2016 Homebrewing Holiday Gift Guide
This 2016 Gift Guide is sponsored by SpikeBrewing. Make sure to watch the video in the middle of the post that shows their new turnkey electric brewery. It’s beauuutiful.
All I want for Christmas is a hippopotamus homebrew gear!
Got a homebrewer in your life? Scratching your head on what to buy them for Christmas?
No one needs additional stress during the holidays, so let’s take at least one decision off your plate. We’ve got awesome homebrewing gifts for every budget. And make sure to check out our staff picks at the end.
Ready? Let’s do this!
The Budget: Taster Glass (Under $50)
Maybe you’re just looking for a stocking stuffer. Maybe you’re buying for a homebrewing co-worker and spending too much would be awkward. Or maybe you’re one of those fancy gift wrappers who stacks five boxes together and you need a smaller item to top off your masterpiece.
Either way, here are a few inexpensive gifts that will still earn you big props from any homebrewer.
A refractometer does a hero’s job: It saves your beer! Instead of wasting ounces of beer with a hydrometer reading, a refractometer allows you to measure your beer’s specific gravity (and therefore, its alcohol level) with just a couple teeny drops.
Homebrewers have an insatiable appetite for beer AND beer knowledge. You can’t go wrong giving the homebrewer in your life a great beer book.
Which book? There are SO many to choose from. But this year, I’m going to recommend Randy Mosher’s Mastering Homebrew as the #1 book pick. The fun visuals, the easy reading style, and the vast range of topics makes this book especially suited to go under the Christmas Tree. For more options, see our favorite homebrewing books.
American Homebrewer Association Membership
Even if you brew alone, you’re part of a strong homebrewing community. The American Homebrewer Association is the central voice for this community. They fight for homebrewer’s rights and provide education on all levels.
The perks of being an AHA member are pretty sweet too: Discounts at pubs, breweries, and homebrew shops. Early access to the fast-selling Great American Beer Festival tickets. And of course, Zymurgy Magazine.
The Budget: Pint Glass ($50 to $200)
Cool Brewing Bag
Previously, when you wanted to control fermentation temperatures, you were looking at slapping down a least a couple hundred dollars. Enter the Cool Brewing Bag. This simple yet brilliant invention brings temperature control capabilities to every homebrewer.
And as any experienced homebrewer will tell you, controlling fermentation temperatures is one of those activities that gives you the biggest improvement in beer quality. Watch our video review of the Cool Brewing bag.
The Speiedel fermenters filled a void in the homebrewing world. They’re higher quality than the other plastic fermenters on the market, but because they’re plastic, they don’t carry the lofty price tag of stainless steel fermenters.
HDPE plastic (translation: better plastic), a wide mouth opening for easy cleaning, a spigot — what’s not to love?
Watch our video review of the Speidel fermenter.
3 Gallon Keg
When I bought my first 3 gallon keg, I didn’t know how much I’d use it. It turned out to be one of my best purchases.
When you have a 3 gallon keg, you can turn every batch into a side experiment: “Hmm maybe I’ll split this stout and add some oak chips to my little corny… ”
The Budget: Keg ($200 to $500)
Spike V3 Kettle
Spike Brewing makes a damn fine brewing kettle. If you gift one to a homebrewer and they react with anything less than a “Holy Crap”, call 911 because they must not have a pulse.
Don’t take my word for it. Check out Brett’s Spike Brewing kettle review of their 10 gallon kettle on the Homebrew Academy blog.
Blichmann Quick Carb
Talk about a gift that will leave your homebrewer in shock and awe…
The Blichmann Quick Carb is a newer product and there’s not a ton of feedback on it yet. And I admit, I’ve never even seen it in person. But I have scouts who tell me it’s the real deal. Plus, it’s Blichmann. They couldn’t make a crappy product if they tried.
The Budget: Keg (Over $500)
The Grainfather is taking the homebrewing world by storm. Its Facebook group is buzzing with loyal owners. It made a convert out of our own Jason James (watch his Grainfather review). And I even jumped on board the Grainfather train myself!
The Grainfather has a very compelling sales pitch: A single kettle, easy cleanup, and best of all — it runs on electricity instead of propane or natural gas. Yes, friends. That means you can very easily brew all-grain indoors.
A keezer is just a chest freezer that gets turned into a kegerator. The result is a highly functional piece of brewing gear that also looks incredible.
No, you cannot buy one of these pre-made (that I know of). It’s a DIY project. But our keezer build guide makes it easy. So easy that hundreds of homebrewers have used the guide to build their own. And that’s just the brewers we’ve heard from.
SS BrewTech Brew Bucket + FTSs Temp Control System
Finally, an affordable stainless steel fermenter. And when you combine the fermenter with BrewTech’s innovative FTSs temperature control unit, you have a high performance fermentation system. Watch my Brew Bucket video review for a full understanding of how the system works.
The Budget: Treat Yo Self!
Were you an especially good homebrewer in 2016? Why not treat yo self!
This year’s treat yo self pick goes to our sponsor Spike Brewing for this turnkey, electric HERMS brewing system. Folks, this is a thing of beauty.
I asked our rockstar beer writers to rummage through their beer caves and find the ONE item they think every homebrewer should own. Here are their responses!
Jessi: BYO Magazine Subscription
I love the brew your own magazine because it’s always got a lot of ideas and recipes to expand your current home brewing skills. It covers a wide range of brewing ideas and techniques, whether you’re all grain or extract.
I also think it’s a good idea for any home brewer to read ideas and articles and to step away from brewing. Taking the time to read something different can help you solve brewing problems and give you ideas for future brews.
I use the Thermapen all the time. Super fast read, fits in your pocket and extremely accurate. One of the most important parts in brewing is temperature, and this is the best tool.
Todd: Brew Bag
The Brew Bag is one of my favorite pieces of brew day equipment. It simplifies the mashing process and saves me about an hour of time. No vorlauf, no sparge, and cleanup is easy. At only $30 – $50, it’s a perfect gift for the all-grain homebrewer.
Katie: Plate Chiller
I love my heat exchanger! It sped up our brewday by at least thirty minutes which leaves more time for drinking. We received the twenty plate model for the holidays last year. We chose to get ours with a quick disconnect option that helps with a fast set up and easy clean up. The size we received is perfect for five gallon batches. We even cooled a batch to larger temperature for the first time with this little beaut!
Alex: Counter Pressure Bottle Filler
I love this when it comes to bottling because I typically use kegs for everything from fermenting to serving however when I go out or take a weekend trip this makes it so easy to transfer my brew into bottles when I just don’t have time to take a keg setup. This also allows me to move my brew out of kegs when I run out of kegs for new brews. I purchased this item from a LHBS however this the the exact same thing just from MoreBeer.
Robert B.: Quick Disconnects
Quick disconnects are annoyance reducers. They changed the way I brewed by making hot transfers easier (when the QDs are connected to silicone hose). Think through your configuration before buying them. I use female connectors on my hoses and male connectors on all of my ball values.
The garden hose QDs are a recent addition, but they are well worth the money. It makes connecting garden hoses to a water source, chiller, and water filter, so much faster and easier. The best part is no leaks because of a loose connection.
Luke: SS BrewTech 14-Gal Chronical
This is my favorite toy. I have a glycol chiller too so it’s always at the temp I want. With temp control my brews have become phenomenal and no off flavors.
Billy: Milwaukee pH Meter
Water chemistry is complicated. But for the homebrewer who wants to tackle it (a very smart decision), the first step is very simple: Get a good pH meter. Because you can’t make any headway with water adjustments unless you accurarely measure your mash pH.