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Old 08-01-2011, 01:51 AM   #1
IONmicrobrew
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Default New home brewer - How to begin setup?

I've spent a few hours looking around the site and reading some of the stickies, FAQs, and random threads because I'm interested in brewing some of my own. I've been pretty intrigued by the process and as we all do, really love the taste of awesome beer. Reading about the start of some micro breweries, Sierra Nevada in particular, and listening to stories of amateur home brewers has effectively given me the motivation to do it myself.

That said, how should I begin? I've seen several home brew kits available at MrBeer, Austin homebrew, Northern, etc. but I really want to just do everything from scratch. What am I going to need to do this?

I do want to keep a pretty tight budget, but am willing to spend on what is most important to ensure a successful brew. I know, I know, use the search function. I am and will, however, it would be easier for me and potentially others to collect some great information. There are alot of great resources here and I would appreciate the help. Thanks.

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Old 08-01-2011, 02:40 PM   #2
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A couple of 6.5-7 gallon buckets for 5-6G brews that are food safe. A hydrometer,auto siphon,long stirring spoon/paddle. Temp strips for the buckets. You could even buy spigots for the buckets. Some tubing to rack from fermenter bucket to bottling bucket. Airlocks & grommets,bottles/bottle capper. That should be a good start. Besides a 5G or more ss stock pot to brew in,& a floating thermometer at least foe when you put the kettle in ice water to cool it down to pitch temp.
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Old 08-01-2011, 02:48 PM   #3
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When I first began, I bought a starter kit at the LHBS that is similar to Northern Brewer's Basic kit. I still use everything except the sanitizer (it was crap...I use StarSan) and capper (I use a bench capper now, but a lot of people still use their wing cappers).

The other major thing you'll need is a boil kettle.

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Old 08-01-2011, 02:57 PM   #4
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I'd agree that there's no shame in buying one of the "beer kits" from your LHBS or online. They come with everything you'll need to get started (except ingredients in most cases).

I got my kit at my LHBS for $60, and it came with the 6.5 bottling bucket and 6.5 fermenting bucket, a capper, caps, racking cane, bottling wand, tubing, sanitizer, recipe/instruction booklet, a copy of zymurgy, hydrometer, adhesive temperature strip, and an airlock.

If you already have a 3-5 gallon boil kettle (for doing extract brews) you're pretty much set.

Some things I ended up buying later on to add to my equipment: A candy thermometer, a long stirring paddle, a cheap test tube for the hydrometer, star san, grommets and airlocks for extra buckets, more caps.

I got a bunch of free buckets from the bakery (2-5 gallon).

EDIT: If you're looking to get right into all grain, there are more expensive kits with the appropriate gear.

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Old 08-01-2011, 03:07 PM   #5
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I just brewed my first batch yesterday. I started with the Brewers Best Deluxe kit, a $65 turkey fryer from Menards and $23.50 worth of ingredients.

From my very short experience I will tell you this: You don't necessarily need the big kit. The smallest kit (about $65) will get you the two fermenting buckets you need and maybe the thermometer.

The turkey fryer makes this easy. You dont' *need* it, but I would have been in deep %#$ if I had made the mess in the kitchen that I did on the driveway. Take the difference in the two starter kits and get at least a 30 qt pot if not the whole kit.

I did BM's Centennial Blonde as an extract recipe for my first try. I also have a local shop that had everything making it easy. A kit would have been good to.

Try it!! I had a blast and the suspense is killing me!

ETA: Crap! I just realized you're from Cinci! Paradise Brewers on the east side has everything you need. Jungle Jim's has the kits as well and ingredient kits but Paradise has better prices.

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Old 08-01-2011, 03:18 PM   #6
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Hi! There was one thing you NEED that everyone else forgot: Patience! It seems obvious, but I left mine at the HBS when I bought my first "kit".

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Old 08-01-2011, 03:29 PM   #7
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You know, I just noticed you said "but I really want to just do everything from scratch. What am I going to need to do this?"

Do you mean you wanted to piece together your kit from scratch (what I though you meant at first) or that you want to *brew* everything from scratch, meaning going All Grain?

Because if you want to go All Grain, there are a bunch of other items you'll need: Mash/Lauter Tun, At least a 7.5-10 gallon kettle, a propane burner, a wort chiller, etc.

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Old 08-01-2011, 03:36 PM   #8
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IMO, the smartest and most economical basic all grain home brew system would be to go with a batch sparge setup using a cooler (I prefer the rectangular coolers, 48 Qt). I would probably use a CPVC pipe manifold. Gravity drain the MT to the BK and also to the fermenter if you have the necessary height to do so.

I would shop around for the essentials rather than buying in a kit form. Make yourelf an equipment list (the list will be endless and it should be prioritized if you can't buy everything right away).

1. Boil Kettle - 10 gal minimum preferred
2. Mash Tun - 48 qt cooler
3. Fermenter(s)
4. Propane Burner
5. Wort Chiller (you can get by without one for awhile if need be)
6. Lots of smaller misc equipment like funnels, long handled spoon for stirring, transfer tubing, bottle capper, hydrometer, thermometer(s), kitchen timer, measuring spoons, scale for hops and grain, measuring cup(s).
7. Cleaning and sanitizing chemicals (Oxiclean & StarSan are the favorites, but others do exist)
8. ...and on...and on...and on

I would use all grain ingredient kits for the first few brews until you get the hang of the mechanics part of brewing. Once you have that down, you can move up to putting your own recipes together. This is a relatively cheap hobby overall. You can improvise a lot of equipment which will get you thinking about better, more convenient methods. That will often lead to dreaming about pumps and such. Soon you will be feeling like a kid at xmas each time the UPS truck arrives!

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Old 08-01-2011, 06:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SarahMatt View Post
Hi! There was one thing you NEED that everyone else forgot: Patience! It seems obvious, but I left mine at the HBS when I bought my first "kit".
Well said! I did the same thing with my second batch. I think I traded patience for willamette hops or something. The beer was ok, but not nearly as good as the many batches since I started working on the yeasts schedule.

Back on equipment, I'd spend the extra money for a kit with a glass carboy and all the stuff you need; hydro, thermo, capper, racking cane and tubing, bottling wand, maybe a book like 'complete joy' or 'how to brew'. Buy an extra bucket so you have two. That way you can ferment two batches, get a pipeline going, and have the second bucket for bottling and cleaning equipment. I got my first kit from homebrew heaven, the deluxe kit with all the stuff you need, 'complete joy' (3rd addition), and a cheesy how to video.

Aside from that, these HBT forums are priceless. You'll learn a ton from reading and searching here. Congrats and best of luck. Hope we see you posting one of those 'omg, I just cracked my first bottle and it's awesome!' threads!
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Old 08-01-2011, 09:47 PM   #10
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I put my kit together myself...of course I already had some basic components. (I had a large kettle...a 6.5 Gal Glass Carboy....and a burner)...All I bought was a Beer Kit...a Bung for the Carboy...A Airflow Valve...Hydrometer...I am getting ready to buy a Siphon and a Spring Tip Bottler Filler...Thats pretty much my kit...(I have been saving my Belgian Bottles with swing tops for about a year now as well as other bottles that I know the labels come off easy)

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