Brewing School‎ > ‎

Brewing Equipment

This info was put together by Kristen England. If you have any questions, comments or input please let him know.
Books - There is no point of doing anything unless you read up and understand what you are doing first. The interwebs is full of mook experts that bicker and usually know not of which they speak. These three books I think are mandatory in every brewers library.
Begining Brewer - How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time by John Palmer - Everything needed to brew beer right the first time. Presented in a light-hearted style without frivolous interruptions, this authoritative text introduces brewing in a easy step-by-step review.
Advanced Brewing - Brewing Lager Beer by Greg Noonan - This book offers a thorough yet practical education on the theory and techniques required to produce high-quality beers using all-grain methods either at home or in a small commercial brewery.
All Brewers - Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles by Ray Daniels - Great book used correctly. Following verbatim is a bad idea. You need to use it to see HOW one puts a recipe together and use ingredients rather than just using what 'winning' beers were comprised of in 1996. Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide To Brewing Classic Beer Styles is more than just a recipe book or merely another "how-to" manual, it is an indispensable guide intended for brewers interested in formulating their own beers based on classic styles, modern techniques, and their own vision of the perfect beer.

Logbook - Make on your own or buy one. It doesn't matter. Brewers of all skill levels need to be able to write everything down that they do, and not just of the day brewing but going forward with the finished beer adding tasting notes. There is no point in writing out what you've done if you aren't going to go back and put in comments about it.

Good Thermometer and Timer - Seriously, this shouldn't need to be said. A spendy digital one or a plain lab glass one. Just make sure that whatever you use is RIGHT. A good digital timer that can be set for numerous points takes all the guess work out of boil times, hop additions, etc.

Wort Chiller - Most important purchase you can make. Nothing will make a difference in your beers as drastically as the ability to chill them. Clarity, stability, infection, etc.

Oxygenation System - A very close 2nd to the chiller. Oxygen is so absolutely vital that the only reason a chiller beats it is the unique ability of new brewers to infect their beers because of the time it takes to chill.

Yeast Starter Kit - One could brew low gravity beers, use numerous smack packs or just use dry yeast. However to brew anything one wants to brew at any gravity, yeast is of the utmost importance and the number and health are even more so.

Stir Plate - The faster you get your yeast to multiply the better. The more active and healthy your yeast, the better they will be. It's not just the number but quality.

Refractometer - Makes life much easier and will always be right. No monkeying about with pulling massive samples. Two drops and you have your OG and FG. I would put this higher b/c of how much you will use it but you don't really NEED it. Now for all the people that come in and by 3 hydrometers a year b/c they keep breaking them, just buy a refract. They are about 6x the price but you WILL break 6 hydro's over the course of a few years...just don't break your refract.

Large Boil Kettle w/ mash screen insert (can be used for both boil and mash) - One can make great beer with partial boils however to make a beer come out the way it was intended, color, flavor, hopping, etc one really needs a large boil kettle. If you are going to drop the coin on a nice one, by stainless, it will last forever. Also, might as well get one with a spigot and the ability to have a mash screen b/c you can use them for both.

Mash Tun (see above) - If you already have a decent kettle then stepping up to all grain is actually not expensive. Coolers are always on sale and I've made ones that cost around $30 all said and done. The cost savings on malt extract alone makes it numerical sense. The ability to do any style of beer you choose the even more important.

Hot Liquor Tun - A series of small pots can do the job ok. One really wants all the liquor in the same tun at the same pH for sparging. I really doesn't matter the material for this kettle.

pH Meter - pH strips blow, the spendy ones are great but cost about 1/3 the price of a decent meter. Get a good one with auto-temperature correction. If you are going to go all grain, this is mandatory.

Pump - If you have all of the equipment above, a pump will make your life absolutely easier. Two pumps actually make it about 5x faster and easy to get things done.

Lager Fridge - Not mandatory in the least. If you really want to brew lagers, you need one. A serving fridge can serve as both. You'll just be drinking beer at 50F for a week or two.

Keg Setup - Not going to put this in any sort of rank. This is very much personal. Some people get into kegging right away, so wait and some don't. It's a spendy set up for sure. That being said, I've never met anyone that started kegging and have said they didn't think it was worth every penny. Just make sure that if you do lager, using kegs makes your life 100x easier.

There are other things that you'll need along the way. I'm assuming you will have spoons, carboys, etc.