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Old 12-18-2011, 03:32 PM   #1
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Default Another new guy joins the fray...

Hello Everyone. I wanted to append this post to an existing thread but it may bounce around too much. I'm just looking for some high level advice before I go out and spend some money. I am looking at getting a home brew set up for xmas.

Goals:
My goals are to start as easy as possible and then long term maybe get into all grain. I have always been a great chef and prepare some good spice mixes\rubs and stuff and with my combined love for the bubbly goodness, I'm really excited to have fun brewing.

I'm more than willing to put the time in. I just want to brew some different beers and give some to the family, match some to whatever is coming from the BBQ pit etc.

Production goals are to brew more frequent smaller batches and have a variety on hand (3-4 types). I will start with just one until I get the hang of it, and the timing etc.

Equipt:

Although I want to start simple, I am not interested in Mr Beer. I am thinking of either piecing my own kit together, or just buying a kit at the LHBS. I understand from doing research this will get a bit pricy, but I am ok spending some money up front if it means better quality beer.

Some questions I have (sorry if they have been asked before, I did search :P)

1) Will my gas stove (20 000 btu) do the trick?

2) Why would I use a conical fermenter?

3) Could I get away with running a test batch through my 22qt stock pot? Or do I absolutely need a beer kettle? What is the best way to transfer wort from an everyday stock pot to a fermenting pale? Do I want a false bottom? Any tricks to fab one?

4) Do I go from a wort to fermenting pale to a carboy? Or just from wort --> ferment pale\conical to bottle?

5) When I do get a beer kettle I am looking at decent quality 10 gallon, and from my research so far, am shooting for 5 gal batches. As with most kitchen stuff I have bought, these can get a bit expensive, but I have a decent budget and want to get something that will be around for the long haul. I would even like to brew smaller than 5 gals as I learn. Does the size of the fermenting unit need to be scaled somewhat to the amount of brew I am making? IE can I just brew 2.5 gal and use all my same gear as I would for 5? How many beers does a 5 gallon yield (rough estimate of course).

Again, I am really looking forward to this new hobby!

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Old 12-18-2011, 03:46 PM   #2
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1). Sure that burner is fine.

2) No need for a conical. Many great brews are made using buckets or carboys. There are a lot of opinions on that subject. I use both but still prefer buckets. Conicals are great for when you get into harvesting yeast, but that can easily be done with buckets or carboys also.

3) Sure you use that stock pot. You will not be able to do a full boil but ther a lot of good recipes using a partial boil with top off water.

4) The wort can go directly into the fermenting vessel of your choice. Most just leave it in the primary for the full time. Again do a search, this subject has been debated a ton of times.

5). After you get a few batxhes under your belt you will have q better idea of wht equipment will work for you. If you do go to full boils ther are other things to consider. You will need some way to cool your wort (immersion chiller) Your stockpot will fit in the sink and you cool it in an ice bath. Also if you go to full boils you will probably have to invest in a seperate burner with more BTU's

Welcome to the hobby/addiction. it is a ton of fun with the benefit of getting good beer to drink.

This forum is one great resource. When I started I spent so much time reading stuff on here to learn that my wife called it my beer porn.

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Old 12-18-2011, 04:26 PM   #3
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1) Will my gas stove (20 000 btu) do the trick?

I once did an all grain batch with with my stove as a heat source, 7 gallons of wort. I got it to a boil, barely. Sounds as though you plan to do smaller batches. I think you'll be ok. Experiment with your 22 quart pot with different amounts of water water and find out if you can get it to a boil. If you can get 2-3 gallons up to a boil, you can do 5 gallon batches easily.

2) Why would I use a conical fermenter?

I think it is safe to say most homebrewers do not use conicals. The only reason I know to use one is because it is easier to harvest yeast from them. You will be fine with a plastic bucket.

3) Could I get away with running a test batch through my 22qt stock pot? Or do I absolutely need a beer kettle? What is the best way to transfer wort from an everyday stock pot to a fermenting pale? Do I want a false bottom? Any tricks to fab one?

