5 of the Best (and Most Popular) Fall Beer Styles You Can Brew Today

fall beer styles

Right around late July/early August, I get a little antsy knowing the release of my favorite fall beer styles are on the horizon.

Living in the Midwest, the summers are usually VERY hot and humid. And while I like drinking and brewing lighter, more refreshing beers made for the summer, it’s really the fall styles I’ve grown to love.

Could it have something to do with the fact that fall is my favorite season?

I mean, you’ve got football, leaves changing colors, and the right temperature where a hoodie and shorts are the perfect combination.

Oh, and the beer? Pssh…it’s like buttercream icing on a cake!

Besides, how can you argue with college football Saturday’s and NFL Sunday’s along with your favorite fall style homebrew in your hands?

Brewing Fall Beer Styles

You know where I’m going with this…

Whether you like it or not, fall is on the way.

That means it’s time to wrap up the summer brews and start thinking about what you’ll make when seasons start to change.

For those new to brewing, this can feel overwhelming at first. With so many options, it’s hard to choose the perfect beer.

But that’s what makes homebrewing what it is – there are no limitations to what you can do!

It’s what makes small batch brewing even more fun and interesting. More variety, more experimentation, and less hassle (in my opinion anyway).

Don’t worry – if you’re having trouble trying to figure out what fall beer styles would suit you best, we’ve got you covered!

Below, you will read about 5 of the best (and most popular) fall beer styles available for you to brew. This should start to swirl some ideas in your head about what you’ll whip up next.

Style #1 – Oktoberfest

oktoberfest

Once the leaves start changing colors, the sweet taste of Oktoberfest is right around the bend.

Originating from Bavaria and known commonly as a Märzen, this annual beer is a perfect fit for the fall. It’s medium to full malty body and beautiful amber color makes it one of the most sought after beer styles around this time of the year.

In order to brew this traditional style in its proper form, you would need the proper equipment, as it needs to be lagered. Many homebrewers start brewing this style in the early months of the year (March/April) so that it can lager and mature to produce the crisp bite and mouthfeel it is known for.

Of course, you could always mimic the style as an ale. The product produced won’t be as authentic, but it’s close enough.

That means you can brew this now and still enjoy it by the time October hits your calendar!

Short on time? Give this one gallon kit a shot: Craft A Brew Oktoberfest 1 Gallon Recipe Kit

Style #2 – Pumpkin

pumpkin ale

The whole “pumpkin craze” is either a “hate it or love it” kind of relationship. Either you go all in or you avoid this style like the plague.

For many, however, fall means pumpkin spiced beers will be in full force. And if you’re anything like me, you’re a sucker for a good pumpkin beer!

What’s I love most about this style is the versatility. From a lighter bodied ale to a dark and thick porter or stout, there are plenty of ways for you to come up with something unique and flavorful.

While many pumpkin beers utilize real pumpkin (either in the mash or racked to secondary), the key to a great pumpkin beer comes down to the spices you use. If you’re formulating your own recipe, remember to start off easy. You can always add more spice in, but you can never take it out!

Whip up a proven batch of Pumpkin Ale with this: Northern Brewer Smashing Pumpkin Ale 5 Gallon Recipe Kit

Style #3 – Red/Amber Ale

red ale

While many red and amber ales are brewed throughout the year, there is something special about them in the fall.

Maybe it’s the fact that the red, brown, and orangish hues line up with the colors of the leaves changing?

Or could it be the perfectly balanced toasted malt profile and creamy mouthfeel making it one of most popular styles of the season?

All I can tell you is that I’ve brewed some amazing red’s in the past, and they are now a must-have style in my fall lineup!

But it gets even better…

You see, there’s another thing to note about red/amber ales in the fall: the range of bitterness is quite wide. From mild, roasty, and toasty to thick, malty, and hoppy, it’s easy to brew up something that suits your palate.

Regardless of your favorite twist on the style, one thing is for sure: red and amber ales make a great partner at a bonfire on a cool fall night!

