5 Gadgets Every Homebrewer Must Own

There are a lot of tools and gadgets available to us as homebrewers. There is a tool for just about everything to make our brew days easier. However, there are some tools that I would consider essential "must owns" for every homebrewer. These five gadgets are ones that I would not leave home without on a brew day.

This list of gadgets is by no means comprehensive, and there are quite a few other essentials you'll need to brew a complete beer. You may already own three or four of these, but having all five will help make your beer the best it can be.

Hydrometerhbt-og-reading-1808

You probably already have one if you bought or received a starter equipment kit. But just how essential is a hydrometer? Hydrometers measure the amount of sugars in a solution. Since yeast converts sugar into alcohol, you'll be able to calculate ABV, determine if a batch has finished fermenting (based on your yeast strain's attenuation, an OG reading, and a current gravity reading). If you're making mead, you can track your sugar breaks with hydrometer readings, or determine if you have a stuck fermentation.

Auto-Siphon

Here's the last of our humble essential gadgets before we move toward intermediate brewing gadgets. The auto siphon is certainly an essential tool. It makes transferring beer a breeze, and if you add a bottle filler to the end of it, you can get every drop of beer into a bottle. The auto siphon also makes starting the siphoning process very easy, with no sucking or pre-filling the tubing with water or sanitizer required.

You may be thinking, "I'm a strong man, I can lift my bucket and gently pour my beer into a bottling bucket or keg". But even pouring 5 gallons without making a big splash will still introduce a significant amount of oxygen to your beer. With an auto siphon, or a regular siphon setup, you can transfer the beer underneath the surface, which greatly reduces oxygen transfer.

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Thermometer

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The next on the list of essential gadgets is also one of humble origins. I'm talking about the thermometer. Without one, you can't check your mash temperature, or fermentation temperature. Can you imagine trying to mash without knowing the temperature of your water?

Brewing without knowing what temperature your beer is actually fermenting at could yield too many esters or fusel alcohols, which will both make your beer unpleasant. Have your wheat beer fermenting too hot? You should be prepared for an estery mess. Having a thermometer will allow you to correct any out of control fermentations (temperature wise anyways).

Stir Plate For Yeast Starters

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A stir plate is usually one of the first gadgets that a beginner brewer purchases to make better beer. A stir plate setup will allow you to oxygenate yeast while keeping everything in suspension. What's wrong with a Wyeast packet, that's like a starter right?

While the packaged yeast can work for smaller batches or lower gravity batches, you'll want to use a starter for stronger IPAs and upward. Not pitching enough yeast can lead to under attenuated beer, and off flavors from yeast stress. Having yeast starters and an accompanying stir plate is another essential in my book.

Temp Control

Temperature Probe Port and ControllerF

Lastly we have temperature control to end our list of essential gadgets. Temperature controlled fermentation kind of brings everything together for your beer. You can dial in specific temperatures for lager making, which opens up a whole ton of extra beer styles to brew. Or if you're still a dedicated ale maker, you can dial in a yeast's specific temperature range.

As fermentation happens, heat is created. As temperature increases, yeast activity increases and in turn creates more heat. It's a vicious cycle that can get out of control quickly when brewing more than 5 gallons at a time.

Some other great gadgets for consideration is a wort chiller, and a kegging system.  A wort chiller will cool your boiled wort quickly to greatly reduce the risk of contamination, and shorten brew days by at least an hour. Plus, no more trips to the store to buy ice for an ice bath. Kegging takes out the agony of bottling 50 bottles. The benefit speaks for itself. Plus with kegging comes the responsibility of keeping the keg filled, which means more brewing!

written by David Doucette

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