zymurgy cover

Zymurgy, Official Magazine of the Venerable American Homebrewers Association

So you want to brew a batch of incredible beer but you don’t have much in the way of equipment or space. You want your beer to turn out tit-gushingly delicious, but you are wary of the learning curve present when engaging in this ancient craft. There are plenty of  youtube videos and forum stickies about brewing your first batch, so at the risk of reinventing the wheel, I’m just gonna drop the quick knowledge that worked for me. First, we’ll start with an extract plus grain batch. It’ll be amazing, and better than any beer you’ve ever tasted. Because you made it. 

E. Beaglethorpe Expertly Siphons the Nectar of the Gods

E. Beaglethorpe Expertly Siphons the Nectar of the Gods

 

 

 

 

 

Step One: Basic Equipment

Starter kits are available for a hundy bucks or so from your local homebrew shop or countless other shops online; I like Northern Brewer for their customer service and kickass forum

 

  1. Brew Pot 20 qt : People argue Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum ad nauseum. Suffice it to say that both work just fine, but go heavy stainless if you can.) 
  2. Large Stirring Spoon: Non-Wood, cuz you gotta be able to sanitize it. You can get your ancient oak mash paddle when you go all-grain.
  3. Fermenter: Five or Six Gallon Food Grade Bucket with lid and hole for airlock, Glass Carboy, or Better Bottle. Better Bottles are best because they won’t break and kill you. Food Grade Buckets work fine, but don’t you want to while away your hours watching your yeasties vigorously making beer? 
  4. Sanitizer: Star San or Iodophor. Star San is better, it’s no rinse, and the residal foam turns into yeast nutrient when in contact with wort. However, Iodophor is on sixty three cents per five gallons; I use both.
  5. This is Boozy.

    Hydrometers Tell You The Gravity of the Beer. Verdict: This is Boozy.

    Thermometer: I like the seven dollar cheapies from target.  You’ll want to calibrate it or make sure its accurate before you go all-grain, but for now it’s no big deal that it’s crazy accurate.

  6. Muslin bag: For steeping your grain.
  7. Big Strainer: For straining out hops when pouring into your fermenter.
  8. Big Funnel: For pouring your wort into your fermenter so it doesn’t get all over the kitchen and make your lady mad.
  9. Airlock or caboy cap: I like the carboy cap because I can stick a blow-off tube to it when I get vigorous fermentation. Blow-off tube=less mess.  
  10. Hydrometer and tube: So you can measure your original, specific, and final gravity,your abv, and make sure your beer is done fermenting.
  11. Auto-Siphon: If you are really hip, you can just go racking cane and plastic tubing. However, the fermtech auto-siphon less than ten bucks, makes life so much easier, and double as wine thiefs when sampling your beer. Need to get like five feet of tubing to go with it.
  12. Bottling Bucket with Spigot: Five gallon, plastic food grade bucket with a spigot. Some people will tell you this isn’t necessary.  I think it is.
  13. Bottle filler attachment. Little guy that will help you fill up those bottles, fits right into the spigot.
  14. A methodology: Instead of reinventing the wheel here, may I direct you to two homebrewing methodological hip priests.

Charlie Papazian, author of “The Joy of Homebrewing”, and Zymurlogical wizard and founder of the American Homebrewer’s Association. His wry Vonnegutian sense of humor and goofy mysticism have converted me and millions of others into obsessive disciples before my first batch hit the boil kettle. Also, Papa Charlie coined the phrase, RDWHHB (Relax Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew), the cure-all for all brewing anxieties.

John Palmer, author of “How to Brew”, and purveyor of cavernous alchemical geek knowledge made digestible to the wide-eyed and petrified novice. If you got some extra cash and you want to know the science behind this noble work, read and re-read his seminal work.

Homebrewtalk.com, the larges archive of homebrew knowledge on the web. They even have a social networking gig, and a wiki. Home to such beer heroes as Revvy, Edwort, Bobby_M, Biermuncher, and Orfy — masterbrewers. 

HINT FOR THE CHEAPSKATE: The bulk of Mr. Palmer’s book is available online for free here.

Advertisements