Part 2 of our Beer Geek Gift Guide homebrewing special edition: 10 Gifts for the Serious Homebrewer features the latest in homebrewing must-have gadgets and the latest tech innovations. Instead of focusing on the myriad of homebrewing starter kits and basics we are showcasing tools, mobile apps, books and even including some things you may have never seen like a gadget that monitors your beers gravity and temperature in real-time and sends updates to your smartphone.
While most homebrewers ferment their beer in glass carboys they dream of having conical fermenters like the big boys do but are severely priced out of that game until 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.
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 reporting that 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 peoples 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.
Barrel-Aging beers in previously used wine, whiskey and other spirit barrels is all the rage right now but has been previously been almost impossible for a homebrewer to do the same. Many homebrewers have resorted to using oak chips or cubes soaked in spirits but they 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 your going to need a little head space especially if your adding additional ingredients like fruit. Like most brewers the barrels can be topped off with fresh wort as the beer evaporates and soaks into the wood. 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 their award winning whiskey.
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 proiles of most homebrew equipment, ingredients and 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.
My all-time favorite homebrewing book is this classic by Randy Mosher that will not only school you on the history of brewing but goes into all sorts of ancient and exotic beers and brewing techniques. If your curious about some of the crazier beers being made like Dogfish Head’s historically ancient ale recreations or even wild experiments like Portland’s Breakside Brewery is doing than 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.
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. Designed to be setup like a filter in line from a corny keg to the tap.
Once you understand the basics of homebrewing and fermentation your 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. Weather your fermenting in a cold basement or garage or your 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.
Take your homebrewed IPA’s and other hoppy beer to the next level like the pros do. The HopRocket™ can be used as a Randall like the one featured above but is better used as a Hop Back for brewing. Most pro-breweries, especially ones that excel in hoppy beer have a Hop Back 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 while hot but not boiling 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.
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 Ales” 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.
If your homebrewing and bottling all of your beers but want to move up to kegging but perhaps dont 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 you use tiny gas cartridges for pressure so you don’t need line going to a heavy gas tank or your own dedicated beer refrigerator anymore.