Homebrew equipment

Small-Batch Brewing Equipment: A Complete List For Beginners

To make amazing beer, you’re going to need to boil and ferment your ingredients with some basic equipment. If you’re just starting out, and aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit to this hobby, I have good news for you: you don’t need an extensive collection of gear to get started.

If you have a homebrew shop in your town or neighbourhood, they should have you covered.

If not, you can buy what you need online (I’ve provided links below for each piece of equipment).

You may discover that you already own some of the basics (a large stock pot, for example). Any good homebrew shop will offer the basics in a starter kit, which are often more affordable then buying all the pieces separately (I’ve also provided links to some good kits below, to steer you in the right direction).

Each stage of the brewing process requires different gear, plus a few basic supplies. I’ve listed all of these in the table that follows, sorted by brew process. As I’ve mentioned countless times, good cleaning and sanitization makes the single biggest difference between amazing beer and homebrew fit for the drain. You won’t be surprised to see that I start with these very important items. I’ve split the table into two columns: the bare essentials, and the nice-to-haves. You can definitely make amazing beer with the bare essentials.

NOTE: The kit I have outlined in the table below is designed for the 1-gallon brewer. While most of this gear is agnostic to your batch size, for some items, size does matter. For example, if you wanted to scale up to 2.5 gallon or 5 gallon brewing, you would need a larger pot (brew kettle), carboy (fermenter), and bottling bucket. 

Home Brewing Equipment Starter Kits

If you want to keep things simple, you could start with a 1-gallon kit. Northern Brewer has a complete package (for my American friends) and BeerGrains has the same (for my fellow Canadians), but you will need to supply your own stock pot for both, and your own bottles for the BeerGrains kit.

If you live in the UK or Australia (BeerCraftr’s getting a lot of visits from Aussies and Brits), I’d love to hear from you on which online sites offer great service. Leave a note in the comments section if you know of any!

StepEssentialNice to Have
PreparationCleaner: B-Brite, PBW, or Oxi-clean. Never use soap or dish detergent—they contain perfumes which could give your beer off-flavours, and can be tough to rinse off well enough. If you buy Oxi-clean, make sure to find the one labelled “Free,” as in free of perfumes
Sanitizer: In my opinion, there’s really only one sanitizer worth using: StarSan. You’ll use it to sanitize any and all equipment that comes in contact with your wort once you’ve removed it from the boil. StarSan is food-grade, which means it’s safe for people and the environment. It’s flavourless, so it won’t taint your beer. There’s no need to soak your tools for an extended period of time—it sanitizes almost instantly (in 1-2 minutes) and doesn’t need to be rinsed off.
BrewingStock Pot. This will be your brew kettle. While our final batch size is 1 gallon, we’re actually going to need a pot that can handle 3 gallons (12+ litres). Anything smaller than that and you will end up with hot wort all over your stovetop. Your pot needs to be made of stainless steel or enamel-coated steel. Do not brew with an aluminum pot—it will give your beer a metallic taste.Wort Chiller. I don’t find this necessary when brewing 1 gallon batches, but I certainly enjoy having it for larger batches. It cools the beer much more quickly than an ice bath. If plan to eventually brew 2.5 or 5 gallon batches, you’ll want to invest in a wort chiller when the time comes. You have to types of chiller to choose from:
An immersion chiller is essentially a copper coil that you place in the boil, and you run cold water through it and out through a hose. The water is cold when it goes in, hot when it comes out and thus cools your wort pretty quickly.
A counterflow chiller has two circuits. You run the hot wort through one, and cold water through the other. They run in opposite directions, and are a much more effective heat exchanger than an immersion chiller. But they’re more expensive. They’re worth it if you’re making batches of 5 gallons or more. Anything less than that, an immersion chiller will work quite well.
Large steel spoon. I would not use a wooden spoon—they’re tough to sanitize. If you insist on using a wooden spoon, then it must be strictly used for brewing, and nothing else
Instant-read thermometer. It should cover a range from freezing to boiling. You’re going to need to take the temperature of the mash, as well as the wort when it’s time to pitch your yeast. I highly recommend a digital thermometer to give you precise readings, quickly.
Nylon bag. If you want to keep things super easy, get yourself a nylon bag to put your grains when doing the mash (soaking). You then just take out the bag, let it drain a little, and then you have a mess-free transition to the boil.
Plastic funnel. You’ll need to this transfer the wort to the fermenter.
Digital Scale. You’re going to need to mix the right ratios of milled grains, hops etc. I don’t know how I’d get by without my digital scale.
FermentationOne-Gallon Glass Carboy. This will be your fermentation vessel. I prefer a glass carboy because it’s easier to maintain than plastic, and I can see how healthy my beer is at anytime without having to pry off the airlock.Press-apply adhesive thermometer strips. These cheap thermometers stick on to the side of the carboy and give you instant temperature readings. It will help you keep an eye on fermentation temperatures so you can maintain a healthy fermentation.

