A beginner’s guide to basic beer making equipment

You will find that you will aquire more and better gear as you go on, but you need surprisingly little equipment to brew excellent quality beer: remember, beer has been brewed throughout British history, and with none of the benefits of electricity, sterilising agents or plastics.

Most brewers brew in 5 gallon quantities and, indeed, most recipes are written with this in mind.

You will need:

1. a 5 gallon boiler.

These are readily available from home brew shops (see end of post) or you can press a “Burco” 5 gallon water boiler into service, or even a large, 5 gallon catering pan.

2. at least 1 5 gallon food grade plastic container.  Preferably with a lid.

3. A “grain bag” (also known as a “Sparging bag”) or a perforated “false bottom” to fit your boiler.

4.  A reasonably accurate set of scales.

5. A thermometer.

6. A hydrometer.

Also nicknamed “The brewer’s compass”, this is a vital piece of equipment.  It tells you how much sugar your beer contains, monitors fermentation progress and final strength of the beer.

7. A large plastic spoon or paddle.

8. Sterilising fluid.   Bleach can be used, but also kills yeast, so anything sterilised in yeast must be rinsed thoroughly before use.

9. A 5 gallon beer cask, there are many on the market and some use CO2 injection systems.

There are other, more dedicated bits of brewing equipment in the market, such as insulated Mash Tuns and rapid wort coolers.  However, these are not necessary to produce a decent brew, but can make life easier.




Good home brewing shop near Keighley, West Yorkshire but easily accessible from North Yorkshire.  Also has excellent online shop.  They also sell pre-formulated “beer kits” which contain everything you need to produce proper, mashed beer. Excellent stock of malts, adjuncts, yeast and hops.
Barley Bottom


Another excellent online shop with a wide range of good and equipment.   Hop and Grape sell their own range of very high quality, stainless steel gear.   Expensive, but very high quality.

Hop and Grape


Well, you might have known it, but there is also beer brewing software available.  Some you pay for, but this excellent bit of software is free!  Thanks to Paul at Barley Bottom for telling me about this.

BrewMate is invaluable for compiling recipes or, indeed, formulating recipes.  It lets you simply select your beer style and then select your ingredients, and even lets you see the approximate colour of the final beer.  Hop Bittering Units are shown according to the variety you have selected, and likewise, Specific and Final gravities are calculated according to what malts and sugars you have selected.  Most importantly, your beer’s “balance” is calculated: a balance of 1 (for your style of beer) would be a perfect blend of malt and hop tastes, .90 would mean more malt than hops, whilst 1.20 would mean a much “hoppier” (bitter) taste.  BrewMate calculates costs, final beer strength and helps you calculate the amount of ingredients you’ll need.  Very useful for working out how to substitute one hop for another.  I can’t do without this software.  Check out the recipes on the BrewMate website.

More links and stuff as I find them- check back regularly.

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