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Old 02-21-2011, 09:43 PM   #1
wineGuyMakinBeer
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Default My Technique: As Simple as Possible

Greetings All,

I new to this forum as far as posting goes but have been reading and educating myself on the posts here for about a month now. First off, thanks to everyone for all the great infomation posted in this forum. Now, here's my story...

I have been making wine since I can remember. It's something thats been in my family for a long time. I have learned from my father and clearly remember making wine with my grandfather at a very young age. A couple of years ago I made friends with a home brewer. We started exchaning my wines for his beer and even started helping each other in our winemaking / brewing sessions. It's been REALLY fun and I have learned a lot about making beer.

So, a couple of months ago I decided that I wanted to make my own beer from what I have learnred with my friend. I realized that a lot of the equipment I have from winemaking could be used to make beer also. However, the addional equpiment I would need was:

- Star San sanitiser
- Mash Tun Vessel
- Burner / Kettle
- Wort Chiller

Other things such as fermenters, tubing, blow offs I already have from making wine. I quickly realized that the above three things could get expensive and was willing to take the risk of having a lesser quality beer to save me money. Here's what I did:

- Star San sanitiser: A lot of homebrewers seem to swear by this stuff, including my friend. In winemaking I have only used saltwater with iodized salt and have never had an infection or off flavors when properly flushed. I was willing to cut this little expense out and use the regular old saltwater that I have for years. Moreso than the little bit of savings, it was just more convient to buy. problem solved.

- Mash Tun Vessel: There was plenty of infomation on this here. I decided to stick with what I was taught and do batch sparge. I simply followed the many posts here and did the old rectagular cooler / SS braid method. The whole ordeal came to about 60 dollars. problem solved.

- Burner / Kettle: The burners and kettles sold by homebrew stores are insanely priced. I went to the hardware store and bought a turkey fryer for 60 dollars. It also came with a thermometer. problem solved.


- Wort Chiller: I couldnt find a decent wort chiller for under 60 dollars and didn't want to go through the hassle of making one myself. This put me off for a while. Then, I came across the idea of no-chill brewing from reading the forum here. Seemed brilliant and was exactly what I was looking for. I then bought a used soda keg for 30 dollars and figured I'd no-chill in that. Chilling always seemed to be the least desireable part of the brew day anyhow and why waste all that water. problem solved.

Total cost? I don't have exact recipts, but about $150 bucks. What was the outcome? A very nice basic pale ale. I used the same recipie as my firends pale ale but only with my new simplified setup and the only difference is that mine seems hopier. After a day of no-chilling I siphoned the wort from the keg to one of my glass wine fermenters and all was well. I figured there is probably room for contamination there but then again, my wines sit unfermemted for days with no issues and they arent even boiled. What the hell.

What's my point? Well, first off to again thank the contributers on here for posting good information. Second, to see if anyone can tell me if they forsee any issues with what I'm doing. Also, maybe this could help some newbies like me that feel overwhelmed with all the expenses?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting or saying that all the fancy equiptment out there is unnessasary. I'm just saying that sometimes you have to make do with what you have. This is what I did, this is my story, and this is my first homebrew that happened to turn out very well. Thanks again. Cheers!

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Old 02-22-2011, 01:44 AM   #2
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Hey wGMB, welcome to HBT!

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Old 02-22-2011, 02:34 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wineGuyMakinBeer View Post

- Star San sanitiser: A lot of homebrewers seem to swear by this stuff, including my friend. In winemaking I have only used saltwater with iodized salt and have never had an infection or off flavors when properly flushed. I was willing to cut this little expense out and use the regular old saltwater that I have for years. Moreso than the little bit of savings, it was just more convient to buy. problem solved.

