There are a few pieces of equipment that we recommend when starting out as a homebrewer. They are a hydrometer, spoon or mash paddle and a bottling wand. Some kits may include them, but if not we’ve reviewed a few of the available options.
In our homebrewing adventures over the years many a hydrometer has become a victim to a short drop and impact with the floor. Hydrometers are usually round and glass, so they roll, fall and shatter. The Herculometer is made of polycarbonate and so negates this problem. It has a S.G. range of 0.982 to 1.160.
Pros: It won’t break
Cons: The measurement scale doesn’t feature the coloured bands that many hydrometers do for easier reading.
If you aren’t as clumsy as some, then a glass hydrometer won’t be a concern for you. The Brew Tapper is the style of hydrometer that most are used to. It has a specific gravity range of 0.99 – 1.17 and colored bands to indicate where your brew should start and finish. It also has Brix and Plato scale.
Pros: Colored bands for easy reading
Cons: It’s glass, don’t drop it
This isn’t a hydrometer, but pre fermentation it will give you the same readings. Drop some wort on and close the glass. When holding it up to the light and looking through it you can see an SG reading easily. You’ll still need a hydrometer to read final SG though.
Pros: quick and easy to read
Cons: not suitable for final SG reading
A good long handle spoon or mash paddle is a must in your home brewing equipment arsenal. You need to stir whether you are just starting out or all grain brewing. Not a lot to review here, so we’ll skip the pros and cons, but here are a few picks.
OK so this is just for fun. It’s a mash paddle shaped like an electric guitar. Having said that, it’s a good length. Measuring 28″ long it will get into the biggest of brew kettles. Mostly though, it looks cool.
This is just what the name suggests. It’s a 24″ long handled stainless steel spoon. It has a hole in the end of the handle for hanging it up. Perfectly suitable for stirring a brew. It’s not slotted though, so it’s not great for aeration and may make stirring grains a little difficult.
This is a proper mash paddle. It’s a chunky handled 42″ stainless steel mash paddle. The paddle is slotted and is 4″ across to maximize agitation and aeration. The handle has a ring for hanging up as well.
A bottling wand attaches to a tap in the bottom of your bottling bucket or the hose connect end to an auto-syphon. It lets you start and stop the flow of beer into a bottle by inserting it into and touching the bottom of the bottle. This helps you avoid overfilling and aeration of your beer.
There isn’t a whole lot of variation in the products available but here are two examples of bottle fillers we like:
This is a standard bottling wand that fits into a 3/8″ tap or hose. It’s 16″ long and can fill most bottle sizes. Easy to use, the bottle is filled as soon as the tip is depressed by the bottom of the bottle.
This filler is just like the standard wand except that the tip is spring loaded. The advantage of this is both a reduction on drips from the wand and a quicker shut off when filling. This wand is 15″ so is still able to fill most bottles.
One of each of these is a good set of tools to start off with. They’ll serve you well throughout your brewing adventures.