Overwhelmed newbie, trying to start decently
Hey guys! New member here from south Georgia. Always had a passion for the brew and I think it's time to start seeing what it's all about first hand. I have a nice starter's advantage in that I have a partner willing to make this process happen both with the effort and finances. I know there are countless opinions on different starter setups and I have tried to search all I could in terms of "bang for the buck".
We are both quite sure this will turn into something "serious" and would like to start off with hardware that can expand with out needs. We have a $380 budget after what we've spent on the essential books.
What we are quite sure of is that we will need at least three glass carboys in our budget. Two will be for beer and one for wine. Everything else is so overwhelming I don't really understand how people get started at all :) space is not really an issue as we have a room that can be dedicated to this.
We have a keg, and are looking into converting into a "keggle" we both realize this is overkill for a beginners setup, but it looks to be the cheapest way to get a kettle...
So all we really know is that we have $380, decided on glass carboys, have a keg for conversion, and will not be doing AG right off the bat. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
Please PM me if you have any starter type equipment you would like to sell, we are definitely looking for quality used equipment so we have more money for ingredients.
BEER EQUIPMENT FOR SALE
Will Let Complete System Go For $475 Cash
Sears Kenmore Chest Freezer 8. 8 cu. ft. ($275) ($125)
115V, 60Hz, Model # 253.14922101
Inside Lighting, Outside Adjust Temp Dial, Inside/Outside Drain Plug
The Controller External Thermostat ($60) (30)
6 Gallon Unbreakable Non-Porous PET Carboy ($25) ($12)
5 Gallon Glass Carboy (takes #7 stopper) ($34) ($17)
5 Gallon Glass Carboy (takes #7 stopper) ($34) ($17)
Carboy Handle (plastic-coated metal handle) ($5)
Hydrometer 12" long ($10)
Plastic Hydrometer Jar 13" tall ($6)
Home Beverage System Includes: ($259) ($110)
5 Gallon Cornelius Keg (completely rebuilt)
Two-Gauge Single Outlet C02 Regulator
5 LB Aluminum C02 Tank
Dual C02 Gas Connectors
5 Gallon Cornelius Keg (completely rebuilt) ($125) ($50)
Double 3" Chrome Beer Tower ($135) ($70)
22" Rigid Stainless Steel Air Wand ($34) ($20)
20 LB Steel Nitrogen Tank (for stouts) ($75) ($35)
Assorted Brushes, Tubing, Keg Parts, O-Rings Etc.
don't bother with glass carboys. They are heavy, expensive, and dangerous (breakage) for what they are. Plastic buckets or better bottles FTW. I might consider a glass carboy if I wanted to age a beer for a period of time (6-12 months)...otherwise your money is better spent elsewhere.
I'd go ahead and use the keg as a keggle....buy a weldless bulkhead kit so you can drain it.
Also look at wort chillers and a means to control fermentation temps....these two are important for making beer that rivals commerical stuff.
Otherwise, you can't go wrong with the basic starter kit from the home brew shop (local or online)
As of now, we see little reason to not make our own immersion type chiller. Not sure how much $$ that saves, but it seems like a worthwhile project.
As for the Keggle, is this something weilding companies can do with a keg and instructions. We lack a plasma cutter, and my partner really wants a "professional" to make the conversion lol.
I think you should be able to get a basic kit for that much.
If you are doing All Grain, then it might be tight.
I would not use glass fermenter for beer, unless you see yourself doing very strong beers, like barleywine or Russian imperial Stout. They would be nice for wine, certainly. But buckets and better bottles work as well for most beers IMO.
I'd build a cooler mash tun, and get a large kettle, your choice of fermenters (probably two each) and a bottling bucket. A grain crusher would be nice, but you can start off having your grain crushed by the lhbs.
There are various resellers that offer basic kits. Many of them start at around $100-150. I'm sure you could adjust up and stay within your budget. An immersion chiller is very easy to make, and you should have one st start with IMO.
You can cut a keggle if you have a keg and a cut off wheel or grinder. Or you can probably call any welder and have them cut it for you with the plasma torch. Each method will produce a pretty decent cut. Have them sand the edge with a 2" grinder to keep you from cutting yourself. What they can do in a few minutes with air tools you'll spend hours doing by hand.
Take the keg to the welder to cut the top off and while they're at it, put in a 1/2 valve from bargainfittings.com - its a kettle that will last a lifetime !
Consider making a counterflow chiller instead of an immersion chiller , it's only $10 more and much quicker .. You'll find the DIY plans on here
I second(or third) plastic fermenters and use buckets o aquatainers from walmart (they're about 10$ and 7.5 gallons)
Start thinking about temp control for fermentation - I found a chest freezer on craigslist for $40 and a eBay temp controller for $30 I can fit 30g in at a time
You guys really rock! We only really decided on glass due to the fact that wine was also an interest and that it was supposed to be able to let you "see" what's going on in the fermentation process. We will look into the Better Bottles. Since wine is still an interest with our budget, maybe two glass and two better bottles are in order. We will also look at the DIY counter chiller.
Seems like our first hardware purchase should be the equipment needed to outfit the keg and get our carboys in order.
I started off on an absolute shoe string budget. If I'd had $380 to set up my home brewery, this is what I honestly would have bought.
1. 4 Better Bottles, or Brewing Buckets (because you're always going to want to have at least two brews fermenting/conditioning at any time)
2. Stoppers, Airlocks, and Blowoff tube hosing for your carboys, a big spoon, funnel, strainer.
3. A nice big brew kettle. Get the best kettle you can buy. Trust me. You will thank yourself later. (You have to decide whether or not to do the propane outdoor turkey frier setup, or brew on the stove. I personally brew on the stove.)
4. Bottle washer. You NEED this, whether or not you realize it yet.
5. Sanitizer. (Absolutely essential piece of kit here, make sure to buy lots.)
6. Hydrometer (Get it.)
7. Bottles, caps, priming sugar, and labels are nice to have.
8. Ingredients. (Shop around. I buy bulk LME because I can normally find it for a good price. You can find excellent prices on hops if you shop around, as well.)
This is not meant to be a definitive list, just things that I would have bought.
That list helps immensely. We have been debating about equipment for so dang long, that I almost wish we just got one of the $100 kits so we were working on SOMETHING! Lol
All those little things like airlocks and stoppers add up. I am going to post in classified under WTB for whatever we can get our paws on. We won't be able to cook on the stove and will need a propane burner.
You guys have really given me a great starting point, I know my question is something that must get asked over and over, but everyone with different levels of dedication and budget, it's hard not to come out with a unique answer.
We are going to focus on the luxury of having a keg and order two Better Bottles and their bungs/tubing. Once the kettle and fermentation are sqaured, I think all the other decisions will be made easier.
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