You might dig this: Brewer’s Best 1 Gallon American Red Ale Recipe Kit

Style #4 – Brown Ale

brown ale

If you think pumpkin beers are “too trendy” and red/amber ales don’t knock your socks off, you might be more of a simple kind of guy or gal.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. There is something to be said of a beer that doesn’t need to pull out all stops to make it great.

That, my friends, is where the brown ale shines!

This classic fall style typically has a well-balanced blend of nutty and roasted notes. Toffee and caramel flavors may also shine through, creating an incredible infusion of flavors and aromas.

Brown ales are often easy to brew and don’t require a complex grain profile. Simple, effective, and downright delicious!

Can you think of anything better than sitting on the porch on a brisk fall afternoon and feeling the smooth caramel and toffee flavors hit your tongue as the leaves rustle nearby?

I didn’t think so.

One of our favorite Brown Ale kits: Northern Brewer 5 Gallon Nut Brown Ale Recipe Kit

Style #5 – IPA

barrel aged ipa

I know, I know – your eyes are probably rolling around a little bit. An IPA being a fall beer? Isn’t this something that you can have all year?

If you find yourself asking those questions, you’re not wrong. IPA’s are a flagship style and will always be in the craft/homebrewing scene.

Much like some styles above, however, there is something different about IPA’s in the fall.

That’s when the heavy hitters really start to come out. Beers loaded with hops, filled with bitterness and bite, and ABV numbers higher than most are more common in the fall months.

As an example, on a commercial level, you will typically see more Double IPA’s from September to November. These heavily hopped “big beers” are also thicker and much higher in ABV.

In other words, it’s like IPA’s big brother.

You’ll also find Black IPA’s tend to take a larger presence around this time of year. Dark and bold in flavor, yet still nice and hoppy like any regular IPA makes it perfect for the fall months!

Like many of the beers above, there is something amazing about sipping a nice and thick IPA when the night is young and the air is cool and crisp.

Seriously – just brew up a batch or two. You’ll be “hoppy” you did (sorry for the cheesy pun, but I had to)!

Here’s a perfect fall IPA with a twist: Craft A Brew 1 Gallon Oak Aged IPA Recipe Kit

Brew Up Your Favorite Today

As you can see, the change in season brings out many of the best and most celebrated fall beer styles.

If you’ve been having trouble figuring out what to brew as the leaves begin to fall, now you know. Brew one style or brew them all.

As George Zimmer, the founder of Men’s Warehouse might say, “You’re in for a treat. I guarantee it!”

Do you have a style or favorite recipe that is your “go-to” in the fall? Let us know in the comments below!

Mr. Beer Review: The Gateway to Homebrewing Addiction? (Truth Inside)

For many homebrewers, Mr. Beer was their introduction into the world of brewing. It’s also one of the most gifted kits around, but it bears one question that has been swimming in my mind for awhile now:

Can one of these kits actually make decent beer?

Looking for an answer, I went on a furious online search to look for as many Mr. Beer reviews as I could find.

But there was one problem – none of them really “stuck out” to me. I couldn’t find anything comprehensive that covered it from top to bottom, beginning to end.

That’s when I decided to give the elusive Mr. Beer kit another try.

Wait a second…did I just say another try?

My First Mr. Beer Experience

About 16 years ago was when I first heard of Mr. Beer. It looked so simple and I was excited at the potential of having a beer I could make on my own.

Being under legal drinking age (college age, but still under 21 at the time), I was able to purchase the kit myself.

I wanted to get brewing so badly that I made my batch the moment I took the kit home.

Fast-forward a few weeks later. I cracked open my brew that I was so proud of, only to be thrown off by an awful flavor.

It…was…terrible!

Looking back, I now know why – I didn’t read up on homebrewing and didn’t understand the process.

I also didn’t understand how important it was to sanitize everything (and do it thoroughly)!

