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Old 09-11-2012, 12:30 PM   #1
Enoch52
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Default Beginning Equipment

I've just started homebrewing (first batch is fermenting now), and I'm using borrowed equipment. However, I think this is something I'm going to stick with, and I'll need my own equipment eventually.

My question is: what equipment would you suggest for a beginning homebrewer, and what's the best way to obtain it? I put together a shopping list on Northern Brewer (deluxe starter kit with glass carboys, good-size brew kettle, hydrometer, floating thermometer) and it came out to about $250. I can swing that if that's the way to go. It's a decent chunk of change, however, and I could go cheaper--get a cheaper starter kit with fermenting buckets rather than carboys, etc. However, I do plan on making hoppy IPA's, fruit beers, etc. that probably require a secondary fermenter even though I understand secondary fermentation isn't really recommended for most basic beers anymore.

Is this the way to go, or should I be trying to find used equipment on Craigslist? EBay? Something else?

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Old 09-11-2012, 12:49 PM   #2
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You will find 1,000 different ways to do just about everything in brewing. I went with a combination of kit from a local home brew shop (cheaper because glass carboys are expensive to ship), amazon.com for propane burner and 50' copper immersion coil, and northern B for the rest (caps, brew pot, etc.) I think my total was around $480 all said and done. You definately get what you pay for. On my fifth batch and loving it. Still doing extract with specialty grain kits because of time constraints to do all grain. Specific questions regarding equipment??

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Old 09-11-2012, 01:02 PM   #3
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A good deluxe brewing kit is a fine way to go. You can definitely do it on the cheap by looking at craigslist, or even posting a "wanted" ad on craigslist for what you need. I'd probably just bite the bullet and go to my LHBS (local home brew shop) and buy one of their pre-packaged beginner's equipment kits. They usually consist of a brew pot, a carboy, bubble lock with gasket, a bottling bucket with gasket and spigot, a cheap racking cane, some tubing, a hand crimp bottle capper, some bottle caps, a bottle brush and some sanitizing solution. If you want a secondary fermenter, just buy a "better" style 6-7 gallon brew bucket and buy an auto-siphon (with tubing) to do your wort/beer transfers. The super deluxe kits also come with a coil wort chiller and either bottles or kegs for bottling day.

Other equipment you'll need:

A thermometer for your wort (a meat thermometer or a candy thermometer will work fine)
A long handled metal spoon (for mixing your wort)
A fine mesh large kitchen strainer to strain out your spent hops (or adjuncts) from the wort

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Old 09-11-2012, 01:10 PM   #4
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At some point I plan on doing full-boil batches, but I doubt my kitchen stove is up to a five-gallon batch. Is it worth getting a 3-gallon brew pot now and plan on upgrading to an turkey fryer and big pot later, or just bite the bullet now?

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Old 09-11-2012, 01:16 PM   #5
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I went with the deluxe kit from midwest supplies but I bought thru ebay since I really hadn't done any research into suppliers. I then found that I could have saved even more money (shipping costs) by going thru my LHBS. If you have a store nearby I would reccomend going there to get your starter kit. They have a vast amount of knowledge and are generally willing to help you in person.
In answer to your question; besides the Brewers best deluxe starter kit (with Glass carboy/s) I would reccomend getting at least a 32 qt brewpot. To save money you can skip the burner for now and use your stove until you're ready to invest more. I would highly recommend a wort chiller (and a pump to recycle ice cold water from a cooler into the wort chiller and back. Chilling in the summer takes a lot longer with tap water than the winter and it wastes a lot.) I know its not totally necessary but I wouldn't bottle without a bottling tree. You have less chance of contaminated bottles with one of these and drying out 50 sanitized bottles w/o one is a pain.
You need to keep your fermenting beer around 70-72 degrees if you're making ale (despite what the package says about going as low as 65. So depending where you're storing it you may need to get a brew belt.
There are other things that I use everytime that make my life easier but aren't necessary. You may want to get a few batches under your belt and see where you think things may be improved by buying this or that gizmo. But I strongly recommend going to a store and talking to the people who do it everyday.

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Old 09-11-2012, 01:19 PM   #6
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I got the 8 gallon brew pot from NB. No frills..no spout..no temp gauge..works great! I do full 5.5 gallon boils and never had a boil over. Got the raised propane burner so its easy to rack to primary when done. There are cheaper options...but its like buying a car..the more $$ you spend the more options you can get. Its up to you to decide what are Must Haves..and what are Nice To haves. Just my 2c. Get your HB on..bugs bitten another!!

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Old 09-11-2012, 01:20 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the advice, guys. My dad doesn't use a wort chiller but from everything I've seen it seems like a useful investment--beyond avoiding contamination and clarity it would let me get the beer fermenting on Brew Day. I'm planning on going to the hardware store and making my own.

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Old 09-11-2012, 01:26 PM   #8
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enoch52 View Post
At some point I plan on doing full-boil batches, but I doubt my kitchen stove is up to a five-gallon batch. Is it worth getting a 3-gallon brew pot now and plan on upgrading to an turkey fryer and big pot later, or just bite the bullet now?
If you are temporarily going to be brewing on the stove I would get a pot from the grocery store or sometimes wally world. You can get an aluminum 20 qt pot for $20. With a larger stainless steel pot may be very difficult to get a boil going.

You will probably get some cautions about aluminum but it is OK. Boil a potful of water for at least 30 minutes to build up an oxidation layer. It will be grey. Do not scrub it off.

I started on the stove top using Northern Brewer's deluxe starter kit with Better Bottles (much lighter and safer than glass). I did 4 of their extract kits and 4 partial mash kits while assembling my all grain equipment.
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:29 PM   #10
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Do a search on Amazon for 50' chiller. Shipped to your door..its comparable to what you would spend building it yourself. Ive also heard its easy to kink the copper when DYIing a coil...just FYI.

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