These days, I am brewing on my own. I use a few different pots for my 'tuns' and boil kettle, I use a wort chiller, I make yeast starters, and I keep my fermenting wort in a closet. My beer turns out alright (some turn out really well), but the brew sessions are often long.
With the aspirations of a more efficient brew day and better beer driving me, I recently sought out the council of a homebrewer that is far more experienced and knowledgeable than I - Michael Tonsmeire (aka
Specifically, I asked him what he would recommend a homebrewer add to their homebrewing setup if they want to improve their homebrewing experience. I also asked him what he thinks is the most important addition a homebrewer can make to their brewing setup.
Michael responded with the following info:
I think early on the most important things to acquire is temperature controlled fermentation. Fermentation is much more important than wort production until you are making very good beers.
Wort chillers fall into the same category since they allow you to pitch at the right temperature.
Mills are a real cost saver if you don't mind buying malt in bulk. Same deal with a vacuum sealer (Food Saver) if you want to buy hops in bulk.
A few things that I put off until recently that have made my brewing life much easier:refractometer (quick easy gravity readings on brew day), and Erlenmeyer flask (quick starters). Not necessary for making good beer, but nice to have.
The advanced stuff (conical fermentor, plate chiller, hop-back, automated mash contols etc.) are fun, but they really aren't necessary to make terrific beer.
After reading Michael's response, I realized that besides a wort chiller, I do not have/utilize temperature controls beyond the thermostat in my home. With this realization in mind, I began searching the internet for a few things I could make/acquire to help control the fermentation temperature of my fermenting wort. It seems that those most surefire way to control your wort is to have a dedicated fridge to which you can add/install a temperature controller (example 1, example 2).
If you do not have a fridge dedicated for fermenting wort, allow me to recommend the a Brew Your Own article on this very subject. Said article can be found here. It covers the a few DIY options as well as some pricey options. It is a good read with some good suggestions.
Also, should you prefer receiving your knowledge via video, Northern Brewer made the video below on controlling fermentation temperature.
NOTE. Mr. Tonsmeire's website is listed below: It contains a lot of great reads and after enjoying a few posts you will want to stop reading and start brewing beer. So, get to his website and start reading!