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Old 10-21-2009, 11:41 PM   #1
PedalFast
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Default A couple questions from the new guy.

Hey there!

Just registered today, and am interested in brewing. Introduction here.

Anyhow, a couple questions.

With a wide assortment of brewing kits available, where the hell does one start? I see cheap ones, and I see more expensive ones. I don't mind spending the extra money, if the extra money spent is done so on quality equipment. However, as a complete newb quality equipment can sometimes mean more complicated equipment. So I need to find a good medium of ease of use, with quality. Any ideas or product recommendations?

I live / work on a large organic orchard. We grow Pomegranates, Apricots, Plums, Grapes, etc. I have seen Apricot Ales, and Googling Pomegranate Ale popped up some results. I, however had never had any of these Ales. How are they? How does one incorporate these tasty fruit into some sort of flavoring for beer? Can this be done with the simple brew kits?

Hops. I'd like to grow my own. I've done a bit of reading but would like to know what others think of this, and how many people here grow their own hops (and other ingredients). I'd just like to produce some tasty, high quality organic beers.

Thats all for now.


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Old 10-21-2009, 11:53 PM   #2
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Welcome

As for equipment, I would probably go the cheap to moderate route. I started with a 5 gallon stainless steel brew kettle, a simple 6 gallon primary bucket, 5 gallon bottling bucket with spigot, bottle capper, syphon hose, bottling wand, thermometer and hydrometer.

I brewed a couple of easy extract brews with that equipment and then added a 5 gallon glass carboy for secondary fermenting, a large strainer, auto-syphon and a turkey fryer. When I made the jump to all grain brewing, I made myself a mashing tun for about $40 and a wort chiller for about $35 using stuff bought at home depot.

My next investments will be kegging equipment and a fridge that I can rig with taps. Also need to look into what gear will be needed to do lagers.


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Old 10-22-2009, 12:04 AM   #3
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First of welcome! Others with more experience will offer very good advise. I started making beer because I was bored last winter. I have been into wine making for a while and had most stuff. Here is my list for making beer from extract:

Turkey fryer with propane burner or 22 quart Stainless steel pot
Nylon mesh bag for grains or other goodies
50 ft of 1/4 copper tubing to make into wort chiller
Thermometer 0 F to 400 F
6 gal glass carboy
7 gallon bucket with lid
several air locks (bubblers)
20 ft of 3/8 inch diameter tubing
1 turkey baster
1 hydrometer (get 2)
bottles i started with 12 oz (200) get 22 oz or flip tops you will not regret it
FUTURE (Cornelius kegs)

If you intend to do all grain then you will need more. There are members here that will post their set up for all grain. That is my next step here in the next few weeks.
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Old 10-22-2009, 12:10 AM   #4
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Agree with above. Start with something simple and somewhat cheap. But if you have the money upgrade the basic kit with "makes life easy" items such as an auto-siphon instead of the simple racking cane and bottle filler. I personally started with a cheap extract kit with an expected turn around time that was pretty quick so I can get somewhat instant satisfaction.

But basically I would suggest as your knowledge grows with brewing start increasing your equipment to match.

And for using of fruit from the orchard check out some of the fruit recipes that utilize extract but during fermentation you throw some fruit in to add flavor of your orchard.

Good luck and happy brews! Let us know your progress and future crazy ingenuity of using the fruit from the orchard into some amazing holy beers.

Great.. now I want an orchard for easier access to ingredients and the room to grow my own hops
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Old 10-22-2009, 01:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PedalFast View Post
With a wide assortment of brewing kits available, where the hell does one start? I see cheap ones, and I see more expensive ones. I don't mind spending the extra money, if the extra money spent is done so on quality equipment. However, as a complete newb quality equipment can sometimes mean more complicated equipment. So I need to find a good medium of ease of use, with quality. Any ideas or product recommendations? Thats all for now.
I would recommend carboys over buckets - its always nice to be able to see whats going on in there.

Depending on your level of confidence you could jump in feet first and go all grain, or take some time to get your feet wet and start with an extract kit. There are tons of them out there, and I would recommend one that is a style you know and enjoy.

