What is the minimum equipment to start brewing some good beer at home?
- Sanitizer - To sanitize all of your equipment.
- 6 gallon fermenter - For primary fermentation.
- Funnel or Tubing - To transfer from the brew kettle to the fermenter (pour or siphon)
- +3 gallon brew kettle - For boiling the mixture and making wort
- Thermometer - To monitor the temperature of the wort
- Hydrometer - To test the original gravity of your batch
- Paddle/spoon - Something to stir the boil with
- Timer - You need to know how long to boil and when to add ingredients
- Ice - After brewing, you will need to cool the wort. Putting the kettle in ice water to cool it faster
Transferring day (if you transfer)
- Sanitizer - To sanitize all of your equipment
- 5 gallon fermenter - For secondary fermentation
- Siphon tubing - To siphon the beer from your primary fermenter to your secondary
- Fermenter airlock - To lock oxygen out of fermenter while allowing other gases exit
- Sanitizer - To sanitize all equipment and bottles
- Bottles/caps - Make sure they are not twist-off bottles
- Bottle capper - How else did you expect the caps to get on?
- Bottle brush - If the bottles aren't clean, you'll need to clean them
- Siphon tubing - To siphon beer from fermenter to bottles
- Thermometer - To check temperature when recording final gravity
- Hydrometer - To measure the final gravity
- Priming sugar - Used to carbonate the beer while in the bottle
- Bottling wand - This allows you to easily control the flow while bottling
Nice to haves
- Auto siphon - This will make siphoning a breeze
- Log sheet(s) - Keep track of what you're doing. This is science after all!
- Checklist - Don't forget anything!
This list is mostly if you plan on doing extract brewing. You might need extra equipment for a full-grain setup. Also, this assumes you are using a kit that comes with necessary ingredients and a muslin bag.
Brew kits, which should supply much of the equipment, are available from various homebrew shops.
I would point you to the Basic Starter Kit from Northern Brewer:
Some items are probably not STRICTLY needed, but for $80 you definitely get all the gear you would need to get started.
Assuming you're beginning from concentrated malt or a kit, and can figure out how to boil water on your own,
The bare minimum:
- 5 gallon plastic (food grade container) with lid.
- Airlock for same.
- Bottles, and appropriate closures for them.
- Plastic hose for siphoning off of finished product.
- Disinfectant (chlorine or sulfite)
- 5 Gallon glass carboy (secondary fermentation and settling)
- Hydrometer (for measuring specify gravity/sugar/alchohol content)
- Various gadgetry for siphon - A raiser in the fermenter end to keep out the lees, and a bottling attachment at the bottle end (basically a plastic tube with a ballstop in the bottom)
- Filtration device
You can make a decent beer with just the minimum. Add the rest as time and budget allow. Each time you go to the supplier, buy one more thing to make the job easier.
Don't underestimate the affect good temperature control will have on your beers.
While not strictly necessary I believe to make good beer you should invest in some kind of fridge/freezer with a temperature controller. Often this can be done fairly cheaply if you can get hold of an unwanted fridge and pick up a cheap temperature controller from eBay or similar.
Before moving from kit to all grain brewing adding consistent temperature control during fermentation was the single thing that made the biggest improvement to my beers.
While these are nice lists I would like to point out that you do not need a 5 gallon bucket and carboy. I like to experiment with new recipes using a two gallon bucket and an old one gallon apple cider jug. Cheap, easy, and provides 8 bottles of beer in much less (brew day) time than a five gallon batch.