Get Started in Homebrewing
Want to get into homebrewing? Best decision you’ll ever make!
But you can’t brew without brewing gear. And unfortunately, trying to figure out the gear you need to get started in homebrewing is overwhelming, confusing, and time consuming.
So let’s save you some stress and precious hours, shall we?
Ask a homebrewer how to get into homebrewing and they’ll probably respond by saying, “Get a kit.”
Right away we have potential for confusion…
Because there are two types of kits in homebrewing: Equipment kits and Ingredient Kits.
- Equipment Kits. This is the gear you’ll use over and over again for every batch you brew. When not in use, you’ll store it in your home.
- Ingredient Kits. These are consumables. They contain the raw ingredients you need to make beer (usually just hops, malt extract, specialty grains, and yeast). Yes, you can brew beer from recipes just like you cook recipes from cookbooks, but that’s more advanced. I recommend every new brewer start with ingredient kits.
This page will mainly focus on #1 — the equipment you need to brew. You can browse ingredient kits right here, which is the same website which carries the equipment kit I recommend. So you can buy both the gear and ingredients.
On to the equipment. First, a quick story…
I’ve been teaching homebrewing classes for a long time. I don’t sell equipment, so I have to recommend kits to my students. And until a few years ago, there was never a starter kit that “checked all the boxes.” Which was not ideal for my students.
So in 2013, I co-designed an equipment kit with a homebrewing supplier called Midwest Supplies. They get my (many) students as customers, and I get happier students because they have a better kit. Win-win-win.
The Midwest kit is what I recommend, and you’ll find it below.
Now let’s look at all the equipment you need to get started in homebrewing.
1. Equipment Kit. I already talked about this. I recommend the Midwest kit below.
2. Boil Kettle. I didn’t include this in the equipment kit because I learned that many people already have a suitable kettle at home. Usually stock pot or giant spaghetti pot. Or they want to get one cheap from a flea market. Point it, I didn’t want to charge people for something they don’t need, so the kettle is not included in the equipment kit. If you need a good kettle, I recommend the 5-gallon one below. It’s excellent for new brewers and won’t break the bank.
3. Empty Beer Bottles. Again, a lot of people already have these because you can reuse commercial beer bottles (pry-off only, not twist-off). But if you don’t feel like collecting and cleaning out all those bottles, just buy them new. Then you can reuse them going forward. A 5 gallon batch (which is what ingredient kits are designed for) will give you 53 bottles of beer. So you’ll need three of the 24-bottle cases below. Don’t worry, you’ll use the extras. Bottles break, get nasty and should be thrown away, etc.
- Fermentation Bag, from Cool Brewing. This bag is very close to moving into the “must-have” list. The reason is because controlling fermentation temperatures will give you a huge jump in beer quality. And controlling fermetnation temperatures is exactly with this bag allows you to do. And for a very good price compared to other, more automated methods (see our guide on fermentation temperature control equipment).
- Immersion Wort Chiller. An immersion chiller is primarily a time saving device. I can easily shave at least 30 minutes off your brew day. Is it worth the price? Depends on how you value your time.But the immersion chiller also gives you better beer. When you’re chilling your wort (i.e. beer before it has alcohol) it’s at risk for infection. So less time chilling = smaller risk of infection. If it’s in the budget, I would grab one.
- Propane Burner. If you have a weak stove, a small kitchen, or your spouse yells at you about the smell of your beer boiling, you might want to move your operation outside. In that case, you’ll want a propane burner. It’s essentially a turkey fryer but without that annoying timer.Should you just buy a turkey fryer? I don’t recommend it. Not only because of that annoying timer, but because turkey fryers normally come with a 7-gallon kettle, which is a weird, in-between size for homebrewing. Don’t let a turkey control how you brew.
That’s all the gear you need to brew!
If you’re on a budget, go with the must-haves. If you’ve got some extra cash to spare, pick up the nice-to-haves. And if you’ve got even more cash to spare, check out the rest of this gear guide. There are plenty of toys for you to explore.
Right now you probably have a million questions…
- But what style of beer should I brew first?
- Should I make any changes to the kit instructions?
- How do I prevent an infection?
- How do I make a super high alcohol beer?
There’s no possible way I could answer every question about homebrewing right here on this page. That’s why I created our online course, Batch 1 and Beyond.
It’s trained thousands of new homebrewers over the years and I’m positive it will answer all of your questions. I’ve heard them all. And the answers are in this comprehensive, video-based course.
Plus, the videos in the course demonstrate how to homebrew using the Midwest equipment kit I recommend on this page, so you can follow along step for step. With zero confusion.
Once you get your kit, Batch 1 and Beyond will show you how to use it. More info here.
– Billy B.
Homebrew Academy Founder
The Homebrew Academy & Midwest Supplies Collaboration Kit. Homebrew Academy founder Billy B. had a vision of the perfect homebrewing starter kit and Midwest Supplies brought that vision to life.
For your new brewers, we recommend you buy three packs (72 bottles total). You could squeak by with two packs but better to play it safe and have extras on hand. Note: Bottle caps need to be bought separately, unless they are included with the starter kit you purchase.
A great starter kettle. This won't be the last kettle you ever buy, but it will get you up and running in homebrewing at an affordable price.
We love this bag this bag because it allows homebrewers to control fermentation temperatures without spending too much money. Sure, it requires more effort because you need to exchange ice packs. But if it were more automated, it wouldn't be this cheap. We think fermentation temperature control is so important that we ...
Wort chillers are used by both malt extract and all-grain brewers to speed up the chilling process and reduce the risk of infection. We like copper immersion chillers because they are quick to clean and cool the wort quickly.
Homebrewers need tough gear, and this thing is a tank. It's also wide enough to hold keggles (converted beer kegs). Plus, it's incredibly powerful. You can't go wrong with this Bayou Classic KAB6 . But if it's too expensive, go for it's little (albeit noiser) brother: the Bayou Classic SP10.