You really don't need much to brew beer at home. A few buckets, some measuring tools, a hose or two, and you're good to go. This basic kit has everything your favorite budding homebrewer needs to get them started and see them through years of brewing - it has for us!
All of this equipment can be purchased at any homebrew or wine-making store. Many places have special deals on starter kits that have most, if not all, of this equipment included. If you can't find a homebrew store in your area, you can order the equipment from websites like Austin Homebrew Supply (//austinhomebrew.com) and Northern Brewer (//www.northernbrewer.com).
For more information on what each of these pieces of equipment is used for, take a look at our walk-through of the homebrewing process. Prices for these things will vary depending on where you go, but they should be close to those mentioned below.
1. Fermentation Bucket with Lid ($15) - Buy a bucket with at least a 5-gallon capacity, and make sure the lid has hole in it for the air lock.
2. Carboy ($25) - Carboys are available in either glass or food-grade plastic. Both have their merits and their drawbacks: glass is easier to sanitize and won't scratch as easily, while plastic is lighter and easier to handle. They'll cost about the same, so go with whichever you prefer. Either way, you want a 5-gallon capacity.
3. Brew Pot (roughly $40) - We'd recommend getting at least a 5-gallon stainless steel pot, as shown here. This is larger than you'll need for an all-extract beer, but perfect for a partial-grain beer. Not to mention your next chili bake-off.
4. Plastic Tubing ($1) - You'll most likely want a tube with a 3/8" internal diameter and that's at least 4 feet long (better too long than too short!). Double-check with the salesperson at the store to make sure you're buying the right sized tubing for your equipment.
5. Airlock ($1) and Carboy Stopper ($1) - Be sure to buy a stopper with a hole drilled through it so the airlock can fit snugly inside.
6. Hydrometer ($6) and Thermometer ($6) - A hydrometer is not the most essential piece of equipment here, but it's key to finding that all-important alcohol-by-volume measurement. Thermometers, on the other hand, really are essential for homebrewing. Make sure to buy one with a long temperature probe so that it will reach the middle of the pot without burning your fingers.
7. Racking Cane ($3) and Bottle Filler ($3) - These two hard plastic tubes make it possible to bottle without having to buy an extra bottling bucket with spigot. (Some people find bottling with a bucket easier, but personally, we'd rather do without another large piece of equipment.)
8. Butterfly Bottle Capper ($16) - A simple and functional way to attach caps to bottles.
9. Bottle Caps ($5 for around 150 caps) - Bottles can be re-used, but caps need to be new every time to create a good seal.
10. The Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian ($15) - Many of us regard this book as the bible of homebrewing. It guides you through basic and advanced brewing techniques, plus has plenty of other info a beer nerd will love.
TOTAL COST: $130 - $150
There are a few things we didn't include in this kit. You can include them if you're feeling especially generous, or leave it up to your beer buddy to procure.
• Beer Ingredient Kit - You can buy kits in every taste, style, and level of brewing intensity. Rather than try to guess what the giftee might want, we'd recommend letting them choose on their own. Ingredient kits usually run between $20 and $50.
• Sanitizer - Since sanitizers run the gamut in terms of chemicals used, we prefer to leave this up to the individual.
• Bottles - Beer bottles can be reused again and again. We save our commercial beer bottles, remove their labels, and use them for homebrewing.
Is there anything else you'd recommend including in a basic beer brewing kit?
We're grateful to Smithwick's Irish Ale, celebrating their 300 year anniversary, for this homebrewing kit. Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Image: Emma Christensen)