Many people have asked how to start homebrewing with the rise in craft beer and breweries. It’s a great hobby and, similar to cooking or baking, it is very rewarding when you create something delicious. Plus you’re sure to find some new friends as you start to share your homebrew.
One of the best parts of homebrewing is the equipment used at home is relatively inexpensive to get started and is the same basic equipment used by professional brewers. The familiarity with the equipment in a professional brewery and the ability to make beer for a living is what’s allowed many homebrewers to open their own breweries. In this guide, we provide the foundation for how to start homebrewing and the equipment needed to start brewing.
Simplified Beer Making Process
The process of making beer is creating sugar water (wort), boiling the wort and adding bitterness (hops), then cooling it and introducing yeast. The yeast turns the sugar into alcohol through a process called fermentation. There’s a ton of science behind each step in the process but to make a drinkable beer, you don’t really need to know the chemistry. For advanced brewing, learning what is happening at the chemical level is recommended. For those looking to increase their knowledge, check out our review of the top 50 homebrewing books.
Now, to get started. As a homebrewer, you can use kits where the wort is already supplied or go all-grain where you make the wort yourself. Most serious homebrewers are brewing all-grain as it provides an extra level of control in flavor, color, alcohol content, and mouthfeel. In our opinion, the extra control is worth the extra couple hours and equipment as it allows you to make better beer. As such, we’ll include the mash tun in our beginning equipment for homebrewing. If you want to use kits, here’s some of our top choices for kit brewers. With these, you can exclude the mash tun.
How to Start Homebrewing: Basic Equipment
Basic Homebrewing Equipment: Mash Tun
The Mash Tun is one of the basic pieces of equipment for homebrewers. The purpose of the mash tun is to convert the grain into usable sugars that the yeast can eat and convert to alcohol. This sugar water mixture post-mash is called wort. The good news is there is no requirement to start with a mash tun if you want to start homebrewing. There are lots of extracts and extract kits that remove the requirement to mash while you learn how to homebrew. If you’d like skip mashing (which also cuts your brew day length down), you can skip this equipment section. However, the control from mashing your own grain bill has a tremendous impact on the final beer so most homebrewers begin to mash once they start homebrewing seriously.
If you’re handy and have the right tools and equipment lying around, you can honestly make a mash tun to start homebrewing. But it’ll take some time and the cost of the materials. Most beginning homebrewers rather just jump in and learn how to start homebrewing instead of learning how to build homebrewing equipment. While this kit was is just over $300 making it a little pricey, the thermometer on this mash tun alone sells for over 10% the total price. That’s why we recommend anyone looking to start homebrewing purchasing this kit. There are so many different components to making beer as a new homebrewer. The last thing you want to worry about is if your equipment is made correctly.
This mash tun setup from Norther Brewer has a flat bottom, thermometer, and a 12-gallon capacity. That 12 gallon capacity is really important for those higher alcohol homebrews and ensuring solid yield on a 10 gallon batch.
A little more advanced than the above Northern Brewer mash tun, this functions as a complete brewing device. Instead of the usual propane to bring your beer to a boil, this device works on electric heating. The built-in sensors are designed to give you a level of control over your boil temperature. The model comes with several different size options from just over 9 gallons to just over 6 gallons or more accurately 25-35 L. We like the stainless steel construction and ability to both mash and boil in the same device. For those with limited space and do not want a live fire, this is one of the best all-in-one devices great to start homebrewing
An upgrade over the typical homebrewer’s homemade mash tun, this mash tun comes with a built-in thermometer. The insulation of the cooler helps to make sure you don’t have heat loss during your mash process. For those homebrewers who want to know that they are mashing in at the correct temperature, a thermometer is a must-have. Other methods require removing the lid resulting in heat loss. The thermometer adds some cost but it’s worth it to help make better beer.
