Brewing Beer at Home: Basic Homebrewing Equipment

Beer Sessions

We are absolutely giddy at the prospect of brewing our own beer. It's something that we've wanted to do for quite some time, and this weekend we finally took the plunge! Want to join us? Here's the basic equipment you'll need:

1. Equipment Overview - We were surprised at how little equipment we actually needed. We bought everything at our local homebrew store (The Winemaker's Shop in Columbus, Ohio), and the total came to about $100 for the equipment with an additional $30 for the ingredient kit.

2. A Really Big Pot - We didn't actually buy this at the store, but used a stock pot we already owned. It should be big enough to hold at least 3-4 gallons.

3. An 8-Gallon Plastic Bucket - This will hold the brewed wort during the primary fermentation. The lid is air-tight once it's snapped on and has a small hole where we will put the air lock.

4. A 6-Gallon Glass Carboy - This will be used for the secondary fermentation. We'll talk more about the primary and secondary fermentation when we actually brew the beer.

5. Airlock - This will go in the lid of the plastic bucket (and later, the carboy). It allows the carbon dioxide being produced by the yeast to escape without letting any outside air - and outside bacteria - into the bucket of fermenting beer.

6. Racking Cane, Siphon Tube, Clamp - We'll use this tubing to siphon the beer from the primary fermentation bucket into the carboy, and then later into the individual bottles themselves.

7. Sanitizer - The tagline of homebrewers everywhere is Sanitize! Sanitize! Sanitize! Unlike canning, the risk is not so much that improperly sanitized beer will spoil or make you ill - the alcohol content takes care of that risk. But if outside bacteria or wild yeast take up residence in your beer, they can cause some really funky and unpleasant flavors.

8. Bottle Capper and Bottle Caps - We can re-use old beer bottles for our homebrew, but they will need new caps. We'll use this crazy-looking contraption to seal the new caps onto the bottles.

9. Beer Ingredient Kit - Since this was our first batch of homebrew, we decided to start with the simplest, most straight-forward method. This kit contains pre-hopped malt extract and a packet of yeast. All we have to do is combine the extract with water, add the yeast, and let it ferment away. We figure we'll get the basic procedure down before venturing into the world of grain mashes, hops, and custom beer yeasts!

So far, we've found the homebrewing community to be incredibly helpful and supportive. If you want to brew along with us, we recommend looking up local homebrew stores or winemaking stores (which also usually carry beer-making supplies) and talking with the salespeople. We'll be posting about the first stage of our brewing adventure in another two weeks.

Do you have a favorite local homebrew store to recommend?

Related: How to Make Soda Water at Home

(Images: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)