Can you give us an idea of budget? I started brewing with $50 worth of equipment, but I have a friend who went all out and bought a pretty legit system for around $2k.
If you listen to nothing else: Invest in temp control, which allows you to regulate the temperature of fermentation. You will be ahead of 70% of homebrewers and you will get quality BEER (not “homebrew”) as a result!
Welcome to the obsession, you are already off to a great start!
Temp control, yes. A small fridge with a digital controller works. Plan for all grain, even if starting with extract. So a big kettle, and either an electric setup or an outdoor propane burner. You’ll want a wort chiller. Maybe a keg setup?
That being said, folks make really good beer with cheap and easy batch sparge coolers and turkey fryers. Think through every step in the process and figure out where you want to make your job easier.
based on my experiences, not in any priority:
good LP burner
ability to make yeast starters; stir plate recommended
large boil kettle, for full batch boiling, 9-10 gal for a 5 gal batch
aeration for the wort, O2 or one of those attachments for a drill (not sure what it is called)
fermentation temp control as the others recommended
accurate, quick responding digital thermometer
refractometer for gravity measurements
ability to cool the wort quickly, immersion coil at a minimum
What everyone else said. Temp control makes the biggest difference. Good burner (not the dark star). Good kettle with a ball valve and 10 gallon capacity for a 5 gallon batch. I’ve been brewing for 11 months and pretty much have 2 of everything. In fact I have 3 chillers and I’m getting ready to order another kettle.
It’s a slippery slope of obsession for me. This forum is a great place to be. You are in good hands. Enjoy!
But… before you buy any piece of equipment, the 1st thing to buy is a book- John Palmer’s ‘How to Brew’. There’s an older online version, but get the hardcopy latest edition. Read it, study it, and start to think about things with some basic knowledge first.
Jim beat me to it. Buy and read this book first, and you will have a much better idea of how to proceed. Quality beer happens more because you understand what you are doing rather than that you bought expensive equipment.
Agreed on the book. It’s like any other hobby. Knowledge is the key. When I started playing guitar I went to the music store and looked at a cheap guitar and amp to get me started. Since I knew nothing about how to play I had the guy at the store demo the gear for me. He made that cheapo rig sound like Jimi Hendrix was playing. He had the knowledge. It was not the guitar, it was the player.
So start out with reading the book. I read it in 4 days and that was probably the best thing I ever did. I did not understand nearly a fourth of the information in the book because I had no experience, but it gave me such a good knowledge base that as I started doing things I had all the aha moments. That allowed me to avoid many mistakes.
As far as gear, you can go cheap or expensive. If I had it to do over again I would have gone straight to using plastic buckets. Cheap and effective. AS far as the burner, somebody said in an earlier post to avoid the Darkstar. I have the Darkstar and I have to say it has served me well. No complaints. Perhaps other burners would be better but it makes flame and boils my pot very quickly.
I agree with temperature control. My brewing took a dramatic step forward when I bought a chest freezer and a digital controller to use as my fermentation chamber.
I agree with all the above with the exception of the refractometer and stir plate. I’d get a pH meter before a refractometer. Hydrometers work just fine and a refractometer won’t give good readings with alcohol present. I’m doing 10 gal batches of lager now and making 1 - 1 1/2 gallon starters. I still use the swirl method and get great starters. I don’t know how I could do a 6L starter on a stir plate.
That sounds reasonable for glass, but they may ding you on the shipping. The glass big mouth bubbler from Northern brewer would be nice to ease the your cleaning a bit. Any immersion chiller will get the job done. I don’t think I would recommend a 5 gallon carboy, I’ve got one and almost never use it. The tall boy kettles and the mega pot 1.2 from northern brewer are good kettles for the price. If you decide on glass buy a brew hauler for it, we don’t need another ER visit story.
Don’t waste your money on glass carboys use buckets. If you catch the fever you are going yo need a lot of fermenters just use buckets. Don’t waste time with extract , go straight to all grain. What I would do if I knew what I know now is search the net and get a starter package that comes with a big pot and a keg. You can get a cheap burner anywhere which you can upgrade later.
I realize I am jumping all over the place with my inquests.
I hope I didn’t come off as as an asshat with the money is no problem quote… I just want to spend it wisely and yes like most of you I have a wife lol who for peaceful brewing operations must be kept at bay. haha
please give me a bit to skim all the good and stuff of the webs and ask you all for your good advice.
it is amazing though once you really start digging how may opinions there really are.
sidenote- aerating your wort? what is the ideal method?
Forgot to add get a 10 gallon kettle for 5 gallon batches, 15g if you want to go to 10 gallon batches later. I will never go to 10 gallons because I like variety and I am the only one drinking the beer. If you have lots of friends to drink your beer you may wind up brewing 10 gallon batches. :cheers:
Definitely skip the glass carboys and go with buckets. Lighter, cheaper, easier to clean, easier to store and work just as well. But most importantly, they are safer. There are horror stories about injuries from broken carboys.
sidenote- aerating your wort? what is the ideal method?[/quote]
I used to use a medical O2 tank but it was a PIA to get filled. Switched to an aquarium pump and diffuser. Not expensive and works well. You will need a piece of a broken racking cane to get the tubing to the bottom. Eventually you will have a broken racking cane.