Second, to see if anyone can tell me if they forsee any issues with what I'm doing.
Trying to save a few bucks by not buying a quality sanitizing product is false economy. Using your cheapskate saltwater technique is asking for trouble as far as brewing goes. Wine is much more forgiving in the sanitation department than beer. Spend the pennies per batch it will cost you to use a proper sanitizer and your beer will thank you.
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Old 02-22-2011, 02:11 PM   #4
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I've been brewing for a while now. I started off being total anal about cleaning. Then read a post on here about a brewer who was just really clean about things and didn't go to all those mass efforts to sanitize. I tried that method, and never looked back. I'm an extract brewer and keg. I use a stainless still 5 gallon pot for brewing. I even have a wort chiller I made and don't use it anymore. This is what I do. Brew as you normally do. When finished, I pour about 1/2 gallon of wort into the primary bucket, then swash it around pretty good to make sure the hot wort had contact with every square inch of the bucket. I put the pot in the sink with cold water around it. Usually chills the remaining wort in about 20 minutes. Dump that all into the primary bucket and fill with cold water. Pitching temp's are good. After racking, I just clean the primary bucket with a sponge, no soap and then repeat the process above when making brew. I think the high wort temperatures acts like a sterilizer for the wort bucket. The kegs, I clean one of them while brewing and rack the brew off of the primary bucket into one as soon as I'm done cleaning it. I clean them with just hot water and make sure it comes into contact with everything inside the keg. I know, some here will laugh at that technique, but after 20 or so brews done that way, I have yet have one get infected and they have all tasted great. Saves me a ton of time. You could also try some of those no boil kits. I went that way for a while and they were alright if you add some stuff to it like more DME and lactose...I'm a malt head and prefer sweeter brews as opposed to hoppy ones.

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Old 02-22-2011, 03:26 PM   #5
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I paid 59$ for a turkey fryer and pot and 5$ for a bag to brew into. I might have around 30$ in fermenters (two used carboys that do not see use anymore and a couple of buckets) and 20$ in various parts (tubing, bottling wand, etc.). It's certainly doable to do this on the cheap. Most of my recipes cost about 15-18$ to make since I very rarely brew anything over 1.045 or with a lot of hops in it. I use bleach to sanitize.

I can't see me bothering to build a mashtun anytime soon. My process has been streamlined to the absolute minimum imho and most brew days are 3-4 hours long.

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Old 02-22-2011, 03:58 PM   #6
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About the same time here, except the no boil kits. I can get done from start to finish in about an hour.

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Old 02-22-2011, 04:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigEd View Post
Trying to save a few bucks by not buying a quality sanitizing product is false economy. Using your cheapskate saltwater technique is asking for trouble as far as brewing goes. Wine is much more forgiving in the sanitation department than beer. Spend the pennies per batch it will cost you to use a proper sanitizer and your beer will thank you.
use your "cheapskate" saltwater and ENJOY! it's up to you. welcome to the board and you're correct there's tons of good info here if you can weed through the crap.
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Old 02-22-2011, 04:38 PM   #8
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I agree that good cleaning is a big fraction of 'clean enough' for brewing. But sanitizing is so easy I guess I don't see a good risk:reward ratio. Starsan is not cheap, but if you make it with distilled/RO water it can be reused over and over and over and over and...

I used bleach for years and the thing that got me interested in Starsan was the fact that I no longer have to rinse. I was wasting a LOT of water just rinsing the bleach out (not to mention dumping the bleach water down the drain as well). Brewing uses a ton of water anyway so cutting back on wasted water seemed like a good thing to do.

I also use PBW which isn't cheap but I reuse that as well.

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Old 02-22-2011, 07:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigEd View Post
Trying to save a few bucks by not buying a quality sanitizing product is false economy. Using your cheapskate saltwater technique is asking for trouble as far as brewing goes. Wine is much more forgiving in the sanitation department than beer. Spend the pennies per batch it will cost you to use a proper sanitizer and your beer will thank you.
Thanks for the advice. Out of curiosity though, why is wine more forgiving as far as sanitation goes?
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Old 02-22-2011, 10:27 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice. Out of curiosity though, why is wine more forgiving as far as sanitation goes?

Wine has more alcohol and lower pH. Old school wine making techniques are a sure way to infected beer.
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