Brewing beer at home is a fun hobby that can be as laid back or as intense as you want. Just look at the homebrewing systems we recently covered. Brewing beer can be done in something as simple as a single pot on the stove, or as complex as an electric system that syncs to your phone via Bluetooth.
Outside of brewing systems, there are various accessories and gadgets that help brew day run smooth, or clean up down the road quicker. Here are five such items every homebrewer will appreciate.
Every homebrewer should have a hydrometer on hand to test the amount of sugar left in wort or beer, before and after fermentation, and use the results to calculate the ABV of your freshly made beer.
One downside to a hydrometer -- besides how easily you can break them -- is that they require a decent amount of wort to take a reading, and the impact the temperature of the wort has on a reading.
A refractometer requires a few drops of wort and a light source and takes just a few seconds to take a reading. It's a quick and easy way to see where your gravity is at and make adjustments if needed.
Refractometers range in price and quality, but most homebrewers can get by with something like this $20 model on Amazon.
If you're a total data nerd, the Tilt Hydrometer gives you constant access to the fermentation process for your latest batch of beer or cider.
Using Bluetooth, a Tilt will transmit temperature and gravity readings to a mobile app, or if you have a Raspberry Pi, you can install TiltPi and have data constantly logged to a Google Sheet.
The Tilt Hydrometer isn't a replacement for a hydrometer or refractometer, but more of a gauge to help you monitor fermentation progress without having to take a ton of samples.
If you purchase more than one Tilt, make sure to get different colors, as that's how the app differentiates more than one device.
Carboy and keg washer
Washing a glass carboy is a chore that no homebrewer enjoys. The small opening at the top makes it nearly impossible to get a proper cleaning tool in there, and even then scrubbing the sides of the carboy requires far too much elbow grease.
Washing out corny is a similar process, which is why carboy and keg washer is something all homebrewers should own. Instead of scrubbing, you place the vessel on the washer and turn it on. The pump built into the washer recirculates the water with a cleaning solution, and about 15 minutes later you have a clean carboy or keg.
The Mark II Carboy and Keg is $99 and comes with everything you need to keep your vessels clean without having to scrub.
A stir plate
When creating a yeast starter, you can go about it a couple different ways. One way is to let the flask sit on the counter, giving it a gentle swirl every time you walk by. The other way is to use a stir plate.
Working in combination with a stir bar, the spins the bar, which in turn spins the starter. The end result is a healthier yeast starter.
This $48 stir plate is more than capable and doesn't break the bank.
A kitchen scale
At various times throughout a brew day, you'll find the need for a small scale to weigh out ingredients or chemicals if you make water adjustments. This affordable Amazon Basics food scale has done a good job for me over the past few years, and I have zero hesitation in recommending it for weighing larger items. Or this scale for smaller items.
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