Note: As of October 2008, all zymurgy
& homebrewing portions of this website will no longer be
updated. The content has been left intact for
Over the years AaronPackard.net has received a lot of
emails inquiring about the various terms, equipment, and
techniques used for homebrewing. If you are a beginner
at homebrewing, or just intend to makes a single batch
of homebrew, the following may be helpful.
large stainless steel pot is an important piece of
equipment for boiling the wort mixture. One or two pots
can be used, depending on the amount of wort to be
prepared. Pots that are made from other metals,
including copper, should not be used, as they may affect
the taste of the resultant homebrew. Though they can be
an expensive purchase, homebrewers should always use
glass carboy comes in several sizes, ranging from 3
gallons to over 7 gallons. When fermenting using a glass
carboy, homebrewers should always use one which exceeds
the amount of wort that is to be fermented. That is, if
a 5 gallon batch of homebrew is prepared, it is best to
use a 7 gallon carboy.
Carboys can be purchased at many homebrew supply stores.
Sometimes they can also be obtained for a lesser cost
from companies that supply office drinking water. It
should be noted that it is best to stay away from
plastic carboys. Some plastic carboys can affect the
taste of the finished homebrew.
addition to using a glass carboy, some beer recipes call
for using a plastic bucket for fermenting a wort
mixture. Homebrewers should ensure that the buckets they
use are 'food grade', and have never been used to store
anything other than food. They should also ensure that
the bucket comes with a sealable lid. Most sealable lids
have a rubber gasket that sits within the rim of the
lid. The gasket provides an airtight seal.
Sometimes food-grade buckets can be obtained from
bakeries and grocery stores. Many of the cake mixes and
other baking powders that bakeries use come in plastic
food grade buckets. I have had a lot of success
obtaining food grade buckets from bakeries and
supermarkets, which in the long-run, have saved a lot of
fundamental must when homebrewing, all equipment,
utensils, surfaces, tubing, bottles, and vessels must be
properly sanitized before use and during preparation.
Sanitation is key to avoid any bacterial contamination
that will ruin homebrew. B-Brite sanitizing powder is
the brand that I use when homebrewing. Other
alternatives exist, such as using a diluted mixture of
chlorine bleach, however, I have found that using
B-Brite has been the most convenient method for
are several varieties of airlocks available on the
market. I have found that this variety has worked the
best. All airlocks essentially allow carbon dioxide to
exit the fermenting vessel while not allowing any air
into the vessel. Airlocks work by creating a water-seal,
much like elbow joints do in household drains. Airlocks
are also an important must - as fermenting vessels
should be completely sealed with the exception of the
airlock itself. If an airlock is not used, there is a
risk that enough pressure could be built up in a sealed
fermenting vessel to cause a mini-explosion.
plastic tubing is also a must with homebrewing. It
should also be carefully sanitized before each use.
Plastic tubing will need to be used when transferring
wort from a primary fermenter into a secondary
Carefully and slowly using plastic tubing to transfer
the wort should be emphasized - rather than simply
pouring the wort mixture from one bucket to another. By
pouring one bucket into another, there is a risk of
'aeration', which may allow too much oxygen to become
mixed into the wort mixture, and hence provide the right
conditions for bacterial infection.
All standard homebrewing implements - bottlers, clamps,
spouts, etc, utilize the same gauge tubing. Like
fermenting buckets, it is important that 'food-grade'
tubing be used, rather than the tubing that is found at
most hardware stores. It is best to acquire the proper
tubing from a homebrewing supply store, rather than
obtaining it elsewhere.
clamps are an important must.
Hose clamps are used to regulate and control the flow of
wort whenever it is being transferred from one vessel to
another, or when bottling.
spring bottler is used for transferring homebrew from a
fermenter to bottles.
Most bottlers use a spring action, which, when connected
via hose to a fermenter, do not dispense the homebrew
unless the bottler tube has been depressed.
Using a bottler is much easier than using tubing alone,
as it allows homebrewers to control the amount of
homebrew that is dispensed into each bottle, while at
the same time stopping the flow of homebrew when moving
the bottler from one bottle to another.
As with other equipment that works with plastic tubing,
most bottlers come in a standard size - that way they
can easily be attached to the plastic tubing. years.
bottle washer typically consists of twisted, rigid wire
that has stiff bristles attached at one end. The bottle
washer enables homebrewers to sufficiently wash bottles
prior to bottling.
Dipping the bottle washer into a mixture of B-Brite and
water provides sufficient detergent action, along with
sanitation, to ensure that each bottle has adequately
been cleaned prior to use.
bottles serve as excellent vessels when bottling
homebrew. Unlike bottles that require capping, a
flip-cap bottle enables homebrewers to fill each bottle
with homebrew and simply close the bottles. When
using flip-cap bottles, homebrewers should ensure that
each cap has a rubberized gasket affixed to the ceramic
caps. Without such gaskets, the bottles will not attain
an airtight seal - which without, could cause bacterial
infection as well as disallow carbonation. As with
carboys, plastic bottles should never be used. This is
to avoid any contamination of flavor.
bottles that require sealable bottle caps can be
obtained at most homebrewing supply stores. They are
typically available in amber, green, and clear glass.
sMany homebrewers have differing opinions as to which
tint works best. In the past, I have used combinations
of all three, with the best success obtained from amber
Homebrewers should ensure that they obtain bottles which
are NOT threaded, as they will not properly accept
bottle caps when capping. As with carboys, plastic
bottles should never be used. This is to avoid any
contamination of flavor.
bottle cappers are the most simplest and least expensive
tool to use when capping bottles. Lever-type-action
bottle cappers are also available on the market,
however, they are significantly more expensive than a
hand bottle capper. Those who wish to try their
hand at homebrewing should start with a hand bottle
capper until they are sure that homebrewing is a hobby
that they wish to pursue, and until they have determined
that the volume of homebrew exceeds the convenience of
using a hand bottle capper.
bottle caps must be used when sealing bottles. Spent, or
used bottle caps, should never be used, as the edges of
spent bottle caps have already been crimped and cannot
form an adequate seal with the bottle. Screw-top bottle
caps should also be avoided. Bottle caps can be obtained
at most homebrewing supply stores, and are very
those who wish to label their bottles, label making
paper is available at many homebrewing supply stores.
Regular labels, such as those found at office supply
stores, should be avoided at all cost. Because most
homebrewers recycle their bottles, using labels not
intended for homebrewing can be difficult to remove.
Some label papers can be loaded into laser and