The very first thing that you will need to do in order to start homebrewing is to purchase the necessary equipment. This may seem like a daunting task especially for those with limited space. The good news is that there is not a whole lot of space that is needed for a very basic set-up and you will not have to go far to get this equipment.
In the Twin Cities area we are fortunate to have a handful of homebrew shops that supply all of this equipment and more. Northern Brewer is one of these stores; located on Grand Avenue in St. Paul this staple has been selling homebrewing supplies for nearly 20 years. Another well-established store is Midwest Supplies located in St. Louis Park. They have been in business since 1995 and like Northern Brewer; they employ a knowledgeable staff that is ready to help you get started.
For those that live outside the city there are a couple of places that may be closer. Still-H2o is a homebrew shop that is located in Stillwater Minnesota that also carries hydroponic gardening supplies. Brew and Grow is another store located outside the city in Spring Lake Park. Much like Still-H2o, they carry a good variety of ingredients and gardening supplies. Brew and Grow has been in business for 23 years and they are proud to be the oldest homebrew shop in Minnesota.
Brewing, like any hobby, can cost a lot of money but it doesn’t have to. At both Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies, you will find starter kits for under $80 dollars. These kits will have you brewing your first batch in no time. Here is an example of what comes in a beginner’s kit:
• Six gallon fermenting bucket and lid
• Six gallon bottling bucket with spigot
• A fermentation lock
• Siphon tubing
• Bottle filler
• Bottle capper
• Bottle caps
• Easy clean sanitizer
• Bottle brush
• Instructions or an instructional DVD
You will need a stock pot, preferably one that can boil 4-5 gallons, an extract beer kit, and a set of 48 twelve oz bottles (or 24 twenty-two oz bottles). All of these are sold separately from the kit. If there is one thing that you will regret not purchasing it is a wort chiller. This item will save you at least a half hour of time and will greatly reduce the chance of your beer being infected on brewing day. Another purchase you may want to consider is a reference book such as “The Joy of Hombrewing” by Charlie Papazian or “How to Brew” by John Palmer. These are both excellent guides that will help educate you about the process and contain recipes as well.
The most important thing to remember about homebrewing is that it’s a hobby and much like cooking, the more you do it the better you will become at it. Remember to have fun and experiment like a “mad scientist.” Your friends will thank you for it!