22qts is 5.5 gallons. You can make a 5 gallon batch of extract. An auto siphon is cheap and a good way to transfer. Of course you could just dump the wort into a bucket leaving most of the sediment behind. I did this the first few batches. You need a false bottom on a mash tun. If you are not doing all grain mashes you do not need a false bottom for anything.

4) Do I go from a wort to fermenting pale to a carboy? Or just from wort --> ferment pale\conical to bottle?

Boil kettle > fermenter > bottle.

Go from the boiler to a bucket or carboy. This would be called the primary fermenter. Some people like to transfer (rack) after a week from the primary fermenter to another bucket/carboy called a secondary fermenter. Believe it or not there is a huge debate about the secondary thing. Personally I and many others do not find it necessary to do a second fermenting vessel and find it advantageous to just ferment in a primary vessel for a 2-3 weeks. There are many threads on HBT about this. Do yourself a favor and just do a primary for your first few brews and read the debates of using a secondary. New brewers are encouraged by kit instructions to use a secondary. I have no idea why. Conical is not a necessity, it's just an expensive fermenter. Once you brew a few batches with a cheap bucket and do some reading on conicals, make your own decision.

5) When I do get a beer kettle I am looking at decent quality 10 gallon, and from my research so far, am shooting for 5 gal batches. As with most kitchen stuff I have bought, these can get a bit expensive, but I have a decent budget and want to get something that will be around for the long haul. I would even like to brew smaller than 5 gals as I learn. Does the size of the fermenting unit need to be scaled somewhat to the amount of brew I am making? IE can I just brew 2.5 gal and use all my same gear as I would for 5? How many beers does a 5 gallon yield (rough estimate of course).


Five gallons of beer equals about 50 twelve ounce bottles. If you have a good budget you can buy a top of the line 10g stainless steel brew kettle and with that big of pot you can do 5 gallon extract kits or 5 gallon all grain no problem but more than likely you'll need a bigger heat source, outdoor propane burner or electric heat stick. Check morebeer.com, midwestsupplies.com. They have nice equipment. Or you could buy a turkey fryer for about 70 bucks. It has a propane burner and 7.5 gallon stock pot. Many people start with this. You can easily do 5 gallon batches of extract and even all grain. If you plan to do smaller batches just use your 22qt pot on the stove. You can use your 22qt pot to do 5 gallons as well
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Old 12-18-2011, 04:27 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick responses guys!!

Beer porn! Pretty much sums it up. I have been from site to site, looking at different setups, watching how to vids etc. I need to make sure I don't put the cart before the horse, looks like it's very easy to get ahead of yourself here...

Im fine starting with the partial boil and keeping things simple. However if I could rip a small all grain batch off that stove I would be happy. I will test out the boil technique, but I have had it filled with spaghetti sauce once and left it on hi by mistake and it pretty much brought the entire thing to a boil... lol I would like a decent kettle and fermenting vessel in the long run tho. In the mean time I am planning to stick with some ABC extract kits at the start so I can get a baseline to what makes beer taste the way it does. Also, I hear you can get some great beer from extract too.

I was in Belgium (Brugge) for a week, then Amsterdam for a week. I got to try all sorts of beers. I want to brew a Leffe Blonde type beer, and something similar my fav Heineken. I spent a day in that brewery tasting wort, looking at grains, hugging kettles.

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Old 12-18-2011, 04:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopHeadGrady View Post
Thanks for the quick responses guys!!

Beer porn! Pretty much sums it up. I have been from site to site, looking at different setups, watching how to vids etc. I need to make sure I don't put the cart before the horse, looks like it's very easy to get ahead of yourself here...

Im fine starting with the partial boild and keeping things simple. I would like a decent kettle and fermenting vessels. I am planning to stick with some ABC recipies at the start so I can get a baseline to what makes beer taste the way it does.

I was in Belgium (Brugge) for a week, then Amsterdam for a week. I got to try all sorts of beers. I want to brew a Leffe Blonde type beer, and something similar my fav Heineken. I spent a day in that brewery tasting wort, looking at grains, hugging kettles.


