A Homebrewer's Wishlist

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Extract Recipe Kits

Extract Recipe Kits

New brewers typically will begin with the extract brewing process, in which liquid malt extracts and/or dry malt extracts are used.

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Homebrewers can be a difficult bunch to buy for. Without some insider knowledge, it can be tough to know what a brewer needs, wants, or will use. Brewers are also at varying points in the hobby, so while some may need basic equipment, others may have their process pretty settled and just want some ingredients. Here is a short wishlist of ten gift ideas that any homebrewer is sure to love.

1. Recipe Kits

Recipe kits are a great option. They are fairly inexpensive, and they come in a wide variety of styles. Even if your brewer tends to formulate his/her own recipes, they'll appreciate being able to brew something new, and to have the free-pass to have a brew day.

For this gift, you'll want to know what sort of styles the brewer enjoys (or is looking to explore!) and choose accordingly. It'll also be useful to know if they are an all-grain or extract brewer so you can choose the right kit. When ion doubt, go with extract, since all-grain brewers will be able to utilize this sort of kit as well.


2. Carboys

3_gallon_glass_carboyNever once have I thought, "Man, I wish I had less carboys". Carboys are primarily used as fermenters, and more fermentation space means more brews. Glass fermenters especially are something that most brewers could use but don't want to spend the money on. They can be pricey, and if you don't have a local homebrew shop then shipping can easily stand in the way.

No matter the type, fermenters are handy to have around. Buckets fall under this as well, and they tend to be a bit cheaper and more versatile.


3. Bulk Hops

5_3If your homebrew has a vacuum sealer, I bet they would love some bulk hops. Hops are a staple ingredient that can be stored and used more easily than grains or yeast. Just take what you need from the bag and vacuum seal the remainder. Every brewer needs them, so they are a great decision for all skill levels!

If you can, figure out what hops your brewer enjoys. Ask about their last IPA, or if they have a specific hop they use for bittering. Or, grab a random bag and let them experiment with a new hop!


4. Sanitizer

star_san_8ozI often tell people that  being a homebrewer is akin to being a janitor that is irregularly paid in beer. As such, sanitizer is a great gift for any homebrewer. There is a solid chance any homebrewer already has some sanitizer around, but it's a guarantee that they are going to need more.

Good sanitation is one of the keys to producing good beer, this will definitely help any brewer out!


5. Books

poster74466258-13390You can't go wrong with expanding the brewer's library. Most brewers I meet, by nature, are inquisitive people. They want to understand how the process works, how others are doing it, and how to improve. Books are great for reference and learning, and it shows you're encouraging the hobby.

For new brewers, look into How to Brew by John Palmer. It is a staple among homebrewers, and is a great place to learn more about the process.


6. Wine or Cider Kits

winexpertvintnersreservemerlotwinerecipekit (1)Most brewers I know have also tried their hand at wine or cider at some point, and a few have even branched into mead or kombucha. There's a fascination with all things fermented. A great gift for brewers, new and old, is a wine or cider kit.

If they've never tried it before, this is another way for a brewer to try something new. If they have, they'll appreciate the ingredients and the chance to make another batch!


7. Refractometer

_dsc1120A refractometer is used to measure the gravity of a liquid, in this case wort. Many brewers, especially new ones, use a hydrometer for this. Refractometers are great for quick measurements, and these models include temperature calibration so that the brewer doesn't need to wait for a certain temperature to see where the gravity is at.


8. Stir Plate

stireEven if they have one already, it never hurts to have another stir plate around. Stir plates are used for culturing yeast, often to meet a particular cell count to pitch on brew day. Stir plates can be built, but I purchased a StirStarter as my first stir plate and I'll never go back. It's wonderfully built, reliable, and my only issue with it is that I don't have two to help maintain the yeast bank.


9. Grain Mills


monster_mill_mm2_5
Grain mills are one of those things that new brewers may have a hard time justifying the cost of. Like I mentioned earlier, bulk grains can be difficult to get into since they require air-tight storage containers to store and a mill of some kind to grind them for use. That said, with the mill covered, a brewer should absolutely look into bulk grains, which can really save money in the long run.


10. Temperature Controller

digital_refrigerator_thermostatIf your homebrewer doesn't already have a temperature controller, this is one of the greatest gifts of all. Temperature control is often cited as one of the driving forces behind good beer. Whether or not this is the case, controlling fermentation temperatures allow a brewer to more easily replicate the conditions of a certain beer. Good brewers make good beer, great brewers consistently make good beer. Consistency is key.

Keep in mind that this controller doesn't control the temperatures on its own. It needs to be hooked up to a cooling element (often a refrigerator) and/or a heating element. So it isn't too usable in and of itself, but it is a great step in the right direction.

Hopefully this list gives you some great ideas ideas on what to get a homebrewer as a gift.

Cheers!

written by Matt

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