Beer kits are a great introduction to brewing, and are a way of both saving money and enjoying a great hobby. I brewed from beer kits for many years before moving on to the hard stuff - grain brewing - and had great fun along the way as well as saving a fortune. Many people are perfectly satisfied with the beers they make from kits and have no desire to make the extra investment in equipment needed for other methods - and that's absolutely fine. You can make great beer from a kit if you just know a few tricks of the trade!
The first and most basic of all brewing equipment you will need is a fermenting bin. For a 5 gallon beer kit, you will obviously need at least a 5 gallon fermenter, but a bit bigger is even better, as it allows more space for foaming during fermentation. In fact, most fermenters sold as suitable for 5 gallon brews are more like 5 1/2 to 6 gallons capacity for this very reason.
I recommend getting a fermenter fitted with a tap. They are a bit more expensive, but save you fiddling around with syphon tubing when it comes to transferring your beer to the bottles or keg.
I would recommend using a plastic beer keg. These are ideal for home brewers and save a huge amount of time washing bottles - have a look at the 'Serving' section of the site to get some ideas about the options available.
It's inadvisable to attempt to drink your beer straight out of the fermenter (though in my student days I've tried it!). The beer will be flat and if the sediment in the bottom (the yeast produced during fermentation) gets disturbed, the beer will also be cloudy.
Don't skimp on this essential piece of measuring equipment. For only a few pounds you can gain control over the brewing process and know exactly when your brew is ready to transfer to the keg or bottles.
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