At a minimum you will need a fermenting vessel and a stockpot that can hold at least 3 gallons (4 or 5 is better). You will need a siphon, an auto-siphon is better from a sanitation standpoint and not that much more expensive. You will also need a method of bottling/kegging your beer. If you go the bottle route (cheaper) you'll need a bottling wand to stick in your siphon or a bottling bucket with spigot. If you want to keg, get some CO2 and a corny keg.

Also, get a hydrometer. If you brew without one, you'll wish you had it.

Good luck!
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Old 10-22-2009, 01:15 AM   #6
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+1 on the carboy over the bucket. Don't get me wrong, I still use a bucket when my carboys are already in use. However, I have found that I really like seeing what's going on without messing with that damn lid. Also, taking samples is easier as well. I'd recommend better bottles over glass carboys. Their lighter and cheaper plus if you drop them you don't have shards of glass everywhere.

Also, another +1 for an autosiphon. If you buy a kit and it doesn't come with one, make sure to pick one up. Their only about 10 bucks.
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Old 10-22-2009, 01:45 AM   #7
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I disagree with the carboys over buckets. I use my buckets -- they have a spigot on them, so taking a sample is much easier, and when I go to keg my beer, I don't have to mess around with starting a siphon.

As for what kind of equipment, my real suggestion is to go to your local homebrew shop. Be sure it is a true homebrew shop, and not a hobby shop that happens to sell homebrew equipment. I'd suggest going during a week day, if you can, when he is likely to be less busy. Then, if he's any good, you can engage him in conversation, and he can learn more about you. For example, do you like to build stuff, improvise? Or do you want essentially a turnkey operation? Then he can steer you to the right equipment. He can also give you advise on using your fruit, and other recipes.

A word of caution, I've heard homebrew shop operators say some crazy stuff. I strongly suggest picking up a couple good homebrewing books, so that you can check what he says.
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Old 10-22-2009, 01:48 AM   #8
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I'm going to be a contrarian and -1 the carboy over the bucket. Is it cool to see your beer in action? You bet. But it serves no other purpose really. If you go glass, they are heavy and hard to carry around and can possibly be dangerous. Plastic better bottles are lighter and easier to carry, but they still have a small opening and can be a little harder to clean than a bucket and they still generally cost a little more.

IMO, unless you absolutely HAVE to see your beer while it's fermenting or need something to secondary in, just go with the bucket. It's cheaper and easier to carry and clean and store. Besides, you shouldn't have to keep an eye on your beer anyway and if you can see what's going on you might mistake something for an infection since you're staring at it every day. Just throw it in a bucket, snap on the lid with an airlock and let it sit for a few weeks. It will turn out great even if it doesn't look as cool.
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Old 10-22-2009, 02:08 AM   #9
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Default Corollary question

The debate about bucket vs carboy brings up a question for me...If a secondary is often used when using adjuncts like fruit, wouldn't using a bucket as a secondary be easier? Most threads I've read so far talk about using a carbot as a secondary. I would think it would be more difficult to get the adjuncts into, and consequently get out of, a narrow-mouthed carboy.

Since I'm looking into upgrading my gear from trusty ol' Mr. Beer, I'd love to know what you all have to say .
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Old 10-22-2009, 02:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dribble4all View Post
The debate about bucket vs carboy brings up a question for me...If a secondary is often used when using adjuncts like fruit, wouldn't using a bucket as a secondary be easier? Most threads I've read so far talk about using a carbot as a secondary. I would think it would be more difficult to get the adjuncts into, and consequently get out of, a narrow-mouthed carboy.

Since I'm looking into upgrading my gear from trusty ol' Mr. Beer, I'd love to know what you all have to say .
Usually it has to do with head space in the container and how long you plan on letting it sit. If you're going to let the beer sit for many months you may want to remove it from the yeast cake. In addition, you want to keep oxygen from making contact with the beer. If you have a bucket primary and open the lid a few times to take gravity samples or introduce fruit or hops or something you may loose some of that CO2 blanket that's protecting your beer. So, by moving to a carboy for a "secondary" or to add fruit or dry hop you're generally left with much less head space on top of the beer thanks to the design of the bottle.


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