What are some of your must-haves when it comes to equipment. Stuff you wish you picked up earlier that really helped out a lot. Items with the best bang for your buck. I’m sure everyone could post a huge list but just your top 5 or so that impacts your brewing the most. On the other hand what items have you purchased that really didn’t live up to the expectation or things you could have held off on.
Auto siphon. Purchased the auto siphon after the first solo try with a racking cane.
Silicon tubing for the siphon. Does not hold a curl. Very flexible.
Fine mesh bag to strain hop debris while pouring into the fermentor.
Spray bottles for Star San solution.
One gallon vinegar jugs for Star San solution. Not purchased just saved when emptied. Much heavier plastic than distilled water jugs. No leaking from a crushed corner.
Small funnel for pouring Star San solution back into one gallon jug.
Short length of copper wire to insert in mouth of jug or carboy to allow air to escape when pouring through a funnel.
Immersion chiller, banjo burner, kegs. These three items really paid for themselves in time saved.
A big enough pot and chiller as far as equipment.
I would have to say the immersion chiller I bought saves me a lot of time and anguish but the one thing I really like is the carboy washer I made. Haven’t had to scrub out a carboy yet! It was inexpensive to make and works like a charm.
6" bazooka tube for mash tun, quick-disconnect fittings, and silicon tubing for lautering. It’s the little things.
I’m gonna go to the opposite extreme of the little things. For me, the best thing I ever did was to buy a small chest freezer and temperature controller. The ability to accurately regulate my fermentation temperature was probably the biggest improvement in the ability to make consistent brews.
Best: Spray bottle for Star San, burner for outdoor boils, refractometer, cooler mash tun
Meh: I’m never going back to fragile hydrometers, and hate narrow mouthed carboys.
- Temp control
- temp control
- temp control
- temp control
- temp control
Get the picture? It doesn’t matter what equipment you have, how much you’ve spent on it, what your process is, or how good your ingredients are if you don’t have reliable temp control.
Yeah I understand how important temp control is… Overall I just wanted to see what other people had to say about their must-haves.
Blichman 10 gal boilermaker (I’ve never once regretted this upgrade)
Burner (started with a turkey fryer, just upgraded to the Blichman Top Tier)
Chiller (I started with and primarily use my CFC but also have an immersion chiller for whirlpool hopstands)
Kegerator and kegging knocked 2-3 hours out of every batch
Cheap 'N Easy mashtun and grain mill (I enjoy AG so much I’ll probably never go back to extract)
Importance of temperature control for the fermentation comes right after sanitation. I’m lucky. I can control fermentation temperatures with a swamp cooler. If I would ever get into brewing lagers then some extra cash may be needed for a temp controlled fermentation chamber.
Right now I prefer to keep it simple. Less to go wrong.
[edit: fixed links]
Bigger kettle, IC, pump, silicon tubing with QD’s, temp control fermenting… And something you can’t buy, ability to read… A LOT ! Sneezles61
1.10G BK. After doing 6.5-7G boils in a 7.5G BK for 3 years(yes it is doable, but you have to watch it like a hawk, and fermcap is your friend), I picked up a 10G kettle. Much more relaxed during my latest boil.
2. Swamp cooler buckets. I have 2 and use them all the time- for chilling, for temp. control during fermentation, for cold crashing, for lagering. I might as well use them to give my dog a bath.
3. An accurate thermometer. Even more critical than an accurate hydrometer.
4. Books, books and more books. JP’s, Papa P’s, Snyder’s, Daniel’s, Denny’s, the brewing series, and more. Study them like you’re back in school. Be a little obsessive.
I’d say for me:
- Freezer/temp control
- Blichman burner/kettle (bought them at the same time)
- Brewing Classic Styles book
- Gamma lids for grain storage in buckets
- Fast rack for bottling
Been thinking about this and want to narrow it down to must haves to brew beer not want to have. Do you need fancy name brand stuff? Reading these posts it’s no wonder people think brewing is expensive. To brew all grain all you need is a pot ,burner, brew bag, thermometer, and bucket. Grain and hops of course and maybe a bin to make a swamp cooler. Do I have other stuff ? Sure. I would like to think I could walk into anyone’s kitchen and brew up some beer. I think I could.
You’re right, the absolute minimum set of equipment you need is pretty short. Also pretty well established and doesn’t make for a very interesting discussion. That’s not really what @mhall2013 was asking about in the opening post, though.
As far as the top 5 things that helped me out the most, that I wish I had gotten sooner, I’d like to expand my list to the top 5, in no particular order:
- Bazooka tube (man I hated that false bottom!)
- QD fittings
- Silicon tubing
- Grain mill
- Either a pH meter or water temp controller (can’t decide which has helped me more)
Can’t say I have too much stuff that didn’t live up to expectations, as I don’t really buy new gear until I have a need for it. More just stuff that I use less often.
- False bottom (that thing was truly a waste, hated it!)
- Pump (works great, but only use it for 10+ gallon batches so it’s only used a few times per year)
- CFC (also works great, but again only used for 10+ gallon batches)
- Hydrometer (only used for long-aged sour/wild beers for safety reasons)
- All the non-silicon high-temp hose and fittings I bought before biting the bullet for silicon and QD fittings (pitched)
This is sort of funny. I have had many hobbies throughout my life. It seems that each of the hobbies have had an endless supply of gear that you just wanted to get. And each piece of gear let you do something different. But this hobby is awesome. There is a very small list of things that you need to get going, and once you get the list, you really don’t NEED anything else. And the stuff on the list is not really specialty in most cases, and it’s not high class or expensive. Let’s face it, an IC is really a coil of copper pipe with some fittings. It’s nice that you can buy it already made, but in reality it’s something that is not special and that you can make rather easily. You can add fancy pants gear into the mix, but in most cases it’s not like this is going to make a big difference in your craft.