Homebrew is a commonly used term for alcoholic beverages, especially beer, made in an individual’s home. Persons who want to brew their own beer can find useful information on recipes, equipment, bottling and sanitation from the Internet and specialty stores for the homebrew business. As the interest in home brewing has increased, associated magazines, clubs and shops have popped up as well.
Ingredients for a basic homebrew include dry malt extract, hops and the ingredients of a brewing kit. Other recipes include honey, gypsum or brown sugar. The basic equipment needed to homebrew includes many household items: a stove, water, spoon, can opener, measuring cup, spoon and bowl. Then there are the specialty items you will need, including a fermenter, air lock and transfer tubing. The fermenter is generally a plastic tub with a lid; the lid contains a small hole for an air lock, which allows carbon dioxide to escape.
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The transfer or racking tubing transfers the homebrew from one container to another and is used for bottling. Look for tubing that has a rigid tube attached to one end. An open topped plastic bucket, a bottling or racking bucket, is used to transfer beer from the fermenter into the bottles.
You will also need a thermometer to measure the temperature prior to adding the yeast. The sterilizing agent can be bleach or something special you purchase from a homebrew shop. Obviously, you will need bottles for your homebrew; for a 5-gallon (19-liter) batch, you will need three cases of new or clean recycled bottles. Use a bottle capper to attach the cap to the bottles. A bottle cleaning brush will also come in handy.
Additional equipment that makes the homebrew process easier includes a hydrometer, glass carboy, funnel and grain bag. The hydrometer measures the density prior to fermentation, which allows you to determine alcohol content. If you use a glass carboy instead of the plastic jug fermenter, you will also want a cap, handle and funnel. The glass carboy is easier to sanitize because it doesn’t scratch. A grain or hop bag makes the job of adding grains to the recipe easier, although a strainer can serve the same purpose.