Look at the top of the page and there is a recipe section with lots of good recipes there.

Try some easier recipes first to get your feet wet. Some even strat with a kit as an easy entry into brewing. My first batch was a kit, second was something from the recipe section of this forum. By the thurd batch I made up my own recipe.

Stick woth somethig east like wheat beer or an IPA/APA at first. They are ready to drink quicker so you will get a good idea of how you did sooner.

My favorites are Belgians but they are a little more difficult to brew and can take longer to be ready, and patience is hard for your first several brews. Hell it is still hard even after almost 50 batches. If you are interested in brewing Belgians definitely pick up a copy of Brewing Like a Monk. Great read and tons of good info about brewing Belgin style beers
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Old 12-18-2011, 04:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beergolf View Post
Look at the top of the page and there is a recipe section with lots of good recipes there.

Try some easier recipes first to get your feet wet. Some even strat with a kit as an easy entry into brewing. My first batch was a kit, second was something from the recipe section of this forum. By the thurd batch I made up my own recipe.

Stick woth somethig east like wheat beer or an IPA/APA at first. They are ready to drink quicker so you will get a good idea of how you did sooner.

My favorites are Belgians but they are a little more difficult to brew and can take longer to be ready, and patience is hard for your first several brews. Hell it is still hard even after almost 50 batches. If you are interested in brewing Belgians definitely pick up a copy of Brewing Like a Monk. Great read and tons of good info about brewing Belgin style beers
I will check out that book for sure. When talking to one of the brew pub brewers in Brugge he did say it's a bit more work to brew their style but well worth it. And when I had a 1 liter of their finest blonde I was sold... Thats maybe why I would like to have 3-4 varieties. 1 or 2 easy sipping IPA or Wheat Beers (standards) and 1 Belgian (longer, complex), and 1 experimental.
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:41 PM   #7
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If you get into Belgians, you'll be able to have 3-4 real different varieties of those around. You can really go wild, wild west with Belgians....Lambic, Doubles, Tripples, Quads, Fruit...darn near endless.

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Old 12-18-2011, 05:54 PM   #8
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And I'm Belgian... so it's only natural! My great great uncle owned a winery/vinyard there a very long time ago. My grandfather is from Antwerp. Im sure I will have more questions when I get back from the LHBS. I want to take an all grain couse in house there before I do it myself. I figure I could save some frustration working alongside someone that has done it before.

I also need to read up on Lagering. I understand that is a bit more of a challenge as well. Jeebs, all the beers I like are complex.. Haha.

EDIT: Stove just boiled 3.5 gallons fine. A nice rolling boil. So does that mean I could do a 2.5 gal all grain ?

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Old 12-18-2011, 11:02 PM   #9
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Yeah, you should be able to do a 2.5 gallon batch no problem.

As for your other questions, check out How to Brew - By John Palmer (if you haven't already). It'll give you a good idea on what you really need and what to expect on your first brew day.

Also, since you're not strapped for cash, I'd definitely look into building a fermentation chamber over buying a conical. The absolute #1 thing that has helped me brew better beer has been keeping fermentation temperatures under control. An old fridge off of craigslist and a $75 Johnson Controls box does the trick nicely (and since you're in Canada, you also might want to look into a "brewbelt" for heating if your basement/garage is too cold).

Otherwise, good luck and welcome.

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Old 12-19-2011, 12:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Also, since you're not strapped for cash, I'd definitely look into building a fermentation chamber over buying a conical. The absolute #1 thing that has helped me brew better beer has been keeping fermentation temperatures under control. An old fridge off of craigslist and a $75 Johnson Controls box does the trick nicely (and since you're in Canada, you also might want to look into a "brewbelt" for heating if your basement/garage is too cold).
The three things that will help your brew the most...

Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize...
Pitching the proper amount of healthy yeast. This means learning how to make starters.
Controling fermentation Temps..

Do these and you will make great brews.
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