Tools of the Trade

Welcome back to Hop, Brew, and Blog.  Sorry it has been awhile since my last post but I have started a podcast with my brother-in-law called Brewthers-In-Law.  As the moment of release, the very first episode is out to listen to.  For today though, we are going to step back to some basics of brewing.  Mainly, what tools you need to have in order to brew.  I will talk about some basics you will need but also some cool things that I have that helps the process or wish I had.  I will leave some links at the end to find them throughout different sites and of course, you can find your local homebrew stores near you.  

It is brew day and you have all your ingredients and now you need your tools of the trade (This is where Peter Griffin points at the screen when the title is in the story).  Let’s start with basic brewing with either using either extracts 100% or only partially.  Here you will need three major things:  a large pot, thermometer, some brew bags (for partial grains), and a large spoon.  The first thing is your pot.  I recommend at least a five gallon pot and made of stainless steel.  Bayou Classic makes a great pot that is made for deep frying, but works perfectly here to brew with.  They also have thermometers that can be used as well (though they are not digital).  With that segway, thermometers are important here as you need to be at a certain temperature for boil, prior to the boil with grains, and when you are cooling as well.  I have had a couple of wireless, handheld, digital thermometers and they have all died on me.  I currently have a basic thermometer from Bayou Classic that so far still works after a few brews.  I would like to have something bluetooth that would help that I don’t have to stand and watch and has a digital feed to get a more accurate temperature, but two have kicked the bucket on me so far.  The next thing is the grain bag.  These are simply nylon bags that can hold the crushed grains or hops without getting them into the beer.  These can easily be purchased at any brew store near you or online.  These are also cheap so you can buy a lot at once.  You can upgrade to a cheese cloth as well.  These are pricier, but are reusable.  I have one that I use, but I have plenty of the cheap ones.  The next is a spoon.  This is simple as a wooden spoon or metal and can be found almost anywhere as you can also go to cooking stores or any other store with cooking items.  

Now if you want to do all grain, you will need just a couple more things.  The main one is an outdoor gas burner.  If you have the space and a gas stove (space is the hard part) you can do all grain inside, but you use a lot of grains and need a system to work that and from those that I know that do all grain, it is heavy (especially when wet) and can be messier too.  The next one is a mash tun and two kettles.  This makes a full grain pricery, but I know those that do it and love it to have a pure brew.   

Now after the boil, you need to cool your wort.  Here, you need to really have one tool and that is your cooler.  This can range from a ton full of ice water or an actual cooler made of copper pipes to run water with.  This is all you need really that is new and can easily be made if you want to save money.  You will need your thermometer here and this is when a wireless one comes in handy.  

Now you need to move to fermentation.  This is where you can get cool gadgets, but I will start with the basics.  First, you need your carboy and siphon.  Carboys can be simple buckets, or can be an actual carboy that can be plastic or glass.  Siphons are basic and nothing fancy to them.  Then the gadgets start to come out.  The next item is the bubbler (that’s what I call them, you might call it something different).  You can buy very basic ones that you pour sanitized water or vodka and plug the top.  As for your upgrades, there are two fun ones here that I do not have, but hoping for christmas gifts. The first is a device that you drop into the carboy with the beer and via bluetooth, can check the temperature, your gravity readings, and many other things.  If not that, there is something that you replace the bubbler with that goes in it spot to read the gravity levels as well.  If you are like me, and forget to get your gravity readings (yeah, I know…don’t judge), you can get your large graduated cylinder and your hydrometer, and get your original gravity reading.  For those that don’t know, test gravity levels (original and final) helps you check your percentage of alcohol the beer has.  

Those are your tools!  If you shop local, most homebrew shops will have these or can order them for you.  The upgrades might be harder to find this way, but first make sure to shop local and check them first.  Now for those that shop online, some of the larger stores are online and have a decent selection.  You can also browse Amazon to find different tools there too for basic tools.  Hope this helps to find what you need and make sure to find some cool gadgets as well online.  If you have any cool things, please share them!  I love to find new things that can make brewing easier.   And check the links below to sites that you can buy your equipment.  And again, make sure to check out the new podcast by visiting or looking up Brewthers-In-Law where you listen to podcast.

Main Kit

Five Gallon Pot

Fun Gadgets

Online Stores

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