Beginner’s Homebrewing Essentials

A homebrewer’s journal, by John Kleinchester

Let’s be honest. Homebrewing is great, but sometimes it can be hard to set aside the time it takes to brew a batch. Three to six hours is a pretty big time commitment, which can be difficult to accomplish on a work night, and it’s a pretty serious dent into a weekend day. This is how it’s been for me lately. I’ve only been able to brew three batches in 2013 thus far and I have not brewed for two months. The thing is, life gets in the way sometimes and you can’t let it get you down. I’m sure it has something to do with a few recent misadventures I’ve had in my brewing. But you know what? I’ve got all the ingredients ready to go for my next three batches and I’m betting that I’ll have those happily bubbling away in no time.

That said, I figured this would be a great time to offer some advice for the aspiring homebrewer out there. Perhaps you’ve considered it but you don’t know exactly where to start. Well, I’m here to make it simple for you.

First things first. If you have a local homebrew shop, go check it out. That’s your absolute best bet for finding your way into the addictive world of brewing. Most homebrew shops have knowledgeable staff who are more than happy to point you in the right direction. That’s why they’re there!

If you don’t have access to a homebrew shop nearby, fear not! There are plenty of great online retailers where you can find what you’ll need. Personally, I prefer northernbrewer.com. If you don’t mind investing about $100 you’re going to be able to get just about everything you need in NB’s Essential Brewing Starter Kit. Included with that kit is your choice of three pre-made beer recipes. In addition, you’ll also want to purchase a Hydrometer and Test Jar. If you don’t have one, I would also suggest picking up a larger sized pot to use as a brew kettle. Five gallons is a good size to shoot for and if you can afford it get stainless steel. Otherwise, aluminum works just fine.

If throwing a cool hundred at a brand new hobby is what’s stopping you from joining the world of homebrewing, well we’ve got a remedy for that too. Brooklyn Brew Shop has affordable one-gallon kits for a mere $40. These kits, which will produce roughly a six pack’s worth of homebrew, contain everything you need to get started without the big investment. Best of all,  they come with simple, easy-to-follow instructions.

That said, purchasing a starter kit is a better idea overall since the equipment you’ll receive will be a solid basis for your homebrew setup for years to come. The Brooklyn Brew Shop option is perfectly fine, but there’s not much upgradeability with their kits. So if the homebrew bug bites you after your first time (and it will) there’s not much you’ll be able to do with the one gallon jug.

Above all else, homebrewing is much easier than you might think and is infinitely more fun. If you’ve ever even briefly considered it, give it a chance.

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