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Old 12-11-2010, 07:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forty_caliber View Post
Here is the best bit of advice I ever got on the subject:

Let me know if you want to give this a try and what your budget is.

.40
It's awesome to have people who know what they are doing around. Honestly, I'm sure I would have come out a bit cheaper if I had not purchased the kit. Fortunately, it was a basic kit, so I used everything that was in it. In retrospect, I would have preferred to make smaller batches and more of different types of wine. Next year!
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Old 12-11-2010, 07:40 PM   #22
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Awesome, thanks everyone!

niquejim, thanks for those links, especially the one close to me.

40, I want to keep the cost as low as possible to begin with. I would say a good starting figure would be $100 and we can work up or down from there. And no, I would never buy a Mr. Beer kit. Something tells me that if they sell it in Bed Bath and Beyond then it is not good drinks.
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Old 12-12-2010, 01:39 AM   #23
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$100 is barely enough to brew a basic "extract only" batch. Probably should budget around $300 to start. $500 would get decent equipment to brew competition quality "partial mash". A "full mash" setup could easily run in the thousands. Home-brewing is really all about quality not quantity and more expensive per serving than store bought every time.

What do you want to make?

Ale
Lager
Stout
Bock
Barley Wine

Some types can take longer to make than others and vary in complexity. Ale's are the easiest by far. Styles are defined specifically by ingredients, (barley, hops, and yeast) specific gravity (alcohol content), and color. Color is measured on the Lovibond scale. Darker colors are achieved by toasting the barley to different degrees of brownness.

Without getting too picky on getting the color and alcohol content just right your first batch ale could be brewed on the 1st of the month, bottled on the 7th, and drinkable on the 14th. It would be much more drinkable if allowed to mellow in the pantry for a month.

Lagers (Bud, Miller, etc) on the other hand could take 60 or more days and require careful temperature control. Lager is a german word referring storage.

Barley Wine is the highest alcohol content style and most difficult. It takes a year to brew properly and should cure in the bottle for at least another year. It's very aromatic and heady and similar to a cognac or brandy.

.40
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:23 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB View Post
Awesome, thanks everyone!

niquejim, thanks for those links, especially the one close to me.

40, I want to keep the cost as low as possible to begin with. I would say a good starting figure would be $100 and we can work up or down from there. And no, I would never buy a Mr. Beer kit. Something tells me that if they sell it in Bed Bath and Beyond then it is not good drinks.
At the risk of sounding like an amateur (which I am!!!), my brother-in-law started with a Mr. Beer kit that he had received as a holiday present from his children. It taught him the process of making beer. Nothing more or less. The kit had an addition that one could purchase to make different kinds of beer. He found that he enjoyed the process and wanted to make more. At this point, he had a decent idea of what he wanted to purchase and what kinds of beer he wanted to make. The following year, at Christmas, the entire familyl bought different things from his wish list and now he has a pretty nice set up.

I was rather happy buying a kit (that is definitely a huge step-up from a Mr. Beer kit) when I started considering to make my wine. My initial cost was around $100 and I probably spent another $30 for cleaning supplies and ingredients. My big cost was ironically bottles, which I spent around $45 bucks. Keep in mind that I was someone who did not know enough about wine-making to even know what questions to ask.

Kits are helpful in that they give you steps and ingredients, then you can "backwards-map" to find out what each step and ingredients do and why. Also, while I'm definitely now hooked on wine-making as a hobby, I went into it unsure if it was something I would really like doing. I was more than willing to gamble $100-200 to test the waters. Beyond that, I have a sailboat habit that always needs items.

One last thing about my kit: I'll use everything in it again. I will likely "upgrade" everything over time.

~Kathleen


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Old 12-12-2010, 11:21 AM   #25
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Here is a decent starting kit.

Midwest Supplies - Brewing Intermediate Kit w/Two 5 Gallon Glass Carboys

and

Midwest Supplies - Equipment Upgrade Kit Two

In addition to these items..to really do this right, you also need a 6 gallon stainless steel stock pot with a heavy bottom and a way to boil 5 gallons of liquid.

A propane turkey frying burner works pretty well to provide the heat but the pot that comes with them is usually too small and thin. While technically possible to concentrate the wort in a smaller pot on the stove and diluting with plain water in the fermenter. Boiling all the water with the ingredients together works best and helps reduce oxidation.

Oxidation is only one of the brewers enemies. This occurs when the hot wort is allowed to come in contact with too much oxygen. Gentle stirring without creating bubbles and transferring from the boiler to the fermenter without splashing are key points. Cooling the wort RAPIDLY from 212 degress to 105 - 120 degress before pitching yeast also helps prevent oxidation. This is the reason for the copper coil in the upgrade kit. BTW if oxidation occurs, your beer will taste like cardboard.

Bacteria is another major enemy... for another post.

.40
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:28 AM   #26
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I've brewed for 3 years now. I make some great stuff. A couple of tips, quick and dirty:

search for John Palmer's HOW TO BREW --internet form is available
Buy at least one of the following:
Brewing Classic Styles
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing
Radical Brewing

Finding a local homebrew club is a MUST -- you can ask for tips from people who have done it before and you can get advise on equipment and technique. This will save you hundreds of dollars.

join a forum for brewing:
Beeradvocate.com
homebrewtalk.com

are a couple of good ones.

RDWHAHB --relax, don't worry, hava a home brew :)
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Old 12-18-2010, 03:03 PM   #27
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not sure if this has been said, but its very detailed and is a collaboration of a bunch of books and trys to cover things that alot of the books missed.

How to Brew - By John Palmer
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Old 12-18-2010, 06:35 PM   #28
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Thanks EvoFX.

What do you guys think about this kit?
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Old 12-18-2010, 07:02 PM   #29
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i would go with glass carboys. instead of plastic, but if not atleast a plastic carboy over a bucket. but that is my preference
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Old 12-18-2010, 07:06 PM   #30
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It's your basic $100 "extract only" starter kit. It's a place to start. Add a "recipe kit" and your on your way. Start with a simple ale of your choice.

Have you thought about bottles? You'll need 2 cases of non twist-off bottles about a week after you brew.

Everything...EVERYTHING that touches the wort has to be clean and santitized. This is the most important thing. Making beer is growing yeast. By giving the yeast a warm dark place and lots of food (sugars) they eat and make more yeast. The by-product of this process is alcohol. By maintaining a high level of sanitation only the things you want growing in your beer get a chance.

.40
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