Carboy cleaning brush. If you clean your carboys with PBW or Oxiclean 24-hour soak, you’ll unlikely ever need a carboy brush. But for that one time you’re in a rush, and forgot to soak, it can help you remove any persistent debris
Airlock: You’ll add sanitizer to your airlock, which will keep a seal on the carboy and let carbon dioxide escape to prevent your carboy from exploding.
Blow-off hose. To be extra safe, you should get a blow-off tube, which you use in place of the airlock for the first 2-3 days of fermentation. I used to list this as optional, but the sheer number of times it helped me avoid a mess in my kitchen…I now consider it an essential item. To use, replace the airlock with the hose by inserting the hose into the hole of the plastic screw top on the top of the carboy and the other end in a small container half-filled with sanitizing solution. The hose will carry the excess foam into the small container, preventing a mess that would otherwise clog your airlock. Replace the sanitizing solution once/day to prevent your beer from absorbing off flavours. Once the blow-off subsides, replace the hose with the airlock for the rest of the fermentation period.
Refractometer. I long ago replaced my hydrometer with this device. It can measure specific gravity with only a few drops of wort, which means I don’t lose 6-8 ounces of beer every time I take a reading.
Hydrometer with sample tube. If the refractometer is too costly to start, and if you don’t mind losing the equivalent of one bottle to conduct original and final gravity readings, you could get a hydrometer.
Plastic screwtop. To hold your airlock on place on the carboy. I used to use a rubber stopper, but after one too many pop-offs, I made the switch to screw caps. Your airlock is sure to stay in place.
1 Mini Auto-Siphon. You’ll use the siphon (which you’ll connect to a hose), to siphon beer from the carboy into a bottling bucket. The mini-siphon is sized for 1-gallon jugs, which is perfect for our needs.
Siphon hose. You’ll connect this to the auto-siphon when transferring the fermented wort to the bottling bucket, and then connect the other end to the bottle filler when you transfer the wort to bottles. I recommend 4 feet in length.
BottlingBottling bucket. I use a 2-gallon food-grade plastic bucket. It’s also useful as a sanitizing bucket
Bottle filler. This handy device will help you prevent unnecessary spillage of beer on bottling day and is also sized to ensure you do not overfill your bottles.
12 pry-off bottles (340ml). This is the perfect excuse you needed to buy two six packs of your favourite beer (so long as they are pry-off bottles!). Give each bottle a thorough rinse immediately after you pour out the beer and set aside for bottling day.6 swing-top bottles (500ml). I long ago made the switch to swing-top bottles. They make bottling day quicker and easier. I also prefer the 500ml size – it’s a pint and it means I have 2-3 less bottles to bottle on bottling day. With these, you don’t need bottle caps, and you don’t need a bottle capper.

Jet bottle washer. These bad boys blast water into your bottle to give them a good wash. Handy to have, but you can get by without if you always rinse our your beer bottles immediately after pouring the beer into your glass, or if you give your bottles a 24-hour soak with PBW.
Bottle caps. (Not necessary if you use swing-top bottles)
Bottle capper. This tool is exactly as it sounds—use it to cap your bottles with the bottle caps and seal them properly.
(Not necessary if you use swing-top bottles)

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30 responses to “Small-Batch Brewing Equipment: A Complete List For Beginners”

  1. Luke Robertson

    Brewshop.co.nz or finneyshomebrewemporium.co.nz aRe great home brew shops in new zealand

    1. Thanks Luke! I’ll check ’em out.

  2. Andrew

    http://www.thebrewshop.com near Manchester in the UK are a great shop. I’m lucky enough to live nearby so haven’t tried them via mail order. All the staff are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.

    1. Thanks for the tip Andrew!

  3. Vince Gudzinskas

    I invested in the 2gal bottling bucket, but added a spigot that you can directly connect your bottle filler to. THis set up eliminates an extra siphon step, and makes bottling Even easier, especially if you’re on your own.

