Brewing beer at home is a fun hobby that can be as simple or as complex as you are comfortable with. As long as you understand the basics and know how to avoid the top homebrewer mistakes, then you can enjoy whatever set up you go with.
There are many homebrewers that want a professionally outfitted system that resembles something out of a brewing company, and others who use whatever they can find in their garage.
In this article, we will go over a few setups that work great and will help you make the best beer possible.
Get a big kettle
You may think that you are starting out small and learning so you want to get a small kettle, or use a stockpot you already have.
This isn’t a bad idea, but you will quickly find out that smaller is not better even if you are new. Start with a large kettle, at least 7.5 gallons and you will end up saving money in the long run.
Once you start doing all-grain brewing, your small kettle will boil over and you will regret it when your kitchen turns into a disaster zone.
This is an extremely important part of the brewing process. After you boil your wort, it has to chill quickly so it gets out of the danger zone temperature where bad bacteria can grow. Once it is chilled, they can’t ruin your batch.
Your wort chiller can be as simple as a large cooler filled with ice where you submerge the kettle. This works fine in most cases, but it is not a quick cooling solution. Unless you are on a tight budget, I recommend going with an immersion chiller to rapidly cool your wort.
Transferring your brew from one container to another is called racking. Usually, a professional brewer uses a pump to transfer the liquid from one stainless steel container to another. For most homebrewers, you will use a siphon system that works just fine.
Make sure that your siphons are able to be easily disinfected and sterile before using them. If you can’t sterilize them, then you shouldn’t use them and look for a system that can be.
You’re going to be moving your beer around quite a bit. Even if you have a dedicated room just for making beer, it will need to be moved around.
Make it easy on yourself, and your back, by investing in a good carboy handle to easily transfer your beer around when you need to.
Blow off tube
Standard airlocks will get the job done with sealing off your brew from the air, while still allowing the gases to escape as it ferments. I do recommend using a more robust system, however.
Using a blow-off tube will give you a lot of wiggle room when it comes to keeping your fermentation in the right zone. For instance, if you are making beer in your garage, you may find that the brew is getting too cold. You’ll need to heat it and a standard airlock won’t allow that to happen.