When I really started to get into homebrewing roughly 2 years ago, I started with extract kits and worked my way up to an all-grain setup.

Mr. Beer and I didn’t get along, and that bad experience made me want to avoid it like the plague.

But after having some experience under my belt (and more knowledge), the idea of trying another brew with a Mr. Beer kit seemed fun.

Not only that, but I wanted to provide beginners with a fully detailed review. No b/s either – I wanted to put it all on the line.

And so the idea to give Mr. Beer another try was born!

My All-In Mr. Beer Review

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge into the world of Mr. Beer, make sure you read this entirely. Don’t do what I did before and jump in head first without understanding some basics (don’t worry – I cover many of these below).

That said, let’s dive right into this thing…

The Specific Kit That I Purchased

Mr. Beer American Lager Craft Beer Making Kit

The Beer That I Brewed

American Lager

What Came Inside the Box

I have to admit – when this landed on my doorstep, I was pretty stoked to rip it open and take a peek at the entire setup.

mr beer craft beer kit
The actual packaging of the kit itself

The complete kit came packed with everything necessary to brew beer:

  • 2 gallon Barrel Fermenter w/cap
  • Spigot w/screw on nut and rubber seal
  • American Lager malt extract
  • Yeast Packet (under the lid of the can of malt extract)
  • No-Rinse Cleaner
  • Brewmax Booster Packet
  • (11) 22 oz. plastic bottles with caps
  • Complete instructions
  • Mr. Beer Branded stickers (for bottles and fermenter)
  • Carbonation drops*
mr beer kit items
The full spread after emptying the box

*Note: The carbonation drops are not pictured as they were damaged during shipment. Things happen, so I wasn’t too upset about it. I never contacted Mr. Beer for a replacement and ended up just using table sugar instead to condition the beer (instructions contain chart for table sugar amounts to use in each bottle).

In all honesty, I could’ve used the carbonation drops (the package was ripped open and a few were loose and jostling around in the box). However, I just stuck with the table sugar as it was easy to do. Besides, purchasing carbonation drops when you can use table sugar isn’t very cost-effective in the long run. More on that later.

Brew Day

A couple days after my Mr. Beer kit arrived, I was ready to brew.

After pulling everything out of the box (repackaged after taking photos above), I started to assemble the spigot onto the fermenter.

mr beer barrel
Had to utilize at least one sticker, right?

It’s a simple process:

  • Rubber seal goes onto threaded side of spigot (flat side facing spigot and beveled edge facing barrel).
  • Insert threaded end into front hole on barrel.
  • Screw the nut onto the thread until you get a snug fit.

Once that was done, it was time for a quick rinse of the barrel and a leak test to ensure that no leaks were coming from the spigot (or the barrel itself).

mr beer barrel with water
Getting things ready for testing

In order to proper test for leaks, Mr. Beer recommends filling up the barrel with at least a gallon of water and setting it to the side for 10 to 15 minutes. During this time, you’ll be keeping a watchful eye for any noticeable leaks.

For the best test possible, make sure that you wipe down the outside of the barrel and around the spigot before placing it on a hard surface (e.g. your kitchen counter) for the duration of the test.

mr beer leak test
Testing…testing…1…2…3

Important: Do NOT skip this step! I was glad I didn’t, because I ended up having a leak.

After messing around with the spigot a bit and running a few more tests, I was able to get things situated.

To take things a step further, I held the barrel over the sink at a downward angle (spigot facing down) to put added pressure on the spigot. While doing this, I remained focused on the seal around the spigot to make sure no water was coming through.

At this point, I was confident I was in the clear.

Again, don’t get lazy with this. You don’t want to get through the entire process only to end up with a mess on your hands (not to mention the beer you will lose).

Now it came time for what I feel is the most crucial piece to making good beer: sanitizing!

The kit came with a packet of No-Rinse Cleaner. While I have StarSan on hand, I wanted to follow the instructions and stay as true to the process as I could.

