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Old 01-05-2013, 01:02 AM   #1
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Default Possibly dumb question about batch sizes

I received from my girlfriend a pretty terrific and unexpected Christmas present of a ticket to a beginner's brewing class at Bitter & Esters in Brooklyn, as well as a gift card that I believe will be enough to get me most of the starting equipment there. I've never brewed before, and never thought much about it, but now that I have had my ass kicked in that direction, I'm really looking forward to getting started.

I see that they sell equipment kits for 2.5-gallon and 5-gallon batches (http://store.bitterandesters.com/index.php?c=63). My apartment is smallish, and at my rate of consumption I'm not sure how I feel about brewing and storing 2 cases of beer bottles at a time. That and the inclusion of your choice of ingredient package in the 2.5-gallon kits, make them a tempting option.

But, I do know there's a certain likelihood that I'll end up LOVING this hobby, and maybe I'll find that 5 gallons isn't that much when you're sharing it with people.

I guess my dumb question is...Is there any good reason that I haven't noticed that would stop me from buying a 5-gallon kit, but brewing 2.5 gallon batches in it at first? If the big kit is scalable for small batches, then it might not be that hard a choice at all.

I've been lurking here a few days in anticipation of taking this class, and you folks seem mostly really nice. I hope I have something to contribute to this community very soon.

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Old 01-05-2013, 01:06 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by IgloosNate View Post
I received from my girlfriend a pretty terrific and unexpected Christmas present of a ticket to a beginner's brewing class at Bitter & Esters in Brooklyn, as well as a gift card that I believe will be enough to get me most of the starting equipment there. I've never brewed before, and never thought much about it, but now that I have had my ass kicked in that direction, I'm really looking forward to getting started.

I see that they sell equipment kits for 2.5-gallon and 5-gallon batches (http://store.bitterandesters.com/index.php?c=63). My apartment is smallish, and at my rate of consumption I'm not sure how I feel about brewing and storing 2 cases of beer bottles at a time. That and the inclusion of your choice of ingredient package in the 2.5-gallon kits, make them a tempting option.

But, I do know there's a certain likelihood that I'll end up LOVING this hobby, and maybe I'll find that 5 gallons isn't that much when you're sharing it with people.

I guess my dumb question is...Is there any good reason that I haven't noticed that would stop me from buying a 5-gallon kit, but brewing 2.5 gallon batches in it at first? If the big kit is scalable for small batches, then it might not be that hard a choice at all.

I've been lurking here a few days in anticipation of taking this class, and you folks seem mostly really nice. I hope I have something to contribute to this community very soon.
I'd say get the 2.5 bucket to start. If you do really fall in love with the hobby (and I'm guessing you will) buying the bigger bucket won't set you back much. Plus you'll have a small fermenter to do extreme/experimental brewing with!

Welcome to the obsession!
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:09 AM   #3
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A 5 gallon equipment kit is the way to go. You can pick up a smaller fermenter to brew 2.5 gal batches using your 5 gallon kit. The only thing stopping you from scaling down to 2.5 gal batches in a 5 gallon kit would be that fermenting in a bucket or container that is too large (ie. 5 gallon fermenter with 2.5 gallons in it) will lead to too much oxygen in your beer which will lead to off flavors. I suggest the 5 gallon kit, + their cheapest 2.5 gallon fermenter (shouldn't be more than a few bucks) that way when you are ready you will have the stuff you want to go to a full scale setup.

Remember that you will also need a kettle of some sort most kits don't include one. A large stock pot should work for a 2.5 gallon batch but when you go to 5 gallons I think you will want something larger.

The 5 gallon kit is more likely to come with a bottling bucket, the proper sized siphon and tubing while a 2.5 gallon kit likely won't

EDIT: I just now clicked the link and for 8 dollars difference I'm standing by the idea of a 5 gallon kit with one 2.5 gal bucket

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Old 01-05-2013, 01:14 AM   #4
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My suggestion is to gear up for 5 gallon, that's pretty much the standard for home brewing. Welcome to your new addiction!

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Old 01-05-2013, 01:16 AM   #5
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Looking at the kit prices I would opt for selling the gift card and buying from somewhere else. But either way I would wait until after the brewing class to make the decision. I started with a small kit, and after 3 batches I upgraded. Remember beer gets better with age as well. The longer they sit the better they usually taste. Those 2 cases of beer are good for a long time! Just my opinion. Happy brewing!

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Old 01-05-2013, 01:19 AM   #6
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A 5 gallon equipment kit is the way to go. You can pick up a smaller fermenter to brew 2.5 gal batches using your 5 gallon kit. The only thing stopping you from scaling down to 2.5 gal batches in a 5 gallon kit would be that fermenting in a bucket or container that is too large (ie. 5 gallon fermenter with 2.5 gallons in it) will lead to too much oxygen in your beer which will lead to off flavors. I suggest the 5 gallon kit, + their cheapest 2.5 gallon fermenter (shouldn't be more than a few bucks) that way when you are ready you will have the stuff you want to go to a full scale setup.
Ah, this is exactly what I didn't know, and I'm so glad I asked! I would have never guessed that using a too-large bucket would cause that problem.

That's a great reply. Thanks!
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:27 AM   #7
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Get the 5 gallon kit, then hit your local bakeries or bakery departments at your grocer for some of their empty cake icing buckets. I got 4 free 2.5 gallon buckets and a 3 gallon bucket that I used for bottling from my local BiLo grocer. All of them were free too.

Then you have the best of both worlds.

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Old 01-05-2013, 01:28 AM   #8
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Definitely get the 5 gal kit and just brew 2.5 gals if you want. I brew 2.5 gal half-batches of experimental beers or high gravity ones all the time. Fermenting 2.5 gals in a large bucket is fine also, fermentation produces CO2 and the yeast consume the oxygen. You just wouldn't secondary or bulk age in a big vessel. A 3 gal Better Bottle also works for primary for 2.5 gals.

Either way, the 5 gal kit is the way to go and I'd suggest an 8 gal (32 qt) kettle. Buckets are pretty inexpensive to add in any size.

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Old 01-05-2013, 01:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by thaworm69 View Post
Looking at the kit prices I would opt for selling the gift card and buying from somewhere else. But either way I would wait until after the brewing class to make the decision. I started with a small kit, and after 3 batches I upgraded. Remember beer gets better with age as well. The longer they sit the better they usually taste. Those 2 cases of beer are good for a long time! Just my opinion. Happy brewing!
Noted. From following a few links I've seen around here, I have seen similar kits a bit cheaper. But I think (or hope) that their in-store pricing may be a little more reasonable, and I wouldn't have to pay to ship it. I definitely agree that I ought to go shopping after and not before I take the class. Thanks!
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:48 AM   #10
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Definitely get the 5 gal kit and just brew 2.5 gals if you want. I brew 2.5 gal half-batches of experimental beers or high gravity ones all the time. Fermenting 2.5 gals in a large bucket is fine also, fermentation produces CO2 and the yeast consume the oxygen. You just wouldn't secondary or bulk age in a big vessel. A 3 gal Better Bottle also works for primary for 2.5 gals.

Either way, the 5 gal kit is the way to go and I'd suggest an 8 gal (32 qt) kettle. Buckets are pretty inexpensive to add in any size.
I agree with this response. I'm currently fermenting a 2.5 gallon batch in a 6.5 gallon bucket and the airlock activity indicates plenty of gas being produced. You'd only need a smaller secondary fermenter (and you probably don't need to secondary at all).
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