Adventures of a Beginning Homebrewer

Upgrade to Make Life and Brew Better!

So you have made a few batches of beer now with your basic brewing kit, you got the hang of it and things are tasting good. Where do you go from here? One word… Upgrades!
There are so many upgrades you can add to your home brewery to make life easier and to make brewing quicker. The list is virtually endless. I am going to concentrate on a couple of relatively inexpensive upgrades that I have made that have helped my home brewery become more efficient. After all, brewing takes time, so efficiency opens up time to make even more beer!
The very first upgrade I made to my set up was a wort chiller. After you do your boil you want to be able to get your wort temperature down below 100 as soon as you can. The longer this process takes the more susceptible your wort is to infection by bacteria and such in the air.
When I first started brewing I had a HUGE bucket that I would fill halfway with ice, then set the covered brew kettle in the ice bucket, top with ice, and then wait…. and wait… and wait… and… you get the picture. Sometimes this could take up to an hour plus! What a waste of time, not to mention I wasted a lot of cash on 20 pound bags of ice.
So, I got myself a wort chiller. A wort chiller is a coil of copper or steel tubing you set in your wort that hooks up to your faucet. Crank on the cold water and it forces the cold water through the tubes, thus chilling your wort quickly. And I mean QUICKLY! It now takes me less than 20 minutes to have my wort to a suitable temperature. My wort is in the elements for a much shorter amount of time and I can go about my day sooner… or start the next batch sooner!

There are several different types and sizes of wort chillers. You can pay anywhere from 70 to 200 bucks for one. I purchased the cheapest one I could find and it works great and has been used on countless batches of beer. If you are rich, you can get yourself the $200 model, but if you are reasonable, just get the basic one and save your cash for other upgrades.
The other upgrade I swear by is a larger siphon and hose. Most brewing kits come with a 5/16” auto siphon. But, for a mere 14 bucks and a few bucks for new hose you can get a 1/2” auto siphon. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but trust me when I tell you; this thing makes racking beer a breeze! It cuts the time it takes to rack beer in half. It is worth every penny, especially for a guy like me who usually has more than one batch to rack at a time.
These two upgrades probably save me about an hour per batch and they didn’t break the bank. Anybody else out there have an upgrade you have made to your brewery you can’t live without?
Cheap wort chillers:

Larger auto siphons: