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Old 06-15-2008, 01:41 AM   #1
jeder212
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Default Never brewed, and wondering what is best...

I've just recently got interested in homebrewing, but I don't know of anyone that does it that I can turn to for help. I was wondering what my best options are as far as equipment goes. Should I buy a "kit" that has pretty much everything, or just go buy it all separately? Is there any difference in plastic buckets and the glass carboys? Like I said, all this is new to me, and I'm just doing some research before I go buy anything. Thanks.

Mitch

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Old 06-15-2008, 02:00 AM   #2
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What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

I opted to piece together my own setup. My thinking was that some items in the kit I did not need and some thing I needed were not in the kit. The latter was true. The former, however...well let me just list the things I thought I could do without:

Hydrometer. HA!
Crown cap crimper. I thought I would just use swing tops, now I avoid them. The crown cap is my preferred bottling method.
Carboy. Who cares about clarity? I do now.

I figured why not buy two buckets with spigots instead of one with and one without? This wasn't that bad of an idea but I wanted to avoid siphoning, and failed. I still have and regularly use a siphon.

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Old 06-15-2008, 02:17 AM   #3
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I'd buy an equipment kit. To get started, you can look at these sites (among others) for a beginner's kit of equipment:

MoreBeer
Austin Homebrew Supply
HopTech
Midwest Homebrew

Normally the equipment kits do not come with a brew pot. For partial boil extract with grains, five gallons is nice but you can easily do it in as small as a three gallon (12 quart) pot as well. Just boil water and extract to equal about 2.5 gallons of water and top off. You don't need a secondary fermenter but they are nice to have; personally I prefer the plastic Better Bottle carboys over the glass and I think most of the suppliers will substitute (may affect price, I don't know). But others will (correctly) tell you that with care you can use glass for years without any problems . . . I just worry about the high consequences that might occur should there be a slip with a full glass carboy. You will also need a grain bag for steeping the specialty grains, though you can "brew your own" (pun intended) with a large piece of cheesecloth.


As to what to brew first, I would start with an "extract with grains" ale kit from a homebrew supply house that puts together tried and true recipe ingredients for you. The links below are to the index of recipe kits from some online suppliers:

MoreBeer
Austin Homebrew Supply
HopTech
Midwest Homebrew

Pick an ale that sounds like what you would want to drink and order the recipe kit. You will need a yeast to go with it -- for starting out, order a dry yeast and get a couple of spare packages.

I would also take a look at the site where John Palmer has the first edition of his book How to Brew available online. The first of the links below is for brewing a very simple extract, a Cincinnati Pale Ale. The second link talks about adding specialty grains. You can use whatever ingredients kit you buy and follow the process Palmer outlines.

Extract Recipe
Specialty Grains

The above sections will get you started, but the more of the book you read the more you will understand what you are doing. I would suggest ordering the book as well. It gets you the latest edition and it is handy to have around. The one thing I would ignore in the Palmer specialty grain section is the line on removing the steeped grains: " Remove the grain bag from the pot, giving it a squeeze to drain the excess wort and avoid dripping on the stove." Don't squeeze it; I think doing so can cause harsh tannins to be released into the wort. What I (now) do is to put the grain bag in a strainer that I sit over the brew kettle and let drain for about a minute.

There is also a Homebrewing Wiki here at homebrewtalk.com: Wiki

Lots of information there. And, of course, these forums are great for asking questions.

Last, as well as the above links to online retailers, if you are fortunate enough to have a local home brew supply store you should definitely check it out.

Good luck!

Rick

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Old 06-15-2008, 02:21 AM   #4
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+1 on the very excellent advice that Rick gave you.

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Old 06-15-2008, 03:21 AM   #5
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Thanks for that awsome reply. I've been doing some looking around on the internet, and have come across this kit at Homebrew.com Since I am just begining out, would this be overkill? Also I think instead of the Double Lever Capper, I think I would want a bench capper.

I also have a homebrew shop in North Little Rock, about 40 miles from here, that I plan on visiting the next time I'm up that way, or just when I get a lil exrta time to head up there. Once again, thanks for the advice, and if anyone has anymore, please send it.

Mitch

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Old 06-15-2008, 03:27 AM   #6
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I don't think that kit is overkill. As you will find out, you can't have too many carboys. Bench cappers are nice, but the butterfly capper will work for the vast majority of bottles you'll use.

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Old 06-15-2008, 04:06 AM   #7
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Check out that homebrew supply store before you order online. Many of these kits are very standard equipment, meaning the quality difference from one kit to another is small if there is any at all. They might have the kit you want or something very close, that way you don't pay unnecessary shipping.

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Fermenting:.
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On Tap.........[The Munchner][Spiced Cider][English Cider][Simcoe IPA][Triple Hops Grooved][Cider'n 'gnac]
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Old 06-15-2008, 04:33 AM   #8
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I started out with a deluxe true brew kit about a month ago with 1 primary bucket, one fermenter, a bottling bucket and a 16 quart pot. I now have 2 primaries, 3 carboys and a 7.5 gallon brew pot. Yes I'm officially hooked.

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Old 06-16-2008, 07:38 PM   #9
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Well, went out looking for my LHBS, and found it, about 2 miles from where I work part time at Camp Robinson. Too bad they were closed today, guess I'll have to check them out next time I'm up there in a few days.

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