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  1. #1
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    Homebrewing advice...

    I think I am finally going to start homebrewing, but I am not sure where to start. I have done extract brewing once before (mr. Beer kit) but I am interested in all grain brewing to have more control of the specific ingredients. If I buy a deluxe starter kit with a couple carboys, and start with extract brews, that gear will workfor all grain right? I am afraid to start extract brewing, then have to buy a bunch of equipment later to move to all grain which is what I want to do. Any help with my ignorance is appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Get the deluxe kit and go at it. No rush, homebrewing is all about patience. The first few batches you will be anxious to bottle then drink but after that you will relax a bit. Do a partial mash where you steep grains and use extract (powder or liquid). Once you have some experience then move into all grain. Remeber, you can make great beer with extract or all grain, some extracts can turn out better... You won't need to add much to your setup but once you get into it you may want to, just like with MTBing. Talk to the guys at the homebrew store near you and/or join a homebrew forum, lots of info on those.
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  3. #3
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    I'll second the partial mash sentiment, and utilizing a BIAB (brew in a bag) process will allow you to keep equipment procurement to a minimum. No need to try and jump into all-gran 5 gallon full boils.
    If you get a "deluxe" style kit from MoreBeer/Norther Brewer or someplace like that, you'll have everything you need, assuming you have a good sized kettle/pot already.
    Then if you decide to move beyond that to a true all-grain set-up, you'll need to upgrade your kettle/burner combo, and construct a mash tun.
    Start with pre-made partial mash kits, to get your brew-house efficiency and sanitation process in order before playing with original recipes.
    As mentioned...patience, patience, patience! It's key not to rush anything, and RDWHAHB!
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  4. #4
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    If you dont already have a kettle and you foresee yourself going all grain, you will definitely want to get an 8-10 gallon kettle initially. That is something I wish i wouldve done.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by trevor_b View Post
    If you dont already have a kettle and you foresee yourself going all grain, you will definitely want to get an 8-10 gallon kettle initially. That is something I wish i wouldve done.
    If that is the case, try and get used 15 gallon beer kegs.
    I get mine for $35 a pop, and another +/- $20 at the hardware/plumbing store get's me the perfect size all-grain brew kettle/mash tun/HLT.
    That's (in a lot of cases) much cheaper than you can find a good heavy duty SS 8-10G kettle for usually.
    A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. - Winston Churchill

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    Quote Originally Posted by JFryauff View Post
    If that is the case, try and get used 15 gallon beer kegs.
    I get mine for $35 a pop, and another +/- $20 at the hardware/plumbing store get's me the perfect size all-grain brew kettle/mash tun/HLT.
    That's (in a lot of cases) much cheaper than you can find a good heavy duty SS 8-10G kettle for usually.
    Where do you get the keggles for $35? I see them for $100+ on craigslist around here.

    I just threw out that suggestion in case he wanted to start out on the stove top doing mini-mash etc

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by trevor_b View Post
    Where do you get the keggles for $35? I see them for $100+ on craigslist around here.

    I just threw out that suggestion in case he wanted to start out on the stove top doing mini-mash etc
    Understood, I was not trying to under mind your suggestion, just simply relaying information from my personal experience.
    An 8-10 gallon brew kettle is pretty large for a stove top application, unless you're running a gas Viking commercial range I suppose.
    Around here, it is illegal for scrap yards to take SS kegs, due to theft issues...PA
    Also, a lot of the breweries will ship out kegs to distributors, and won't take them back for re-use...again, PA
    So the distributors sell them off to the public for pretty cheap, in the case of one of my locals, $35.
    if you're going to go for 10 gallons, why not get 15.5 gallons for a little bit more, or less as the case may be.
    Cut the top off with an angle grinder, add a spigot...and away we go!
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  8. #8
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    Thanks for all of the suggestions!

  9. #9
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    This site: HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community. Has a wealth of information.
    Extract kits and partial mash kits will be a big step up from Mr. beer. I'd give them a try, you can do partial boils and get away with stovetop brewing.
    As mentioned above, all grain brewing is done with a full boil, where you need to be able to boil 6 1/2 gallons of wort for a typical 5-5 1/2 gallon batch. Aint too many kitchen stoves that will do that. Also, you need a pot with a minimum of 8 gallons capacity.
    I AG brew with a BIAB setup on a turkey fryer with a 8 1/2 gallon aluminum pot. I got the Turkey Fryer (with the pot) off season for something like $35, and I use 5 gallon paint strainer bags from Lowes or Homedepot for grain bags. Makes for a pretty inexpensive AG startup.

  10. #10
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    +1 for partial mash, and all the other advice. Its the next step on your way from extract to all grain, especially from mr.Beer kits. Nothing wrong with mr. beer, but its the chef-boyardee of beer making, great way to get homebrew, but removes a lot of the fun stuff

    I would avoid the Aluminum Pot. Its one of those debated topics in home-brew, and a lot of people say its totally ok, but if you have the cash to fork over for a nice stainless pot, I would suggest doing that.

