By Marshall Norris, Simple Machine Brewing Company
For some, brewing is simply a fun hobby that allows you to reap the benefits of your labor. But for a few, that hobby becomes a passion, an obsession, and potentially a profession. I fell into the latter category, and while I haven’t looked back, I clearly remember my path started as a home brewer. The sheer joy I get out of making beer is profound; it’s interesting, fun, relaxing, and cathartic. When someone asks about becoming a home brewer, I absolutely encourage and support them in their endeavors.
There are three ways to homebrew: extract, partial mash, and all grain (in order of difficulty). My first brewing experience was a Mr. Beer kit (extract) from BevMo, running about $50. These kits are fantastic for a simple intro into making beer and come with everything you need for a single batch. However, if you’re like me, once you taste that first batch, you’ll want to brew another and unfortunately, these kits are not meant to last.
With my next step, I invested roughly $100 into a setup that was reusable (with added raw ingredients) and would allow for expansion to partial mash and all-grain brewing. These items can be found as kits on Amazon with varied prices. The raw materials can be found online as well or at your local homebrew shop. Now all you need is a cool, dark place to let your creation ferment. Whatever route you take, you’re in for an adventure.
Whether you are looking to jump in yourself or interested are in purchasing a set up as a gift for someone special in your life, there are a vast number or home brewing kits available. Make sure you set a budget and stick with it. Seek advice from those who have already done it to help avoid unnecessary pitfalls. And finally…have fun! This is a hobby and should be enjoyable.
Interested in getting started? Here are a few items you’ll need for a basic kit:
• Large pot (4+ gallons)
• Spoon to stir
• 6-Gallon fermentation bucket (with bung hole in lid)
6-Gallon bottling bucket with spigot • and bottling wand
• Auto-siphon and racking cane
• Air-lock and bung
• Food grade sanitizer
• Waterproof thermometer
• Hydrometer and hydrometer tube
• Muslin bags (3 or 4)
• 5’ of ⅜” beverage tubing
• Priming sugar (dextrose)
• Bottles (about 55 12oz) *you can reuse non-twist off bottles you’ve saved
• Bottle caps and bottle capper
• Raw materials