Since my barrel already contained a gallon of water from the leak test, I emptied some water through the spigot to give it a quick internal rinse.

empty mr beer barrel
Always good to rinse, especially since it’s new

I then added room temp water back into the barrel to get the volume back up to 1 gallon (the suggested amount via the instructions).

Once that it was good, I emptied half a packet of sanitizing solution into the barrel and, using a spoon, mixed everything together until the sanitizer was fully dissolved.

I quickly popped on the lip and gave the barrel a good shake for roughly 30 seconds (over my kitchen sink, since water did escape through small grooves on the threads of the barrel under the lid – more on that in a bit).

The sanitizing solution sat in the barrel for another 2 minutes before I gave it a good 30 seconds of vigorous shaking again, just to make sure everything was covered. Could’ve done with less, but you never want to be too careful.

Another important reminder: Don’t dump the sanitizer just yet! You’ll need to reallocate it to another large bowl to sanitize the rest of your materials!

sanitizing mr brew items
If it touches your beer, it needs sanitized

Once the barrel was sanitized, I ran the solution through the spigot into a bowl, which included the following items:

  • Measuring cup
  • Mixing spoon
  • Can opener
  • Scissors
  • Yeast packet

Similar to the sanitizer in the barrel, I let these items soak for a few minutes. During this time, I grabbed my small stockpot, a small bowl, a gallon of spring water, and my malt extract.

On the stove, my stockpot was ready and waiting for water. I poured 4 cups of spring water and added the Booster packet (just a packet of sugar basically), which helps boost the overall ABV. This isn’t necessary, but it came with the kit and hey, who can argue a little higher ABV percentage?

mr beer brewmax booster
Before pouring in the rocket fuel

After mixing the Booster in with the water until it dissolved, the stove was turned on to heat the water up to a boil.

To help loosen up the malt extract and make it easier to pour, I removed the label around the can and had it sit in a bowl of hot water in my kitchen sink.

work in sink
Nothing too fancy here

With the water at a fast boil, I killed the heat on my stove (if using electric, move it away from the heat source), opened the can of malt extract (using the sanitized can opener, of course), poured it in, and gave it a good stir (roughly a minute or so).

mr beer wort
Appears much darker than what it will really turn out to be

At this point in the process, the wort was ready for the barrel fermenter.

Following the Mr. Beer instructions, I had the sanitized fermenter filled with a gallon of cold spring water. The hot wort was carefully dumped into the barrel with more cold spring water added to bring the volume up to 2 gallons.

To prepare the best environment for the yeast to get active, I took my sanitized mixing spoon and vigorously stirred the wort to aerate it.

aerated wort
The yeasties are going to LOVE this!

Using the sanitized scissors (are you starting to see a theme here?), I cut open the yeast packet and pitched the yeast directly on top of the wort.

pitching yeast
That’s all there is to it

The barrel was then sealed and stored in my basement (which averages around 65°F).

And just like that, brew day was complete!

mr beer barrel
And now…we wait

Bottling Day

According to the Mr. Beer Instructions, the recommended fermenting duration is 3 weeks and bottle conditioning for another 3. In my opinion (and previous experience), fermenting for 2 to 3 weeks is suitable and conditioning for 2 to 3 weeks also works.

However, letting it ferment/condition on the longer side of the scale certainly won’t hurt anything.

My beer ended up sitting in the fermenter for 3 weeks (life happens and I got busier than usual).

Guess that meant it was time to finally bottle this stuff up!

I gathered the following:

  • (11) 22 oz bottles and caps
  • Small plastic bucket
  • The last half packet of no-rinse sanitizer
  • Small glass
  • Measuring spoon
  • Plastic funnel

I collected water in the small bucket and poured in the sanitizer crystals, stirring it slowly until it was completely dissolved.

