Equipment You Will Need


The first thing I should do is to give a Health Warning; please ensure all plastic items you use, buckets, tubing etc., are made of food grade plastic. Some plastics which are NOT food grade have carcinogenic properties and should be avoided like the plague. 

A cheap or old bath or beach towel no one wants anymore - this goes on the kitchen floor to soak up the inevitable drips and spills.

Three fermentation buckets with lids - each capable of holding 25 litres. At least one of the lids should be able to have an airlock inserted.

A long handled spoon - metal is best as plastic ones tend to bend when you're struggling to stir several kilograms of wet grain.

Kitchen weighing scales - capable of weighing anything accurately from 3 grams to 5Kg.  Hopefully you've already got these or you're no Jamie Oliver. 

An airlock - fits into the lid of your fermentation bin. When fermentation is taking place the yeast action can be so vigorous that the bin lid can be blown off; the airlock is your safety valve and your peace of mind.  

A thermometer - capable of giving accurate readings in divisions of one degree Centigrade from about 20 to 100 degrees. An electric one that gives a reading in a few seconds is the best but not the cheapest option. 

A mash tun - if this sounds complicated don't panic, there's a brilliant ready made one available at a homebrew supply shop near you, or online. In a previous life mine used to be a coolbox. 

Mash tun insulation - this is simply some material to wrap around your mash tun to retain as much heat as possible during the 90 minute long mash. Brewers use anything and everything, from old quilts and coats or blankets, to loft insulation, silver foil, polystyrene, and /or a combination of these things. You're not entering a Fashion Show here so appearance doesn't matter - effectiveness is all. For a long time I used two old lagging jackets for a cold water tank. Currently I'm using a cheap windscreen cover normally used for frost protection together with a cheap foil emergency sleeping bag. 

A couple of 2 litre jugs - buy your own and keep these exclusively for the purpose of brewing. They only cost a couple of quid and if you rely on using a jug that's already knocking around in the kitchen Sod's Law dictates that just at the very moment you need to use it, it will be sitting in the fridge full of custard.

A home made recirculation sprinkler - (See 'Things To Make' for details of how to make this).

A home made sparging jug - made from an ordinary plastic jug and a length of food-grade syphon tubing about 8mm in diameter. (See 'Things To Make' for details of how to make this).

An enormous pan - capable of holding substantially more liquid than the amount of wort you'll be boiling. It will be a robust rolling boil and you don't want very hot stuff shooting all over the place. I use a 35 litre capacity one that I bought online from a firm specialising in catering equipment. 

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A large stockpot - capable of holding about 15 litres.

A heater tray - this plugs into the mains and you sit your fermentation bin on it. There are lots of different types but mine heats the fermenting wort to 9°C more than the room temperature. A handy piece of kit for wintry nights as yeast doesn't like getting too cold. Just remember to turn it off when morning comes and your central heating kicks in - yeast doesn't like getting too hot either.

A large fine straining bag - available from the wine making section of your home brew supply stockist.

An immersion wort chiller with the relevant hose connections - again, this sounds complicated but your home brew supply shop has one waiting for you. (See 'Things To Make' for details of drip-free hose connections).

A 2 metre length of food-grade syphon tubing - about 8mm in diameter will be fine.


A 1 metre length of food grade siphon tubing - 16mm in diameter. This is optional; it's to slip over the tap of your mash tun to eliminate splashing wort as it passes into the fermentation bucket. Some brewers, myself included, don't mind splashing it about at all. 

A converted Cornelius Keg and CO2 gas cylinder - this is optional because you can always bottle your beer instead of having it on 'draught'. Your homebrew supply stockist will be happy to sell you these and show you how they work.

A bottle filling stick, brown beer bottles, crown caps and a bottle capper - these too are optional because not every brewer likes bottled beer.  The best and easiest bottle capper is an adjustable height counter top one. A fellow brewer once rang me to ask where he could get brown beer bottles from. I told him his local off licence sell them. Not too quick off the mark this bloke, there was a long silence while he took this information in.  

"Really?" he said, I never knew they sold empty bottles!" I had to explain to him that they don’t, they sell bottles which come full of beer and in order to use them, the conscientious brewer has to drink the contents. It’s a dirty job but someone... Alternatively have a word with the landlord of your local pub, and ask him if you can rummage around his brown glass recycling bin and take away the contents for your own purposes. A strange mix of disgust, horror and pity will cloud his features before he gives permission. Two points to consider if you take up this course of action: one, never rummage around the bin in the dark, there’s broken glass in there you fool! And two, be warned, the stench emanating from that bin, especially at the height of Summer, is something not even Stephen King could do justice to... hold your breath as you go in. Better still, send a friend.

Hydrometer - A hydrometer helps you to work out how strong your beer is, and can be used if you feel you need to be sure primary fermentation has ended. I very rarely use a hydrometer and this explains why my recipes can sometimes be devoid of gravity readings. This is because I know from experience that primary fermentation will be finished after a week (some brewers swear by two weeks) in all but the very strongest of beers. Also, I don't really need to know the ABV of my beer - what it tastes like is far more important to me. However, if you get the hydrometer bug then full instructions on how to use one will be included in the packaging. All I would say though, is use it sparingly, because every time you take the lid off your fermentation bin in order to take a sample reading you are running the risk of infecting and ruining your beer. Taking ONE hydrometer reading before pitching your yeast, and taking ONE hydrometer reading after a week in primary fermentation is good practice in my humble opinion.  If you really need to.