From winning super bowl celebrations to making beer, the Igloo cooler does it all. While this cooler is missing the thermometer present in many of our other recommendations it does come with an all-important false bottom. Plus due to the simple design, you can also reuse this cooler for its original purpose as a water cooler if you decide to stop homebrewing. For people who want to learn how to start homebrewing, we think the dual-purpose nature of this cooler makes it a great buy. You’re less likely to be out of money on specialized equipment as you can reuse this cooler for work or your kids soccer games.
Another Igloo cooler. This mash tun is similar to the one above and is perfect if you want to start to homebrew. But it is a smaller size. We think the 10-gallon mash tun is more appropriate and versatile for homebrewers but wanted to include a smaller option in case you don’t anticipate ever wanting to brew 10-gallon batches.
Here’s the Rubbermaid version of the 10-gallon Igloo mash tun for beginning homebrewers. There are no product differences between the two but we included this so you could price compare between the two. At the time of this writing, the Igloo mash tun is about $20 less expensive but prices do change. For beginning homebrewers, there’s a lot of equipment to consider so there’s no need to overpay for essentially the same product.
Basic Homebrewing Equipment: Kettle
The Kettle is another core piece of homebrewing equipment. Regardless of whether you mash yourself or use an extract kit, you’ll need a kettle. On the smallest of levels, a large kitchen pot may allow for you to prepare some small 1-2 gallon extract kits but for the majority of brewers, you’ll want a dedicated brewing kettle.
The one piece of equipment we did not include but is essential when you start to homebrew is your heat source. Many homebrewers use a propane burner as they can deliver plenty of heat (BTUs) to create a roiling boil. This is especially important for those in colder climates or making large batches of beer. As you’re probably using a propane burner or your stove, we left out this vital piece of equipment. Pro tip: always make sure you have more heat-generating capacity than you need.
Northern Brewer – Megapot Brew Kettle with Volume Markings, Valve, and Thermometer
The Megapot is a branded homebrew kettle from Northern Brewer. It’s well built, from a brand name maker, with volume markings, solid silicone handles that protect against burns, a thermometer, and a cut off value for easy draining. They have versions from 8 gallons all the way up to 30 gallons making it appropriate for nearly any homebrewing application. The stainless steel construction makes it easy to clean. We can’t think of a reason to not like this kettle for new homebrewers.
CONCORD Stainless Steel Home Brew Kettle Stock Pot
The Concord Stainless steel homebrew kettle has many of the same features as the Megapot kettle but for about half the price. We think it’s a little less well made than the Megapot but for many new homebrewers this kettle will meet their needs. It only comes in 1 size, 10 gallons. So for homebrewers looking for a different size, we’d still recommend the Megapot. It’s made by a cookware company but the basic functionality of a homebrew kettle is all there. A nice added feature is that the lid of this kettle is designed to hang off the side.
GasOne 10 Gallon Stainless Steel Home Brew Kettle Pot
The Gas One homebrew kettle is another kettle that comes in varying sizes. It’s important to remember that your kettle needs to be larger than the batch size you are making. As most boils take over an hour, you lose quite a bit of the wort to evaporation. You’ll need that evaporation and rolling boil to drive off some off-flavors from your beer. The nice part of this kettle is the interior volume markings to help gauge how much liquid is still in your kettle.
