Gadgets

10 Gifts for the Serious Homebrewer

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Part 2 of our Beer Geek Gift Guide is a homebrewing special edition; 10 Gifts for the Serious Homebrewer features the latest in  must-have homebrewing gadgets and the latest tech innovations. Instead of focusing on the myriad homebrewing starter kits and basics, we are showcasing tools, mobile apps, and books, and even including some things you may have never seen, like a gadget that monitors your beer’s gravity and temperature in real-time and sends updates to your smartphone.

FastFerment 7.9 Gallon Conical Fermenter

While most homebrewers ferment their beer in glass carboys, they dream of having conical fermenters like the big boys do. Amateurs were severely priced out of that game until the introduction of the Fast Ferment conical fermenter. The shape of this tank allows yeast to drop out of the beer and into a collection container that can be easily removed through a closed valve and thrown out or stored for reuse. The Fast Ferment can also be opened to make dry-hopping or adding special ingredients a piece of cake. The Fast Ferment Conical Fermenter can also be mounted to the wall to save space and has all sorts of add-on options, but by itself is an incredibly cheap $99.

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BeerBug: Monitor Your Gravity & Temperature Readings in the Cloud

This is the coolest new beer tech gadget that has came along in some time. The BeerBug is a cloud-connected digital hydrometer that works over wi-fi and measures the density & temperature of your fermenting beer, cider, & wine and reports conditions to the cloud to be read from your computer or smartphone, anywhere in the world. The BeerBug will take updated readings a few times per hour and send them to you, even plotting graphs of the changes. You are able to read your brew data via your web browser and iOS & Android App, and even see other people’s brew data in real-time and share your own. You don’t even need any high end beer equipment to use the BeerBug. It has a 25 day battery life and is rechargeable and mounts easily to most vessels via a standard airlock.woodinville_barrel

8 Gallon Used Whiskey Barrel

Barrel-aging beers in previously-used wine, whiskey, and spirit barrels is all the rage right now, but has been almost impossible for a homebrewer to do the same. Many homebrewers have resorted to using oak chips or cubes soaked in spirits, but these methods won’t ever have the same effect as aging your beer in a used whiskey barrel. Now you can order your own used whiskey barrel from Woodinville Whiskey Distillery for $145 in a perfect 8 gallon size. Most homebrewers produce in batches of 5 or 6 gallons, and when filling a whiskey barrel you’re going to need a little head space, especially if you’re adding additional ingredients like fruit. The barrels can be topped off with fresh wort as the beer evaporates and soaks into the wood, following the technique of most pro brewers. All of these barrels have been pre-toasted for 45 minutes prior to charging and are guaranteed to have been used for one aging cycle of Woodinville’s award-winning whiskey.

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BeerSmith Mobile Homebrewing App

BeerSmith Mobile app has all the tools you need to design, refine, and make the important calculations you need to make world class beer. BeerSmith 2 is the world’s top selling homebrewing software and can be used on your desktop and now an Android app. You can save recipes to your desktop or in the cloud to access them anywhere, and the app even has full profiles of most homebrew equipment and ingredients, as well as a marker for the brew session date. I personally love the five unit converters that save me from having to do the math on temperature, gravity, weight, volume, and pressure.

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Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass

My all-time favorite homebrewing book is this classic by Randy Mosher that will not only school you on the history of brewing but also goes into all sorts of ancient and exotic beers and brewing techniques. If you’re curious about some of the crazier beers being made these days–like Dogfish Head’s historically ancient ale recreations, or even wild experiments like Portland’s Breakside Brewery is doing–then this book is for you. Some of the most interesting recipes in this book are for beers like a Chanterelle Mushroom Ale, or a Devon White Ale made with flour and eggs. It’s not all crazy stuff, though, as Randy Mosher breaks down how to best use whole fruit, herbs, and spices, or talks about historically accurate oyster stouts. I love this book.

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10″ Draft beer Randall

Now you can purchase your own Dogfish Head-style Randall for your homebrew setup to pump even more hop flavor and aroma into your beers, or add whatever else you want for additional flavor. It’s designed to be set up like an in-line filter from a corny keg to the tap.

  • Infuse intense hop flavor into any beer right before it’s served
  • Works on commercial kegs and home brewed beer
  • Fill the 10″ housing with your choice of hops, fruit, berries, peppers
  • Stainless steel custom machined filter tube with silicone gaskets

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FermWrap Heater

Once you understand the basics of homebrewing and fermentation, you’re going to want to be able to control the temperature of your beer to get the desired flavor characteristics, and the Ferm Wrap helps you do that. Whether you’re fermenting in a cold basement or garage or you’re trying to keep the fermentation upwards of seventy degrees for a Belgian-style, this easy-to-use carboy wrap can increase your temperature by 5-20 degrees.

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Blichmann HopRocket

Take your homebrewed IPAs and other hoppy beer to the next level like the pros do. The HopRocket™ can function as a Randall like the one featured above, but is better used as a hopback for brewing. Most commercial breweries–especially ones that excel in hoppy beer–have a hopback that works by pumping the hot wort straight from the boil kettle into a smaller vessel filled with whole leaf hops before it goes into the fermenter. This last minute contact time with hot–but not boiling–water scrubs off extra subtle hop flavors and adds huge aromas that really make great hoppy beers stand out. The Blichmann HopRocket works as a mini hopback for homebrewers. With stainless steel construction and silicone seals, you can push the wort through the HopRocket at up to 40 PSI’s.  An inlet at the bottom allows air to automatically purge to reduce hot-side aeration, and a fine filter keeps your finished wort clear while a coarse filter and cone bottom at the inlet prevents wort channeling and backup for better hop utilization. Note: Not for use with pellet hops, only whole leaf hops.

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 Must Read: American Sour Beers

This new book from Brewers Publications may be the most comprehensive resource for brewing sour beers ever put together. While there are other must reads like “Wild Brews,” this book also includes some of the more modern methods of making these types of beers both traditional and updated American versions and techniques. This book details the wide array of processes and ingredients in American sour beer production, with actionable advice for each stage of the process. Inspiration, education, and practical applications for brewers of all levels are provided by some of the country’s best known sour beer brewers.

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The BeerBox: A Draft Beer Alternative to Kegging

If you’re homebrewing and bottling all of your beers and want to move up to kegging but perhaps don’t want to spend the money, or you don’t have the space to store those corny kegs and C02 tanks, then there is a new alternative in The Beer Box. Made for most homebrewers it keeps 5 gallons of your beer in a food grade plastic tank that fits onto a shelf in most refrigerators. You can serve it straight from inside the refrigerator from the tap and use tiny gas cartridges for pressure, so you don’t need a line going to a heavy gas tank or your own dedicated beer refrigerator anymore.

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

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