bought mine from OakBarrel and NorthernBrewer has as good range of kits also. Most starter kits do not include a kettle so don’t forget to order one. You should be able to get everything you need to get started for ~$150 or less.
So get online and order away. Next time we will review a brewers basic ingredients before launching into our first recipe.