Anvil – ANVktle10g Brew Kettle, 10 gal
Anvil is another strong brand name in the homebrewing community. Similiar to
BREWSIE Stainless Steel Home Brew Kettle w/Dual Filtration
Basic Homebrewing Equipment: Wort Chillers
Northern Brewer Stainless Steel Counterflow Wort Chiller
HFS(R) Homebrew Beer Wort Chiller
Northern Brewer – Copperhead Copper Immersion Wort Chiller for Beer Brewing
HomeBrewStuff 25′ Copper Immersion Wort Chiller – Deluxe Package
NY Brew Supply copper wort chiller, 1/2″ x 50′
NY Brew Supply W3850-CV Super Efficient 3/8 x 50′ Copper Wort Chiller
Basic Homebrewing Equipment: Auto-siphon – 1/2″ racking cane
FastRack Fermtech Large (0.5-Inch) Auto Siphon, Clear
FastRack 1/2″ Auto-Siphon, Clear Auto-Siphon-1/2, 26 x 2 x 2 inches
60cm Auto-siphon 1/2″ Racking Cane W/ Hose & Clamp
Fermtech Auto-Siphon Large 1/2″ with 6.5 Feet of 7/16″ Tubing and Clamp by UbrewUsa
FastRack Large 1/2″ Auto Siphon with 8′ of Tubing, 8 feet, Clear
BSG 1/2″ Auto-Siphon
How to Start Homebrewing: Fermentation Basics
Homebrewing Fermentation Equipment: Yeast Starter Kit
Homebrewers Outpost – Y320 Yeast Starter Kit (2000ml)
Homebrewers Outpost – Y310 Yeast Starter Kit (1000 ml)
Fermenter’s Favorites Borosilicate Erlenmeyer Flask 2000 Ml Yeast Starter Kit
Learn To Brew Yeast Starter Kit for Home Brewing
Yeast Starter Kit, 2L
Homebrewing Fermentation Equipment: Aeration / Diffusion Stone
Stainless Steel Diffusion Stone, 0.5 Micron Aeration Stone, Carbonation Stone
JoyTube Stainless Steel Aeration Stone, 0.5 Micron Diffusion Stone with 1/4″ Hose Barb
ProMaker Home Brewing Stainless Steel Diffusion Stone Aeration Stone
FERRODAY 0.5 Micron Diffusion Stone Stainless Steel Aeration Stone Carbonating Stone
CRBrewBeer Diffusion Stone Stainless Steel Aeration Stone Carbonating Stone
Homebrewing Fermentation Equipment: Oxygenation Kit
Northern Brewer Oxygenation Kit 2.0 with 16 Inch Aeration Wand
L.D.Carlson Company 4980 Complete Oxygenation System with Pump For Homebrew
Homebrewers Outpost – FE380 Aeration System
Homebrewing Fermentation Equipment: Carboy Handle
Eagle Brewing FE510 Carboy Handle for Smooth Neck, Orange
N/H 2 Pack Carboy Handle
K&B Brewing Carboy Handle
MSS Standard Carboy Handle (Pack of 2)
Krome 6.5 gallon Heavy Duty Glass Carboy Handle
THORIUM Heavy Duty Brewing Carboy Handle
Homebrewing Fermentation Equipment: Blow-0ff Tube
Coldbreak Brewing Equipment CBBTB Bucket Blow Off Tube
Home Brew Ohio – HOZQ8-872 Blow-Off Tube
Clear Vinyl Tubing Food Grade Multipurpose Tube for Beer Line
Home Brew Ohio 3/8″ Stainless Steel Blow-Off Tube for Carboy Bungs
Jaybird Blow Off Tube with Thermowell for Speidel Fermenters
How to Start Homebrewing: Bottling
Now that your beer is nearly ready, you need a way to store it. Most advanced homebrewers opt for kegging. It requires more equipment and often makes it harder to share with others. As many advanced brewers enter competitions for feedback and need to bottle their beer at times, we’ll start with bottling your homebrew as it’s an important element to understand. Plus bottle conditioning is cool.
Homebrewing Bottling Equipment: No-rinse Bottle Sanitizer
FastRack One Step No Rinse Cleaner – 1 lb
FastRack – 5lbs Logic One Step Cleaner One Step 5 lb. – No Rinse Cleaner/Sanitizer
Start homebrewing: Vinator Sulphiter
FastRack Bottle Rinser
Homebrewing Bottling Equipment: Bottle Washing / Drying
FastRack 45 Bottle Drying Tree- Econo
Home Brew Stuff Bottle Washer
Homebrewing Bottling Equipment: Bottle Filler
Craft Brew Bottling Wand
ProMaker Beer Bottle Filler
Homebrewing Bottling Equipment: Bottle Capper
FastRack 4008 Colt Strong Bench Capper
North Mountain Supply Spring Loaded Bench Bottle Capper
Aipasi Tech Manual Bottle Capper Tool