Gowanus Brewery

Equipment Run Down by Jeremy
November 11, 2007, 5:00 pm
Filed under: brewing, equipment, high gravity

I ordered the two-stage homebrewing equipment kit from High Gravity when I got started last month and I want to just do a quick run down of what was included and my initial impressions.

Here is how HG described the kit:

This is a great kit for brewers already familiar with brewing and want to start with 2-stage fermentation from the beginning. This kit contains everything the Beginner Kit includes, with the addition of a 6 gallon carboy with stopper. 2-stage fermentation results in clearer and better tasting beers. Sediment is left behind in the fermenting bucket, avoiding off flavors and producing a clearer beer.

The kit includes the following:

  • 6.5 Gallon “Ale Pail” Primary Fermenter with Drilled Grommeted Lid
  • 6.5 Gallon “Ale Pail” Bottling Bucket with Bottling Spigot
  • 6 Gallon Glass Carboy
  • Rubber Stopper (Drilled)
  • Airlock
  • Siphon and Bottling Set-up
  • Bucket Clip
  • Hydrometer
  • Liquid Crystal Thermometer
  • Bottle Brush
  • Easy Clean No-Rinse Cleanser
  • Twin Lever Capper
  • Equipment Instructions
  • Home Beermaking Text

Overall, this kit is a good beginner setup and an excellent value, but it has one quirk that tripped me up.

The kit comes with two buckets and one lid and it really should come with either one less bucket or one more lid. Or, better yet, it should come with one less bucket and one more glass carboy. As it is, it’s a kit-and-a-half. It is a standard two-stage fermentation kit with an extra, purposeless bucket, or a standard fermentation kit with a two-batch capacity that’s missing a lid.

Two-stage fermentation is the practice of transferring beer from the primary fermenter to a second vessel partway through fermentation. This does few things, including separating the beer from the waste byproducts and other matter that settle at the bottom of the fermenter during the first few days of fermentation. The beer may be bottled directly from the secondary fermenter or, if desired, it may be transferred back to the now clean primary fermenter. So, this process really only requires two vessels.

You can see above that the one with the lid is the “Primary Fermenter with Drilled Grommeted Lid” and the one with out is the “Bottling Bucket with Bottling Spigot.” Two buckets. One lid, one spigot. These buckets are identical except for the spigot, so the reasoning behind the offering must be that it is better to ferment in a vessel without a spigot, than it is to ferment in a vessel with one. But, I don’t see any drawbacks to fermenting in a bucket with a spigot other than the extra steps involved in cleaning–and keeping clean–the spigot. The inner and outer parts could be cleaned as usual, using perhaps a small pipe cleaner to clean the through portion. Then, to keep the outer part clean, plastic wrap could be wrapped around it and rubber banded in place.

I’ll try this method using the bucket with a spigot for my next batch. If it works out well, I will buy an extra drilled grommeted lid and spigot assembly to convert the bucket I have now that does not have a spigot, plus I will get an extra glass carboy. The new equipment will give me the capacity to brew two batches simultaneously. I know this may seem like overkill, but keep in mind that some beers have to age for months before bottling, locking up precious equipment, which is precisely the situation I’m in now with my California Imperial IPA.