So you have your homebrew equipment kit and you’re ready to make some delicious beer. Or so you think. Though equipment kits come with everything necessary to get you through your first few brews, after becoming more familiar with the process, you may want to consider grabbing a few extra components that can help make the process even easier.
Maintaining proper temperatures throughout the brewing process is critical. If your wort gets too hot or is not hot enough the entire batch can be ruined, and unfortunately, you wouldn't know it until it was too late. We recommend getting a trust-worthy brewing thermometer, such as a Bi-Metal Thermometer. This thermometer is able to give you faster readings than your average mercury or silver-based device, which is particularly helpful during the brewing and cooling stages.
After the boil, it is imperative that you get the temperature of your wort down to around room temperature within 20 minutes or less. If you don't, the wort will be more susceptible to infection which will result in a number of bad qualities in your beer. Quickly reducing the temperature from boiling to room temperature can be a tough task, but is much easier with the use of a wort chiller, which uses conduction to rapidly dissipate heat from the wort.
Fermenting Buckets can have lids that are very secure but hard to remove, which is great for your brew but can be hard on you. It usually takes a decent amount of force to pry the lid open, which can lead to shaking of movement or movement of the bucket and the contents within. This will disturb the sediment at the bottom of the fermentation bucket, resulting in a lower quality beer. A pail opening tool solves this issue by providing the perfect amount of grip and leverage to make removing lids a breeze.
For brewers performing a double fermentation, upgrading to a 6 gallon carboy with ribbed sides will prove to be invaluable. This container is non-porous, airtight, durable and won't hold odors. Unlike plastic vessels, glass won't stain and can be easily cleaned and sanitized, especially when using a carboy brush. It also gives you the perfect view of the fermentation and clarification process. You may also want to consider a carboy handle, which not only makes carrying your carboy much easier but also eliminates the risk of spillage and sediment disturbance.
Some brewing equipment kits will come with a nylon mesh straining bag for holding grain, but you may also want to consider getting a muslin hop bag. The muslin bag is made of coarse mesh cheesecloth, making it great for use with hops whether during the boil or dry-hopping (which is great news if you're a lover of IPAs).
Sink faucets can be hard to maneuver and may provide limitations when cleaning bottles and carboys. Also, most of the time, the water pressure just doesn't cut it. That's where a jet bottle washer comes into play. If you've got average to low water pressure, it's probably worth picking up one of these guys. The nozzle turns an average sink faucet into a high pressure cleaning device. It also provides an upward angle to make cleaning bottles and carboys a cinch.
Collecting, cleaning, filling and capping bottles can get old. Also, figuring out the perfect amount of priming sugar for your brew can become a tedious task and a big opportunity for error. You don't want all of your hard work and time to go to waste because of improper amounts of priming sugar - too much priming sugar and you'll get foamy, over-carbonated beer, or worse, bottle bursts. Not enough priming sugar and you will get a flat, thin and all-around subpar product. Bottling is a great low-cost option for beginning homebrewers, but in reality, kegging has many advantages over bottling. Kegging your homebrew is a quicker, more consistent process that greatly reduces the effort on your part. It requires a larger initial financial investment, but the return on your investment is worth it. All you will need is a draft beer dispensing unit with all the necessary components (most commonly a kegerator) and an empty keg. Most homebrewers use Cornelius kegs which are 5 gallon kegs that have a removable lid and ball lock-style gas and liquid ports.
Last, but definitely not least, are books (or as we like to call them,"Brewing Bibles"). It never hurts to increase your knowledge of all things homebrew-related. We've hand picked a selection of books that will help you along your journey. Written by experts, they'll give you tried-and-true recipes, answers to those tricky brewing questions and detailed explanations to everything in the world of homebrew.
Like we said, these things aren't completely necessary but they will certainly help you on your way to becoming a better brewer. For more extras, check out our entire selection of homebrew supplies.
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