Brewing is an incredibly rewarding (and often intoxicating) hobby. Nothing is more rewarding than sharing a beer with friends that you have created yourself. However, there's a lot of specialized gear you need to start brewing at home. Luckily, most of it is fairly inexpensive, and most people start seeing a good return on investment after just a few batches.
As with anything in life, there's cheap stuff that doesn't work very well and incredibly expensive specialty stuff for connoisseurs. Russ carries something for every budget, but everything he sells is tested and proven to be a quality piece of hardware, no matter the cost. Don't get suckered by cheap, too-good-to-be-true beer brewing equipment the internet. Most people end up replacing that stuff after just a few batches, making them terrible investments. Buy quality gear and you'll make quality beer.
Here is a quick intro to some of the basic gear you'll use when home brewing.
Brew KettleA good brew kettle will make the whole job of brewing easier. Make sure you get one that is at least a few gallons bigger than the size of the batch of beer you intend to brew. An 8 gallon kettle is excellent for a 5 gallon beer kit.
While this is often the most expensive part of a new home brew setup, good quality brew kettles are still reasonably priced. A good kettle can last you a lifetime, so Russ recommends you think about investing a little more up front so you don't end up replacing it later as your skills (and your batch sizes) progress. You can make a 5 gallon batch in a 15 gallon kettle, but you can't make a 10 gallon batch in an 8 gallon kettle.
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Brew KitsThe best beer kits come from Brewer's Best! Brewing kits are the best way to get started brewing beer at home. You'll be using proven recipes and learn the brewing process under controlled conditions. Brewers Best Ingredient Kits come in 5 gallon or 1 gallon batch sizes.
There are recipes for every beer lover, from Imperial IPAs to Chocolate Milk Stouts, to Exotic Sours. They contain everything you need in perfectly measured proportions to brew excellent tasting beer every time. The perfect way to get started brewing.
Brewer's Best Beer Ingredient Kits contain:
Specialty Grains, Hops, Malt Extract Syrup, Yeast, Flavorings, a Grain Bag, Priming Sugar, Bottle Caps, and Easy-To-Follow Instructions.
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Primary Fermenter / Secondary FermenterThis is the vessel that sits in a warm, dark place and lets the yeast turn your sugary grain juice into beautiful alcohol-rich beer. Once again, get a bigger one than your batch as it needs some air at the top for outgassing. 6 gallon fermenters work for a 5 gallon batch.
There are several choices based on your budget and your personal preferences.
- Buckets - cheap, easy, effective.
- Glass Carboy - classic function without the weight of glass.
- Glass Carboy - Russ' pick. Glass won't scratch and scratches hold gunk.
- Conical Fermentor - The pro's choice.
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AirlockAirlocks are used during fermentation and are plugged into the fermentor. They keep air borne contaminants out of your beer while letting excess carbon dioxide escape.
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Wort Chillers cool your Wort (boiled grains + malt) down quickly so that you can add your yeast and get the magic started.
These will help you establish your original gravity (OG) and your specific gravity (SG) after fermentation. This tells you your alcohol content.
Many kitchen stoves don't get hot enough to boil 10+ gallons of water. You may need a propane burner to get your kettle up to temp.
Contaminants ruin beer. Star San sanitizes your gear so microscopic critters stay out of your beer and the yeast can work its magic.
Everything in brewing beer is science. Any time you step outside of your correct temperature range could mean disaster, so get a good thermometer.
Brewing Bags for Grain
The water easily flows in, the sugars easily flow out, but the grain stays in the bag. Easy to clean, easy to use.
Stirring Paddle / Spoon
Kettles are big, you need a big paddle or spoon to get to the bottom of them.
Funnels & Strainers
You'll be happy to have a few assorted things around to help you manage all the hot liquid you'll be working with.
You'll need to store your finished beer in a sealed container so that the carbonation doesn't escape. Russ always keeps a wide rage of bottles on hand.
You can try to pour it, but that gets messy fast. Use an inexpensive bottle filler to take the headaches out of bottling. Russ has several solutions for every budget.
This ingenious device holds the bottle cap and crimps it onto the bottle. Russ has hand-held models like this or easier to use stand models in stock.
All Grain Brewing
Once you've mastered the kits, it's time to move on to the big show. This is where your skill and creativity can help you create new types of beer that the world has never seen.
Hot Liquor Tank, Mash/Lauter Tun & Boil Kettle.
Most all grain brewers use a three-pot setup for brewing consisting of:
- Hot Liquor Tank - this is where you heat your water to 160 °F. for mashing.
- Mash/Lauter Tun (MLT) - Your insulated pot/cooler where you mash your grain, then lauter the mash.
- Boil Kettle - Used to boil the mash.
Ring of Fire
Make your boils go faster and more efficiently with the Ring of Fire from Wild Man Industrial . You will get more efficient heat transfer, getting you boiling faster with less fuel.
False Bottoms are screens that go in the bottom of your Mash Tun. They are part of most quality Mash Tuns, but any kettle can be used as a Mash Tun by using a generic false bottom.
Cracked grain lets the sugars escape into your wort. Russ will crack grain he sells for free, but if you are using your own grain, you'll need a grain mill.
Once you start kegging, it's hard to go back to bottling. Kegs are much easier to clean and sanitize then bottles. Plus, they're just cool.
Once you start kegging, you'll need some taps to get the beer back out! Russ has a wide selection of beer faucets, tap handles, and everything else you need.
CO 2 Systems
Russ has everything you need for your keg system, including new tanks of CO 2 . You can order empty tanks and hardware online, but full tanks cannot be shipped.