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Old 11-18-2011, 03:58 PM   #1
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Default Getting into Brewing - Few Questions

I am looking to start brewing in the next month or two and I had a few questions.

I am looking at the products/kits on Midwest Supplies site which I read on here has some good quality brewing equipment.

I am unsure which kit would be best for a beginner, and if I should use glass or better bottles for the carboys. The one I planned on buying was Intermediate Kit for $149.99. From what I can tell the kit includes practically everything I need to brew besides the ingredients?

I was also wondering about my heat source, I have a large 5 gallon stainless steel pot I planned to use, but my stove at home is a glass-top and I am not sure if this would provide enough heat or not? If not, what are some better options, I was thinking a butane table-top stove?

What about the ingredients, do you guys buy the pre-made kits that have everything you need, or do you experiment with different things to come up with your own custom recipes? I plan on making mostly brown ales and some other varieties of ales, no lagers.

Sorry for the multiple questions, I am just a little lost right now.

Thanks!



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Old 11-18-2011, 05:07 PM   #2
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That could should cover most. In my opinion, get the Better Bottles. Shipping is cheaper, Better bottles are comparable in usability and it's safer(no shattered glass). There are die hard glass guys, but I still prefer plastic, but that's personal opinion. You can certainly get a kit, and many places have great kits. Take a look over at Northern Brewer(northernbrewer.com) before committing to Midwest. Both are great, but I like the kits from NB better. Again, just personal prefernce there.

I've helped a friend brew on a glass top stove, and it should be fine, but won't heat terribly fast. You have to be sure to be uber careful, due to the weight of 5 gallons of wort on that surface. Just getting started out you should be fine, but I'd definitely look into a propane burner, depending on if you can use/can afford it.

Hope it helps, and welcome to my obsession Cheers!



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Old 11-18-2011, 05:09 PM   #3
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Note: When I said "You can certainly get a kit...", from there on in that thought I'm referring to Recipe kits....of course you can price their equipment kits as well, as they're great as well.

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Old 11-18-2011, 05:16 PM   #4
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HopsJunkie just about hit it on the head with regards to the equipment kits, so I can't add much there...

But on the subject of your stove: I've also got a glass top electric stove, that I've brewed on once. I had to insulate the heck out of the pot (wrapped the pot up with reflectix), leave the lid halfway on for most of the boil, and I positioned my pot to saddle two burners, in order to keep 3 gallons or so boiling - and it took forever to actually hit the boil.

That beer turned out great, but make sure you understand the limits of trying to brew on an electric stovetop, and at least consider investing in a turkey fryer or similar propane-fired outdoor burner.

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Old 11-18-2011, 05:21 PM   #5
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FWIW, I have glass and Better Bottles. I prefer working with the BB's.

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Old 11-18-2011, 05:43 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies so far. I am reading into the better bottles currently, I think that may be a better option for me.

I really appreciate the input on the glass-top stove, I might give it a whirl for my first brew and see what I can do for heat management. If that doesn't workout I will invest in a propane burner for the next batch.

For recipes, say I wanted to recreate one of my favorite beers, Moose Drool. Would that be possible with a kit, or would I need to look into custom recipes? I don't plan on attempting it right away, but that is the style of beer I plan to brew eventually.

Do you guys have any recommendations for books/websites where I can follow some step-by-step guides and learn more about the brewing process? I want make sure I am not jumping into brewing without the right knowledge.

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Old 11-18-2011, 06:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post
For recipes, say I wanted to recreate one of my favorite beers, Moose Drool. Would that be possible with a kit, or would I need to look into custom recipes? I don't plan on attempting it right away, but that is the style of beer I plan to brew eventually.

moose drool clone: Caribou Slobber Extract Kit w/ Specialty Grains : Northern Brewer

planning to bottle this one this weekend.
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Old 11-18-2011, 06:17 PM   #8
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Yea, as far as recipes go- I would definitely suggest doing an extract+specialty grains recipes for your first few batches. That way you can get all the basics down- sanitation, heat control, hop additions, using your hydrometer, racking, wort chilling, starters, pitching, bottling etc.

Once you have a few of those under your belt, you should have your process down to a tee, and be itching for something more involved like a PM, AG, or BIAB (OMG WTF BBQ). If you don't yet, you will at least know where you need to improve before you move on up the ladder (or not! this hobby is as involved as you want it to be).

As long as you read the forums religiously, you'll pick up on all the jargon and acronyms (see above), and read that all the mistakes you're making are avoidable, and that you should be much less worried about your beer than you are. Read a ton before your first batch, and don't stop.

Good luck, and welcome to the obsession!

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Old 11-18-2011, 06:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post
Do you guys have any recommendations for books/websites where I can follow some step-by-step guides and learn more about the brewing process? I want make sure I am not jumping into brewing without the right knowledge.
There are books-a-plenty. Getting started, though, I'd first get John Palmer's How to Brew. It's quite easily the best book on brewing for the beginner. There are others, of course, but that's the first one I'd hand you off my shelf.

Also, I'd go see if your LHBS has a beginner's class, as most certainly do. Frankly, you don't need it, but it does carry the benefit of being there for a brew, so you can feel more comfortable. You're bound to pick up little pointers or see something you didn't quite know as well. That's optional, though.
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Old 11-18-2011, 06:21 PM   #10
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Try the caribou slobber from northern brewer if your looking for a moose drool clone. I brewed it a couple of months ago and boy is it good!!!



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