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Old 12-24-2013, 01:10 PM   #11
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Give us one description of your plans in 1 year, 3 years, etc as far as equipment, volumes, styles you would like to brew. If you are brewing multiple times per week, likely 5-gal is the max batch size feasible.

Your original question was the equivalent of what is the cheapest reliable car I can buy...answer is 5 year old Mazda3.

Now you are asking the equivalent of what is the cheapest car to buy when I might be carrying 8 people 2 years from now and the occasional sheet of plywood but I want to get 40 mpg and park in a footprint not much bigger than a Honda Civic (over-dramatic statement intentional).

Cheapest malt is the kind delivered by the freight car to BMC. For you as a homebrewer it is likely sacked grain from a US or Canadian malster by the pallet to a loading dock...preferably to a licensed retailer. Still too much? Strike a deal with the local club to organize a group buy so you can all share a mixed pallet of malt...still need a dock and maybe a license. Still too much? Order from the LHBS 3 sacks of grain that make up 90% of your grain bill then order 5# sacks of specialty grains online from one of the retailers that offer free shipping.

Hops is easy...a lot of online retailers (usually specialty) sell 1# pellets packs and few do 5# bales of whole. Pick three hops and order them 5# at a time. As mentioned the three C's are usually the cheapest but pick the two you like and a more earthy/spicey/resiny hop...Mt Hood is usually inexpensive.

Pick two yeasts and buy full bricks. Too much, buy cases of dry for US05 and S04, etc. Too much and you have more time and plenty of cold storage, start ranching from Wyeast and WL. You will need at least two stir plates and 4L Erlymer flasks.

So there are all levels of "cheap" and volume. Do you need a 40 person bus or a Honda Fit?

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Old 12-24-2013, 05:48 PM   #12
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I plan on brewing on a combination of a 1 gallon kit and the soon to be arriving PicoBrew Machine. The PicoBrew is basically the brewers bread machine all automated quick and easy I will use it for recipe confirmation. I am not so much concerned about costs now as costs when the scale becomes measured in BBL's and not gallons. I want to brew now with that constantly in the back of my mind. That said I want to do some things that to most would be consider blaspheme...I want to perfect using corn and rice along with the malt and make it repeatable...obviously with the equipment I may not be able to make it repeatable to the smallest detail but I can get close. Basically I want to create flavored Budweiser now before everyone bashes me understand that I love craft beer and it's just part of my vision creating a two tiered brew house one cheaper line one using less expensive ingredients but making up for it with creative recipes and one that maybe costs twice as much or more using whatever I want. I figure if I brew 3 times a week using a combination of 1 gallon kit and a PicoBrew I should be able to dial in 3 recipes a year brewing each 50 times and refining it along the way. Hopefully by 3 years time I am beginning to look at locations of a small brew site whether micro or nano it won't matter much if I can create a beer that is cheaper more cost effective while still maintaining flavor. Wheat beers obviously have a fast turn around time, American lager is the standard for many beer companies so somewhere in between that I hope to get about 5 flavors and styles dialed in. I believe that the craft beer market in its quest to deliver amazing beer at spare no expense prices often forgets about the price sensitive beer drinker or people who want quantity over quality...that's ok and that's how you maximize flavors and create better and better beer but to me eventually someone needs to bite the bullet and try to create a product that fills that void.

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Old 12-24-2013, 05:59 PM   #13
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It should also help being a new brewer I want to give myself a box to work in, there are so many many many options when it comes to brewing I think it will strengthen my skills if I say I can only brew with these hops and these malts instead of overwhelming myself with options. Then you know your limits and brew within them, I may know for sure adding some other malts will make it better but I am finding a way to MAXIMIZE flavor with what I can. I want to brew from a cost per pint perspective

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Old 12-24-2013, 06:21 PM   #14
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Decoction is new to me but seems like the main tradeoff is extra work with limited cost for possibly a more complex flavor! That sounds like what I'm going for? Correct me if I'm off base (Still New)

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Old 12-24-2013, 09:36 PM   #15
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OK, not sure I agree with a lot of what you listed but if all you want is someone to tell you your minimum, inexpensive base malts and hops:

Rahr 2-row
Munich light
Crystal/Caramel 30 (Breis or Rahr)
Crystal/Caramel 90 (Breis or Rahr)
Chocolate (no full sacks)
Debittered Black (no full sacks)
Dextrine powder
Flaked corn
Flaked barley
Flaked oats

For hops:

Centennial
Cascade
Mt Hood
Magnum

For Yeast:

S04
US05
Lager yeast of your choice

That will cover 90% of the "basic" beers. Add Roasted Barley and a very dark crystal (special B, English Dark Crystal, etc) and now you have almost all beers but the most traditional English styles, the lightest pilsners and wheat beers.

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Old 12-24-2013, 11:10 PM   #16
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Thanks that is a great starting point for me! Like I said not for everyone but I for one think it will put a fun challenge into a hobby and also perhaps have future commercial applications.

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Old 12-25-2013, 01:59 AM   #17
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The other way to look at it is not to worry about how to minimize commercial costs since that is a year or more away. Focus on making great beers you enjoy now. Just about any style that is low(er) gravity will be less expensive.

Figure out a recipe that works for you. Take one of the highly recommended recipes on here and brew it a few times (I recommend Bee Cave Brewery's Haus Pale Ale). Once you can make it consistently, start experimenting with ingredient changes and different techniques(mash temperatures, decoction, temp control). Change one thing at a time and figure out how to make it better.

The one-gallon system could be a great way to experiment a ton in a short period of time.

Best of luck!

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Old 12-25-2013, 02:31 AM   #18
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OG 1.047

FG 1.013

ABV : 4.47%

IBU : 22.38

SRM : 5.84

BU/GU ratio : 0.47

which is about a blonde ale

for a 11.5 gallon batch which ends up being two full cornys

21 lb German - Vienna

1 oz Perle Pellet 8.2 First Wort

1 oz Perle Pellet 8.2 Boil 20 min

1 oz Perle Pellet 8.2 Boil 5 min

1 oz Perle Pellet 8.2 Boil 3 min

mash at 26 qt Infusion 156 F 60 min

I do a double batch sparge to get 13 gallons for my boil

60 minute boil

washed US-05 at 64 - 66 degrees

costs me about 25 dollars for 2 kegs

nice drinking brew

all the best

S_M

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Old 12-25-2013, 04:11 AM   #19
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That looks like an interesting recipe thanks!

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Old 12-25-2013, 04:13 AM   #20
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I am leaning towards trying to make cream ales and milk stouts as they are my favorite types!

The advantage of cream ales being they often use adjuncts like corn and rice to lighten them already so that could basically solve everything!

Any great cream ale recipes?

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