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Old 09-10-2008, 05:27 PM   #1
Jeff_From_VA
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Default Beginner Equipment Setup Questions. (I have X, What else do I need?)

Hi,

I have the following equipment from a wine making "kit" that I bought a while back. I would like to try making beer for my first time, and was hoping people would review what I have, and let me know what else I may need to purchase.

I have 1 of each of the following.

A 6 gallon bucket, with lid, and hole with grommet for airlock. The bucket does not contain a spigot.

A 6 gallon "Better Bottle" brand plastic carboy. The carboy contains a spigot and "racking adapter"

Hydrometer. (Which I still don't know how to use)

Airlock (Cheapo plastic type where a little plastic cup sits inverted over a straight plastic pipe. While cheap, seems to work fine)

Some additional things like tubing, racking cane, etc. Also some things irrelevant to beer (Wine bottles, Corks, Floor Corker, etc.)

I know I need bottles, and some form of capping device. I also happen to own a refrigerator that I converted to a "Kegerater" with a kit from micromatic. I am looking into finding suitable soda kegs, and the adapter I could install on my existing kegerator. Frankly, to a beginner who already owns a kegerator, using it seems like it may be less tedious than sterilizing, filling, and capping a ton of individual bottles. Should I consider that route, or would bottles be more appropriate for a beginner for a reason that I may not know about yet?

Also, about sanitizer - I no longer have any from my wine kit, but I do have a big jar of the stuff from micromatic for cleaning my kegerator lines. Would this be acceptable for sanitizing for brewing?

As for a giant pot, I have a 21 quart pressure canner. It's made of aluminum. Can I use this for beer?

Can anyone think of additional things I may need to order?

Thanks for reading, and offering any advice!!!

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Old 09-10-2008, 05:45 PM   #2
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It sounds like you have just about everything you need! You still need sanitizer (NOT a cleaner) like Star-san or Iodophor. Some people use diluted bleach, but you definitely don't want to do that with your kegs. You'll need to learn to use your hydrometer, and that's easiest with a test cylinder. A wine thief is handy, but a turkey baster will do.

In an extract brew (I assume that's what you're starting with), you'll be boiling about 2.5 gallons of wort. If you buy a kit with steeping grains, it should come with a grains bag. If not, make sure you get one. They're handier than trying to use cheesecloth. You'll want to use a thermometer to check your wort temperature while steeping, and after cooling.

After the boil, you can put your pot in an ice bath in the sink to cool it. Then you can pour it into your bucket. Some of us like to strain it, so if you have a colander or something you can sanitize, that's nice to have. It's not necessary though. Then, you'll use your lid and airlock. You'll use your siphon tubing to transfer the beer to the keg- that's easiest with an autosiphon. You can use your better bottle as well, but if you want to have a bottling bucket, you'd use the spigot for that.

You definitely do NOT need to go to bottles and caps before kegging. Bottling is the biggest PITA in brewing, and if you already have the kegs and co2 system, there is no reason to not use it. Kegging is easy (if I can do it, anybody can!) and quick.

I can't really think of anything else you'd need.

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Old 09-10-2008, 05:57 PM   #3
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Yooper is right, don't do what I did and pass up an amazing deal on kegging equipment simply because you wanted to take in the "full" experience. I've bottled 4 batches and after about the second batch I started to kick myself.

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Old 09-10-2008, 05:58 PM   #4
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You certainly want to get a thermometer and maybe a stick thermomter for your BB. If you have a growler, you can do a starter for the yeast in there unless you want to get a flask. Other than that, you are pretty well set. Of course, once you get into this hobby, you'll want to get lots of other stuff!

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Old 09-10-2008, 06:03 PM   #5
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+1. Sounds like all you need is some beer

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Old 09-10-2008, 07:28 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the replies. Especially about not having to use bottles. I much prefer draft beer out of the kegerator, it's why I built the thing LOL

My keg system is currently set up for a standard sanke type keg.

After some reading (And pricing), about the corny kegs, and adapter for my kegerator, it would seem to be just about as cheap for me to buy an empty sanke keg, and a couple extra buckets. Then I could do 3 batches at once and fill a sanke keg?

Or possibly buy 2 sanke kegs, and just use one as a fermenter, and the other for dispensing. And use, my existing plastic stuff for wines.

Is there any problem with the ideas I mention? Is there anything more difficult about doing a slightly larger batch, than a small batch, that should scare a beginner like myself away from it?

Either way I am going to lay out somewhat comparable amounts of $$, it seems to me the higher yielding of the two would be the better choice. But then again, as a newcomer to this hobby, I don't know if that would be the wisest choice for me.

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Old 09-10-2008, 07:37 PM   #7
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Also, thermometer was mentioned. I have a digital "Podler" style one we use for just about everything in the kitchen - the thermometers with a probe and a wire - will this suffice, or is there a special brewing type I may need?

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Old 09-10-2008, 09:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
You definitely do NOT need to go to bottles and caps before kegging. Bottling is the biggest PITA in brewing, and if you already have the kegs and co2 system, there is no reason to not use it. Kegging is easy (if I can do it, anybody can!) and quick.
+1. I still like to bottle condition some Belgian styles (eg Wit, Tripel) simply because I consider the bottle conditioning and high carbonation I can achieve with 5-6 ounces of priming sugar to be part of the style. Everything else I brew goes to a keg. Kegs are also great because (unless you are conditioning for months) they can be your secondary vessel and serving vessel in one. Cut 1/2 inch of the end of the dip tube to avoid picking up any sediment, and you can simply rack from the primary into the keg, wait a few weeks, and then serve.
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Old 09-10-2008, 09:41 PM   #9
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Also, thermometer was mentioned. I have a digital "Podler" style one we use for just about everything in the kitchen - the thermometers with a probe and a wire - will this suffice, or is there a special brewing type I may need?
It'll work fine, just be careful not to let the wire where it connects to the probe get wet. I have destroyed two of those things that way, so I use a regular all-in-one digital probe thermometer now.
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