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Old 03-23-2009, 05:29 PM   #1
DarkHelmet
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Default New here, have a few questions

(I had multiple tabs open and accidentally posted this in the wrong sub-forum initially..)

Hey all

I've recently become interested in home brewing and am going to purchase equipment soon. There is a dizzying variety of choices and I'd really appreciate a few tips. I've cleared up some confusion by using the search feature, but haven't been able to answer these questions yet...

--Is there any advantage (besides saving money) to using a plastic bucket for the primary fermentation then switching to a glass carboy for the secondary? Would two glass carboys be okay? (just wondering if the wide-mouth bucket makes something easier...)

--I see a lot of three kettle set ups, which I suppose are used for all-grain brewing?.... Pardon my extreme newb-ness, but besides saving time, what are the advantages of using three kettles? Is it a necessity for some things?

--Is having a spout on the kettle really, incredibly helpful? Seems like it would be...

My budget is semi-flexible. I don't want to go overboard before I've even brewed my first batch, but I don't want to buy a bunch of stuff I'll replace in a couple months either. I'd like most of the equipment that comes in contact with the beer to be glass or stainless. Any recommendations for equipment that will save time brewing, or save money on shipping by buying locally, will be much appreciated. There aren't any home brewing shops nearby, but there is a Home Depot, a kitchen store, etc...

Thanks!

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Old 03-23-2009, 05:33 PM   #2
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1) Read up this thread: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/vs-p...alysis-109318/ There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but either will work. Make up your own mind about which one you prefer.

2) Yeah, that's for all grain brewing. If you're still brewing with extract, you don't need a setup like that.

3) It's pretty helpful, especially if you're doing 10 gallon batches. A pot full of 10 gallons of boiling hot liquid isn't something you want to be carrying around if you can avoid it.


If you don't have an LHBS near you, don't sweat it. I don't, so I get all of my supplies online. There are plenty of great online homebrew stores out there. Austin Homebrew Supply, Midwest Supplies, MoreBeer, Brewmasters Warehouse, etc...

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Old 03-23-2009, 11:30 PM   #3
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+1 on This vs. That thread.

Also make sure you read the threads at the top of the forum and Palmer's How to Brew. It's free online, so you can use that money you saved for more delicious ingredients.

As one newb to another, read as much as you can before you start; but once you start, go nuts. Experiment. Play with different kinds of hops. Use different kinds of specialty grains. You'll make better brews quicker (imho) then if you just use only extract or fear different ingredients.

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Old 03-24-2009, 12:09 AM   #4
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The bucket is cheap, easy, and you can buy many of them so you can have many brews going!!!!!!! Easy to clean after primary, stackable. Glass is exspencive, heavy and breakable. It's all preference. Read the vs thread.

As for the kettle. I wish I had spent more becuase i have to upgrade now because I am going all grain. If I could do it over again, I would spend more on the kettle and get a big one with a valve, so that now I dont have to upgrade to go all grain!

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I cant stop buying supplies! It's a sickness!!!! First the beginner supplies, then some upgrades, then a fermentation chamber, and now all grain! When will it stop?

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Old 03-24-2009, 01:00 AM   #5
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1) I use carboys rather than plastic buckets during primary because I like to watch the fermentation. I like to see the layer of sediment in the bottom of my carboy after 3 weeks and look inside to make sure things are progressing as they should. You can use either plastic (better bottle) or glass, see the VS thread...

2) Yup, that is for all grain brewing. You may get bit by that bug early, or you may never get bit with it... I am just starting my journey into all-grain brewing. For me, I tend to like to cook and bake from scratch so I want to brew from scratch for the same reasons...

3) I echo the sentiment to purchase as much kettle as you can afford. I am making the step up to all-grain, so I am going with a kettle with a spout on the bottom. The stainless steel vs aluminum thread is also in the VS thread... There are valid reasons to use either one. For me, the important thing is making sure that the pot doesn't have any "hot spots" or "cold spots", especially when I was going partial mash on the stove.

If you plan to bottle rather than keg, the recycle center is your friend. I have picked up many bottles there (not the twist off caps) for next to nothing. Oxyclean works great to clean lots of stuff including bottles and equipment. BE SURE TO PICK UP AND USE SANITIZER...

And last but not least, don't rely on your airlock as an indicator that your brew is fermenting, especially in buckets! I use it as a hypnotic device when I can't sleep but mainly to keep crap from falling into my beer...

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Old 03-24-2009, 03:05 AM   #6
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Lots of kits come with a plastic primary fermenter and glass carboy for secondary fermenter. Its an economical way to get started to see if enjoy brewing. I have been using the same bucket and carboy for years however I still brew mostly all extract. You can at least try that for 6 months to a year and if you get bit by the all grain bug, then go for it. By the way, what is stopping you from starting? I see threads where people read this site for months before starting. Not necessary! Buy some gear, buy a kit of ingredients and start cooking. You learn better by doing and all these posts you are reading will make more sense after you have made a few batches.

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Old 03-24-2009, 02:29 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the helpful replies! Much appreciated.

The only thing stopping me from getting started is that I'm on the fence about decisions such as buying a $40, 5-gallon stock pot from Target vs. buying a $160 8-gallon kettle w/spigot from MoreBeer... And glass carboys vs. plastic buckets... etc.

I guess I have a few things to think about, then I'm just going to hop right in.

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Old 03-24-2009, 02:37 PM   #8
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You can also look into PET Better Bottles....Love em' and work just as well as a glass carboy...and run around $20 at midwest for a 6 gallon bottle...

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Old 03-25-2009, 02:32 PM   #9
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Dark Helmet... I see your Schwartz is as big as mine! Let's see how well you handle it!

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Old 03-25-2009, 02:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkHelmet View Post
Thanks for all the helpful replies! Much appreciated.

The only thing stopping me from getting started is that I'm on the fence about decisions such as buying a $40, 5-gallon stock pot from Target vs. buying a $160 8-gallon kettle w/spigot from MoreBeer... And glass carboys vs. plastic buckets... etc.

I guess I have a few things to think about, then I'm just going to hop right in.
FWIW I am perfectly happy to use a plastic bucket for primary and plastic Better Bottle (well, a $4 PETE bottle from the cooler at work), but I also have a glass carboy for big beers or mead or whatever requires a long rest.

I'd make sure that I got a large pot suitable for all grain brewing. They are not cheap, but you can always use for other than brewing, and the resell value is certainly there later if you just never use it. Having to buy a second kettle when you find out you love this hobby is going to be a second major purchase.

One cheap option for 5 gal. batches is a turkey fryer on sale after the thanksgiving holiday. They can often be found for around $40. Also check craigslist for used deals. I see them on there all the time. THey come iwth a propane burner, which is real nice for full boils.

The fancy kettles at the brewing supply stores are very nice, and will more than do the job, but you can brew for much less if you choose to use a cheap pot from the kitchen store. I'd like to have a megapot or whatever, but I'm focusing my $ on other equipment since I already have a turkey fryer that works ok. I wish it had a thermometer and spigot, but I still got more stuff I want to get first.
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