Putting Together a “Brew Day Box”
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Why a Brew Day Box?
Over the years I’ve homebrewed, I’ve utilized a number of storage and organization strategies. Some could be defined less as strategies and more as “piles”. These strategies have ranged from, cardboard boxes, to big totes that I threw everything under the sun into to using smaller shoe box size containers and breaking everything out into categories. The shoe box size organization method has worked well and other than a few large totes for bigger items, it’s what I’ve settled on. At some point after going to that, I realized that when brew day rolled around, I had to collect items from a number of these containers. I usually forgot something and had to look around, multiple times per brew day trying to find whatever I needed. That evolved into putting together a container just for brew days. I cleverly 🙂 call that my “Brew Day Box”. This container houses nearly all the small odds and ends that I use when brewing. I’ve also tried to make sure those things don’t really need removed at other times. For example I use a refractometer regularly, not just on brew day, so… I bought another refractometer. Everything that’s in my Brew Day Box generally… stay in my Brew Day Box. This keeps everything in one place and I’m not wasting time trying to find stuff when I should be brewing.
What’s in the Box?
The whole lineup
#1 – Five Stainless Steel Prep Cups. I use these for portioning hops and other boil additions. These are a great size and they nest to save space in the box. Search Amazon for “stainless steel sauce cups” to see what’s available. I would look for something in the 2.5 to 3 ounce range.
#2 – 500 mL Polypropylene Lab Containers – via Amazon. This 500 mL lab grade bottle is safe at boiling temps, it’s also autoclave and microwave friendly. I use this container for rehydrating yeast. Check out the Tips Page (tip #1) for my technique on that. I use dry yeast enough that I wanted this in my brew day box. My brew day refractometer also fits in this, so it saves some space and protects that piece of equipment. Search Amazon for “Polypropylene Lab Bottles” to see what options are available, Some things to look for – proper temp ratings, use of food safe materials and microwaveable.
#3 – An inexpensive lighter from the dollar store
#4 – Teflon Tape for weldless fittings
#5 – Messermeister 8-Inch Take-Apart Kitchen Scissors – via Amazon. This come apart for easy cleaning and sanitizing and have a built in bottle opener. Check out my Hands on Review of these great scissors
#6 CDN DTQ450X Digital ProAccurate Instant-Read Thermometer-NSF Certified – via Amazon. Check out my Hands on Review of this great thermometer.
#7 – KitchenArt Plastic Adjust-a-Tablespoon – via Amazon. I use a measuring spoon for measuring yeast nutrient additions and other boil additions. This is another space saver. I wanted to easily fit everything in one shoe size box. At one point, I kept an entire set of measuring spoons in the box. This replaced that whole set.
#8 – Fast Weigh Digital Pocket Scale – Gram Scale is great for measuring hops and other boil additions. I’ve found it to be very accurate and it’s a great size. Check out my Hands on Review – Here. Note: The pictured scale is the FastWeigh MS-500. I think that is since out of production. Consider this great scale: Model AWS-100 Digital Gram Scale – Hands on Review
#9 – Taylor Precision Products Four-Event Kitchen Timer with Whiteboard – This allows me to time up to four hop additions and also has a handy white board for noting what hops go in when.
#10 – Leatherman – Wingman Multitool, Stainless Steel – via Amazon. Another great bang for the buck with regards to space. This thing is really well made and includes lots of features including pliers, wire cutters a knife, screwdrivers, a bottle opener and lots more.
#11 Dual Scale Refractometer. Refractometers use a sample size of just a few drops and (with the use of a calculator) can be used to measure gravity throughout the brewing process. Search Amazon for “digital brix refractometer” to compare prices and see what models are currently available.
#12 IRWIN 2051100 9-in-1 Multi-Tool Screwdriver – via Amazon. This is a handy screwdriver that gives you a lot of functions for the space.
