BREWING YOUR OWN BEER: WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED
So you want to make your own beer. How hard could it be, right? Really, it’s not that hard, and I’ll have a nice home beer brewing equipment for you soon that outlines every aspect of the process.
Before you get all fired up about it, though, let me be the voice of reason and point out that you’re going to have to spend a pretty nice chunk of change before you can even make your first batch.
While the actual process of brewing is simple, it is pretty time consuming, and when you first get started, there is quite the long list of equipment and ingredients that first need to be bought.
Not all of these are cheap, either, but after your initial investment, the home brewing process is actually much more affordable than buying beer at the store. Let’s take a look at what all you’ll need to get ready to brew.
Every single article or guide that I have read is sure to emphasize this one key point: sanitize like a maniac. Every item that will have even the slightest contact with your beer at any phase of the brewing process needs to be as clean as you can get it.
You can, of course, use a mixture of bleach and hot water to soak everything, and then rinse everything thoroughly. This can add additional time to the process that you don’t necessarily have to spend.
Many sanitizers do not require rinsing and most are on the inexpensive side, costing less than $5 on average and up to $15 for a large container. One package or bottle will last you through many brewing sessions, so they are a fantastic deal. I would definitely make the small investment in a good no-rinse sanitizer if I was planning to brew on a regular basis.
I suppose that you could use any old stock pot for making your wort, but I wouldn’t recommend it. First, when you’re boiling your wort (pronounced wert- see my guide to beer for more on that), you will need plenty of extra room to avoid overflowing the pot.
Most home beer recipes make five gallons, so you need at least an 8 gallon pot to have enough additional space during the boiling process. This is not your average-size stock pot.
Additionally, brew kettles are made specifically for making beer (obviously), which means that they have nice heavy bottoms for even heat distribution.
You can also get them with built-in temperature gauges to easily keep an eye on that, which is really important for the step that follows the boil- adding the yeast (if you add it when the wort is too hot, it kills the yeast, and dead yeast=no beer).
You can even get a kettle with a built-in spigot, which will come in super handy. These two features cost more, but even a basic kettle will be a bit pricey, with the price climbing upwards for the extra features and larger sizes.
Known in the beer fermentation equipment as a carboy, a fermentation vessel is simply the place where the wort and yeast are combined and allowed to sit for several days to turn into beer.
Whatever you use for this fermentation process needs to be 100% airtight so that not even one airborne microbe can get in to alter the taste of the batch.
Keep in mind also that you will need at least two containers for this part of the process, because you will siphon the beer out of the first fermentation vessel into a second one after a few days (more on that part of the process in my next article).