The Poor College Brewer
Hey guys..I've been lurking this forum for the last couple weeks. I read some of the Mr Beer thread..but the vastness of it makes it difficult to get specific information even with the links. I'm in college...on a real budget but want to get started brewing. Luckily, I got a Mr Beer kid for approx 20$..so this will have to do for now.
Main thing is..I'm not that interested in extract brewing, it sort of seems like the easy bake version of brewing to me. I'm interested in all-grain but the large majority of recipes are written for 5 gallon batches. Of course, the Mr Beer is limited to 2 gallon batches. I may use the extract that comes with the kit for a first brew just to do it before I can get the ingredients for an all grain brew.
This is what I have to work with:
Mr Beer kit, various large pots, time and motivation.
This is what I really could use:
A good cheap thermometer, a good cheap hydrometer, and a thermostat for my garage fridge for fermentation (Because my parents keep the AC on at like 76-77).
I'm looking for anyone who uses the mr beer kit for all grain brews or has ever used the mr beer kit for all grain brews...or anyone who can offer any advice whatsoever to that absolute bear minimum budget brewer who is still looking to make good, unique beer.
Here's a link to an all grain tutorial
You mustn't of read far enough in the Mr beer thread, I put together a pretty detailed primer in there about brewing AG in a mr beer.
You can brew any sized batch you want. I do a lot of 2.5 gallon recipe test batches. You can even do 1 gallon AG brews. The basic brewing guys call that the six pack brew.
A recipe is scalable, so a 1 gallon recipe is 1/5th of a 5 gallon one....a 2.5 gallon one is half the ingredients.
2.5 gallons is one case of beer.
I use my normal 5 gallon mash tun for most of them, but I do a lot of Experiments, test recipes, or beers that I know I won't need/want more than a case of.
I sometimes use an unmodified 2 gallon cooler for a lot of my small btaches it holds up to 4 pounds of grain.
I just us a folding steamer in the bottom along with a grain bag. Just break off or unscrew the center post.
One of these, it helps to lift the grain bag above the spigot to keep the drainig from getting stuck.
I posted a lot of info in the mr beer thread that you may find helpful.
I posted some all grain small batchrecipes here, http://www.homebrewtalk.com/785533-post702.html
ANd a bit of a primer on AG with pics here http://www.homebrewtalk.com/738927-post659.html
But I mostly use my regular 5 gallon cooler mash tun which holds 14 pounds of grains...and 14 pounds of grain for a 2.5 gallon batch can be a mighty big beer.....
One of our memebers chubbykid had plans for a minikeg mashtun http://sites.google.com/site/chubbykidhomebrew/Home/equipment/mini-keg-lauter-tun
THe basic brewing radio guys are big fans of tiny batch brewing...3/4 gallon (1 6pack) in a 1 gallon winejug fermenter.
They demo the 6-pack IPA here
and they also have done barleywines as well.
I ferment my 2.5 gallon batches in all manner of things, I have a 3 gallon better bottle, I also use 3 gallon water jugs, AND my old Mr Beer keg (it's perfect because you can even lager in your own fridge with it when you are starting out.)
You can even ferment a 2.5 gallon batch in a 5 gallon carboy if you want, though I would say a 6.5 gallon carboy is a little too much headspace for my confort.
Hope this helps....any more questions feel free to ask...But look through ALL THE OTHER INFO first and I bet you, you won't HAVE any other questions. This has been thoroughly covered like just about everything else.
Want to go all grain cheap? Brew in a Bag (BIAB). If you have a large pot already, all you need is a curtain and some sewing skills or one of the 5-gallon paint strainer bags I have heard you can get from home depot (or similar home improvement store) and a burner of sorts. When going to smaller recipes, you can probably even use your stove - mine just doesn't have the ability to get 6+ gallons boiling.
I believe most recipes scale well, though for me most anything less than 5 gallons isn't worth the time (even for experimenting) since the bulk grain is pretty inexpensive for me and my fermenters hold 5 gallons. If I recall, you can scale everything linearly though I have heard of some differences in hop utilization - I don't know for certain though. I have pondered smaller recipes for things that would be expensive grain bills even with bulk grain, but to date haven't gone for it because I'd want to get smaller fermenters and such too.
It sounds like you should look into the Brew-in-a-bag method. It should work really well for 2 gallon batches. You won't need to buy much beyond what you already have.
As for recipes, 2 gallons is just 2/5 of 5 gallons, so just order 2/5 of the materials called for in the recipe. Timing should be the same, just use less ingredients.
Thanks to everyone..everyone has been more than helpful. I think I will go the brew in a bag method for now because of the small size of the batch...it should infuse just fine?
What you do is find a parent or relative to finance your operation in return for free beer :D Ask me how I know.
I'm in college, do my brewing when at my parents house an hour away from school. Nothing better than a homebrew after a hard day at class.. amirite?
I'd suggest getting a few extract batches in before hand. I haven't done AG before but i do find enough work involved in making extract batches that i'm less inclined to try.
I do think though that I will go the brew in a bag method when I do go all grain. I'll stick to 2.5 gallons for now because I'm the only one in my home who drinks beer and I drink pretty light..one beer or so every couple days perhaps.
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