Homebrewing 101: Getting Started

Homebrewing 101

If you couldn’t already tell from the title, the focus of this series is going to be all about homebrewing! This series will be broken down into four parts: first, what you need to get started; the second will focus on the brewing process itself; part three will focus on bottling and/or kegging your beer; and finally, I’ll go over how to identify common problems and their solutions.

I love homebrewing because my knowledge is constantly expanding based on experience. Every time I brew, I encounter some new hurdle that I need to overcome and figure out. That’s fun for me, but what’s even better is the people you meet along the way. Other homebrewers are almost always willing to lend a helping hand (or a piece of equipment) if you need it. Make friends with the people you meet at the homebrew store or out at breweries and plan a brew day! Before you know it, you’ll find yourself fully immersed in this fun hobby!

This first post in the series is designed to be a sort of checklist for what you’ll need in order to get started with this new hobby. Print it out and use it as your guide!

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

Cleaning supplies:

  • High quality cleaner (I suggest PBW)
  • High quality sanitizer (Star San is my favorite)

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Brewing/fermenting supplies (musts):

  • Boil kettle (I’d recommend starting with an 8-gallon)
  • Large stirring spoon
  • Santizing bucket
  • Carboy with rubber stopper
  • Airlock
  • Vinyl tubing
  • Siphon
  • Funnel
  • Mesh steeping or hop bags
  • Wort chiller (optional, but very useful)

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Additional brewing supplies for all-grain method only:

  • Mash/lauter tun with false bottom (7-10 gallon cooler or kettle with a ball valve)
  • Hot liquor tank (7-10 gallon kettle with ball valve)
  • Propane burner (or other high powered heat source)

Scientific stuff:

  • Waterproof thermometer (minimum tolerance of 220F)
  • Hydrometer
  • pH meter (optional, but necessary if you want to adjust your water)

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Bottling/Kegging supplies:

  • Bottling only:
    • Bottles
    • Bottle brush
    • Bottle filler
    • Bottle caps
    • Bottle capper
    • Racking cane
    • Priming sugar
  • Kegging only:
    • Cornelius keg
    • CO2 tank
    • Regulator
    • Vinyl tubing for gas & beer lines
    • Party tap/hand held tap OR Kegerator

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Ingredients (exact specifications vary depending on the recipe):

  • 6 gallons or so of bottled spring water (you could use reverse osmosis water if it’s accessible to you and are comfortable manipulating water chemistry)
  • Malt extract or grain
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Hops

I find the easiest way to make sure you have all the correct ingredients is to buy a beer kit, especially if you’re just starting out. These kits will contain the malt extract, hops and yeast you’ll need for your desired style. Just add water!

Look up your local homebrew supply store and pay them a visit. If you’re more of an online order person, I’d recommend the following sites:

www.morebeer.com
www.northernbrewer.com
www.homebrewsupply.com

Keep an eye out for part two, where I’ll detail the actual homebrew process. In the meantime be sure pick up your equipment and ingredients!

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