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Old 09-22-2010, 04:27 PM   #1
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Default Few questions about doing this from scratch

Hello,

So I recently bought some equipment to brew from home. The stores around where I live were pretty turned away by the idea of doing it from scratch because it's a "dying art". Maybe in my city it is. But that doesn't mean I can't order in the supplies.

I purcahsed a kit and simply dont ever want to buy a kit ever again. It sucks the life out of it. Mix. Stir. Check the temperature and add yeast. I had a no boil kit.

My main question is what equipment i'll need. I've been told the equipment can run me up to $1000 but looking at what I currently have that shouldn't be the case. I have a primary fermentor and a glass carboy, got my spoons thermometer,hydrometer and siphon. But to mill the grains and such down I dont have any equipment to do that.

Any recommendations on where to purcahse this equipment online and what sort of things I should be looking for? Also the only option I have for boiling is on my stove I have read it's easy to break elements on stoves doing it this way? Is that really the case?

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Old 09-22-2010, 04:32 PM   #2
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What you need depends on how "from scratch" you mean. Brewing from extracts with specialty grains doesn't require much more than you already have. Going all grain would require more but still isn't all that bad if you build some of your own stuff or BIAB (brew in a bag).

I suggest doing some extract brewing.

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Old 09-22-2010, 04:34 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomSD View Post
What you need depends on how "from scratch" you mean. Brewing from extracts with specialty grains doesn't require much more than you already have. Going all grain would require more but still isn't all that bad if you build some of your own stuff or BIAB (brew in a bag).

I suggest doing some extract brewing.
Plus one. Do an extract with specialty grains kit first. Then research All Grain brewing around here.
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:45 PM   #4
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Extract or not, get a turkey fryer or a burner and a kettle. 40 qt kettle is really a minimum for a full boil of a five gallon batch. You need to buy or make at least a 25 foot immersion chiller too.

All grain is the way to go if you have a little space and the time. It will save money and give you much more control. It doesn't take much more than a converted cooler for a MLT but another kettle for a HLT is a good idea (I use the pot from my turkey fryer.) You can use your boil kettle for a HLT but you will need to put the first runnings into a bucket. A trustworthy thermometer is a necessary for AG.

Some people go all out with a brew stand, pumps and different controls. You don't need that to make great beer. All you need is hot water, a mash tun and a boil kettle. All grain is so easy there is no need to ever do extract. You can just use a big grain bag and mash right in the boil kettle (BIAB.)

You don't have to have a mill. You can get your grain pre-milled. Spending $150 or so one one is a good idea. Then you can buy grain in bulk and be able to brew on the fly. A good scale (or two) is also important. Both for grain (lbs) and hops (grams) and someday possibly for water salts (mg.)

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Old 09-22-2010, 05:51 PM   #5
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I've been making all grain batches for about a year now and the only things I have that you might not have are:
- 2 large, 16 liter each, stainless steel crock pots. I've done the boils on my kitchen stove.
- Mash tun made out of a large plastic bucket. It has a false bottom to hold the grains in and a spigot.
- Immersion chiller made from copper tubing.

The crock pots are just (barely) enough to make 23 liter batches (I'm Canadian and will die by the metric system - 23L is equal to about 6 gallons or 34 quarts). You shouldn't need 40qts to do a 5 gallon batch as someone else stated. That sounds like overkill. You just need enough to boil your wort such that the end result gives you 5 gallons.

Dan's Brewing web site has a pretty good method for making all grain beer, check out this link and scroll down to the bottom to see the process. It's all metric, but you can do the conversions to Imperial as necessary.
http://pages.pacificcoast.net/~dansmall/allgrain.html

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Old 09-22-2010, 05:58 PM   #6
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I'd do a lot of reading on all grain brewing. You sound like me, and extract brewing is just one step removed from a kit. You won't be happy with the lack of control.

Oh, and you don't need a mill. You can order grain pre-crushed from a number of sources. You can build a mash tun out of a cooler and CPVC or a stainless braid for about 50 bucks if you shop right, and then all you need is a big pot and a heat source. And a chiller.

Once you have those things, it REALLY improves the quality of the beer if you have a place where you can keep fermenting beer at around 68 degrees F. So think about that.

All grain isn't hard, and once you read up on it, you should be able to go for it. I did, and I never looked back.

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Old 09-22-2010, 06:55 PM   #7
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Yeah this kit that I bought after adding the yeast it tells you to keep it in this pale it's not airlocked has nothing like that at all for 3-6 days then transfer to the glass carboy with airlock. It just seems backwards.

Also with using the Malt Extract what are the major differences between doing this and purchasing a kit? I am asking this on the assumption that other kits are not like the thing I bought. But Malt extract and the bag of liquid that is in the kits. What are the differences?

In my kit it was "pre" boiled and I had to mix it with hot water. But from what I understand there are other kits that you can get where you do infact boil them or simply just should boil them from what i've read so far. What steps are different by buying the malt extract and dry malt extract? Or is this just a fresher way of doing this?

Any recommendations of websites that you can buy these ingredients from that ship into canada? There's only 3 brewing stores in Edmonton that i've found and man they're all pretty empty.

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Old 09-22-2010, 07:04 PM   #8
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Was it a BrewHouse kit?

Fermenting it in the primary (pail, not airlocked) and then moving to the secondary (glass carboy) is correct and typically the way you'd also brew full and partial grain brews.

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Old 09-22-2010, 07:07 PM   #9
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Okay that's good to know. I've been looking up on how to brew from extract and found a good website with all the ingredients so not bad and there's some awesome threads here about different hops etc. So i'll give this batch a try and after i've bottled it i'll start this next back and i'll have something to at least compare the difference to. The kit that I had was a Barons Premium Beer Kit.

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Old 09-22-2010, 07:33 PM   #10
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I started with a "no boiling" equipment kit too (coopers). I recently bottled my first 2 extract brews (one with steeping) and the taste before carbonation looks way better, but I don't regret starting with the kit for 2 reasons. First, the coopers kit comes with a really nice fermenter, much nicer than the pails sold in most HB supply stores. Second, while admittedly it is boring and almost pointless to use an equipment kit in this hobby, I wanted first to make sure I could perform the very basics of homebrew before advancing to more sophisticated techniques. If you can't brew right using an equipment kit, you better stop right there, I thought.

I will be moving to partial mash or perhaps skip to AG in the future for more control and fun (and save money in the long run too), but I plan to continue doing extract batches with some grain steeping for a while until I'm ready for it. It's a nice progression.

BTW, I think you can do AG with an investiment of a lot less than 1K!

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