If you’re reading this blog, it is likely that you and/or someone you know brews their own beer. Brewing beer is a hobby that has endless “upgrade” possibilities. You can move from extract to all-grain, brew full 5-gallon or 10-gallon batches, convert from propane to electric, increase the size of your fermentors, add fermentation temperature control, etc. But most of these upgrades are expensive and aren’t really great gift ideas. So, what are some less-expensive, but super-useful gifts and gadgets that you can grab as gifts for your favorite homebrewer?
I’ve put together a list of brewing-related items that would make GREAT gifts for any occasion. Everything on the list below costs less than $50, and in most cases, less than $25. While this list isn’t extensive, it’s a great starting point when shopping for homebrew gifts. For all of the items on the list, I have provided links to where you can purchase them online, but I would also recommend checking out your local homebrew store, as most of these things can be purchased locally as well.
1. Brewing Books
If your homebrewer is anything like me, then they enjoy learning about brewing as much as they enjoy brewing. Give them the gift of knowledge, and they’ll reward you by brewing better beer! Here are a few books that I would personally recommend:
How To Brew by John Palmer
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian
Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels
Brewing Classic Styles by John Palmer & Jamil Zainasheff
The Homebrewer’s Garden by Dennis Fisher (if they are interested in growing their own hops or grains)
For the Love of Hops by Stan Hieronymus (new release!)
IPA by Mitch Steele (new release!)
Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation by Jamil Zainasheff
2. Stainless Steel Mash Paddle and/or Spoon
Most homebrewers don’t put much thought into their stirring utensils when buying brewing equipment, which is why most are stirring their mash and/or their kettle with cheap flimsy plastic spoons and mash paddles. These are hard to clean and hard to use. Why not help them out by upgrading to a high-quality stainless mash paddle or spoon. Wooden mash paddles are also very nice and can even be customized. Here are some links:
Stainless Steel Spoon $6.25
Stainless Steel Mash Paddle $34.95
Wooden Mash Paddle (on sale!) $16
3. Instant Read Digital Thermometer
Temperature is a very important aspect of brewing, and your brewer will know you care about the details when you give them a thermometer. Dial thermometers can be slow and inaccurate, but a quick-read digital thermometer will provide fast and accurate results.
KM14 Pocket Digital Thermometer $19.99
Digital Thermometer with Alert $29.95
12″ Digital Thermometer $39.99
4. More fermentors
If you want your homebrewer to give you more beer, you need to help him or her increase fermentation capacity. That can be as easy as a new additional fermentor. Plastic buckets, glass carboys and PET plastic Better Bottles will all do the trick:
6 Gallon Plastic Bucket $11.95
6.5 Gallon Glass Carboy $39.99
6 Gallon Better Bottle Carboy $26
5. Bottle Cleaner and Drying TreeCleaning, sanitizing and drying bottles can be a pain, but having an easy way to efficiently sanitize and dry them can make this pain much more bearable. A bottle drying tree and an attached sanitizer injector is definitely the way to go!
Bottle Drying Tree $18.50
Sanitizer injector for Bottle Drying Tree $18.95
6. Fermentation lid for kegs
If your homebrew is already kegging his/her brew, then they might also enjoy the capability of fermenting in their corny kegs as well. With this lid, they can use any of their kegs as secondary fermenting vessels to take up less floor space than a bucket, carboy, or better bottle. Then, they can swap out the lid for a regular lid whenever they are ready to serve.
Cornelious Keg Lid for Secondary Fermenter $15.99 (on sale for $8!)
7. Oxygenation System
One of the best things any homebrewer can do to increase the quality of their beer is to invest in an oxygen system. This system allows for a healthy yeast growth phase, and healthy yeast produce better beer. This item is (slightly) over $50, but I thought it was worth including because it can have a dramatic impact on the quality of your beer
Williams Oxygen Aeration System $54.90
8. Cornelious Kegs
If your homebrewer kegs his/her brew, then they are likely always in the market for some extra kegs. However, these 5-gallon soda kegs sell at a premium, so keep your eyes out for a sale. And find out if your brewer has a preference between ball-lock kegs and pin-lock kegs. They have different connections, and are shaped slightly differently, so some folks try to stick to only one type, while others use a combination of the two.
5 Gallon Pin Lock Keg $39.99
5 Gallon Ball Lock Keg $44.99
9. Erlenmeyer Flask & Yeast Starter Kit
As mentioned previously, having a good healthy crop of yeast will always improve your brew, so if your brewer is not yet making yeast starters to get the yeast multiplying prior to pitching, then consider giving them the kick in the pants they need – a 2000 mL Erlenmeyer flask along with some malt extract and yeast nutrient, everything they need to make great yeast starters for all of their brews.
Erlenmeyer Flask & Yeast Starter Kit $21.95
The item most often dropped or broken in any brewery has to be the hydrometer. This thin little piece of metal is crucial to measuring the amount of alcohol in your beer, but it is quite fragile, so it’s always good to have a spare. Even if your brewer already has one of these, they will always appreciate having extras!
Triple Scale Wine and Beer Hydrometer $6.99
11. Cleaner and Sanitizer
Any brewer will tell you that 80% of what they do is cleaning and sanitizing (the other 20% is split fairly equally between drinking and brewing). Having a good stock of cleaners and sanitizers is a must for any home brewery. Below are a couple of my favorite products for cleaning and sanitizing. There are bunches of options, but these are tried and true and I always keep them around.
PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) 1 lb $6.95 (4 lbs $22.50)
StarSan Sanitizer $7.99 – $15.99 (8 oz – 32 oz)
12. Brewing lessons – Homebrew Academy
If you want to really help your favorite brewer up his/her game to the next level, consider purchasing them the gift of knowledge. Billy Broas runs a great program and any level of homebrewer can benefit from his programs, from the beginner to the more advanced. His online classes are great and I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in learning techniques from a real expert.
LAST RESORT: Gift Certificates
If you simply can’t decide or just don’t know what it is that your homebrewer wants, then you can always opt for the gift card. Odds are that they have a list of things that they would like to buy, so a gift card will usually work out just fine. I would recommend purchasing a gift card to your local homebrew shop or one of the online retailers below. These guys are great, and anytime you make a purchase from them via these links, they send a percentage of the sale back to me to help keep the blog up and running!
Adventures in Homebrewing