If you’re new to brewing and you’re about to make your very first batch then you’ll need a few basic tips and pieces of equipment that are essential to getting the best out of your homebrew kit. Making your own beer, cider, wine or whatever you're crafting is actually really easy, you can make beer in just a few simple steps! Easy as making a cup of tea.
Our biggest tip is to STERILISE! Keeping everything nice and clean is the best way to ensure a great end result.
To make is nice and easy for you, you need to have some basic equipment. Having a good collection of useful and handy equipment not only makes the whole process easier, but it will ultimately give you many successful brews for years to come!
What’s great is that it doesn’t even cost that much to get yourself prepared so you can be creating some wonderful concoctions in no time!
Kick start a great hobby on the right foot with our essential equipment guide!
Ok, so technically it may not be classed as equipment, but it’s extremely important and we consider it an essential item!
It’s imperative to properly sterilise all of your equipment before you use it to stop any contaminants from destroying your brew!
Even if your stuff is brand new, it doesn’t take long to give it a little clean! Sodium Metabisulphite or Steriliser and Cleaner powders are a great way to ensuring a successful batch.
Brewing Bucket | Fermentation Vessel
The fermentation in the first few days can be very vigorous and we always recommend to use a brewing bucket.
These things come in all different shapes and sizes depending on what you’re making!
For 5 gallons of beer, cider or 30 bottles of wine, a 25 litre brewing bucket is perfect. It’s big enough to hold all of that liquid and they’re really cheap!
If you’re making slightly less then you could go for a 15 litre version.
Demi-John | Carboy
When brewing wine, after the initial fermentation in the bucket which normally takes around 7 to 10 days, it is common practice to syphon the liquor into a Demi-John to allow it to ferment to "Dryness".
These, again, come in different sizes and materials. If you’re a beginner and you’re just looking to give it a try then a 1 gallon plastic PET version is a good choice.
If you’re a bit more serious and want one to last for years then a 1 gallon glass one could be ideal.
If you’re making a large batch of wine then you can also try the 5 gallon PET Carboy.
Certain kits will require a temperature range to be maintained at the start and during the brew.
Instructions usually give an indication of around 16-22ºc to make sure the brew finishes as the manufacturer intended.
Temperature also needs to be monitored before adding the yeast to make sure it gets going right as soon as you sprinkle it in!
Normally an airing cupboard or boiler room is ideal, if room temperature is a bit too low in the winter you can easily correct this using a brewing belt to warm it up.
It may seem obvious that you’ll need to stir your brew at some point, but don’t forget that sometimes you’ll be using a big bucket so you’ll need a spoon that will be long enough to get that brew stirring around nicely!
DO NOT USE A WOODEN SPOON - they have too many nooks and crannies for bacteria to hide and they could infect your brew and give it a musty, medicine taste or worse turn it to vinegar.
Air Lock & Bung
Demi-johns and some buckets have holes in the top to let the gasses given off by the brew escape. So the gas inside the vessel needs to get out but we don’t want outside air getting in as this can contaminate and ruin the brew.
A simple solution is an air lock and bung. The airlock is partially filled with a Sodium Metabisulphite solution (the same solution as the steriliser) and is put into the bung. The bung is then secured in the hole of the vessel and you’ve then got a nice seal to keep the brew safe!
As it begins to ferment you’ll see bubbles coming through the air lock which is fun to watch as you know the yeast are making their magic.
Once it’s stopped bubbling you’ll know that your brew is finished which is where our next item comes into play.
Hydrometer & Trial Jar
These weird looking glass things can be used to test the specific gravity (liquid density) of your brew.
It’s really handy to use as you can work out the approximate ABV%.
Take a reading at the start (Original Gravity (OG)) before you add the yeast and at the end once it’s finished (Final Gravity (FG)) fermenting.
Pop the two values into a special little formula and ‘hey presto’ you’ve got a nice approximation of your alcohol’s strength!
The trial jar is just a small sample jar where you can put some of the brew in to make it easier to test.
If you were wondering, the equation you can use for ABV is…
OG - FG = a
FG / 0.794 = b
1.775 - OG = c
a X 76.08 = d
d / c = y
y X b = % ABV
Moving the brew from one container to another must be done carefully to avoid disturbing the sediment at the bottom of the fermentation vessel.
The best way of doing this is by using a syphon. Just pop the bucket with the brew in on the counter top and put a clean bucket / demi-john on the floor. Pop one end of your syphon into the brew and then suck on the other end until you get the brew flowing through the tube (remember to have a quick taste ;) ). then put the end you just sucked into the bucket on the floor and let the brew flow.
Once the brew has finished fermenting you’ll need to store it somewhere so it can condition and become ready to drink.
Depending on what you’ve made that could be wine bottles, beer bottles or even a keg.
When you syphon your beer, lager or cider into your bottles or keg you would add some sugar which will allow the drink to become conditioned, clear and add a nice fizz.
Be sure to check out the Brewbitz YouTube channel for in depth, step-by-step brewing instructional videos!