To make sure the spigot didn’t get any contaminants on it during the fermentation process, I took a small glass, filled it with sanitizer solution and held the glass up to the opening of the nozzle for roughly one minute.

sanitizing mr beer spigot
Not in the instructions, but it’s worth doing – trust me

Once that was wrapped up, I dumped my plastic caps, measuring spoon, and plastic funnel into the bucket with sanitizer and carefully filled up each bottle about halfway with the solution. Bottles were capped and shaken quite vigorously for about 30 seconds or so.

Similar to the sanitizing process of the barrel fermenter, I let the solution soak in the bottles for about 2 minutes.

mr beer sanitized bottles
Bottles on standby

Being the cautious guy I am, I gave each bottle one more good shake before dumping out the sanitizing solution back into the bucket along with all of the caps. Doing this ensured the caps would remain sanitized until the bottle was filled and sealed.

The process of filling up each bottle was pretty straightforward:

  • Place bottle opening at the bottom of the spigot, tipping the bottle back towards you at an angle so that the fill doesn’t stir up any oxygen (oxygenation = off flavors in the final product).
  • Press down on the spigot to release the beer.
  • Let it flow until you have about 2 inches space between the top of the beer and the cap.
  • Measure out 2 teaspoons of sugar and dump directly into the bottle (I used a sanitized funnel and spoon for this process as my carbonation drops were tossed out due to damage).
  • Grab a cap, twist to seal, and repeat until complete.
mr beer bottle conditioning
And so we wait again…

One thing to note: I was only able to fill 10 of the 11 bottles due to trub (the yeast cake that settles to the bottom) taking up more space than I thought. This reduced the overall volume of beer in the fermenter. This was somewhat expected, so I wasn’t surprised. 220 ounces of beer was still a great yield!

I also pulled a small sample of the beer, just to get an idea of the overall profile (the beer will be flat). While it wasn’t the best beer I’ve made, it wasn’t the worst. It was drinkable and tasted similar to other similar beers in its style class.

Tasting Day

The day that every homebrewer waits for finally arrived.

It was time to finish what I started and evaluate this beer. I was eager to see if it was better than the beer that I made 16 years prior with what is essentially the same kit.

Note: Before I dig into this, I should mention that I waited 2 weeks for the beer to condition. It’s at a point where I feel that it’s good enough to fully evaluate. Any less would’ve been too green. Another week or two wouldn’t hurt anything and would only help the beer taste even better (I’ll try to provide an update after they’ve been in the bottle for 3 to 4 weeks and record the difference).

I put one of the bottles in the fridge overnight to try the following day.

Upon opening the beer and pouring it into my mug, I immediately noticed the amount of carbonation. It was stellar! The head wasn’t very large (as shown in the photo below, but I also poured this slowly into the mug).

The rich golden hue is very comparable to beers in this style (i.e. Bud Light for those domestic folks new to homebrewing/craft beer).

mr beer american lager
First impression: Not bad

However, the one thing that I was impressed with the most was the clarity! The beer was very bright (meaning no yeast in suspension) and just looked great overall!

I shouldn’t be too surprised on this since the beer was made from a malt extract. Even then, I would expect to see some cloudiness due to the yeast, but it looks like it settled nicely to the bottom of the bottle.

mr beer american lager clarity
You can nearly see right through it

Before giving it my first taste, I gave the mug a quick sniff to see what the aroma was like. I mostly got hints of bread, so I wasn’t sure what the flavor was going to be like.

Upon first taste, I immediately noticed the crispness of the beer itself. The carbonation made it very refreshing. There was also a slight hint of apple, which can be attributed to this style.

It can also mean that the beer is young and that it needs more time to condition.

That said, as I mentioned above, I will be providing an update on the flavor after 3 to 4 weeks in the bottle.

Overall, the apple was fairly faint, which some yeasts can produce during fermentation. It was still a very drinkable beer.

I have to admit, I was quite surprised that I was able to produce something that was worth drinking from a kit that many homebrewers often “look down” upon (which is ironic considering a lot of them started this way).

