Thursday, January 1, 2009

Minimum Equipment List

I am often asked by people who don't brew but may want to give it a try,
"what's the minimum amount of brewing equipment that I can get by with to start, just to see If I like it?"
I can understand the concern, it's the same one I had when I watched my first brewing demonstration. I thought, 'No way', as I looked on at a system that Incorporated recirculating heating systems and magnetic pumps and huge burners and kettles. It makes sense to test your interest in the hobby before making a relatively large investment in time and money. Brewing equipment can get very expensive, even at the homebrewer level, depending on how 'high tech' or professional you decide to get. Although I have to say here that the typical homebrewer accumulates the majority of his equipment a little at a time (over a period of years), and that's how he affords it all. But when I began brewing I purchased what they call a 'starter kit' that contained all of the miscellaneous buckets and hoses and basic what-nots to get me on the path to my first batch, along with an ingredient kit that included the malt extract and hops and yeast to make a pale ale. I used my electric range at home to boil it all up and soon had my first fermentation happening in a glass carboy in the basement shower. Over the last ten years I have advanced in terms of the quantity and quality of the equipment and materials that I use but when I travel to Mexico I'm required to return to my roots in brewing.
I have learned through my efforts in Mexico that you can get by with very little equipment (even less than my initial investment of the 'starter kit') when it comes right down to the necessities. I bring very little brewing equipment to Mexico, not wanting to try and lug large boil pots and fermenters. I do bring certain things that I know would be difficult to get here, for instance my hydrometer and bottle filling wand. For the most part I can get everything else I need here, but I don't want to make a huge investment in equipment that I will eventually have to leave behind when I return to the states. Having said all this, I have compiled a list of the items that, with a little effort and expense, anyone can get and use to make their first batch of beer. This is a tried and true list for a five gallon batch. Even though it seems very crude and unsophisticated, I have made some very drinkable beer using it to brew with.
Here it is.
1 ea. propane burner w/gas tank (this is not needed if you can get your stove to boil 6 gal. liquid) 1 ea. 7 gal. aluminum boil pot w/lid
1 ea. large spoon for stirring
3 ea. hop bags
1 ea. plastic tub big enough to set boil pot to chill
1 ea. thermometer
1. ea. hydrometer (even this is optional)
2 ea. 5 or 6 gal. plastic (food grade) buckets w/lids
2 ea. spigots for buckets
1 ea. bottling wand
4 ft. transfer hose
1 ea. bottle cleaning brush
48 ea. beer bottles and caps
1 ea. bottle capper

That's it! You'll end up needing some miscellaneous items that can be found around the house, like a calculator for your basic brewing math, a small spray bottle and a sauce pan to boil your bottling sugar, etc. but I have used just the equipment above to make beer. If you know something about brewing you may be asking why I didn't put an airlock on the list to use in the fermenting bucket? Well, don't tell anyone but I normally just loosely cover my fermenter to keep dust (vectors) out and pitch plenty of yeast. I've never had a problem with any spoiling bacteria.
If you've got any questions about how to begin using these basics, click on comment below.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...