    I agree with all the prior statements. As Gingerdawg mentioned with the turkey fryer, its also called a "Banjo Burner" think of a big a$$ propane burner that you can use in your garage. This and the big pot are my 2 biggest recommendations to make your brewing experience a lot more enjoyable. Check craigslist, as its the perfect time of year to find one for cheap.

    The two places I order from when i don't get my stuff local:
    Northern Brewer - Home Brewing Supplies and Winemaking Supplies
    Beer Making Kits and Home Brewing Supplies | MoreBeer
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  11. #11
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    My only comment is to remember making beer is like any hobby (take MTB for example). It can be a simple and inexpesive thing. Or, you can get every gadget and shiny metal bit imaginable.

    A brewing kit will be fine - it is the sort of thing that every brewer starts with.

    For perspective:
    To make good beer - all you need is a source of reasonably clean water, grain, hops, something to boil in, yeast, and a bucket (and the bucket is even debatable.)
    To make great beer you need patience and practice.

    [Though, if you are married - just get a turkey fryer and make beer outside. Wives universally hate the mess that is inevitable if you boil in the kitchen. You *will* have a boil over at some point - if it happens in the kitchen, that is bad. ]
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous View Post
    [Though, if you are married - just get a turkey fryer and make beer outside. Wives universally hate the mess that is inevitable if you boil in the kitchen. You *will* have a boil over at some point - if it happens in the kitchen, that is bad. ]
    Unless your wife is into brewing as much as you are , I got lucky
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  13. #13
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    If you're looking to expand your equipment inventory somewhere down the line (used kegs for the mash/sparging), get a keg NOW and drink it. When you "buy" a keg from the store, they require a $10 deposit. You can just keep it when it's empty and add it to your inventory. They're super easy to take apart and clean, and you can find some pretty low-effort videos on how to cut out the tops. Just a thought.

    One thing I also did was read a (small) book about brewing recipes. It goes into some detailed explanation about IBU's and hop/malt ratios and such. It made it super easy for me to go to the homebrew shop and throw some recipes together myself rather than buying a kit. The kits are nice for beginners or for people who don't want to put too much effort into it. Eventually, you'll want to make some clones or your own recipes.

    Once you start brewing on the reg, you can try and cut your costs. One of the easiest ways is to culture yeast. It's super easy and cuts the cost of a batch of brew down by at least $7-$8. But HAVE FUN. That's the best part about brewing. Well, that and the delicious beer.

  14. #14
    Beer Me!
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    OH and you should buy the "bible" of homebrewing:
    How to Brew by John Palmer, this book covers sooooo much information. Worth every penny.
    How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time: John J. Palmer: 9780937381885: Amazon.com: Books
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guerdonian View Post
    Unless your wife is into brewing as much as you are , I got lucky
    Wife is into it... the consumption part anyway. She just really hates the kitchen mess.
    After the first boil over I "had" to upgrade to a brew stand that I could use outdoors.
    She only has 2 rules about beer:
    1) There has to be a dark beer on tap at all times
    2) I can't make beer that sucks.
    I was gonna stop by and see you, but the Jehovas witnesses came by. When they left I started drinking. Voicemail from Paul

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous View Post
    Wife is into it... the consumption part anyway. She just really hates the kitchen mess.
    After the first boil over I "had" to upgrade to a brew stand that I could use outdoors.
    She only has 2 rules about beer:
    1) There has to be a dark beer on tap at all times
    2) I can't make beer that sucks.
    Ha! My wife likes some but not all of my batches and usually leaves for the day when I brew since I am kinda in my own element/zone. I took brewing outside from the start (easier in Southern CA than other places in cold months).. Not only because I started on the side burner of my gas grill but it's just a great time to have some good beers outside while brewing with some tunes on and you can clean it up way easier. The equipment can start piling up too so make sure you have storage out of the wife's sight/way. I haven't visited either of the homebrew forums I am on in awhile, mainly because I am on here more.. glad to see 2 of my hobbies (somewhat) combined in one. I just put some homebrews in the fridge after reading this thread again.
    Quote Originally Posted by CannondaleF9 View Post
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  17. #17
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    I was very into homebrewing for a few years, but have now settled into brewing at a friends house.

    My first setup was quick and easy: propane turkey fryer kit from Home Depot for $45, 6 gallon carboy, homemade copper immersion chiller. Brewing up a citrus wheat:


    Great simple setup, but after a 3-4 extract brews I was ready to do an all-grain setup. I did one partial mash, and it wasn't worth it. It takes about the same amount of time to do all-grain, so I just made the jump. For that setup I just added a 5 gallon drink cooler for the mash tun, a freebie from a friend. I heated the water in the aluminum 7.5g pot, dumped it into the mash tun with grains, drained once, then repeated the whole process (aka batch sparging). I was shocked how easy it was!


