You won’t be able to start making beer without stocking up on home brewing equipment. But how do you know what to get?
To help you out, here is every piece of equipment I currently use in my own brewing.
Essential Home Brewing Equipment
Don’t be put off by the length of the list, as much of it you’ll already have.
Scroll down to find out more about each item.
For brew in a bag, which I recommend to all beginners, you need a minimum of a 30 litres/8 gallons pot with a lid.
Mine, similar to this, is made from aluminium – it works very well.
Although stainless steel pots are great, the cost makes them hard for beginner brewers to justify.
For preparing a little sterilised water. Essential with dried yeast, and useful anyway.
Whichever pan you already have is perfect.
This simple mesh bag lines the brew pot and lets you lift out malt without taking the liquid with it.
Mine is made from a cloth similar to linen.
To form a false bottom which prevents the malt from burning.
Made from metal.
Get a jug to measure (large) quantities of water. Food grade plastic is OK, although glass is better.
On brew day you need several containers for storing sanitiser or sterilised water (for miscellaneous rinsing or hydrating of yeast).
Typically batches are up to 20 litres/5 gallons, so your fermentation bucket should be at least that size. They are commonly available in food grade plastic with sealed lids.
I use a plastic bucket, and it’s great for most purposes.
The airlock fits into the top of the fermentation bucket and allows gases to escape during fermentation whilst keeping airborne bacteria out.
The most common type is the bubbler which you fill with sanitised liquid to form a seal.
It fits into a small hole in the lid of the fermentation bucket with a rubber stopper, so be sure this is included with the airlock.
Yeast starter jar
When you use dried yeast you must rehydrate it first in sterile water.
This can be done in any old jar (that’s been thoroughly cleaned and sanitised).
Brewers using beer kits can get away without a set of scales, but as soon as you start preparing your own recipes weighing hops and malt becomes important.
The balance should be accurate to the nearest gram as hops are used in small quantities.
If you’re serious about home brewing make notes every time you brew.
These become invaluable when repeating a successful beer or working out what went wrong with an unsatisfactory batch.
Even better, print off some brewing record sheets.
Syphoning tube, Racking Cane and Bottling Wand
On bottling day you transfer the fermented beer from the bucket to your bottles. The simplest method is with a flexible plastic tube.
The process can be made infinitely more enjoyable by adding a racking cane and bottling wand.
The wand regulates the flow of beer so the syphon can be moved from bottle to bottle without spilling beer everywhere.
The cane goes into the fermenter and stops the tube flapping around and stirring up sediment from the bottom.
For removing debris from the brew pot after boiling.
This is best as a dedicated home brew item, because oils from other foods can spoil a beer’s head.
Sanitised equipment is everything in brewing. If bacteria gets into your fermenter or bottles you’ve probably ruined a batch.
I swear by Star San.
Buy several colours so you can tell your beers apart.
Empty Plastic Bottles
For making large blocks of ice for rapid cooling and for storing sanitiser. 6 or 7 is ideal.
These are extremely useful when using a no rinse sanitiser such as Star San.
The liquid can be quickly splashed over equipment just before use.
Also, when sealing the fermenter I spray the rim to ensure that no bacteria enter the wort at the last minute.
Home Brew Bottles
Size is matter of personal preference, I prefer 500ml.
Collect any bottles you drink. Rinse immediately and they’ll be good to use in brewing.
Obviously this needs to be long enough to reach deep into the brew pot. Food grade plastic or metal spoons are best.
Avoid wooden and other rough surfaced items as these are breeding grounds for bacteria.
Temperatures are critical in home brewing.
You need to measure the temperature of the wort (at various stages), the temperature of the mash, and the temperature of the yeast before pitching.
A simple glass thermometer will do, although they are fragile and often break so be careful.
Hydrometers measure the density of a liquid.
You float it in the beer and take readings to measure the amount of sugar before and after fermentation. The difference before and after can be used to determine the alcohol content.
Hydrometer Test Jar
Although I didn’t realise it at first, this is a very handy piece of brewing equipment. You take a sample of beer and lower in the hydrometer to take a reading.
Although you can float the hydrometer directly in the fermenter or brew pot, it’s a lot easier with a test jar. With small batches in a wide brew pot, it’s near impossible to measure gravity without one.
If you reuse old bottles clean them thoroughly inside. It’s hard to get in to remove debris without a bottle brush.
Capper and Hammer
The most basic bottle capper is a tool that you hit with a hammer.
It’s easy to use but carries with it the risk breakages. This is especially true of 330ml bottles, made of thinner glass.
Perhaps the most important piece of equipment. Get a good brush and dedicate it to your beer making.