November 25, 2011

Santa's Little Helper... Gifts for the Homebrewer

Do you have somebody in your life who wants to start homebrewing? Maybe you already have a homebrewer in your life and don't know what gadgets they may still need. Below I have outlined gifts any homebrewer would love at a range of price points so any gift giver can feel comfortable. As always, feel free to leave a comment with any questions you may have. These gifts are sure to bring a smile to someone's face, and if you are lucky, a few beers to you in return.

Beginning Homebrewer

This book is like the bible of homebrewing and is a good read for any beginner or experienced brewer. While it does get into technicalities it also has a laid back approach that will ease a novice into the hobby.

Every home brewer needs a place to store the finished product and most start out with bottling. A great inexpensive gift could be a bottle capper and a bag of bottle caps. I included a link to empty long neck bottles, but it is perfectly acceptable (and GREEN!) to recycle old pop-off style beer bottles. Just soak off the labels and clean with a little diluted bleach water. Note - twist off bottles wont work. I also included a link to some EZ Cap bottles as an alternative. And to add a little creativity to the gift, check out this label making website where you can design labels for your homebrewer

Get your homebrewer a kit that includes everything to boil up their first batch of beer. This link is to a brown ale, but there are many varieties of beer available in kit form, the easiest way to start out. I would recommend starting out with a dark/heavy beer for the first try. An IPA, brown ale, ESB, porter or stout are good starter beers. Light beers are actually less forgiving and might not be a good place for the beginner to start.

Feeling generous? This kit is a perfect starter kit for the homebrewer. It has everything needed to start, conveniently packaged in one set. The kit includes a brewpot, fermenting bucket, bottling bucket, auto siphon, ingredient kit, bottle filler, etc. One thing missing is bottles, but like I said above, you can save your empties and re-use those.There are many kits available, so feel free to ask me questions and I can let you know what I think.

Experienced Homebrewer

This book by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Breweries includes great recipes from a number of craft breweries as well as advice for creating your own off-centered beers with non-traditional ingredients. A great addition to a homebrewer's library.

A wort chiller is designed to rapidly cool your wort (beer) down to a temperature appropriate for pitching the yeast. There is the counter flow version, what I use, that forces the hot wort through a copper tube in one direction while forcing cool water through a tube in the other direction. There is also an immersion wort chiller if you are looking for a different option.Either version is sure to speed up the wait time until pitching the yeast.

A way to filter your beer at home! This is actually on my wish list so I can't tell you how or if it works, but it looks awesome! Note, you do need a kegging system to use this.

Get the pot out of the kitchen and into the backyard. And get your water boiling FAST! This is such a time saver!

For the gift recipient who has been extra nice this year!  A kegging system is the ultimate in homebrewing, It speeds up the process exponentially,  no more cleaning and filling bottles and no more waiting for bottle carbonation. This kit includes everything you need except the fridge or kegerator. Maybe next year, right ;) One important tip, you can buy used keg shells at your local homebrew store or online. If you are comfortable buying all the parts separately and setting up the system yourself you could probably save some major cash! I have had both used and new kegs and I have not found and issues with the used kegs.

Happy Homebrewing!

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