The Final Verdict

I’m happy to report that this batch of Mr. Beer didn’t turn out anywhere close to the batch I made nearly two decades ago.

I’m glad I gave this kit and process another shot. It made me appreciate the product that initially got me and so many others into the hobby of homebrewing.

To quickly sum up my final thoughts, here is a quick breakdown of what I enjoyed and what I think could’ve been better:

What I Enjoyed

  • The process wasn’t time consuming and very condensed. During brew day, I went from pulling everything out of the box to wrapping up the process in a little less than an hour (my current all-grain process is at least 4 hours from start to finish).
  • Doesn’t require a lot of equipment or space.
  • No need for a big investment. It’s perfect for anyone who isn’t sure if they will enjoy brewing beer and doesn’t want to spend a ton of money to find out.
  • Using extract means a more predictable beer.
  • Instructions are straightforward (which is perfect for a new homebrewer).

What Could Be Better

  • The spigot assembly and plastic barrel could be better made, but at this price point, small hurdles are to be expected. It still serves its purpose.
  • I’m not the biggest fan of the plastic bottles, but again, they serve their purpose. Might be worth investing in a bottle capper and glass bottles down the line if you plan to brew more frequently.
  • The No-Rinse Sanitizer is average. Unlike Star-San (which sanitizes on contact), the included sanitizer needs remain in contact for a longer duration.

What I Recommend

  • Use spring or purified drinking water. Tap water contains a variety of potential contaminants that can throw off the flavor of your beer. Your water profile actually matters quite a bit more than you might thing!
  • Make sure to sanitize EVERYTHING, including the yeast packet and scissors to cut it open. This is common practice, but something the instructions do not touch on.

I had a lot of fun reviewing this Mr. Beer kit. In fact, I may even consider picking up a refill kit when I feel like making something quick without having to pull out all of my all-grain equipment.

While I definitely enjoy making my own recipes, it’s nice to do something that is tried and true, yet still gives you that homebrew feel.

Is it going to turn you into a brewing expert? Not even close, but as I mentioned above, it’s a good way to determine whether or not this is something you want to dive deeper into.

Even then, you can tinker with these extract brews to put your own spin on things. It’s homebrewing, remember? ANYTHING is possible!

Get Your Mr. Beer Kit and Start Brewing Your Own Beer Today

9 Cool Home Brewing Gadgets For the Serious Brewing Enthusiast

home brewing gadgets

When it comes to the hobby of brewing beer, the deeper you get into it, the more you will find yourself oogling over the latest home brewing gadgets.

For a beginner, that might not seem like the case. You’ve got all you need to brew great beer, right?

Not exactly…

After you get a few batches under your belt, the feelings of being overwhelmed begin to subside. You start to branch out and learn more about beer. More gadgets and equipment begin to stack up. It’s not that you really need them, but they help give you an edge you’ve desperately been looking for.

Oh, and they make your life easier, your beer better, and brew days more efficient!

Can you really argue with that? I didn’t think so…

Cool Home Brewing Gadgets

With so many different brew gadgets on the market, it’s hard to decide what’s worth your money (and what isn’t).

That said, we’ve got a list of 9 brewing gadgets that we think are some of the best in terms of adding efficiency, saving you time, or helping you improve your process to make the best beer possible!

Whether you’re looking to buy a fellow homebrewer a cool gift or looking to advance your own brew game, these 9 home brewing gadgets are sure to make someone happy!

#1 – Ss Brewtech Brew Bucket

Ss Brewtech is one of the most dominating brands in the homebrewing industry, and for good reason – their products are built for maximum durability and toughness.

While they make a lot of great products, one of their best innovations is their line of Brew Buckets.

More than “just another fermenter”, Brew Buckets are made with 304 stainless steel for durability and easy handling. The stainless steel design is more sanitary than plastic, yet safer than hauling around those pesky glass carboys.

