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Old 01-17-2008, 08:59 PM   #1
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Default New guy with brew kit questions

Hey guys.. new around here so bare with me.

Ramping up towards getting a brew kit and starting to make some home brews.

So far I've ordered up a few books (How To Brew, Joy of Home Brewing and Designing Great Beers) as I figured that's the best place to start learning.

Now regarding home brew kits.. what are some good ones?

I've been leaning towards the kit from Northern Brewer: http://www.northernbrewer.com/starterkits.html In particular, their Deluxe Starter Kit.

Is this a good kit to start with? I'm looking for some fairly easy to use, but also something I can grow with.

When I searched on here, it was mentioned that knowing what style you plan on brewing is helpful when picking a kit. I don't see myself doing and meads, ciders, wines, etc.

Any help or info would be appreciated.

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Old 01-17-2008, 09:39 PM   #2
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you might want to shop around a bit there. e.g. you can use the bottling bucket as a primary if you just add a drilled lid to it. i got my original kit for $60 - one glass secondary, bottling bucket/primary, siphon, hydrometer, racking cane, capper, siphon tubing, bottle filler. if you're on a tight budget, you can definitely economize - the boil pot is going to cost you a good amount, probably $50+ for stainless steel, bit less for aluminum.

on the other hand - if you think you're going to get stuck on the hobby (and the odds are you will!) - it's not a bad package. you'll end up buying more than the bare minimum - i now have four plastic buckets and one glass secondary (i don't secondary much - my upcoming lager will be in glass for a while, but most stuff is three weeks in primary then into bottles).

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Old 01-17-2008, 09:43 PM   #3
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ANy of those kits are jst fine and they won't go obsolete if you ramp things up.

I always recommend this one from Midwest.

With the additional carboy (glass jug), you can have a dedicated secondary vessel that will allow you to free up the primary for another batch sooner.

Welcome to the hobby/obsession...

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Old 01-17-2008, 10:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher
ANy of those kits are jst fine and they won't go obsolete if you ramp things up.

I always recommend this one from Midwest.

With the additional carboy (glass jug), you can have a dedicated secondary vessel that will allow you to free up the primary for another batch sooner.

Welcome to the hobby/obsession...
wow.. the one from Midwest seems to be pretty much the same thing, except for a bit less money.

What about the Intermediate kit from them? As mentioned, I want to get the most I can w/o going to crazy on price.

Is it beneficial to have 2 glass fermenters? I noticed the Northern kit has a 2 stage glass fermenter setup vs the plastic fermenter and 2 glass carboys in the midwest kit.

Reason for wanting the most I can get is because it's a gift from my g/f. I love craft beer and homemade beers, so I'm hoping I enjoy brewing (which I dont doubt that I will).
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Old 01-17-2008, 10:52 PM   #5
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I'd go with that midwest kit - just add another stopper+airlock and you can have two batches on the go at any one time - one in primary, one in secondary (or even use the glass for a primary - might need a blow off tube then).

I think it's better value than the one you had found on the other site.

Add any beer kit from the same place and you're in business. Don't be shy of anything that talks about "steeping grains" - it's just like making tea (if you let the tea bag sit for 30 minutes...). The steeped grains add much more interesting flavours and character to your beer. If you prefer to keep it simple, go with a standard west coast pale ale or wheat beer extract kit - they are really easy to make, fairly quick to mature ready for drinking, and if you're a fan of craft beers, there's not much that beats drinking a decent pint of beer that you made yourself.

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Old 01-17-2008, 10:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cd2448
I'd go with that midwest kit - just add another stopper+airlock and you can have two batches on the go at any one time - one in primary, one in secondary (or even use the glass for a primary - might need a blow off tube then).

I think it's better value than the one you had found on the other site.

Add any beer kit from the same place and you're in business. Don't be shy of anything that talks about "steeping grains" - it's just like making tea (if you let the tea bag sit for 30 minutes...). The steeped grains add much more interesting flavours and character to your beer. If you prefer to keep it simple, go with a standard west coast pale ale or wheat beer extract kit - they are really easy to make, fairly quick to mature ready for drinking, and if you're a fan of craft beers, there's not much that beats drinking a decent pint of beer that you made yourself.

After comparing both kits for awhile, I'm definitely leaning towards the one from Midwest.

I think I'm actually leaning towards the Intermediate kit.. works out pretty good for the budget and it'll get me a little bit more than the beginner kit.

If I were to go with the intermediate kit, i'd probably go with a pale ale kit to start out with.

What other items would I need aside from a beer kit and boiling pot and bottles?

So with steeping grains, would I need a bag? (i ask because you mention its like making tea) I know I could use a bag when it comes to hops.. i think dry hopping..?? I remember listening to something regarding that on a podcast i listened to yesterday.
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:39 PM   #7
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Personally, I recommend the intermediate kit from Midwest. It has a little more room to expand your brewing right away.

The Midwest kits with steeping grains come with a muslin bag but, IMO, the larger reusable grain bags are worth it.

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Old 01-18-2008, 02:38 AM   #8
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Check the kit - I know that AHS kits that have steeping grains come with the grains already in the bag and good to go, you might as well order your kit from midwest too and check with them directly. I just mentioned steeping grains because it makes the beer more flavourfull and it requires no extra equipment.

Dry hopping is putting hops in the secondary or if you aren't using a secondary then maybe putting hops in the primary after a week or so. The volume you would dry hop is small, like 1-2oz, and you could use one of those herb bouqeut garni bags from a kitchen supply store. That said, when I dry hopped an IPA I just threw the hops in and filtered out using some cheese cloth when moving to the bottling bucket. Worked like a charm and the beer really got a boost from the dry hopping. But keep it simple for brew #1, that's my advice.

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Old 01-18-2008, 02:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riored4v
...So with steeping grains, would I need a bag? (i ask because you mention its like making tea) I know I could use a bag when it comes to hops.. i think dry hopping..?? I remember listening to something regarding that on a podcast i listened to yesterday.
I didn't use a bag for steeping, but probably would have if I'd known better. I just tossed them in to steep, then used a large strainer to scoop them out.

You can get cheap 1 and 5 gallon paint strainer bags from Lowes like $1-$2 apiece and they work great. Also pick up some small zip ties there. THey come in handy.

I'd go ahead and use the bags for your grains, and your bittering/aroma hops. (in separate bags of course.)

Dry hopping is when you add hops to the secondary fermenter for additional aroma and flavor. People often use bags for this. I don't.
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Old 01-18-2008, 03:34 PM   #10
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thanks for the tips and advise guys. it appreciated.

Looks like I'm going to order up the Intermediate Kit from Midwest.. along with a Pale Ale kit and probably a few random accessories that aren't included but were included in the kit from Northwest. From the looks of it, i should be able to get more stuff while still costing less than the Northwest kit.

Then i'll just need to snag a brewing pot from Kohls since i have a gift card there..lol

2 quick questions before I head off to Kohls this weekend:

With the brewing pot.. is stainless steel the best way to go? Also, what size should I look in to? 4gal.. 5gal?


Thanks again for the help

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