Searching for a few useful tips on how to start brewing Beer at home? You’ve reached the right place. Home brewing was not legal in America from 1919 to 1979. In the 1970s, only a few thousand Americans were into home brewing. But as the years progressed, home brewing continued to gain popularity and has seen the most significant increase in the last few years.
Currently, America has over 1 million home brewers, most of whom are hobbyist brewers. Home brewing can be easy or complicated, depending on your equipment. Also, the equipment you use will determine the quality of the beer you make.
This guide highlights important things about home brewing you need to know before diving into your beer brewing hobby and the equipment you will need to ensure that your brewing experience is the easiest.
Hygiene Should Be Top on Your List
Hygiene must be a priority if you hope to get good results with your beer-making hobby. First, ensure you use equipment made of food-grade materials, meaning the equipment cannot react with your beer-making ingredients to cause contamination or affect the quality of your brew.
The best material for home brewing is aluminum or stainless steel. Besides ensuring that your equipment is made of the best material, you must ensure they are clean before and after making a batch of beer to minimize the risk of contaminating your brew, which can negatively affect the quality of your brew.
Hygiene does not end with the beer-making process. The items used for serving your beer, such as your taps and the kegerator, should always be clean.
The kegerator, in particular, may need more attention than other equipment on your brewery kit. If you are unsure how to go about it, this guide to home kegerator cleaning takes an in-depth look at cleaning your kit’s kegerator and some maintenance tips you may want to know.
Must-Have Home Brewing Equipment
You should have countless brewing equipment to get the best quality possible. But you do not have to buy all the equipment when starting. Your focus should be on the must-haves while improvising some.
Here is a list of the must-have brewing equipment you should consider buying before starting your brewing.
If you are just getting started, five-gallon batches are more than enough. It would be best if you considered getting a seven to eight-gallon brew kettle for a five-gallon batch.
A brew kettle that’s a gallon or larger than the batch you intend to make allows room to protect from boilovers. If you want to make bigger batches, consider getting larger brew kettles but ensure that you leave enough head space for boilovers.
Getting a heat source is a no-brainer. But not all heat sources work the same, so it’s worth mentioning that your heat source should match the size of your batch.
While your kitchen burner is enough if you intend to make less than a five-gallon batch, you may need a bigger burner if you intend to make batches that are more than five gallons. If you don’t have one, consider buying one, especially if brewing is something you want to do long-term.
Consider buying a broad investment brewing burner because you can use the burner for other things like outdoor cooking.
After boiling your wort, the next step would be cooling it down. Most people use an ice bath to cool their wort. While it’s a good option when on a budget, it can be slow, meaning it will increase the chances of contamination.
Also, slow cooling can affect the quality of your batch, so you will want to have a means that allows fast cooling, for example, an immersive chiller. Immersive chillers help reduce the time needed to cool a batch from approximately an hour when an ice bath to 20 minutes.
The fermentation bucket is the equipment used to ferment your ingredients. Fermentation buckets come in many variants; plastic, stainless steel, and glass. Of the three plastic fermentation buckets are the cheapest.
The main drawback of using plastics is that they can degrade with time, which could negatively affect the quality of your beer. Steel and glass fermenters are the best options. A major drawback to these options is they could be a little pricey for a hobbyist brewer. Also, cleaning them can be a headache, which is why many homebrewers avoid them.
After the fermentation stage, your craft brew will be ready for drinking. So, you may need to package it in a way that is ready to drink. There are two main options for serving your beer.
The first option is serving it from a kegerator or a cask using taps. The main disadvantage of serving your drinks from a cask is that casks are prone to leaks that could lead to contamination. Casks are only good if you serve the whole batch in one day.
If not, it should be best to keep your brew bottled and refrigerated. If you want the safest option for storing your brew, shaded glass bottles are the best, but you must invest in a capper. A basic twin-lever capper will get the job done. Some home brewers use bench-mounted capper, which is easier to use.
Quality Control Equipment
A small error in the process can significantly affect the final quality of your brew. Therefore, it’s essential to have the equipment to help ensure your outcomes are consistent. The term quality control tools may sound complicated, but it isn’t.
Quality control tools include simple items such as a thermometer. A thermometer helps in ensuring that the temperatures are right for every stage of your brewing process. The best option for a thermometer is one created with the brewery industry in mind.
The other quality control tool you will need is a timer. Time is a sensitive factor in the brewing process. Get the timing wrong, and your batch loses its quality. Lastly, you want to have a refractometer. A refractometer determines the level of dissolved sugar in a solution helping a brewer track the rate of starch conversion. They are also used to measure specific gravity.