What makes it great: The Brew Bucket has a conical base with a strategically placed spigot that sits between the point where the “bottom” of the bucket end and the cone-shaped base begin.

The result – a clearer beer during transfer to secondary or your bottling bucket!

If that wasn’t attractive enough, these things are much easier to clean and last longer than their plastic or glass counterparts.

And while a Brew Bucket will cost more upfront than a glass carboy or plastic bucket, you won’t need to buy another one for YEARS!

Learn more about it here: Ss Brewtech 8 Gallon Brew Bucket

#2 – Bottle Tree/Drying Rack

Whether you’re cranking out 5 gallons of beer or frequently brewing smaller batches, one thing rings true: you’re going to need bottles.

And if you need bottles, you’ll need to clean/sanitize them. If you’ve done this before, you know how much of a pain it can be.

Oh yeah, and all that water getting all over the place? Have fun cleaning that up too.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could clean/sanitize your bottles and place them somewhere to dry off hands-free?

That’s where a bottle tree/drying rack comes in handy!

Why it’s useful: A lot of homebrewers will agree that cleaning and drying bottles isn’t the most exciting task. Besides, things can get messy (and slippery) if you’re not careful.

A bottle tree/drying rack helps alleviate the mess by allowing your bottles to dry hands-free. The unique design tips your bottles so all sanitizer solution drips out of the bottle and down to the drip-catching tray.

In the end, you’re left with a nice, clean, and spot-free bottle that’s ready for beer whenever you are!

Read more about it here: 45-Bottle Drying Tree

#3 – Vacuum Sealer

With any beer (craft especially), it’s all about hops, hops, and more hops. With such a wide variety to choose from, you have the freedom to create an assortment of beers with unique flavors and aromas.

Pretty cool, until you find your favorite hop strain on sale and want to load up.

Think about it – if you’re buying a couple pounds of hops and don’t plan to use them within a reasonable amount of time, you need to store them properly.

Poor storage = bad hops. That’s just a waste of your time AND money.

The goal: long-term storage and minimal exposure to oxygen.

The solution: a vacuum sealer!

Why it’s worth it: Buying hops can get VERY expensive, especially if you’re brewing large batches or hop-heavy IPA’s. Many homebrewers will buy hops in bulk to help minimize their costs.

Of course, buying in bulk requires the need for a long-term storage solution.

A vacuum sealer allows you to store your hops safely while minimizing the chances of any 02 causing damage. Use one and you’ll get the best of both worlds – fresher hops at a lower price point!

We like this one here: FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System

#4 – Refractometer

One important (and fun) part of the brewing process is determining your OG (original gravity) and FG (final gravity) of your beer. After a few calculations, the difference between the two will give you your final ABV percentage.

While a hydrometer can help you do this, there a slightly more efficient tool that can help you obtain gravity readings without much work.

That nifty tool is known as a refractometer.

Why it’s cool: Refractometers use the reflection of light to determine the volume of sugar in your wort. They require a MUCH smaller sample too – just a few drops of wort onto the glass and you’re set.

I’ll admit – they aren’t necessary and you might like your hydrometer as-is, and that’s fine.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say they are pretty damn slick!

Learn more about it here: Dual Scale Refractometer

#5 – Stir Plate

More advanced homebrewers tend to make a yeast starter. It helps wake up the yeast and make them active, resulting in higher yeast counts and a more successful fermentation.

Making a starter the conventional way isn’t the only option. In fact, it can take more time and leave you with a lower cell count than you need.

A stir plate, on the other hand, has the opposite effect.

Why you might want it: A stir plate will save you time and allow you to generate enough healthy yeast cells to improve your fermentation.

Stir plates help aerate the wort, which generally increases the yeast cell count dramatically.

Even better: your fermentation can go from start to finish much quicker thanks to the boost in active cells.

If you find yourself brewing big beers (high gravity/high ABV), you won’t want to be without one of these!

