Beer School

Beer School Weekend Assignment 1: Shop for Brewing Equipment and Ingredients

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)
(Image credit: Henry Chen)
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Grab your shopping bags, all you soon-to-be homebrewers! After talking through the timeline for how beer is brewed and going over both the major ingredients and the detailed equipment list, it’s time to actually head out and buy everything you need.

I have shopping lists for you to print out or pull up on your phones, plus a little orientation to shopping at a homebrew store if this is your first time. Together, we’ll outfit your new home brewery and make sure you’re ready to brew your first batch of beer. You have all weekend and the rest of next week to get your gear before next weekend’s Brew Day!

(Image credit: Henry Chen)

Visit Your Local Homebrew Store

Homebrew stores are popping up in neighborhoods far and wide — a quick Internet search can help you find the closest one to you. Every homebrew store is a little different, but they all share the same basic elements. You can take a look around my local homebrew store, MoreBeer, in Los Altos, California, in the slideshow above. It’s my home base for all things beer and the guys who work there have become trusted advisors for my brewing experiments.

On your first visit to your local homebrew store, take a minute to just walk through and get oriented before you start searching for supplies — or better yet, introduce yourself to the store clerk and ask them to show you around. If there’s one thing that the people who work in homebrew stores love more than brewing beer, it’s introducing new people to the hobby.

All the brewing equipment will be generally grouped together — shiny new brewpots, stacks of plastic buckets, coils of tubing, racks of everything from bottle fillers to hydrometers. Grains are usually stored in big bins, with dry and liquid malt extracts on shelves nearby. You’ll find the yeast and hops you need in refrigerators; any extras, like honey, spices, sugar for bottling, and so on, will likely be displayed close to each other on shelves.

Some stores welcome you to serve yourself, others like to do it for you; definitely check before assuming either. If your store is out of an ingredient or piece of equipment that you need, ask the store clerk. Every store will stock slightly different things, but they may be able to suggest a close substitution or somewhere nearby where you can find the missing item.

Can’t find a homebrew store nearby?

I recommend these online retailers:

You can also find a lot of equipment on, though they don’t carry a lot of brewing ingredients.

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Step inside a homebrew store! (Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Your Homebrewing Shopping List

1-Gallon Equipment List

  • 2- to 3-gallon stockpot with a lid
  • Long-handled spoon
  • 10-inch strainer or 5-quart colander
  • Hydrometer and hydrometer tube
  • 2-gallon plastic bucket with lid
  • Airlock
  • 1-gallon jug
  • Jug stopper (with a hole), sized to fit in the jug
  • 13-inch autosiphon
  • 3 feet of 5/16-inch plastic tubing
  • Tubing clamp
  • Bottle filler
  • Bottle capper
  • 10 bottle caps
  • 10 (12-ounce) beer bottles
  • Sanitizer, such as StarSan

All-Grain Amber Ale

Ingredients for a 1-gallon all-grain batch

  • 1 tube or pouch White Labs California Yeast, Wyeast American Ale Yeast, or equivalent
  • 1 pound (454 grams) pale ale malt, milled
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) Crystal/Caramel 20 malt, milled
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) Caramunich malt, milled
  • .45 ounces (12 grams) Cluster pellet hops
  • 1/4 teaspoon Irish moss
  • .80 ounces (22 grams) corn sugar, for bottling
(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

Before You Leave the Store

Before you rush out the door with all your goodies, double check that you have everything on your list (trust me, it’s easy to forget something small, but necessary!). Here are some of the common culprits:

  • All the grains for your recipe
  • Hops
  • Yeast
  • Bottles for when you’re ready to bottle
  • Bottle caps
  • Corn sugar for carbonating the beer
  • Sanitizer

Also, make sure you have your whole grains crushed or milled at the store before you leave. Most homebrew stores offer this service for free.

When You Get Home

As soon as you get home — or as soon as your new package of supplies arrives in the mail — be sure to:

  • Put the hops in the freezer
  • Put your yeast in the fridge
  • Put your crushed/milled grains in an airtight container or plastic zip-top bag.

Putting liquid yeast in the fridge is especially important — the yeast will stay dormant when chilled, but will become active at room temperature and can expire in a day or two if not used.

Brew Better Beer: A Companion to Beer School

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

I love brewing beer so much, I wrote a book about it! Brew Better Beer (May 2015, Ten Speed Press) is a complementary guide to Beer School. Take a look for even more nerdy details about homebrewing, how to brew 5-gallon batches, and plenty of recipes for different beers.

→ Find it: Brew Better Beer by Emma Christensen

With The Kitchn’s Beer School, we’ll teach you how to brew your own beer at home — and brew it with confidence. In 20 lessons and 7 weekend assignments, we’ll get you set up with your own home brewery, walk you through your first brew day, show you how to bottle your beer, and then toast you on your first pint. Ready to brew your first beer? Join us!