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Old 07-27-2011, 02:50 PM   #1
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Default Yet another beginner thread, but this time about bare bones.

I want to start home-brewing, but I am a cheep bastard. I drink a lot of beer, so I know that I will need to stagger two 5 gallon batches at a time. What I want to know is if I can get away with just two 6.5 gal brew buckets that will double as bottling buckets, two airlocks, a pile of growlers, some sanitation stuff and one 3 gal pot.

I've been reading a lot of how-to stuff and watching a lot of youtube in the last few days, from what I can tell that is all I will need to buy.

I plan on brewing stouts, porters, IPAs and browns. So, can I get away with that setup?

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Old 07-27-2011, 02:57 PM   #2
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Growlers are not rated for the pressure required for bottling. You could bottle straight from the fermenter, and you'll want a hydrometer as well.

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Old 07-27-2011, 03:38 PM   #3
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I don't think homebrewings all that cheap of a hobby. Sure the beer itself technically costs a bit less, but the equipment.... Sure you can start cheap, make beer, but soon you'll want better beer and better equipment. So, IMO, you should just spend a bit more and get a good starter kit from Midwest or NB, you'll end up with all that equipment eventually, might as well get it now.
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:45 PM   #4
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you could get away with it, except for the growlers. you'd be better off with 2 liter soda bottles.

you can bottle straight from the primary. mix up the sugar solution (or whatever you are using to carb the beer) pour it in, stir it up GENTLY, let it settle back down for 10-15 minutes, then bottle. i'd just be worried about a bunch of the trub getting into it, plus.... whats another bucket? just store all your equipment in that seperate 6.5gal bucket for bottling
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:03 PM   #5
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You don't have to have it, but a bottle filler is pretty cheap and will make bottling a lot easier than turning a spigot off and on. If your buckets don't have spigots, an autosiphon and some tubing will be helpful. Also, a 3 gallon pot is kind of small for 5 gallon extract batches. Extract batches usually start with 2.5 gallons of the time you add the extract and hops you would be dangerously close to a boil over. If you plan to use specialty grains (they come with most extract kits) you will need a thermometer as well.

I did a lot of research before I bought my equipment and I found that buying equipment piece meal always came out more expensive than buying a kit. Midwest Supplies often runs a Groupon deal for a basic kit. For $64 you get the equipment, an ingredient kit and a $25 gift card toward your next ingredient kit.
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:45 PM   #6
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You will want more than 2 fermenters to keep your pipeline going. I have 4x primary fermentation capacity than my batch size, and really should be closer to 6x.
I keg, but usually use some 2L plastic jugs for overflow if I have more beer in the primary than will go into a given number of kegs.
I put 4-5 sugar cubes into a sanitized 2L bottle and run out of the fermenter directly into them.
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Old 07-27-2011, 06:13 PM   #7
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You probably can, but even cheaper is if you ask around for someone who has used gear collecting dust in their garage.

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Old 07-27-2011, 06:55 PM   #8
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I, too, am a stingy brewer, so I can appreciate where you're coming from. I suggest getting one more bucket with a spigot. It will be worth the $20 and the convenience. The bottle filling end with tubing is also a no-brainer. Ruining your beer is not worth $50, and you can always sell your stuff if you don't want it. You won't have to spend it again in a long time (I've had all of mine since I started 3.5 years ago).

I guess that you could always buy these two items, and leave the box unopened. If you get in a pinch, then you can use them in an emergency case. If not, then you can return them and just pay the shipping cost for returning.
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Old 07-27-2011, 07:22 PM   #9
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1 bucket
1 bottle bucket
1 capper and bottles OR plastic brown liter bottles
1 Hydrometer
1 4 or 5 gallon brew pot
1 container of sanitizer
1 airlock

I get away brewing with the above components all the time. There are additions that make life easier and enhance your capabilities, strainer, mash tun, hop bags, chillers, mill, etc... but with the above equipment, you could brew 5 gallons of beer easily, and safely. You would need to brew extract and concentrate your boil, then add the additional water prior to pitching yeast but this is frequent with extract kits and I still do it myself if I don't feel like getting the mill out and mashing grains, tagging some hours onto my brew day.

There is another option you may want to look into given your situation and that is Mr. Beer. Some frown on MB and I will admit it is almost too easy, but a lot of brewers on here will tell you they still have their 2 gallon brown keg around somewhere and that's where they started, myself being one of them.. Hell when I go stock up on regular ingredients I generally pickup a MB refill or two just for the convenience (currently drinking their version of Oktoberfest and it's not bad at all, I've enjoyed it!).

A standard MB kit will get you their low end ale ingredients (prehopped extract, a booster pack, yeast, and a sanitation packet), you'll get the mr. beer keg which not only acts as a fermentation chamber, it acts as a bottle bucket as well. If you upgrade you get the brown liter bottles as well. Each refill pack is 10-20 dollars and produces 2 gallons of beer, you can order the entire kit to get you started for 25-30 bucks on Amazon, free shipping (I know, I just bought my buddy one for his birthday).

Just another option though I heavily recommend you double the time windows they give. If it says 2 weeks primary then bottle, give it 4. If it says 1 week in the bottle before drinking, give it 2+. Bad part about these kits or most any, they tend to push you through your beer before it has a chance to be really good.

Best of luck!
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Old 07-27-2011, 08:06 PM   #10
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When I check out a new hobby, I usually prefer the bare bones route too. A kit may be a better price for all the equipment it contains, but you can usually do without at least some of that equipment, which may change the math considerably. I feel that as I add each new piece of equipment to my bare bones set, I'm researching and picking out the specific piece that is best for my needs.

An exception to this would be if you found a kit for sale second-hand, by someone who is no longer interested. Then the math might work out very well in your favor. I see those on Craigslist occasionally.

I think you could get by with two buckets, a siphon with bottle attachment, a brew pot (see other posts for size,) and whatever you need for the bottling method you choose. Read carefully through your recipe and make sure you have all the kitchen implements required ( something to stir, maybe a thermometer, etc.)

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