  4. Craig Witherow

    the large funnel from brooklyn brewshop has a filter which is nice to have and the `1 gallon bigmouth bubbler i got from northern is very easy to clean. recommend both

  5. Chris Grainger

    In the ‘nice to have’ category is a sous video stick like


    Nail down mash temperatures with little or no effort – especially for 1-gallon batches.

  6. Greg

    How do you measure hops that are less than a gram – for example 0.05 oz? Can this scale do that https://www.northernbrewer.com/ultraship-35-digital-scale?

  7. Mikael Ganer-Tolsoe

    THEMALTMILLER.co.uk for shopping from the uk.
    As a biab brewer nice that they offer to mill malts extra.fine

    1. Mike Carrington

      Agreed – The Malt Miller provides a great service, and some interesting YouTube videos

  8. Adam

    Do you bottle every batch or have you looked into 1 gal/128 oz keg?

  9. David

    Not sure about THE REFractometer instead of the hydrometer. Fine for the starting gravity but rarely correct for final gravities. i’ve tried a few different formulae for converting refractometer readings when testing final gravity beer but always found them to be an approximation at best. if you use a final gravity hydrometer you will only need about 150 to 175ml and tasting that gives you a fair idea of how good or OTHERWISE the beer when CONDITIONED will turn out

    1. Thanks so much David. I have never used a final OG hydrometer and have otherwise relied on the Beersmith refractometer calculations. However, It wouldn’t hurt for me to try a final OG Hydrometer and compare the two readings. Thanks for the tip. I’ll update this page accordingly once I get my hands on one and give it a test!

    2. Mike Carrington

      I use Sean Terrill’s spreadsheet (downloadable from http://seanterrill.com/2012/01/06/refractometer-calculator/), and that works really well for me, and seems accurate.

  10. Dan

    Hi JOSEPH, Love The Site And The Help You’re Providing Me FOR my First brew Day Next Week. In Sydney Australia there Are Great Kits From
    A Great 5l Kit With A Handfull Of RECIPES to Choose From As Well As 5l Kegging Kit and other supplies. Keep Up The GOOD Brews And i Look Forward To Tryimg Some Of Your Recipes.

  11. ‘Ive just signed up to your email and here’s a great homebrew shop I buy from here in Nz.they are great people to buy from and a great source for equipment and grains etc if you are a all grain brewer there are plenty shops I get my supplies from , but I go back to this one often I have been brewing for about 30 years

  12. John Z


    You mention needing a 3 gallon stock pot for a 1 gallon brew, but have a 2 gallon stock pot linked. I was hoping to verify which you recommend, a 2 or 3 gallon.


    1. I’d go with 3-gallons if you can, for the extra head space.

  13. Miguel bagundo

    Hi Joseph,

    a 12 qtz would work for brewing your recipes? Im concerned about doing a mess or buying a stockpot smaller than i need.

  14. Bernard van Kerre broeck

    I like flemish beer and here in Ontario we have tiny brewer that is called New limburg belgian blond the ale uses all belgian ingredients. would the ingredients be hard to source?

  15. Morgan

    Hi Joseph,

    COming to you from Australia. Check out “Small Batch Brew” at https://smallbatchbrew.com.au/

    They sale a great 5L All-grain BIAB kit and have a great community for support through a facebook group.

  16. Sylvia

    This list was so helpful! Didnt even know a refractometer was a thing lol.

  17. Austin R.


    Do you have a preferred size and brand of brew bag for one gallon BIAB?

    I started brewing one gallon extract batches a couple years ago thanks in large part to your site. I’m ready to try my hand at BIAB (finally).


  18. SMALL BATCH HOME BREW CLUB This Small Batch home brew club is all about brewing beer in Small Batches and is for beginners through to wannabe commercial brewers. It is

  19. Such a helpful list! Thank you!

  20. Paul

    Thanks Neil, believe it or not this gives me advice to improve on my last 30 years of part-time Brewing. Now is the time to up my game.

  21. Excellent detail while keeping it simple! You really broke down the pieces and explained. https://www.beerfob.com/double-beer-fob-equipment/ near New Westminsterin, BC are a great shop. All the staff are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.

  22. John Lysinger

    I got an awesome 2-gallon beer making starter kit from the folks at Woodcock’s Beer Kits. They’ve got 5-gallon kits too. Website is http://www.woodcocksbeer.com


  23. Thanks, Joseph great post! My go-to for home brew supplies here in NZ is https://leagueofbrewers.co.nz/. You can tell they are the best by all the 5-star Google reviews;-)

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