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Old 01-11-2012, 05:51 AM   #1
Dec 2011
New York, NY
Posts: 17

Long time beer dork that's coming into the addiction for the first time. I've got the "How to Brew" 2d ed. book that I've read through.

I have the "Deluxe" kit here:, and also a 5 gallon brew pot and giant metal spoon.

I have a few questions though:

1) Can I brew a smaller batch than 5 gallons? That's a crapload of beer. Will a 2.5 gallon brew in 6.5 gallon buckets/5 gallon carboy be too subject to oxidization?

2) What's the difference between extract brewing that steeps grains in the water before the boil and partial mash? Partial mash somehow involves extra brew pots?

3) I see a lot of people recommending styles such as American Pale Ales or Red Ales as a first brew. I plan to do extract brewing (at least to start.) Is it possible to brew, well, something else? I enjoy imperial IPAs, milk stouts, Munich dunkels, Belgians, and porters/RIS (but typically coffee/vanilla/bb aged). If it's necessary to brew something super simple, fair enough, but I don't really want a case of cream ale.

4) Is there anything else I need equipment-wise, other than the kit, the 5 gallon brew pot, and the giant spoon, as far as brewing my first extract beer?

5) I have access to Whole Foods, which has a good amount of ingredients. I also have access to this store: Products. So if one could frame my shopping list in terms of that store, I'd appreciate it.

Thank you for all your help. This forum is a great resource!

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Old 01-11-2012, 06:46 AM   #2
lupulin shift victim
chickypad's Avatar
Jul 2010
SF Peninsula
Posts: 5,135
Liked 926 Times on 751 Posts

First of all , welcome to the hobby! Let me give you my 2 cents and I'm sure others will chime in:

1) You can brew any size batch you want, just scale the recipe. While 5 gallons seems like a lot you will probably be surprised. With your equipment a full batch isn't any more work except for bottling. I don't usually ferment with that much head space, in theory you would worry about oxidation but I also seem to see folks saying it's not that big an issue. You could always do a 3-4 gal batch in the 5 gal carboy if you want to go smaller.

2) A partial mash would include a base grain, not just specialty grains, at a more controlled temp and water-to-grain ratio. You get more fermentables from this, not just the mostly color and flavor you get with steeping. Don't necessarily need more pots (at least not something you don't already have around).

3) You certainly can brew anything you want, but be mindful that many of those styles need longer conditioning times to taste their best. It's really hard to wait on your first brew! If making one of those bigger beers you also need to pitch a lot more yeast, typically by doing a yeast starter, so you may need to get equipment for that.

4) The kit looks pretty good. I don't see sanitizer, and you will of course need bottles and caps. You'll need a grain bag, hop bags only if you wish. If fermenting in the carboy I recommend a blow off tube. You should also think about what you want to do for temp control (lots of ideas on this forum).

That's off the top of my head. Hope that helps. Good luck!

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Old 01-11-2012, 07:36 AM   #3
A4J's Avatar
Mar 2008
the Desert, CA
Posts: 1,348
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Originally Posted by chickypad View Post
with that much head space, in theory you would worry about oxidation
oxidation is a non-issue in this case. If you're making a big beer (RIS for instance), this much headroom will help minimize or eliminate blowoff.

You can brew anything you want using extract with steeping grains as your first brew. My first brew was an IIPA.
Primary 1: pale ale
Primary 2: blondie

My mid-century modern keezer build thread.

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Old 01-11-2012, 11:18 AM   #4
Nov 2010
Solway, MN
Posts: 10,038
Liked 1878 Times on 1488 Posts

I've brewed a 2 1/2 gallon batch in a 6 1/2 gallon fermenter several times with good success. Once the yeast start they excrete CO2 which forms a layer above the beer and pushes oxygen out the airlock so your beer is protected from oxidation.

Lighter colored/lower alcohol beers mature faster than the darker/high alcohol which is one reason to brew them first. It's hard enough to wait on the light/low alcohol beer to mature before you start drinking. Waiting the 3 to 6 months for a high alcohol stout to mature is painful.

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Old 01-11-2012, 12:14 PM   #5
Dec 2011
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Posts: 479
Liked 52 Times on 35 Posts

I just started as well. My first batch (a cider) is just about done in primary. I'm about to dive into my first beer and it's gonna be either one of these:

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