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Old 10-07-2005, 06:08 PM   #1
TampaGuy
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Default First-timer wants to try DIY 2.5 gallon batch

Hi, hopefully this won't be an offensively stupid quesition that's been addressed before (I did search the forum with no results).

I'd like to try homebrew with minimal investement, and the ability to use whatever I do buy if I stay with the hobby. My thinking was to start with a 2.5 gallon batch, as that would allow me to use equipment I have on hand.

1) I've read that with 5 gallon batches you can get by with a 3 gallon pot to boil the wort. Can I use my 1.5 gallon (6 quart) copper bottom pot to do a 2.5 gallon wort?

2) I have clean, white plastic bins (how can I tell if they are "food safe"?) that I plan on using for the fermentor and bottling bin

3) I plan to buy a bubble valve w/ stopper that I'd mount on the top of the fermenter. I don't want to have a cloth topped batch lying around my place for a couple of weeks which is why I'd spring for the valve.

4) I'd use 24 screw top bottles (I do have leather gloves so I won't rip up my hands putting on the caps).

5) plan to buy a pvc valve and pipe that I'd mount on the bottom of the bottling bin.

6) I'd buy a "mr beer" malt extract kit as they make a 2.5 gallon batch.

I'd follow the instructions at

http://hbd.org/brewniversity/brewing/firstbatch.html

Comments? Does my plan hold any water/beer? If I can use my existing 1.5 gallon boiling pot and plastic bins, I think my first batch/equipment costs would be under 20 bucks. Thanks, Jon

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Old 10-07-2005, 06:15 PM   #2
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I'll answer what I can....

Quote:
Originally Posted by TampaGuy
1) I've read that with 5 gallon batches you can get by with a 3 gallon pot to boil the wort. Can I use my 1.5 gallon (6 quart) copper bottom pot to do a 2.5 gallon wort?
Sure. No problem with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TampaGuy
4) I'd use 24 screw top bottles (I do have leather gloves so I won't rip up my hands putting on the caps).
It's not the application of the caps that is the problem with twist-offs. The real issue is that the caps can (and likely will) blow right off of the bottles during the conditioning stage when the beer is carbonating. They simply don't re-seal very well.

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Originally Posted by TampaGuy
6) I'd buy a "mr beer" malt extract kit as they make a 2.5 gallon batch.
Or buy a regular 5 gallon beer kit and only use half of the ingredients. Put the other half in the fridge and use it for the next batch (the stuff will keep fine for a few months if you put it in tupperware and keep it cold.)

-walker
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Old 10-07-2005, 06:16 PM   #3
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Well, you definitely can't use the screw top beer bottles...you won't get a seal. However, I do know someone who uses plastic screw top soda and water bottles with success.

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Old 10-07-2005, 07:16 PM   #4
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Default You guys are great...

... thanks for the quick replies.

I see that I'm better off with plastic screw top bottles. Do I have to keep them small to avoid explosion, or can I use the common 2 litre bottles for part of the batch? I'd use small bottles to test the fermentation time, only when it's as good as it's going to get would I put the larger bottles in the frig.

Any comments on how I can determine if my plastic bins are food safe. They were used to ship large quantities of tennis balls.

I understand cleanliness is utmost importance. But be honest with me, is my cheapo approach going to guarantee me some undrinkable stuff?

Thanks again, Jon

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Old 10-07-2005, 07:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TampaGuy
I see that I'm better off with plastic screw top bottles. Do I have to keep them small to avoid explosion, or can I use the common 2 litre bottles for part of the batch? I'd use small bottles to test the fermentation time, only when it's as good as it's going to get would I put the larger bottles in the frig.
I would imagine that either size could be used.

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Originally Posted by TampaGuy
Any comments on how I can determine if my plastic bins are food safe. They were used to ship large quantities of tennis balls.
Hmmm.... if they were not used to ship food, they are very likely not food-grade materials. To be sure, just go to a restaurant and see if they will give you some of the buckets that their shipments arrive in. Don't get ones that contains smelly things (like pickles).

Quote:
Originally Posted by TampaGuy
I understand cleanliness is utmost importance. But be honest with me, is my cheapo approach going to guarantee me some undrinkable stuff?
As long as you clean things and keep your fermenters sealed properly, you should be ok.

Remember: they made beer a loooooooooong time before plastic or glass existed, and they didn't even have a concept of sanitation. You can make beer with your equipment.

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Old 10-07-2005, 07:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TampaGuy
Any comments on how I can determine if my plastic bins are food safe. They were used to ship large quantities of tennis balls.
Ah ha! Check the little embossed triangle on your container. Here's a list of plastics and how to identify them:

http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/plastics.html

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Old 10-07-2005, 07:36 PM   #7
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Cool find. I've always wondered what the different numbers stood for.

Jon, for sanitation on the cheap, use hot water and (unscented) bleach. Just make sure you rinse well, as residual bleach will make your beer taste funny.

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Old 10-07-2005, 07:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LupusUmbrus
...hot water and (unscented) bleach. ....
Not too hot! If it's too hot, the bleach's effectiveness is lessened and, worse, it'll leach unsafe odors. Warm tap water is what I use; I'd read in the past that somewhere in the 75-90oF range is ideal. Two Tbsp. for 5 gallons at 5 minutes contact time and I'm good to go. And like LupusUmbrus stated, make sure to rinse well.
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Old 10-07-2005, 08:01 PM   #9
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LMAO, but I have to tell you that your recipe for success reminds me of someone buying a unicyle to learn how to ride a bike....

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Old 10-07-2005, 08:50 PM   #10
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From What I can tell a Mr beer kit for 2.5g costs the same has most 5g kits.
They do in the UK. £10 for 2.5g

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