Here, we provide a recommended list of the best all-grain brewing equipment that will help you craft better, tastier beer at home.
Home brewing is all the rage, and as with everything, there are different degrees of brewing, making it accessible to brewers of all abilities and confidence levels.
All grain brewing is a more involved and ultimately more complicated home brewing process and best undertaken by experienced brewers. Because of the additional steps in the brewing process, the all-grain brewing equipment list is slightly different from what you may be used to using.
Keep reading as we look at the essential all-grain brewing equipment you will need to make your next brew.
All-Grain Brewing The Next Step On Your Home Brew Journey
For most homebrewers, the first steps in learning to home brew come from beer recipe kits. These kits are extract-based and give the new brewer an easy way to learn how to brew beer, with minimal investment in equipment or supplies.
There is nothing wrong with extract brewing, and some homebrewers prefer to use this process, especially if they’ve been successful with their final beer results.
However, many homebrewers get bored with the options that extract beer kits provide and decide to move to all-grain brewing.
The benefit to all-grain brewing is that you can make your favorite beer styles and experiment with specialty grains and different hop varieties to make your own unique beer, whether you love an IPA, pale ale, brown ale, or strong Scottish ale.
If you are ready to move to all-grain brewing for your home brew and are not sure what equipment you’ll need, we’ve put together a list of equipment with links to products that are popular with homebrewers.
Core Differences Between Extract vs. All-Grain Brewing
Before we start down the path of the equipment you need for all-grain brewing, it may be helpful to explain the differences between extract brewing and all-grain brewing.
Extract brewing is a beer-making process where the mashing step is replaced with malt extract. Malt extract is a wort that has been condensed down to a syrup.
The makers of the malt extract have already adjusted the malt using additives and brewers’ salts so that the malt extract is just right for the beer style you are making. Extract brewing requires very little equipment and can be done on your kitchen stove if you don’t have another space to brew.
All grain brewing allows you to build your own beer recipe from the start using grains, water, hops, and yeast. Instead of using extract, you make your own wort using grains, boil the wort with hops and then ferment. The process for all-grain brewing isn’t much different from extract brewing, but you need to have some additional equipment in your brew day kit for it to work well.
The Essentials For The Best All-Grain Brewing Equipment List
This list of all-grain brewing equipment is our suggestion for the best products to include in your all-grain brewing system. There are lots of options out there, so find the options that work well for you.
Hot Liquor Tank
The hot liquor tank is the fancy name that professional brewers have given to the pot used to heat water for mashing and sparging. You will want a large pot for your hot liquor tank. For making a 5-gallon batch of beer, you’ll need to heat around 8-gallons of water. If you are sticking to a 5-gallon final volume, invest in a 10-gallon hot liquor tank.
Before you start your mash, you’ll need to mill your grains. A grain mill will allow you to crush grains at home. Properly crushed grains will allow more fermentable sugars to be released from your malt, resulting in a better wort and a better beer.
Mash Tun or Lauter Tun
Lots of homebrewers like to use a 10-gallon cooler for their mash tun. The advantage of coolers is that they are insulated and will keep your mash temperature consistent. You can get a mash tun complete with a false bottom and a spigot with a ball valve to siphon the wort to the boil kettle for easy lautering.
Stainless steel mash tuns are also a good option. The most significant advantage of stainless steel is how you can place it on a burner for optimum temperature control. In addition, you can convert stainless steel boil kettles to lauter tuns using a false bottom insert.
Your boil kettle must be large enough so that there is space to avoid boilovers. Look for a brew kettle with a spigot with a ball valve to facilitate the easier transfer of your wort to your fermenter. The spigot should be set off the bottom of the brew pot so that hops are not transferred to your fermenter.
Heat-resistant tubing is a must for transferring hot water from the hot liquor tank to your mash tun for mashing and sparging. This tubing can also be used to transfer wort from the boil kettle to your fermenter. Just make sure that you sanitize it sufficiently first.
Invest in a couple of single propane burners for easy, portable brewing. You can get a burner from pretty much anywhere, but if you want to be particular, you can get some that are primarily advertised as being specifically for home brewing.
If you want to automate your brewing process a bit and improve the safety of brew day, you’ll want a sparge arm. This tool hooks to the rims of your mash tun and sprinkles water over the mash to rinse the fermentable sugars from the grain. If you don’t have a pump, a gravity sparge arm is an inexpensive option.
Wort chillers are an optional tool for all-grain brewing. Many homebrewers can get away with an ice bath in their kitchen sink. However, if you want to speed up your brew day, a wort chiller can cool 5-gallons of beer in around 15 minutes. Wort chillers are attached to your faucet and are immersed into your wort. Sanitizing your wort chiller is essential to ensure that you don’t introduce bacteria into the fermentation process.
You will need a fermenter for your all-grain beer. Our favorite fermenter is the Blichman Cornical Fermenter, which converts to a corny keg so it can go directly into your kegerator. The Blichman Cornical Fermenter is also rated for higher pressures, which allows you to use pressure fermentation or carbonation directly in the fermentation vessel. If you’re investing in a cornical fermenter, make sure that it has a racking arm for easy bottling or kegging. Of course, you can still use glass carboys or plastic buckets for fermentation as well.
You’ll need a way to serve your all-grain beer, and if you’ve invested in the Cornical Fermenter, a kegerator is a great option. You can buy a kegerator from a brewing supply company, however, if you don’t want to spend that much money, you can DIY a kegerator using a kegerator kit and an old refrigerator.
There are some accessories that you will want to invest in. Mash paddles for stirring your grains, a hydrometer for measuring your specific gravity, and a thermometer round out the basics for brew day. You may also want to invest in kegs for your kegerator, especially since bottling your beer takes a lot of time. However, if you are committed to bottling your beer, invest in a racking cane and bottle filler to reduce the time spent filling bottles.
Consider Using Starter Kits
Starter kits are a great way to get all the things you need for all-grain brewing in a pre-packaged kit. Starter kits are a great way to try out all-grain brewing with minimal investment.
Complete All-Grain Brewing Systems
If you don’t want to piecemeal together your all-grain brewing equipment and you’re ready to make a big investment in your brewing process, you may want to consider an all-grain brewing system. These systems come with everything you need for all-grain brewing.
All-in-One Brewing System
Another unique option for all-grain brewing, is the all-in-one brewing system. These allow you to all-grain brew in a single vessel, which is great for the homebrewer that doesn’t have a ton of space.
A couple of all-in-one systems that we thought were great and were popular with other homebrewers are the Grainfather G30 Brewing System and the Anvil Foundry all-in-one electric brewing system.
They both have great features and will work well for all-grain brewing without a huge investment in equipment.
Brew in a Bag
Finally, if you don’t have a ton of money to invest in all-grain brewing, or not a lot of space to store a bunch of brewing equipment, brew in a bag may be the best option for you.
Brew in a bag or BIAB is an easy way to all-grain brew in just one pot. Invest in a good brew kettle, a large brew bag, and a fermenter, and you’re ready for all-grain brewing.