Brewing your own beer can be an interesting, exciting hobby especially when you know how to set up a DIY brewery. You'll create beer that tastes better than most mass-brewed varieties, and you can even come up with custom brews in your personal brewery that will rival artisan and microbrews. With a little time, a little patience, an adventurous spirit and the right home brewery set-up, you'll be on your way to making your own beer in no time. Without a doubt, the first and most important step is setting up your home brewery.
Brewery starter kits, which can be purchased for as little as $50, are a good option. These kits typically contain the basic equipment you will need to brew one batch of beer, and many will also include the ingredients and recipe for your first batch as well. If you are unable to find a starter kit in your area, the basic equipment for a home brewery is typically easy enough to obtain from your local homebrew store, restaurant supply and hardware store, or from any number of online homebrew suppliers. Since the equipment is reusable, it's a one-time cost – until you're ready to upgrade so you can brew multiple batches at a time.
Basic Equipment for Brewing:
- 1 16-quart (or larger) stainless steel or enamel pot. This is your "brewpot."
- 1 primary fermenter. This is a 7-gallon or larger food-grade plastic bucket with an airtight lid that will accommodate your airlock.
- 1 stopper and airlock
- 1 5-foot length of food-grade plastic hose
- 1 stick-on thermometer
- 1 bottling bucket. This is a 7-gallon or larger food-grade plastic bucket with a spigot on the bottom.
- 1 small mixing bowl
- 1 rubber spatula
- 1 saucepan
- 1 plastic or stainless steel mixing spoon
- Bottles, bottle brush, and a bottle capper if you plan to bottle your beer
- Vodka to put in the airlock
- Pot holders or oven mitts
- Keep your brewing equipment clean, clean, clean! Sterilize with a weak bleach solution and hot water after every batch. Beer is a sensitive substance, and can quickly pick up bacteria and other unwanted flavor elements from your equipment.
- Be sure your stopper fits tightly to prevent any odd flavors from getting into your beer. (One homebrewer has a horror story of what happened when cultures from his roommate's homemade yogurt got into a badly sealed airlock – sour milk flavored beer!)
- Also, be sure to use stainless steel or enamel post. Aluminum will impart an odd flavor to your brew.
- While some homebrewers set aside a separate area or room for brewing, others have great success simply brewing in the kitchen or garage. If you're brewing in a shared space, make sure to keep your brewing equipment separate from items that get everyday kitchen use. This helps cut down on cross-contamination and wear that can adversely affect your finished product. (Did we mention that things need to be kept clean? And sanitized?)
Once you have your basic equipment procured, you're ready to cook up your first batch of beer. Using the recipe in your homebrew kit, or one of the millions of recipes online, put all that hardware you've taken the time to gather, clean and sanitize to work on your first batch of beer.