    Ferm chamber setup out of an old dorm fridge + plywood + insulation foam + temp controller:



    After a few on this setup, I went completely down the rabbit hole . Kegerator, 10 gallon batches, March pump, counterflow chiller, HUGE ferm chamber. Good times!
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  18. #18
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    Ghetto mobile 2.5 tier? Made the jump to 10 gallon batches on the cheap, with kegs from the scrap yard or craigslist:



    Built my own counter flow chiller:


    Sanke keg fermeters. Pressurized,no lift, transfer direct to kegs is something special...


    Super ghetto "stand" but it worked well and packed up nicely onto shelves in the garage:


    Homemade copper sparge manifold. One of my favorite parts of homebrewing was learning how to build stuff:


    And of course, the most important part of the system...the serving end:
    "Got everything you need?"

  19. #19
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    ^ That's all awesome! Ghetto = good for some things. We live at the beach and have an open carport so the biggest item on my wish list for our next house is a decent sized garage to do what you have going on. Had to convince the wife to let me ditch the queen bed in our spare bedroom downstairs just to make room for all my (partially ours, she has a snowboard and gear) toys and beer equipment. In all fairness the bed was used only a handful of nights per year for drunk friends and the laundry is in a closet down there so it's better off as a utility room.. still, it's no garage. I do have a kegerator on my upstairs patio but still very jealous!
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  20. #20
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    TwoHeadsBrewing -
    how do you like the sanke fermenter kit?
    Been thinking about getting one for a while and can't decide if it is worth picking up....
    I was gonna stop by and see you, but the Jehovas witnesses came by. When they left I started drinking. Voicemail from Paul

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous View Post
    TwoHeadsBrewing -
    how do you like the sanke fermenter kit?
    Been thinking about getting one for a while and can't decide if it is worth picking up....
    Absolutely! It's one of the best upgrades I ever made to my setup. The only drawback is that it's more difficult to clean out than a bucket, and not transparent like a carboy. However, I built a keg washer and given some hot water and PBW it will scour it out nicely in about 20 minutes. About every 5 batches or so, I throw the whole fermenter on my burner and boil a couple gallons of water for 10+ minutes. No only sanitizes it, but comes close to sterilizing. I probably don't need to, but it gives me peace of mind since I can't see everything inside.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/1085378...7699/KegWasher

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoHeadsBrewing View Post
    Absolutely! It's one of the best upgrades I ever made to my setup. The only drawback is that it's more difficult to clean out than a bucket, and not transparent like a carboy. However, I built a keg washer and given some hot water and PBW it will scour it out nicely in about 20 minutes. About every 5 batches or so, I throw the whole fermenter on my burner and boil a couple gallons of water for 10+ minutes. No only sanitizes it, but comes close to sterilizing. I probably don't need to, but it gives me peace of mind since I can't see everything inside.

    Thanks - probably will get one so I have an additional fermenter. My conical is awesome, but there are times when a second fermenter would be handy.
    I was gonna stop by and see you, but the Jehovas witnesses came by. When they left I started drinking. Voicemail from Paul

  23. #23
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    Cool! I just joined the MTBR forum, and what do ya know i do a little home brewing my self! I brewed in college, but since beer is pricey now that i've moved to PA i think ill start again, I also want to make the jump to full grain soon! Does anyone have suggestions of reputable online retailers? No home brew suppliers around here Thanks!

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    I'm specifically looking for equipment to go all grain. I checked out Northernbrewer. com all grain kits, as Guerdonian posted, looks good, although the "kits" appear to be modified Rubbermaid coolers at inflated prices. Might go the indestructible route and make what i need. Any one had luck with making hard cider? The lady keeps asking to brew some hard cider for the chilly nights.

    Thanks!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by GSmedVT View Post
    Cool! I just joined the MTBR forum, and what do ya know i do a little home brewing my self! I brewed in college, but since beer is pricey now that i've moved to PA i think ill start again, I also want to make the jump to full grain soon! Does anyone have suggestions of reputable online retailers? No home brew suppliers around here Thanks!
    Call home brew shops in PA (link below). The interweb is not the only way to get it, if you can't make it to a home brew shop have them send out the goods. I am sure that they would also be more than happy to talk shop with you over the phone if you need help. A lot of the places that send out things on the internet are small mom n' pop shops so I am sure you can get what you need.

    Keystone Homebrew Supply | Brewing Supplies Montgomery County PA | Wine Making Bethlehem PA
    Quote Originally Posted by CannondaleF9 View Post
    You see, I don't have a single brand name in my signature because I know most bike brands and component brands 99%.

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