There is a huge spectrum of equipment that homebrewers use. Homebrewed beer is made in everything from stock pots on a kitchen stove, to all-in-one electric systems, to three-vessel systems that wouldn’t look out of place in a small brewery. Because of the diversity in brewing methods and equipment, it can be hard for homebrewers to know what the most impactful pieces of equipment are for improving their homebrew. We polled over 200 homebrewers at various levels of equipment and brewing experience, “What single piece of homebrewing equipment has had the biggest positive impact on your homebrew?” We grouped the responses and summarized them below, along with some of our recommendations for each. Here’s our list of the best homebrewing equipment upgrades!
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The most common piece of equipment that respondents reported as the best upgrade to their homebrew was an All-In-One Electric Brewing System. Homebrewers recommended several systems, including the Anvil Foundry, Mash and Boil, Brewzilla, DigiMash, and Grainfather. All-in-one electric brewing systems combine the mash tun and kettle to reduce the amount of space needed to brew, and also eliminate the need for a propane burner and tank. Many brewers (including us!) have switched to an all-in-one system and love brewing on them!
Our Top Picks:
- Anvil Foundry™
- Robobrew / BrewZilla
- GrainFather Connect
- Brewer’s Edge Mash and Boil
- DigiMash All-Grain Electric Brewing System
Interested in getting one of your own but not sure where to start? Check out our guide to the best all-in-one electric brewing systems!
Switching from bottling to kegging represents the biggest homebrewing upgrade in terms of the drinking/serving experience. It is an incredibly cool feeling to have draft beer at home, and you may find that you have trouble getting your friends to leave your house! Like most homebrew equipment, kegging equipment spans a massive price range.
If you like DIY projects and are comfortable building your own, a DIY keezer (a kegerator built from a chest freezer) is your cheapest option to get started. A chest freezer, some lumber, a set of taps, a few kegs, one of these Kegco kegerator kits, and a free weekend are all you need to get started!
If you just want to get started kegging right away, check out some of the awesome kegerators available from our friends at Kegco!
Several respondents reported that purchasing a grain mill was the single biggest upgrade they made, in part because it represents a substantial shift in brewing process. Milling your own grain indicates that you have not only moved to all-grain brewing, but also that you have moved past brewing kit beers and are buying ingredients in bulk and creating your own recipes. Grain mills give you more control over the crush, allow you to buy bulk in grain at lower prices, and always have it on hand for your next brew day.
Our Top Picks:
- Crop Duster
- Cereal Killer
- Malt Muncher 2 Roller Grain Mill
- The Barley Crusher
- Malt Muncher 3 Roller Grain Mill
- Monster Mill MM2
- Monster Mill MM3
- Ss Brewtech Grain Mill
If you’re interested in getting a grain mill but aren’t sure where to start, check out our guide to the best grain mills for homebrewing!
One of the first major equipment upgrades that most homebrewers make is adding a wort chiller. Wort chillers drastically reduce the amount of time spent waiting for your wort to chill to pitch temperature. This lowers the risk of losing a batch to infection. Rapidly chilling beer reduces the amount of chill haze present in the beer, which will produce a clearer final product.
Our Top Picks:
- JaDeD Hydra™ and Scylla™
- NY Brew Supply ⅜” x 50’ Immersion Chiller
- Kegco Counterflow Chiller
- Exchilerator™ Maxx Counterflow Chiller
- HFS 30 Plate Chiller
- MoreBeer 40 Plate Chiller
- Blichmann Therminator
There are a few different types of wort chillers. If you’re interested in buying one check out our guide to the best wort chillers for homebrewing!
Temperature Controlled Fermentation
If I had to choose one thing (maybe other than going from extract to all-grain brewing) that had the biggest positive impact on the quality of my homebrew, it would be temperature controlled fermentation. There are a ton of options for controlling fermentation temperature that span a huge price range. You can get a glycol chiller system, but they range from about $700 – $2,500+, so they may not be a realistic choice for most homebrewers.
You can pick up an inexpensive refrigerator or freezer, a small heater or fermenter heat wrap, and a temperature controller. If you can get the refrigerator used, you can often have a fermentation chamber up and running for about $100. If you’re looking for your next big upgrade after switching to all-grain brewing, you won’t find anything more impactful on the quality of your beer than adding temperature-controlled fermentation to your process.
Almost all brewers, certainly including me, have spent their fair share of time fermenting beer in food-grade buckets. Upgrading from a bucket to a purpose-built fermenter is a huge upgrade. Features like a conical shape, siphonless ball valves, yeast/trub dump valves, and stainless steel construction make fermentation easier and reduce risk of oxygenation or infection.
There are a lot of equipment investments that homebrewers make over the years, but there aren’t many that improve the experience of brewing as much as adding a pump. It can take a little bit of getting used to, but once you have it down it’s pretty amazing not to be lifting, pouring, and siphoning gallons and gallons of water and wort.
Our Top Picks:
- RipTide Brewing Pump by Blichmann Engineering
- Chugger Pumps X-Dry Series
- March Pump – Polysulphone
- Chugger Pump – Polysulphone
- MKII High Temp Magnetic Drive Pump
There are a ton of pumps available that span a huge range in terms of price, quality, and features. Check out our guide to the best pumps for homebrewing!
If you are looking to break away from the kitchen stove, but aren’t interested in moving to brewing on an all-in-one electric brewing system, a propane burner is a great way to move your current homebrewing system outside! Propane burners are inexpensive and will achieve a boil much faster than a standard kitchen stove. They also provide portability for your brewing system and let you brew outside. This makes cleanup easier and avoids disagreements due to a dirty kitchen and the smell of homebrew filling the home.
Interested in a propane burner? Check out our guide to the best propane burners for homebrewing!
Not all of the most impactful brewing upgrades are equipment! Brewing knowledge is incredibly important, and several responses included books, blogs, videos, and courses that increase your understanding of ingredients and processes to brew better beer. Check out our list of the best homebrewing books to have on your bookshelf!
A TON of other “best homebrewing equipment” upgrades!
Homebrewers reported a ton of other items as the best homebrewing equipment upgrades. Some didn’t fit into the most commonly reported categories above. Here is a list of other great ideas for the best homebrewing items you can buy to upgrade your homebrew!
- Brewing Equipment
- Drinking Equipment
- Brewery Equipment
Thanks for Reading!
What’s the single best piece of homebrewing equipment you have ever bought? What item had the single biggest impact on the quality of your beer? Leave a comment below or post in the forums!
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