Kegconnection Complete Starter Kit and More Giveaway!


Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > A comprehensive list of starting equipment?

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 03-04-2013, 12:25 AM   #1
Schol-R-LEA
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Norcross, GA
Posts: 385
Liked 53 Times on 45 Posts
Likes Given: 6

Default A comprehensive list of starting equipment?

I have been giving some advice to some novices who want to start in to brewing, and have been going over the prices at the LHBS closest to them. I've come up with a list of the basic items which, IMHO, are most crucial for a new brewer to own, as well as making some notes about what they might be looking at when (and if) they make the jump to all-grain brewing.

I was looking to get some advice, corrections, and critiques on this, and see if anyone could point out anything I'd overlooked. I am aware that some of these things reflect personal biases, especially regarding sanitizers, so please take this into account in case you disagree with me on it. Also, I was posting this in the General Brewing forum mainly because, while this is mostly of interest to beginners, I was looking for feedback from homebrewers at all levels of experience; if this is inappropriate for here, please feel free to move it to the Beginners forum.

Without further ado, here is what I intend to send to my associates:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My list of the basic equipment needed for either extract or all-grain brewing, as priced at Brew Depot:

  • 20 qt. stainless steel boiler, $32
  • 7.8 Gal. plastic primary Fermenter, $18
  • 6 gal. carboy (glass or PET), secondary fermenter, $36
  • Carboy bung, $1
  • Carboy brush, $7
  • Carboy handle, $6
  • 2 fermentation locks, $3
  • Auto-siphon, $12
  • 3/8" tubing, 4 ft., $2
  • Lever capper, $18, or bench capper, $40 - the bench capper is preferred
  • bottle filler, $3
  • 2 cases of bottles (each case either 12oz x 24 or 22oz x 12) - $28
  • bottle caps, pack of 144 - $3
  • StarSan sanitizer, 16oz, $17, or 32oz. $25
  • PBW cleanser, 1 lb., $10, or 3 lbs., $20, or 8 lbs., $45
  • Thermometer, floating glass bulb, $8, or bi-metal probe, $16
  • Funnel w/ strainer, $6
  • Hydrometer (beer density and alcohol content measuring device) w/ grading tube, $12
  • Digital scale, $30-$40
  • Long handled spoon, 28", $5

The total for all of this is between $265 and $340. This is just the very basic equipment, which you would need to do any brewing at all; there are a few things you might be able to skip at first - the scale, the hydrometer, and the funnel, for example - but experience tells me that you'll eventually want all of these things, and it is better to get them up front if you can.

One more thing I'd highly recommend getting ASAP, even if you never do any all-grain brewing, is a wort chiller (between $70 and $200, depending on the type and model). This is optional with extract brewing, but it is pretty much a necessity with all-grain. The wort chiller is a heat exchanger that let's you cool the wort (unfermented beer) down from boiling to fermentation temperatures very quickly (usually in less than half an hour, and some plate chillers can be as fast as 1 gallon per minute). This is important, as the longer the warm wort is sitting around, exposed to the air, the greater the risk of it getting infected and spoiled. Bringing the temperature down fast also causes a 'cold break', which helps the beer's clarity and causes a lot of trub the (extra proteins, hop residues, and solid particles that collect at the bottom of the fermenter) to settle out faster.

For all-grain brewing, you'll need some additional things, and here things get a bit complicated because there are some different ways of doing things. The main things you need are a larger boiler (at least 32 qts, preferably 40 qts or more), a mash tun, and a lauter tun. The mash tun is a large vessel, again at least 32qt capacity, which can hold the mash (water and grain mixture) at the temperatures needed to convert the starches into fermentable sugar. The lauter tun is yet another large vessel, at least as larger or larger than the mash tun, that you use to strain the free liquid off of the mash. Now, as it happens, two of the better options combine the mash and lauter tuns into a single vessel. The choice is between a mash kettle fitted with a false bottom and a ball valve, which generally costs around $300-$350; or an insulated cooler of at least 10 gallon capacity, with a false bottom or a filter manifold of some kind, and a ball valve, which usually costs around $140. The former is a little better, in that you can heat it directly and don't need a separate boiler for the mash water; but the latter is less than half the price, and can hold the heat for the required rests without having to keep heating it. I personally use a 10 gallon Igloo circular water cooler, which IMAO is one of the best choices for an inexpensive mash/lauter tun.

