So if you’re like me then you got a Mr. Beer homebrew kit as a gift. You brewed your first batch of #craftbeer and made a decent drinkable beer. Now you want to brew again, but are wondering if there’s anything else that you need to order along with your next batch of ingredients. I was in the same boat, so I asked a lot of questions and came up with the essential upgrades for a new Mr. Beer brewer.
- New Spigot and Bottling wand – Depending on when you got your Mr. Beer kit, you may have the old style spigot with the push release. After holding that dang push button over and over on your first bottle day you and your numb thumb know what I’m talking about. Replace that push button with a twist valve. The valve replacement from Mr. Beer is only about $3. Or you can do like I did and get the combo with the bottling wand for less than $6. The bottle wand attaches to the twist spigot on the Little Brown Keg (LBK) and makes filling bottles on bottling day so much simpler. It fills from the bottom of the bottle, helps to avoid aeration, and simplifies your bottling day. It’s a cheap upgrade and well worth it.
- Thermometer – A sticker thermometer on the LBK helps to minimize the guesswork. On brew day it lets you know when the wort is at the proper pitching temp before adding your yeast. During fermentation it helps you to monitor your temperature so you can be sure that you are staying within the yeasts active range. Like GI Joe says, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”
- Hydrometer– This cool tool measures the specific gravity of liquid. Not only is it helpful and informative, it also makes you feel like a mad scientist. See last weeks article for more on hydrometers.
The spigot replacement avoids numb thumb, the bottling wand simplifies bottling day, the thermometer helps you make better decisions, and the hydrometer makes you look and feel like a mad scientist. All of these are available on the Mr. Beer website. You can also go to your local home-brew shop (LHBS) and see what they have for you. My shop had the stick-on thermometers and hydrometer, (both were a bit more expensive than online). Since I needed to order refills and replace the spigot anyway, and because shipping is only $7.95, I just ordered everything from Mr. Beer and filled up the box.
Is that all?
Well, those are the essential initial upgrades. As you progress with your home brewing you’ll find there are lots of other things you can acquire, upgrade, and replace. I just wanted to keep this list simple and short.
As they say in the Mr. Beer forums…
(Relax, Don’t Worry, Have A Home Brew)