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Zoot Horn Rollo

Most essential accessory for a New Brewer

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     Hey, all fellow Hop Heads. I got the kit. I put up the stickers on the back car window. I've had sex with the apron on (don't ask). So what accessory would some of you heavy hitters advise for a dink-a**ed non-qual (submarine term for new guy) to have as an essential item? I'm probably never going to get as advanced as you guys but I would like to make the best home brew possible. Thanx.

 

Best, Zoot

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Congratulations, especially on initiating the apron - that may turn out to be the most valuable accessory if you have started a trend - lol.

 

Probably the cheapest other valuable accessory is the Mr Beer hydrometer, I do not use myself yet  but many here will say it is a great tool  for guaranteeing consistency and quality.

http://www.mrbeer.com/accessories/hydrometer

 

Then a bottle brush - tough to find suitable elsewhere - I had to rework a baby bottle brush with a different handle.

http://www.mrbeer.com/accessories/nylon-bottle-brush

 

Stick on thermometer - whether or not you control the temp, at least you know what it is.

http://www.mrbeer.com/accessories/stick-on-thermometer

 

And I notice that the LBKs are on sale for $10 :D  multiple are essential for  good pipeline.

http://www.mrbeer.com/accessories/lbk-fermenter

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I'm fond of my digital thermometer with temperature alarm and cooking timer alarm.  Let's me chase after the kids while still being remotely attentive to what's going on on the stove.

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I'm fond of my digital thermometer with temperature alarm and cooking timer alarm.  Let's me chase after the kids while still being remotely attentive to what's going on on the stove.

 

I feel kinda stupid asking this....but you are not actually keeping your beer in the stove are you?

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I feel kinda stupid asking this....but you are not actually keeping your beer in the stove are you?

 

I think he's referring to when he's making his beer on the stove (boiling water, hops, etc).

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The most essential tool for a new brewer is your brain. Use it often & well. 

 

 :)

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Welcome aboard, shipmate!  I was a "target" sailor, but I'd let you buy me a beer if we ever met.

 

You're getting some good advice here.  Use your head, read and learn.  There are tools (as suggested) that make things easier, but the point of it is to have fun and make stuff you like.  I'm a few batches in and had to take a short break, but I'll be getting back to it in the next week or so.  I have 4 LBK's sitting empty.  Sacrilege, I know!

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    It's cool C-ya, I've got no prejudices against all you skimmer type pukes who steal our wimmen while we're on patrol. Back atcha about buying a round of suds or should we kick each other's a**es now?

 

Best, Zoot

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Making beer with extract really requires no additional tools or accessories  - in my opinion, except for an hydrometer. It is always - always possible that when you are certain the beer has fully fermented it hasn't, and bottling while the yeast will still produce CO2 (carbon dioxide) can result in bottle bombs. The only sure fire way to know that beer is ready for bottling is a mix of time and a gravity reading and the least expensive way to take a gravity reading is with a simple hydrometer. All other tools and accessories - I think  - are more or less useful (I would say less useful) but something to measure gravity (density of the beer ) is essential.

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Personally I've found the most essential accessory is a method for controlling your fermentation temperature to keep your yeast happy and beer tasting good.  It can be a cooler with ice packs or a fridge or freezer with an electronic temperature controller.  It will tremendously help the quality of your brew.

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Yeah,I figured the first thing is to understand what the temp is, controlling it is  secondary when you find out your temp is wrong and the beer tastes funny - lol.

You may be able to get away with just relocating the LBK in your house to get it better.

 

Yes, first the cheap thermometer stick on to the LBK, then the cooler to stabilize it.

Going up in cost, add a reptile tank digital thermometer for $10 you can read from outside the keg, tape sensor to LBK with insulating foam over it.

Add heating elements - look at seed starter mats and controls (only controls heating but < $50)  if you have only cold areas to brew in - or want very estery brews.

It is easier to cool using frozen bottles or freezer packs than it is to heat using heated bricks so that is why the heating pad.

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I don‘t know what's in the kits these days, but a BOTTLING WAND is the most essential mentioned so far, imo. A hydrometer is a nice toy, but unneeded if you follow the 3/4 method. A stick on thermometer is nice to have, borderline essential.

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Oh well, priorities are different for different folks I guess, I tried the bottling wand and gave up after it dripped between bottles.  I went back  to filling direct from spigot over the sink. No issue with fill levels into PET bottles.  One less thing to clean/sanitize.  I like simple.

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My two spring-loaded bottling wands work great.  The advantage of the wands are that you can fill to the top, then remove the wand and you have perfect air space.  Much less aeration too.

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I just used a bottle tree with rinsing pump. It was the BEST. Saved me so much time. 

 

But, a hydrometer was also a must, and figuring out how adjust the points based on the temperature was just important. Oh and that damn meniscus. 

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I agree with all listed.  Great job, folks.

 

Here's my list in order (most have already been covered):

 

- Hydrometer and tube (no guesswork on when beer is done)

- A good thermometer for testing wort temps (you want to make sure the temps are 70ish before pitching yeast.  I use a non-contact laser thermometer)

- Stick-on thermometer for fermentation (don't trust ambient temps...  things are much warmer in the vessel during active fermentation)

- A dedicated set of tools (whisk, spatula, pot to start out...  that way you always have what you need and you can control the care and cleanliness of them. Make sure the pot is a size or so bigger than you think you might need.).

 

If you choose to move on to more advanced techniques:

 

- Bottle wand (makes the bottling day much, much easier)

- FastRack and vinator (makes the bottle prep so much easier...  other bottle trees work great as well, but the FastRack takes up so much less space)

- Food safe tubing (for transfers and bottling)
- Ball jars (for collecting yeast for reuse)
- auto-siphon (for transferring to secondary or bottling bucket if using non-spigoted fermenters)

- turkey fryer (much easier to hit temps, and keeps the wife happy to not have the aromas in the house.  I have an electric one that works great)

- immersion chiller (gets the wort to pitching temps much quicker than an ice bath, especially if doing a larger batch)

- Johnson Controller (control your fermentation temps without ice packs, etc.)

- fermentation fridge (using the JC mentioned above)

 

I think that about covers my equipment.  You can go much further than that (a good mash tun, stir plate, kegs and kegging equipment, etc), but I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing now.  I may add kegging at some point, but otherwise I've settled into a good spot for the last three years with the above.  Of course, everyone should settle in on the process, style, and equipment level that best suits them, whether it be countertop extracts, extract with grains, or AG (or anywhere in between).

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