What we recommend: Maelstrom Stir Plate

#6 – Counterflow Wort Chiller

Cooling hot wort after a vigorous boil can be a tall task. The bigger your batches, the longer it takes to cool them down to comfortable pitching temps.

Rather than rely on wort to cool down on its own (or use the traditional ice bath method, which is usually suitable only for very small batches), many homebrewers use a wort chiller.

Built from copper, this tubing system pushes cold water through its coils internally to cool your wort within a decent time frame (usually 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size).

Of course, there are always bigger, faster, and better ways to do something. Cooling hot wort is no exception.

That’s where a counterflow wort chiller excels beyond anything else!

Why it’s awesome: Counterflow wort chillers have a “tube within a tube” design. Hot wort flows through the inner tube while cold water flows through the outer tube in the opposite direction.

The result – a much more efficient and less wasteful way of cooling hot wort in minutes!

Like many other home brewing gadgets on here, this isn’t something you absolutely need. A regular wort chiller will be fine.

However, if you’re brewing big batches (10+ gallons), adding something like this to your equipment stack will save you a significant amount of time on brew days!

Check it out here: Deluxe 1/2″ Counterflow Wort Chiller

#7 – Ball Lock Kegging System

There is something special about pulling a pint from a tap. The body, carb level, and smoothness compared to bottled beer is unmatched. It turns a regular beer into an experience.

Now imagine drinking your own homebrew directly from the tap. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

If you agree, it might be time to ditch bottles and get hitched to a ball lock kegging system!

Why it’s great: Kiss your bottling days goodbye! Kegging means no more slaving over glass bottles and bottle conditioning your beer.

Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy the speed and power of force carbonation. You’ll get more control over carb levels, getting the perfect pour every single time.

Oh, and you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor much faster!

What’s not great about that?

What we like the most: Draft Brewer Single Keg System (5 gallon)

#8 – Beer Thief

If you want to track your ABV and ensure fermentation is near completion, you need to monitor changes in gravity with a hydrometer.

Unless you’re using a refractometer like I mentioned above in #4, you’re going to need to pull a sample of beer.

The Beer Thief makes this process a breeze.

Why it’s useful: The Beer Thief is a long plastic tube with a spring end that opens when pressure is applied. This allows your wort to fill the plastic tube, making it easy to sample your beer and take a gravity reading.

The way it works is simple:

  • Sanitize the Beer Thief inside and out.
  • Open the lid to your fermentation bucket.
  • Place the Beer Thief inside at an angle and press the bottom against the side of the bucket.
  • Slowly slide the Beer Thief down to fill up the plastic tube.
  • Place a sanitized hydrometer inside of the tube to take your gravity reading. You can also dispense your beer into a sanitized glass for sampling.
  • Once finished, return remaining beer back to the vessel by pressing it gently against the side of the bucket at the top.

Overall, a very cool and handy home brewing gadget to have sitting around! And considering the price, picking one up is almost a no-brainer.

Check it out here: Beer Thief

#9 – Labelnator

Removing labels from bottles can be sort of a cumbersome task. Some come off with ease and others require a bit more elbow grease.

I touch more on how to remove labels from beer bottles here. While those steps work great, I came across an interesting gadget that I think would be helpful in the process.

It’s called the Labelnator.

What it’s all about: The Labelnator is a unique product in that it’s designed to scrape labels off of beer and wine bottles.

I haven’t used this personally, but after discovering it recently, I might consider picking one up. According to most of the reviews, a lot of people seem to have great luck using it after their labels had a chance to loosen up after a long soak.

Read more about it here: The Labelnator

Enjoy These Home Brewing Gadgets

Remember – brewing beer is all about having fun! The various products listed above are all helpful pieces of equipment that will help you become a better and more efficient homebrewer.

Like I said before, these gadgets will help you save time and make your process much smoother and efficient. That alone makes it all worth it in the end.

Do you have any unique gadgets or pieces of equipment that helped you become a better brewer? Let us know by commenting below. We’d love to hear from you!