There are a lot of optional tools you may want to use, especially with all-grain brewing. A refractometer, for example, is similar to a hydrometer, in that it let's you judge the density of the wort; it doesn't work after the beer is fermented, as the alcohol's low density interferes with it, but it can help by letting you take quick readings while mashing and boiling, to see how close you are to the target gravity. This is useful for making adjustments as you go. A pH meter, or pH strips, are useful for keeping track of the acidity of the mash, which needs to stay in the range between 5.2 and 5.5 for the enzyme reactions to work; a pH stabilizer (a powdered additive) is also useful for keeping the pH on track, but it is better to measure the pH as well if you can. A grinder or mill can be used to grind your own malt, which in turn makes it feasible to buy malt in bulk and store it for several months at a time. A good malt mill will cost anywhere from $150 to $450, depending on the quality and size (and brand name) you are willing to pay for.

Generally, the cost per batch for 5 gallons of extract beer is between $30 and $45, depending on the recipe or kit you are using. All-grain brewing tends to be about $25-$40, again, depending on your recipe. Broadly speaking, the most expensive ingredients are the hops and the yeast, but the majority of the cost is in the base malt, because it makes up the majority of the beer (aside from the water, of course). If you are able to buy your base malt in bulk, the price of a batch can drop by as much as $10.

What you save in money, however, is made up for in equipment costs, time, effort and the experience necessary to make good on your planned brewing. Whereas an extract brewing session may be as little as two hours (three being more typical in my experience, factoring in time for cooling the wort and proper sanitation), it is typical for an all-grain brewing session to take eight hours or more. This isn't even taking into account the time it takes to plan out an all-grain batch, which even with software such as BeerSmith can take a good deal longer than for an extract batch. It also takes much more work in that time, as you need to balance several aspects of the process over the course of the mash and the boil. The experience you gain in extract brewing will contribute to your all-grain brewing success, as well, so it is important to have several successful extract beers under your belt, and at least a few partial-mash brews, before considering all-grain brewing. Many brewers have had good results with extract and partial mash beers, and many homebrewers stick with that indefintely; but the advantages of all-grain brewing are definitely a temptation, one does need to take things one step at a time.
__________________
Schol-R-LEA is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-04-2013, 01:34 AM   #2
BamaProud
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: , Tennessee
Posts: 535
Liked 98 Times on 70 Posts
Likes Given: 74

Default

265-340 dollars to get started may scare some folks away...especially young people with not a lot of extra cash.

I am far from an expert, but I think many of the available beginner kits cover the basics pretty well(with the exception of a brew pot)
I've made 6 or 7 batches using only the following which was in a 70 dollar kit:

6.5 Gallon Fermentor and Lid
6.5 Gallon Bottling Bucket with Spigot
4-oz. of Easy Clean No-Rinse Cleanser
Airlock
Hydrometer
Bottle brush
Bottle capper
Bottle filler
Racking tube with bucket clip
Siphon tubing

...I posted a craigslist add and got my bottles for free.

Caps came with the Ingredient kits I bought.
I made my own wort chiller for about 30 bucks.
Already had a brew pot(used previously for crab boils) thermometer, spoon, funnels, scale, and probably a few more small dollar items.

I have since bought an autosiphon, a carboy/bung another airlock and a few other extras, but I wouldn't call them crucial.

