Home brewers need not have the fanciest or most expensive equipment in order to produce beer that is of top quality. However the myriad of products available online and at specialty distributor’s retail outlets may confuse beginners. Amazon and other e-stores usually stock a number of complete kits ranging in price and complexity, but those who are just getting started as home brewers should learn the basics of beer making and the essential supplies before they overspend.
When shopping online for products, consumers will see that the basic kits contain several specialized items that are not often found at the neighborhood hardware store. Many of these brewing supplies are very affordable, and even a small kit will suffice to produce about five gallons of brew at a time.The Brewing Vessel — Because of the use of hops, malted barley extract and yeast, the pail chosen should be about 15 percent larger than the amount of beer being made. Brewing works best when the pail is not completely full but has room at the top for escaping gases during fermentation. A 7-gallon polyethylene bucket will work fine, but be sure to order one that has a hole at the top for the fermentation lock.
Saccharometer And Fermentation Cap — A complete home brewing kit will contain these, but if the home beer maker wishes to build a kit from scratch, ordering one of each is necessary. The fermentation cap allows for the escape of carbon dioxide during fermentation, but does not allow outside air to get in. The saccharometer is a special tool that measures the sugar content of liquids; the sugar level indicated after the water, sugar and malt extract are mixed together is approximately twice the resulting alcohol content. If bought separately, make sure the cap will fit the hole on the brewing vessel; this connection must be airtight.
Siphon Hose And Relief Vessel — As long as it is sanitized a clear plastic tube will work fine; again these are often included in a store bought kit, but if purchased separately it should be long enough to reach well below the level of the brewing vessel. Siphoning will not work unless the vessel is above the level of the relief container, which can be made of the same material and should also be at least 7 gallons in volume. The relief vessel should also have a tight-fitting lid that will accept the fermentation cap.
Thermometer — If not included in a complete kit, beginners should purchase one that reads accurately above the boiling point of water. High temperature thermometers will be clearly marked as being safe for use in very high temperature liquids.
With these simple tools, the beginner is now ready to produce his or her first batch of home brew. All that is needed now is the brewer’s yeast, sugar, water, barley malt extract and the oils from hops.