Brewing Tips for the Cheap Home Brewer


Who needs fancy shmancy equipment?


Tip 1 - home made aerator

  • Replaces: oxygen tank and air stone, or shaking the hell out of your carboy
  • Cost: < $1

The aerator is just a 15 cm piece of copper tubing (3/8" OD) with a series of small holes drilled in it, and a slight bend in the middle. The aerator is inserted in the racking tube / transfer hose, with the holes near the top of the pipe (not near the end). When the cooled wort is transferred to the fermenter, air is sucked into the pipe, and the wort is oxygenated. Check out the foam in the carboy in this picture. I've had excellent results (fast starts, good attenuation) with this method.

The bend ensures that you can sit the aerator on the mouth of the carboy and it won't fall in.

Tip 2 - frozen starter

  • Replaces: canning, DME starters
  • Cost: $0

When brewing lighter beers, try increasing your recipe by a few litres. The extra wort can be frozen in small and medium plastic containers for cheap, easy starters. Just be sure to boil the frozen wort at least 20 minutes before using to kill any nasties!

This method is way easier and safer than canning wort, and cheaper than buying DME and making fresh starter wort before every brew.


Tip 3 - lager box

  • Replaces: freezer / refrigerator with temperature controller
  • Cost: $8

This is a single piece of 8x4 styrofoam insulation duct taped to form three sides of a cube against an outside corner.  The corner faces north, and is next to a draughty window. 

It stays between 40F and 55F in the fall and winter, depending on the temperature outside.

See my "Brewing inside with 2 small pots" essay for a few more photos of the lager box.



Tip 4 - bottle filler

  • Replaces: counter-pressure bottle filler
  • Cost: less than $1

This is a short piece of 3/16" ID racking hose with a small bung on it. The hose will fit snugly into a cobra tap.

To fill a bottle, chill the bottle to as cold, or colder than the beer, and ensure the beer is slightly more carbonated than you want it. Insert the hose into the tap, and then the hose into the bottle so the bung is snug. Start filling. The pressure in the bottle will quickly equilize, at which point you use your thumb to put pressure on one side of the bung to release bottle pressure. The beer will slowly fill the bottle. Cap as quickly as possible.

It sounds complicated, but it isn't.