__________________
Wine-Down Brewing and Winemaking
Drinking White Zinfandel, Orange Hefeweizen, Apfelwein, Jawbreaker Pale Ale, Brown Ale
Ferm1-Blackberry Merlot Ferm2-Apfelwein
Ferm3 -Apfelwein, Ferm4 -Skeeter Pee, Ferm5 -Jawbreaker Pale Ale
BamaProud is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-04-2013, 01:54 AM   #3
DerrangedPOJO
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Everett, PA
Posts: 236
Liked 7 Times on 5 Posts
Likes Given: 9

Default

Great posts! I bought a deluxe kit which was 109. Then a 6.5 gal. alluminum pot and a funnel. Total cost 170.

__________________
DerrangedPOJO is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-04-2013, 12:34 PM   #4
Schol-R-LEA
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Norcross, GA
Posts: 385
Liked 53 Times on 45 Posts
Likes Given: 6

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BamaProud View Post
265-340 dollars to get started may scare some folks away...especially young people with not a lot of extra cash.
OK, that's a good point. As it happens, the friends in question are neither young nor broke, but yes, the way I have it laid out it comes to a lot of money. I'm trying to put the whole thing into perspective here, but I may have gone a bit too far in the wrong direction. Still, I wanted to be honest with them about it up front, that the kits you get aren't all that complete (the LHBS does have some good ones, but even those don't include everything). I don't know if they have suitable boilers already, or any other equipment that could be used for it, so I tried not to assume anything. I suppose I was trying to steer them away from the mistakes I'd made in the past.

Also, as sort of a side issue, I was trying to steer one of them away from trying to jump directly into all-grain brewing, which he keeps insisting is what he wants to do. While it may be possible, I think he'd save himself a lot of headaches if he did at least a few extract batches first, and I'm hopingt to convince him that, rather than him have a disaster with all-grain and decide that homebrewing isn't worth it.
__________________
Rev. First Speaker Schol-R-LEA;2 LCF JAM ELF POEE GS MGT KoR KCO BiWM TGIF
#define KINSEY (rand() % 7)
λ
Boy Toy: You must think I'm a terrible human being...
Punchline: Don't be ridiculous. Nobody thinks you're a human being.
Schol-R-LEA is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-04-2013, 05:18 PM   #5
Mongrel
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Sisters, Oregon
Posts: 1,515
Liked 141 Times on 96 Posts
Likes Given: 22

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schol-R-LEA View Post
Also, as sort of a side issue, I was trying to steer one of them away from trying to jump directly into all-grain brewing, which he keeps insisting is what he wants to do. While it may be possible, I think he'd save himself a lot of headaches if he did at least a few extract batches first, and I'm hopingt to convince him that, rather than him have a disaster with all-grain and decide that homebrewing isn't worth it.
Tell this friend to get at a 40-60 qt kettle and a burner. If he buys the 20 qt it's going to be replaced very soon. He can still do an extract batch in it if he wants while he's putting together the rest of his all grain equipment.
__________________

THPTPTH!

Mongrel is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-04-2013, 07:02 PM   #6
Schol-R-LEA
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Norcross, GA
Posts: 385
Liked 53 Times on 45 Posts
Likes Given: 6

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mongrel View Post
Tell this friend to get at a 40-60 qt kettle and a burner. If he buys the 20 qt it's going to be replaced very soon. He can still do an extract batch in it if he wants while he's putting together the rest of his all grain equipment.
Excellent point, and something I'll definitely mention to him. The brew store in question has an excellent Polarware kettle with a ball valve and site glass for $305, false bottoms which can be fitted to it. While I think they may have some less expensive offerings, that would at least give an upper bound on prices for starting out (unless he wants to go whole hog and get the 80 qt Blichmann for $410 - and at that point, why not pop for the 42qt. conical fermenter for just another $1300? ). A burner and stand to go with it would be around $60.
__________________
Rev. First Speaker Schol-R-LEA;2 LCF JAM ELF POEE GS MGT KoR KCO BiWM TGIF
#define KINSEY (rand() % 7)
λ
Boy Toy: You must think I'm a terrible human being...
Punchline: Don't be ridiculous. Nobody thinks you're a human being.
Schol-R-LEA is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-04-2013, 10:36 PM   #7
BamaProud
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: , Tennessee
Posts: 535
Liked 98 Times on 70 Posts
Likes Given: 74

