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Old 01-05-2006, 12:18 PM   #1
m_f
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Default About to start homebrewing

Hi folks!
I've been reading a bit about homebrewing now, including lurking at this site. By now I am ready to start brewing, but I have a couple of questions.

First my ideas:
I've decided that I'll start with 2.5 gal all extract batches. This is roughly half of most of the recipes I've read. I'm partial to this, so I can experiment more, brew more often and gain confidence.

I'll start with a one stage fermentation (+bottle conditioning) for the first couples of batches and then I'll incorporate a secondary. I'll keep away from kits (both for equipement and ingredients), so I have put together a list of equipement to buy this week.

For the primary I am thinking to use a 3.5 gal bucket, but I am having hard time finding it in the stores in my area (still have to check a couple of food and general stores). I do have a brewing supply store pretty close, so I am planning to get most of my stuff from there, except the fermenter.

Now here are the questions:
1) Fermenter: As a last resource: would a 5 gal bucket be too big for the primary? (remember: 2.5 gal is the batch vol.). Anything I should do different?

2) Is there any other inexpensive container that could be used as a primary for a smaller-than-usual batch? (example: at meijer I've seen some plastic water containers that are 2.5 to 3 gal, but don't know about O2 permeability and stuff)

thanks to you all in advance!!!
m_f

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Old 01-05-2006, 12:24 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m_f
Hi folks!
I've been reading a bit about homebrewing now, including lurking at this site. By now I am ready to start brewing, but I have a couple of questions.

First my ideas:
I've decided that I'll start with 2.5 gal all extract batches. This is roughly half of most of the recipes I've read. I'm partial to this, so I can experiment more, brew more often and gain confidence.

I'll start with a one stage fermentation (+bottle conditioning) for the first couples of batches and then I'll incorporate a secondary. I'll keep away from kits (both for equipement and ingredients), so I have put together a list of equipement to buy this week.

For the primary I am thinking to use a 3.5 gal bucket, but I am having hard time finding it in the stores in my area (still have to check a couple of food and general stores). I do have a brewing supply store pretty close, so I am planning to get most of my stuff from there, except the fermenter.

Now here are the questions:
1) Fermenter: As a last resource: would a 5 gal bucket be too big for the primary? (remember: 2.5 gal is the batch vol.). Anything I should do different?

2) Is there any other inexpensive container that could be used as a primary for a smaller-than-usual batch? (example: at meijer I've seen some plastic water containers that are 2.5 to 3 gal, but don't know about O2 permeability and stuff)

thanks to you all in advance!!!
m_f
A 5 gallon bucket should suffice just fine, but if your worried about too much head space then you can convert a 2.5 gallon igloo water cooler by drilling out the top and rigging with a piece of stainless steel pipe, 4 washers, 2 o rings, 1 coupler and a stainless steel close nippel. This will enable you to attach an airlock with a rubber stopper. 1 inch pipe works great. has to be stainless though.
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Old 01-05-2006, 01:06 PM   #3
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I'd go woth the 5g bucket, but the large water containers will work ok. Since you are not using a secondary I'm guessing you won't be aging for any signifigant amount of time so I wouldn't worry to much about O2 permentation. I've used a plastic 5 gal water bottle as a back up secondary with no problems. Don't htink I'd age a barley wine in one though (6 month to a year). If you are really worried about oxidation then buy some ascorbic acid at your lhbs or wine makeing store. Use 1/4 teaspon for 2.5 gal. either add to secondary or right before bottling.

Water conatiners will be food grade. Otherwise any bucket you find you better check the marks to see if it's food grade or not. I can't remember what the marks are but if you do a search you'll find them. Also be wary of what the buckets previously contained.

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Old 01-05-2006, 02:42 PM   #4
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Thanks usmcruz and Denny!

Yep. I am looking for new, plastic food grade containers in the 2.5-3.5 gal volume. I'll see what I can get. Otherwise I'll go with the 5 gal. bucket I saw at the store. The cooler idea is good as well, I'll check it out.

Once I gain confidence I'll try to go with a secondary using a 3 gal glass carboy that is not too expensive. I saw that in a store. But want to start simpler and cheaper for now.

One more question I just remembered: Capping.

I have been collecting 12 oz beer bottles and I have a good number of non-twist off, but I was offered a batch of twist-off. Can a bench or double lever crown capper deal with that?
I mean, can I use a cheap crown capper with twist-off bottles and get a safe seal?

thanks!

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Old 01-05-2006, 03:20 PM   #5
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Go ahead with the larger bucket, it will fill with CO2 rather quickly and protect the ferment. Then you'll be ready for larger batches.

Capping: I don't do it much, but the answer seems to be, maybe. Some cappers can cap some twist-offs some of the time. I'd separate the twist-offs by brand and try one or two before committing an entire batch.

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Old 01-05-2006, 03:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m_f
Thanks usmcruz and Denny!

Yep. I am looking for new, plastic food grade containers in the 2.5-3.5 gal volume. I'll see what I can get. Otherwise I'll go with the 5 gal. bucket I saw at the store. The cooler idea is good as well, I'll check it out.

Once I gain confidence I'll try to go with a secondary using a 3 gal glass carboy that is not too expensive. I saw that in a store. But want to start simpler and cheaper for now.

One more question I just remembered: Capping.

I have been collecting 12 oz beer bottles and I have a good number of non-twist off, but I was offered a batch of twist-off. Can a bench or double lever crown capper deal with that?
I mean, can I use a cheap crown capper with twist-off bottles and get a safe seal?

thanks!
I just ran into this problem with a buddy of mine. Here on guam people like to drink miller light for some reason. They are the twist off's. So I pressure tested the bottles with soda and a alka seltzer tablet. I soaped the cap and no leak. I used my plastic hand capper to cap them. There are people in this forum that have used twist offs for years and no problems, so have at it.
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:43 PM   #7
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i'd go ahead w/ the larger primary bucket. co2 build up from fermentation will take care of the o2 headspace, and you'll end up getting the larger one later. so, i don't think you'll really be saving any money there.

i wouldn't use the twist-off caps, just for peace of mind. no need in risking losing a sixer or 12 pk or homebrew due to that minor detail.

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Old 01-05-2006, 04:33 PM   #8
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Whats it gonna be MF Twist offs or no Twist offs, live dangerously and do the Twist offs. You only live once!!!

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Old 01-05-2006, 05:43 PM   #9
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Thanks again to you all!

I knew that when you ask for opinion you may get some different answers. And yet, all the feedback is so valuable.

I have enough non-twist offs to bottle 2 2.5 gal batches. So I am probably including only a couple of twist offs intermixed with the others in each batch and see what happens.

I'll also try the idea of putting some soda, in the rest of the twist offs, capping and shaking and I'll see how many of them loose preasure. At the end of the day I'll have my own opinion formed LOL


I'll keep you guys posted of my progress (or lack of it )
thanks!

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Old 01-05-2006, 08:48 PM   #10
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Bite the bullet and go for 5 gallon batches!! Come on you know you want to! Peer pressure!!!

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