Here is all the brewing equipment I use along with how it's used, does it work, is it necessary, etc. Any questions click the contact me button at the top of the page and shoot me an e-mail.
6.5 Gallon Ale Pail
This 6.5 Gallon food grade bucket is used for primary mixing of your brew ingredients and initial fermenting. The 6.5 gallon capacity allows you to mix a 5 gallon batch without fear of spilling anything. The handle is sturdy and I've lifted it with a full 5 gallon batch of Honey Mead Must, and the bucke kept its shape and didn't feel like it was going to fail.
Sold separately is the gasketed lid with grometed hole to accept an airlock. The lid snaps on to the Ale Pale and it is a very tight fit. The gasket ensures no air gets in or out where it's not supposed to. The grometed hole holds the airlock firmly and also has an air tight fit.
Overall impression: A high quality food grade bucket with plenty of capcity for my 5 gallon batchs. It looks like it would still have plenty of room to mix a 6 gallon batch without too much trouble.
6 Gallon Better Bottle Carboy
Used as a secondary fermenter.
The PET plastic is touted as light weight and unbreakable - the exact opposite of a glass carboy. It definitely is light - the cardboard box it came in is heavier. Unbreakable? While it is very, very tough and would withstand a fall from a 10 story building empty, I bet if it was full of Mead and I dropped it off my kitchen counter it would split wide open. But I wouldn't be too surprised if it didn't.
Airlock, Plastic Cylinder
I have two of these. It's a water filled trap that keeps the nasty outside air from backing up into the product. There are a few different styles. This plastic cylinder type seems to have a larger water capacity which means less refilling. Also, It breaks down into three pieces for easier cleaning. The parts are:
- A plastic cap with pin holes to vent gas, it also keeps the water (or whatever you want to use as a barrier) from splashing out of the airlock.
- The trap that is like a little inverted cup which creates a gas pocket.
- The main body which is a cup to hold liquid and a plastic tube the trap fits over.
To see the trap in action click here.
Universal Carboy Bung, w/ Hole
This stopper fits most sizes of carboys, plastic or glass. It is drilled to accept standard 1/4" fittings such as airlocks and hoses.
Triple Scale Hydrometer
The hydrometer is used to compare the density, or specific gravity (SG), of a liquid with that of water. Water being 1.000 on the SG scale anything added to water will change its SG. Ingredients such as honey for Mead will increase the SG and will have a value of greater than 1.000 (Mead Must will start at around 1.100 for example). If you add alcohol to water it decreases the SG and will have a value of less than 1.000. An estimate of the amount of alcohol produced can be determined by comparing the original SG (OSG) with the final SG (FSG) of the end product.
My Triple Scale Hydrometers has Specific Gravity, Potential% Alcohol, and Brix scales. Whichever scale you use you still need to take an original reading and a final reading to figure alcohol by volume (ABV).
28" Nylon Spoon, Boil Proof
Just a long assed spoon for reaching to the bottom of the 6.5 gallon pail. Make sure there is enough excess handle sticking out the top to get a good grip. If it's too short you'll be reaching down into the bucket, holding the handle at the end with your fingers and trying to stir. I wouldn't go any shorter than a 28" spoon for a 6.5 gallon bucket.
8" funnel w/ Strainer
It's a funnel.
The strainer is removable and fits on a lip in the funnel to keep it securely in place. It keeps larger debris from contaminating whatever you're pouring into. Removable for easy cleaning.
24" Racking Cane w/ Bucket Clip
Used to siphon liquid from one container to another.
The bucket clip holds the cane to the side of the bucket to free your hands and allows you to adjust the depth of the cane tip to keep it out of the dregs.
4' of food grade hose ensures the siphon bucket is higher than the bucket or carboy you're draining into.
Carboy Bottle Brush
A soft bristle brush for cleaning those hard to reach spots inside a carboy. Actually, all spots in a carboy are hard to reach since the neck is only a couple inches wide.
One Step No Rinse Cleaner
First clean the equipment with warm soapy water to remove debris and rinse well. THEN clean with the sanitizer.
The sanitizer is not a cleaner, though I'm sure you could use it as such. The point is cleaning and sanitizing should be two separate steps. Sanitizing kills bacteria and natural airborne yeasts that may collect in your container and contaminate your batch.
Yeast food to promote healthy yeast-beasts. Can also be used as a re-starter if your yeast stalls (stops eating). You can tell if your yeast stalls when it stops producing gas.