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Old 07-21-2011, 04:34 AM   #1
newbrewer23
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Default New to brewing, basic setup

Hi,
brand new to brewing, been reading around here for a while. I have done it before at a brew house (dropped in the yeast), but I want to do it at home with quality ingredients. I am wondering if these coopers or Brew Canada kits are any good with a basic setup. Some of my reluctance is not having a fridge with temp control, Is that a major factor?

I have a cold cellar and I will put the carboy in a large bucket and put water and ice packs/frozen water bottles around to keep it colder, with a thermometer to keep an eye on it. I will transfer to bottles straight from the carboy. I am worried about no/little temp control. I would like to do a lager but I read the temps should be lower and I wonder if I can control it enough?

So,
1. is not having a fridge with temp control a major factor? and should i do an ale rather then a lager?
2. should I do the extract beer kit? or is it a lot better tasting to go with a Partial Mash Kit? I am leaning towards a Partial Mash as I want a quality and tasty beer, as we all do. I eventually want to do an all grain.
3. any recommendations on what to try first?

Thanks again and I look forward to enjoying this fantastic hobby.

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Old 07-21-2011, 05:07 AM   #2
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1. Without good temp control, you should do an ale... some folks find that doing a lager in the garage or cellar in the wintertime works well too. Anyways, an ale in a basement that stays down in the 60's - 70's is just fine for an ale. You can chill things a bit in the first couple days, but that's not strictly necessary. Beer existed for a very very long time before refrigerants were discovered and utilized.
2. I usually recomend starting... well... at the begining. Get your feet wet with an extract kit and work your way up. You'll learn a lot at each stage and in the end ALL of your beers will be better as a result of taking your time.
3. An Irish Red, Nut Brown Ale, European Bock, etc. Those medium darkness beers are easiest and the hardest to really foul up Even when you boil over, miss your hops timings a bit, and jump the gun and bottle weeks earlier than you should have... they'll still taste very good. hahahaha

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Old 07-21-2011, 05:51 AM   #3
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I only have two brews under my belt which makes me inexperienced, but it also means that I went through my first batch and my starting point more recently than most. Here are my answers, for what they are worth.

Not having a fridge is not a big deal if you are only doing ales (or lagers in the winter and live where it freezes, which you obviously do, ay? ) . Many MANY people do not have an extra fridge, either because of cost or space, and they still make excellent beer.

Make you first brew an extract. Unless you are used to the whole procedure that goes with brewing you want to make it as simple as you can for yourself on your first brew. I was a chef for about 10 years and can say that this is true with almost everything in the cooking world. Get used to heating and cooling times, sanitation, watching your temps, etc, before you push onto new ground. I'm sure that there are people out there who made spectacular beer their first try, and did it all grain. However, being a chef I know my way around a kitchen/sanitation techniques/etc, but I was still glad I did an extract my first time around. If nothing else it will boost your confidence. You can always make the jump on your second batch if everything goes relatively smoothly.

Similarly, I would do an ale instead of a lager the first time around for the reasons that I would do an extract brew instead of all grain. Less steps the first time is a good thing.

As far as what to brew, it is really up to your tastebuds! Medium dark beers do seem to be more forgiving if those are your style, but if you go too dark (Lots of roasted malt) it will take a while to blend nicely. One thing to keep in mind is that lower ABV beers tend to go from grain to glass faster. That said I would make something low ABV, as (if your like me ) you'll want to drink your creation sooner rather than later. Save the high ABV stuff for when you have a stockpile built up. But then again, it is really up to you! I would just take those things in consideration if you want to brew an RIS or something.

Good luck brewing, and welcome to your new obsession. Sure sucked me in!

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Old 07-21-2011, 07:35 AM   #4
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+1 all that

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:51 PM   #5
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ya thanks guys, great tips. I figured I would be better doing an ale, maybe and IPA. I am now looking into if I should buy the better yeast and carbonation options.
thanks again

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Old 07-21-2011, 05:40 PM   #6
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If you are brewing an American IPA (as opposed to British or Belgian) I would go dry yeast - Safale US05. It is the same strain as White Lab 001 and Wyeast 1056 which are the most common yeasts in the style. If you went liquid you would be advised to make a starter, which would add more steps and more time. Much more involved than the 15 min it takes to rehydrate your yeast and easier to screw up. If you pitch an infected starter, you get infected beer. Also, at my LHBS it is $3 for dry and $8.5 for liquid. I figure i can use the savings for more hops, specialty grains, etc. Reading up I found that many people have great experiences with dry yeast, and unless there is a particular reason to use liquid (for example if you brew Belgians) dry seems pretty good. I'll probably experiment with liquid eventually, and certainly use some for a Belgian Dark Strong (what I got into brewing specifically for), but for right now dry yeast seems like a good choice for me because of the ease and cost component. I brewed an IPA on my second batch using 05, and although it is warm and flat, it tastes wonderful.

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