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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Novice - need advice on kits, etc.
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:56 AM   #1
MooDaddy
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Default Novice - need advice on kits, etc.

Hi folks, I've finally decided to stop thinking about home brewing and start doing it.

I am thinking of getting this kit:

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/brewing-starter-kit.html

Questions:

1. I already have a new 5 gallon stainless steel pot - other than bottles and an ingredient kit, are there other essential - or better - items I need besides that which comes in the kit?

2. Do I want a glass carboy or a "Better Bottle", or does it matter a great deal?

3. Being a complete novice, am I going to probably start with a "20 minute boil" ingredient kit? As in:

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/tradi...-boil-kit.html

4. Are the basic 20 minute boil ingredient kits ever "messed with" as in adding other stuff, or is that a dumb question? (I am interested in the Irish Stout but thought of adding a bit of chocolate or something but may be getting ahead of myself here)

5. What is the purpose of a wort chiller and do I need one right off the bat?

6. Is boiling on the stove adequate for home brewing purposes or do I need a more powerful burner system?

Thanks, Tim

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Old 11-30-2010, 04:02 AM   #2
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1- a thermometer and some sanitizer

2- you have what you need in that area, in the kit

3- no clue

4- I would stick with the basic recipe for at least a couple of brews to get the procedure down.

5- A wort chiller cools the wort down after boiling. It is not a necessity for partial boils. Just set the pot in a sink full of cold water or even ice water to cool it down.

6- I do full boils on my stove. Other than my inside boil pots not having valves I prefer to boil in the kitchen for now. Some stoves however are not " strong" enough. try it with a pot full of water...If you try it and it is close, try wrapping the pot in aluminum foil. leave the lid on until it starts boiling thm remove it.

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Old 11-30-2010, 04:15 AM   #3
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1. The kit does include a thermometer. For sanitizer, I recommend Star San (get the 32oz.)

2. Steve is right. You have what you need in the kit if you want to ferment in the bucket without the spigot. Don't try and do primary fermentation in that 5 gallon carboy though. As far as the glass vs. Better Bottle question, you'll find much debate many times over on this forum. Personally I prefer glass.

3. Is that a question?

4. Don't 'mess with' any recipes until you've made a few brews and you know that you can produce a great, drinkable product first. Otherwise, if it ends up tasting like horse piss, you won't know if its your process or your extra ingredients.

5. What Steve said.

6. Again what Steve said. Since you're doing partial boils, you should have no problem doing it on the stove. Don't even think about trying to do a 5 gallon boil in a 5 gallon pot.


edit: Just looked at the picture, it looks like the included thermometer is the stick on the side of the bucket type. You will need to buy one. I used a floating thermometer like this one when I first started. Some people don't like glass ones, so you might go for a digital one similar to this one.


Some extra items that aren't a necessity, but are nice to have:
----------
*Bottle Tree-for drying bottles
*Bottling Wand-you'll need some food safe tubing to attach it to the bucket
*Scale-for measuring extract, hops, and grains later on
*Thief-for extracting samples from the fermenter
*Hydrometer test jar-has a sturdier base than just using the tube the hydrometer comes in

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Old 11-30-2010, 04:32 AM   #4
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I'm only going to address question 2. I started brewing a little over a month ago and have 2 batches bottled and a third in the 7.5 fermenter bucket. I've thought about getting a second fermenter (Better Bottle carboy) just to see the fermentation process but have decided it's not worth the pain in aeration, cleaning, and pouring the wort into after it's cooled. IMHO. I do want a second fermenter though to get the pipeline going faster. I've been thinking of asking local restaurants for their buckets to save some money. Why spend 13 bucks on something you can get for free?
The most important thing to have is fun and patience. It's not as hard as some make it out to be. I find the hardest part is leaving it alone in the fermenter for 3 weeks while nature does it's thing.

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Old 11-30-2010, 11:20 PM   #5
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Thanks folks - much appreciated. One additional question - for now anyway. Although this will no doubt sound like blasphemy here on this forum, is it possible to cut brew recipes in half. My wife does not drink beer at all, I have no close friends who drink much at all, and even if I consume a couple a week, a full 5 gallon yield will take me forever to finish, and I'd like to try a number of different types.

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Old 11-30-2010, 11:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MooDaddy View Post
Thanks folks - much appreciated. One additional question - for now anyway. Although this will no doubt sound like blasphemy here on this forum, is it possible to cut brew recipes in half. My wife does not drink beer at all, I have no close friends who drink much at all, and even if I consume a couple a week, a full 5 gallon yield will take me forever to finish, and I'd like to try a number of different types.
Given that you may be better off with a Mr Beer kit.

A lot of good stuff here:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/mr-b...estions-46360/

and it can be bought here among other places:
http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Beer-Deluxe...1159577&sr=8-1
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MooDaddy View Post
Thanks folks - much appreciated. One additional question - for now anyway. Although this will no doubt sound like blasphemy here on this forum, is it possible to cut brew recipes in half. My wife does not drink beer at all, I have no close friends who drink much at all, and even if I consume a couple a week, a full 5 gallon yield will take me forever to finish, and I'd like to try a number of different types.

It is very possible. Though arguably not ideal (but so is stove top partial boil, and that's not stopping me.

As for Question 3:
I would recommend skipping the "beginner" 20-minute boil kit. If you can boil for 20 minutes, you can boil for 60 min. Instead find a simple recipe and purchase the ingredients (there are tons in the forums). Or better yet, if you have a local homebrew store, go there and ask them for a simple recipe.

Remember, Relax, Have a Homebrew.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:14 AM   #8
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i thought 5 gallons was a lot before i started brewing two months ago, and now i'm already wishing i had at least a 6.5 gallon carboy.

once you realize how much effort/time goes into a brew day and a bottling day, you will wish your batch was twice as big.

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Old 12-01-2010, 01:31 AM   #9
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High, I'm new and have only done 3 batches so far. Having just started myself and if I were to do it again I would...

Get the $59 starter kit... answered more in #2

1. I pour my wort through a metal strainer, other then that the kit has pretty much everything. Oh I use a kitchen scale too, I suppose with a recipe kit you don't need a scale, I already owned one. Some form of thermometer to see how much the wort has cooled and for steeping specialty grains. I was using specialty grains by batch 2, batch 4 will be a partial mash.

2. I have yet to use the carboy in the $90 kit, it just takes up space. I would have rather saved the money and bought a carboy when I needed one. I found a $28 carboy on amazon today and its 6 gallons instead of the 5 gallon in the kit.

3. I don't know what a 20 minute kit is. Sounds like a gimmick to save time, just get a traditional kit.

5. This can wait

6. I can boil 3 gallons on my stove without a problem, doing some reading on the forum it seems an electric stove won't boil more then 4.

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Old 12-01-2010, 02:35 AM   #10
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I'd pass on the 20 minute kit unless your short on time. It comes with pre hopped extract. You can do better. Go with extract and steeping grains.

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