Get Started Brewing

There’s lots of information out there on how to brew, including one of my favorite books on the subject – the well titled, “How to Brew”, by John Palmer. However not all of us have the patience for this sort of thing (i.e. reading a book) so I have assembled a Quickstart Guide, if you will, for getting up and brewing well. I’ve broken it up into a few topics which include equipment, supplies and a Brewing Your First Beer section. I hope you enjoy.

Equipment, or How Much will this Cost Me?

That is usually followed by – it depends. That’s crap. I’ll tell you exactly how much – $215. Now you can go cheaper or more expensive, but that right there is a very nice price to pay for a kit that will take you years down the road if you so desire. I should say right now that I own no stake in MoreBeer, I just really like the place. If you have a local homebrew shop near you, and chances are these days that you do, go in and talk to them. They can set you up with the exact same stuff for right about the same price, give or take. I also encourage new brewers to talk to their local hombrew shop owners in order to get tips, refined instruction as well as quality ingredients. If your local shop doesn’t provide those things, don’t go. Hit your online shops like MoreBeer or Northern Brewer for your needs. I’ve never had a bad experience with either and both have incredibly helpful, knowledgeable and above all, friendly staff to get you going. So having said all that, I do still get the question – well what is the minimum I need to get going? Alright, fine. Here is the base set of gear you need:

  • 5 gallon stainless steel kettle
  • 2 6 gallon plastic fermenter buckets with a pre-drilled lids for the airlock and spigots on the bottom. Every homebrew shop has these. The first bucket is for fermenting, the second is for bottling
  • A mesh steeping bag for specialty grains. You can buy the little sock-like, one-use kind for under a $1
  • A long stainless steel or plastic spoon for stirring the wort
  • A floating thermometer
  • A kitchen timer
  • Sanitizer – Star San or Iodophor
  • Airlock for the fermenter
  • Stopper for the fermenter (this is where the airlock goes)
  • Bottles. If you like the 12oz kind you’ll need about 36 bottles or you can go with 18 22oz bottles
  • Bottle brush. Yup, you really need to clean the bottles
  • Bottle filler with tubing
  • Bottle capping tool
  • Bottle caps
  • Some kind of ingredients kit – Get something that the homebrew shop puts together for you. Do NOT get one of those pre-fab canister kits.

That’s your absolute minimum setup. That will run in the neighborhood of $100. It’s not a bad way to go if you just want to give it a shot. If you know you’re serious, go with the more complete kit. You’ll be much better off.

Now that you have your gear, let’s get brewing!