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schol-R-LEA View Post
OK, that's a good point. As it happens, the friends in question are neither young nor broke, but yes, the way I have it laid out it comes to a lot of money. I'm trying to put the whole thing into perspective here, but I may have gone a bit too far in the wrong direction. Still, I wanted to be honest with them about it up front, that the kits you get aren't all that complete (the LHBS does have some good ones, but even those don't include everything). I don't know if they have suitable boilers already, or any other equipment that could be used for it, so I tried not to assume anything. I suppose I was trying to steer them away from the mistakes I'd made in the past.

Also, as sort of a side issue, I was trying to steer one of them away from trying to jump directly into all-grain brewing, which he keeps insisting is what he wants to do. While it may be possible, I think he'd save himself a lot of headaches if he did at least a few extract batches first, and I'm hopingt to convince him that, rather than him have a disaster with all-grain and decide that homebrewing isn't worth it.
Gotcha I was looking it from a little different perspective, more along the lines of a general list, yours is targeted to people you know, so that makes sense.

I also would encourage anyone to do at least a few all malt then maybe a malt/grain combo or two before going all grain. I think I'm about ready after a year of kit brewing.
__________________
Wine-Down Brewing and Winemaking
Drinking White Zinfandel, Orange Hefeweizen, Apfelwein, Jawbreaker Pale Ale, Brown Ale
Ferm1-Blackberry Merlot Ferm2-Apfelwein
Ferm3 -Apfelwein, Ferm4 -Skeeter Pee, Ferm5 -Jawbreaker Pale Ale
BamaProud is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-05-2013, 05:05 PM   #8
baulz
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Peterborough, Ontario
Posts: 101
Liked 12 Times on 10 Posts
Likes Given: 5

Default

Most important thing to get started with IMO is friends that brew. Did my first 6-7 batches with a couple friends so they loaned me a lot to make my startup costs cheaper. It helped me jump head first into all grain with a 15gal brew kettle.

Turkey Fryer pot and burner
Converted Mash tun cooler
Auto-Siphon
Tubing
Sanitizer

Borrowed a carboy, hydrometer, grain mill, scale, thermometer, spoon, airlock/bung, bottle capper, bottling bucket. As time went on I slowly picked up my own gear. Bottles were all re-used commercial ones.

For ingredents I bought it all from them. We still do group buys together and trade back and forth as needed. A big spreadsheet tracks it all and we settle up once a year or so.

__________________
baulz is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-05-2013, 08:58 PM   #9
ACarver
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Ankeny, Iowa
Posts: 84
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

People actually buy empty beer bottles to use? Seems like the biggest waste of money you could do while homebrewing.

__________________
In heaven there is no beer... that's why we drink it here. And when we're gone from here... our friends will be drinking all our beer!
Go Hawks!
ACarver is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-05-2013, 09:16 PM   #10
JehovahsWitnessProtection
Registered User
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Posts: 34
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ACarver View Post
People actually buy empty beer bottles to use? Seems like the biggest waste of money you could do while homebrewing.
While I was in the planning stage before I bought my equipment, I started making beer choices based on bottles. No twist-offs, 750ml, green glass, etc. I still stocked up on good beer I liked, Sierra Nevada, Founders, etc., and after a few months ended up with several cases of good, usable bottles.

Only buy bottles if you are diving into it and need a bunch right away. Look on Craigslist, too.
__________________
JehovahsWitnessProtection is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Looking for comprehensive list of formulas kevreh Brew Science 5 02-01-2013 10:00 AM
Recommendations - Best Comprehensive Equipment Kit Tom_FL Equipment/Sanitation 8 08-12-2011 06:42 PM
How does my starting list look?? BigTerp Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 15 06-23-2011 08:39 PM
comprehensive asco part # list tbulger Equipment/Sanitation 1 02-06-2008 05:15 PM
Comprehensive list of malts and specialty grains brazilmma Recipes/Ingredients 4 11-09-2006 05:57 PM