Top Ten Homebrew Father’s Day Gifts

If your Dad loves beer as much as mine does, urticaria these Father’s Day gifts will be the perfect things to surprise him with on June 15. I wanted to list a good number of products, approved first to get Dad interested in making beer, case in case he has not yet heard the gospel, and also for the Dad who might want to beef up his game a bit. Here is my own top-ten list. A message to my own Dad: I know you never really got into homebrewing, and for that I forgive you, but I will always be grateful for your putting homebrew in my veins, at least metaphorically.

  1. This is a great starter kit for a new homebrewer and includes everything a rookie might need for a first batch, except for the ingredients and bottles. This particular set-up comes at a pretty low cost as well. I have seen used kits go for more than this on Craigslist, so you can be pretty sure that it will retain its value, in case the homebrew bug does not completely consume the gift recipient. But how could this hobby not be fun for the neophyte and seasoned veteran alike? This is more than making beer. At its core, brewing is about alchemy.

  2. Having a refractometer makes all the difference in the world. I am a taster when I cook. If you saw me in person you might accuse me of being a taster all the time. It’s the Hershey’s Kiss physique that would give me away. I even taste my wort, and then every time I do something with the beer. I do this for a number of reasons, but mostly because I want to make sure things are going right. With this refractometer, I can test the specific gravity with a drop or two of liquid from my tasting glass, rather than drawing out a whole vial of beer to put my hydrometer in. This device is worth the cost. It is also a whole lot less fragile than a glass hydrometer.

  3. Having an immersion chiller makes a huge difference when you are trying to cool your wort. When I started brewing many years ago I used to pour the hot wort in the fermentation bucket and let it cool overnight before adding the yeast. This method worked fine, I suppose, but it lacked proper temperature control. This immersion chiller already has the hose connections and all you have to do is hook it up to the water tap. You may need an adapter to make it work with your sink faucet but once you get it set up it works like a charm. The copper tubing disperses the heat of the wort efficiently and can bring it down to 70 degrees in about 20 minutes.

  4. This is a good introductory kegging system. It consists of everything you need to keg beer except for the beer and carbon dioxide. You can take the tank to a gas store (I use Robert’s Oxygen because they are darned near everywhere in my area) and get it filled for about $25. That will last you for many kegs of beer for both carbonation and dispensing. Many homebrew stores also have tank exchange programs. Normally when you buy a kit like this one, you will have to do some work before using it, like changing the seals (all five of them) and cleaning everything thoroughly. That is a small price to pay for having great beer on tap.

  5. The portable homebrew dispensing kit is a small set of items that allow you to bring a keg to a party and dispense your beer without having to drag the CO2 tank along, which can be quite cumbersome. All these parts can fit in your pocket. You have enough to carry with just the keg. Note that even though it looks like this uses BB gun-style CO2 cartridges, these are actually rated for foodservice use. The ones you use for your BB gun have lubricating oils that are not good to consume. These food-grade cartridges are safe to use with the beer or a whipped cream canister, in case you happen to work at some fancy-pants dessert shop.

  6. This hot liquor tank can be easily converted to a mash tun by adding a braided hose sheath to the inside. That will act as a filter to keep the grain from going through the valve and into your brew pot. In my mash tun I use the sheath from a hose that is meant to go between the toilet tank and the wall. You can saw off the ends and use small hose clamps to secure it. One end is attached to the valve and the other end is weighted down by a brass hose plug. All this does is close the end of the braided section and keep the hose from floating. Two of these tanks, along with some hardware, will get you everything you need to start on all-grain brewing.

  7. Having an eight-gallon brew kettle allows a person to make full-batch brews on the stovetop. This beats making a concentrate on the stove and diluting it with water in the fermentation bucket. Making the full-size brew gives you greater control of everything and allows you to adjust the beer in ways you cannot do with smaller batches. While this comes with a valve built on to the kettle, it does not come with a nozzle, which you might find useful to have, simply to direct the flow of the wort when you are letting it flow into the fermenter. This nozzle is only about $5 from a hardware store.

  8. This gas cooker will get your brew boiling quicker than the stovetop will. You provide the proane and it will work like a champ. Remember your fire safety tips from your days of camping and scouting, though. Turn it on at the source first and turn it off at the source first. And never use this or any gas-powered device inside. Definitely get this cooker if you plan on doing full-size boils with the brew kettle above. Having the right heat output makes all the difference.

  9. This handle may not look like much but it makes a huge difference when carrying carboys around. I never dropped a carboy without one of these, but I know that when it happens, it can be a big mess and sometimes even results in injuries. Why tempt fate? Getting one of these for each carboy is an easy decision, from where I stand. It is like having insurance. How many times are you going to carry a carboy down the hall or up and down stairs without a handle before you trip and fall? This handle makes the unwieldy carboy much easier and safer to carry and lift.

  10. Does Dad have a beer fridge? I bet if he doesn’t, he probably secretly would like one. You can use this temperature controller to regulate the temperature of a refrigerator used for fermentation or simply to keep your beer at an optimal temperature. Proper temperature control is the key to good fermentation. Keep it at a regular temperature so everything goes along the way it is supposed to at a biological level, and ensure that the beer you drink is at your favorite temperature. Everyone wins with this device – the brewer, the drinkers, and even the yeast.

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