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Old 06-15-2008, 02:20 PM   #1
brett.melnikoff
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Default Need Equipment HELP--New to Brewing!

Hey everyone I am just about to start buying some brew equipment and I need some advice:

What is everyone's opinion on glass vs. plastic carboys? How many of them should I buy? I see a lot of the kits come with two but do I need another one if I want to do a secondary?

How big of a brew kettle and does the material its made of matter?

Wort chiller--this is a must have, right?

Please let me know what you guys think and give all the suggestions on equip. you can!

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Old 06-15-2008, 02:41 PM   #2
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Brett, welcome to HBT.

The question oF glass vs. plastic carboys is a tough one, and there are a lot of differing opinions. Personally, I use glass, but that's because they're what I already own.

Here are some reviews of the Better Bottle.
Here is some information from the wiki.

As for brew kettles, again, there's plenty of debate. Bigger is better. I started brewing with a 3-gallon aluminum stockpot, and boiled it over many times. 30-quart enamelware pots are common for starting out brewing, and serious amateurs tend to like either huge (60+ quart) stock pots, or converted beer kegs for boiling.

Wort chiller: This is a must-have for more advanced brewing, but isn't 100% required.

How To Brew has a great section on equipment for beginners. Also, if you have a homebrew shop where you live, they will usually sell a fairly complete beginner kit, and give plenty of free advice with it.

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Old 06-15-2008, 02:52 PM   #3
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I own both glass Carboys and Better Bottles. The Better Bottles are soooo much lighter than a glass Carboy, and there is no difference in taste.

I have a 5 gallon stainless steel brewpot and an 8 gallon Aluminum Turkey fryer. If you go with Aluminum, make sure you oxidize the inside before using it.

If you can afford it, get a Wort Chiller. It significantly reduces time to Yeast pitching temps and reduces chill haze in you Beer. I used to give my 5 gallon pot with 3.5 gallons of Wort an ice-bath, and I could pitch the Yeast in about 45 minutes. With my Immersion Chiller, I can get a full 5 gallons down to pitching temps in about 15 minutes.

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Old 06-15-2008, 03:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
What is everyone's opinion on glass vs. plastic carboys? How many of them should I buy? I see a lot of the kits come with two but do I need another one if I want to do a secondary?
I got by with one fermenter and one bottling bucket (i.e., a very basic kit) for a couple of years. I added a glass carboy to meet a specific need. Since then I was given another one, but for just about all of my brews I use that original plastic fermenter. This is one of those things that seems to provoke heated arguments, but really it's a matter of personal preference, experience and habit.

Quote:
How big of a brew kettle and does the material its made of matter?
I bought a five gallon stainless steel pot at Kohl's for about $16 on sale, so I only do partial boils. No hard and fast rules on this either.

Quote:
Wort chiller--this is a must have, right?
I use immersion in cold water. My steel pot goes into my kitchen sink, which is half filled with ice water, then the wort is poured into the fermenter (unstrained - I use hops pellets) and chilled spring water is added. For a full boil, a chiller would probably be very useful, but for partial boils, this method works fine.

Quote:
Please let me know what you guys think and give all the suggestions on equip. you can!
One last suggestion - you could end up with an awful lot of money spent pretty easily. If you are sure that you will be sticking with brewing, and you have the money to spend, then by all means, go for the top of the line gear, but it is not strictly necessary for brewing great beers. So you might consider starting with a modest gear investment until you are sure you will be in for the long haul.
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Old 06-15-2008, 03:54 PM   #5
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I definitely agree with that, I just went out and bought a recommended book "the complete joy of home brewing" to make sure this is something I want to invest in. Thanks for the advice guys, I really appreciate it.

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Old 06-15-2008, 06:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reno Homebrewer View Post
If you go with Aluminum, make sure you oxidize the inside before using it.
What do you mean?
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Old 06-15-2008, 07:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NitrouStang96 View Post
What do you mean?
Boil plain water in it first for at least a half hour to build up a passive oxide layer. This will keep the metallic taste out of the brew.

On the same token, NEVER scrub an aluminum pot until it's shiny inside. You will have removed the passive oxide layer and will have to start over.
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Old 06-15-2008, 08:49 PM   #8
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What he said. Also, just so you know, the oxidation is pretty dark grey, almost black. If you go with Aluminum and oxidize it, now you will know what to expect.

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Old 06-16-2008, 12:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brett.melnikoff View Post
Hey everyone I am just about to start buying some brew equipment and I need some advice:

What is everyone's opinion on glass vs. plastic carboys? How many of them should I buy? I see a lot of the kits come with two but do I need another one if I want to do a secondary?

How big of a brew kettle and does the material its made of matter?

Wort chiller--this is a must have, right?

Please let me know what you guys think and give all the suggestions on equip. you can!
If you're just starting out, I'd recommend a 7 gal bucket fermenter with a gasketed and grommeted lid over glass. Buckets are easier to handle as well as being less apt to break and are simpler to clean than a glass carboy. In fact, many experienced brewers have completely abandoned carboys in favor of the bucket fermenter for this reason. There is the potential for oxidation of the beer due to the oxygen permeability of the plastic but this is a point of contention in the homebrewing world at the moment. Most beers don't need a secondary vessel unless you intend to do some bulk aging of the brew. Just a primary will be sufficient for most brews.

Some people have said that they can detect a metallic taste from beer made using a aluminum kettle while others have not. I've not detected such an off flavor with aluminum but it seems to be limited to individual sensitivity. I'd try an aluminum pot since they are inexpensive and readily available and can often be purchased with a propane burner, which is nice. The minimum size you'll need for extract brewing is two and a half gallons while for all-grain you'll need at least an eight to allow for the hot-break.

You need to have a way to chill the wort (unfermented beer) down to pitching temps (mid 60's to low 70's) as fast as possible. If you're doing extract then you may be able to use an ice water bath to cool the wort but a copper immersion chiller is recommended. The cost savings of making your own over buying one is minimal so I'd just go ahead and buy on from one of the reputable online shops unless you have an LHBS.

Hope this helps. Welcome to the wonderful world of homebrewing.
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:21 AM   #10
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plastic or glass carboy? I use glass when I have something special I'm brewing or when lagering but have strained my back a couple times trying to make sure it didnt get set down to hard when bent over my freezer. glass will clean easier and not get scratched as easy. Most of the time I prefer plastic buckets with airlocks or blow off tubes.
I take it you will start with extract brewing? In that case wort chiller is not necessary at this time. When you start the boil with your 2.5 gallons, move 3-4 gallons of water from the frig to the freezer. pull them out every 15 min or so to break up the forming ice and put them back in. at the end of the boil, pour 2 frozen gallons and shake the crushed ice out into your 6.5 gall plastic bucket. Rough pour your wort to aerate it as it goes into the bucket then top off with as much of the remaining frozen slush as needed to make your 5 gallon batch. With this method, my pitching temps within 5 mins of boil are always below 70 degrees. Good luck with my obsession.

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