Sunday, December 21, 2008

So You Want To Brew?

Over the last couple of months some people have asked what one needs to get started brewing. Basically you need to two things (1) a bucket and (2) and some pot ... um, I mean a pot. Actually you need a couple of other things as well.

First, If your really interested in doing it right (not Mr. Beer), it would be a wise investment to purchase or checkout from the library, "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" by Charlie Papazian. Its a great guide to getting started. I've also heard good things about, "How to Brew" by John Palmer. Either one or both will get you set in the right direction.

Basic Equipment includes:

-A Brewpot: If your lucky you may already own a suitable pot. You need a pot that can hold at least 4 gallons. Realistically if you enjoy brewing you'll probably invest in a 10+ gallon brewpot eventually. But to get started just borrow a 4 gallon pot from someone if you don't have one already.

-Stirring spoon


-grain bag: you can these things at a homebrew shop or online for less than a buck. Well worth it, the first couple of batches I brewed, I did not use one of these guys and it is a mess trying to get steeped grain out of the pot before you start your full boil

-hydrometer and test vial: important because it will tell you how my alcohol is in your homebrew hooch


-Carboy with stopper and airlock: plastic or glass will both work. Both have their advantages, plastic is lighter and thus easy to move around, but it retains the brewing odor (basically hops) due to being somewhat porous. Glass is cool because you can actually watch your beer ferment, but they tend to be heavier and there is always the off chance that you might drop it and it will shatter.

You can buy these at any homebrew shop or online. You can also pick up the plastic carboys at home depot for cheap, they require a little modification, but nothing that a wireless drill can't handle.

-vinyl tubing for siphoning

-bottle caps

-bottle capper

-about 50 cleaned beer bottles

-Cleaning solution

You pretty much need all of this to get started and then there is infinite extra gear that is available that makes life easier, but you'll figure out what you need/want after doing a couple batches.

A great idea is to purchase a beginner setup from a website like or They both have reasonably price beginner setups. Also if you have a local homebrew shop, they can help you get setup with the appropriate equipment.

Last, you are going to need some ingredients. Its probably easiest to pick up a kit that comes with all of the ingredients you would need to brew a specific style of beer, such as these extract kits. Most kits will come with malt extract, yeast, specialty grains, priming sugar, and hops!

Spend some time reading up before you get started and you'll have a successful first brew day.


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