The Basics; Part Two

Part Two of the brewguide focuses on equipment. Mmmm, equipment.

In general, the minimum of gear that you need to brew something is as follows-

1. An Airlock; when filled with water or cheap grain alcohol, this keeps oxygen (and bacteria, insects, dust, etc) out of your brew while allowing the carbon dioxide to escape during the active fermentation stage of your brew. Without this, your brew may literally explode as pressure inside the bottle mounts...pretty terrible thing to have happen between the loss of brew, the loss of your bottle and the sticky mess! These invaluable little buggers are quite cheap- usually around 2$. They are quite easily mounted to your vessel by way of the next item on the list.

2. Rubber Stoppers; For most of the containers I use, from my 1-gallons to my 7 gallon, a no.6 to a no.8 has fit everything. They come in two variants- drilled and whole. Drilled stoppers are used to install airlocks, simply push the pointy end of the airlock into the stopper and then push the stopper into the mouth of the bottle. Whole stoppers are useful after fermentation is complete and you no longer need an airlock- be careful though! If the yeast isn't done making gas, the stopper will rocket out at high velocity and/or your vessel will explode!

3. A fermentation vessel. Fermentation vessels come in all shapes and sizes and materials. Most commonly used are Carboys/Demijohns, 5 gallon brew buckets and kegs. Less commonly used are barrels and spiffy new gadgets with high prices and lower human interaction ..oh so spiffy. Generally it's a good idea to have a second empty vessel capable of containing at least as much liquid as you are fermenting so that you can transfer into it for the secondary fermentation and any other transfers after that. Basicly, the vessel needs to be a couple things-
  • Food safe; like stainless steel, glass, or food safe plastic.
  • Sturdy; the contents may become pressurized, and you dont want any explosions
  • Have a mouth that fits your stopper/airlock of choice
  • Have an exact measurement, preferably in gallons/liters
4. A siphon hose; such as aquarium tubing. You'll use this to transfer the delicious brew from the sediments (dead yeast, etc) later on. You cant rely on pouring off the good stuff, as it will more than likley only mix the sediments back into the drink as you pour.

And that's it.

Of course there is more you could use depending on what you are making, like co2 carbonators, keggeraters, cappers, corkers, bottles, labels, fruit crushers and so on, but for the basics you only really need the above. If you really want to try out brewing I reccomend doing it right and spending the 15$ it'll cost you for a small 1g glass carboy, siphon, airlock and stopper, but if for some reason you are not able to do that, well, my first ever brew was a wine made in an empty spring water container with a empty yogurt cup, ziplock bag, and copious amounts of duct tape. It wasnt bad either, even when I had a wine officianado taste it!

Chances are there is a homebrew shop near you that google can find, but if you want to shop online here are some links to my favorite online places to shop, and tips for things you can get at the grocery store

  • 365 Organic Apple Juice Ok so this stuff is about 7$ at my whole foods, but goes on sale fairly regularly for 5$ and 6$ instead. In addittion to being tasty, it comes in a 1 gallon glass carboy perfect for small brews, and costs 3$ cheaper than buying the empty carboy at my local homebrew store. I have quite a few, and I have to say my other carboys and 2 barrels are collecting dust. They may be small, but they hold about 4 bottles of wine and are great for brewing on a budget...being that I'm a college student in a bad economy, that's a serious plus.
  • On the note of carboys, the Better Bottle is growing in popularity. If my local shop carried them, I'd own one!
  • Austin Homebrew, Northern Brewer, as well as local homebrew shops are where most folk seem to order from online. I've ordered from both of these places and both were great, though Northern Brewer got my goods to me much faster. There is also Midwest
  • Try pet shops for aquarium hose/siphon hose. It's pretty cheap, just clean it well.
And that's it folks! I'll touch on the other parts of specific gear when it becomes nessessary, but for now, brew happy! As for me, I'll be scooping up couch change untill I can afford one of those awesome v-vessels :)

Next part in the Brewguide- Yeast!


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