The nut driver (basically the shaft of the screwdriver) works on compatible worm type tubing clamps
13 – 6.5 Quart Storage Boxes. I use the pictured model (FG3Q3100CLCBL via Wal-Mart) but lots of similar containers are available. I use this for my Brew Day Box and use dozens more in and around my home brewery for storage and organization. Search Amazon for 6.5 quart storage boxes – to see what’s available. I suggest looking for a model with clear sides so you can easily see contents.
Top View – Everything Loaded in the Box
A Huge Time Saver!
My Brew Day box has been a big time saver, making brew days easier with less looking around for stuff and resulting frustration. Having most of the small stuff in one spot makes the brew day go more smoothly. I recommend putting something like this together.
Make it Your Own!
I’ve detailed the general contents of my Brew Day Box, but you should make yours your own. Some suggestions and searches are below. No matter what you choose to include, the important thing is that you have what you need ready to use when you need it.
- Search Amazon for 6.5 quart storage boxes – to see what’s available. I suggest looking for a model with clear sides so you can easily see contents.
- Search Amazon for “stainless steel sauce cups” – I suggest something in the 2.5 to 3 ounce size range
- Search Amazon for “Polypropylene Lab Bottles” to see what options are available, Some things to look for – proper temp ratings, use of food safe materials and microwaveable.
- Messermeister 8-Inch Take-Apart Kitchen Scissors
- CDN DTQ450X Digital ProAccurate Instant-Read Thermometer-NSF Certified – search Amazon for “digital kitchen thermometer”
- KitchenArt Plastic Adjust-a-Tablespoon
- Fast Weigh Digital Pocket Scale – Search Amazon for “Digital Gram Scale”
- Taylor Precision Products Four-Event Kitchen Timer with Whiteboard
- Leatherman – Wingman Multitool, Stainless Steel – search Amazon for “multitool”
- Search Amazon for “digital brix refractometer
- IRWIN 2051100 9-in-1 Multi-Tool Screwdriver
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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application. Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application. Always read and follow manufacturer directions. toppost:brewdaybox rp:tips#27 tag:tpr
Can you do an article about refractometers?
The internet’s consensus is you can use them for starting gravity but they are useless one fermentation starts.
Is that true or have you found otherwise?
Hey Duke! You can use refractometers after fermentation has started with the aid of a calculator. My spreadsheet has a calculator you can use.
I know this is a super old post but I was wondering if you know of an alternative for the
BEL-ART 500 ML Containers.
I need something like that but I don’t want to buy 12 of them. Thanks!
You can find them from time to time as singles, or at least similar bottles available as singles. I did a little bit of looking just now, I didn’t find anything. 12 is a bit of an investment, but they should last you a long time. I think I’ve used (and am still using) 4 of the original 12 I bought. Cheers!
The United Scientific ones seem to be comparable, including the same UNSPSC code.
Agreed, refractometers are great for checking Brix on grapes in the field or wort from the mash tun, but once fermentation starts, you still need the hydrometer. The alcohol throws off the Brix readings on the refractometer. With wines, a refractometer will read about 7 brix when an initially 20 brix must is fermented to dryness, which will read on a hydrometer at 0.997. Wort will behave in a similar manner.
Organization definitely makes a brew day go more smoothly. I put together a brew-day rubbermaid tub for brewing and now I have more time to drink beer instead of looking all over my basement for things I need.
I also put a box together for kegging that includes wrenches, sockets, keg lube, cleaner and sanitizer, extra keg components (poppits, O-rings), etc … that I break out when working with kegs or the keggerator.
My brewday box is one of the Rubbermaid bus tubs you have recommended many times. In addition to what you list, I also keep:
-Water adjustment stuff
-2 alumnium 2-quart pitchers (another great rec from HBF)
-Stainless and plastic spoons
-Hop spider and bags
-Spray bottle of sanitizer
All of the stuff in small bottles (the water and boil additions) fit nicely in an empty six-pack holder.
I’m planning to brew sometime this weekend, so I’ll try to remember to take a picture at some point. I’ll post it on the HBF Facebook page.
thanks for the post! I now have to assemble something like this. Also, I just ordered two refractometers from our link 🙂
Thanks Jon! Agreed on the refractometer. It’s a great tool!