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Old 03-08-2012, 04:54 PM   #1
Mar 2012
Posts: 4

My Tax Return just came in today, time to dive head first into this! I've been reading a lot online, and I must say, Im interested in these things:

All Grain brewing
Small batches
Cheap Bottling

I live in a NYC apartment, and though it has decent room for brewing, I'm sort of limited on storage for aging. I've found grain online that can come pre-milled, so that takes the grinder out of ye equation, and I already have an ice chest I inherited that I'm willing to convert to a tun.

Essentially, what I need is everything else. I'll need another pot, (I already have one for doing extra boiling, and possibly brewing if the batches were something like 3 gallon instead of 5, which I'm interested in trying to have more brews at a time) buckets/carboy, all the brushes nozzles hoses, kitchen utensils, thermometers etc...

I am reading Palmer's book and so want to follow it along, but prepare myself for all grain adventures later. So, I'll start with a extract brew, move to partial, then graduate maybe after 3 or so brews. Heck, I might just do a 3 step process.

The thing is, I have a few friends back home who brew, but the sort of disregard all the rules, and don't know a whole lot about what specific characteristics the massive amounts of ingredients yield. What I'm saying is, I'm familiar with the process, and the terminology to a certain extent, and a love beer of all types, so I've got a foot in the door, but don't want to get in over my head and end up with a disaster!

Also, looking for advice on whether I should go to one of the many brewery stores here in NY or get a kit online. I'm looking to spend up to 250 bucks, hopefully including some beer makings!

Thanks for the input! Cheers!


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Old 03-08-2012, 05:07 PM   #2
Jan 2010
Alexandria, VA
Posts: 383
Liked 10 Times on 9 Posts

Um, well there are literally hundreds of thousands of options. Go to your local homebrew shop guys and talk with them. Another option is to just buy a beginner kit from NorthernBrewer or MidwestSupplies (just to name a few online retailers).
Alexandria, VA
Piedmont Brewing Company

Primary - Nada
Secondary - Abandoned (for most brews)
Conditioning - Nada
Enjoying - Summit IPA, Cherry Belgian Dubbel, Otto von Bismarck Stout, Richmond Red Ale
Up Next - Belgian Tripel

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Old 03-08-2012, 05:12 PM   #3
Dec 2011
lakewood ranch, florida
Posts: 450
Liked 45 Times on 37 Posts

Probably gonna catch major grief for suggesting this, but...

One option would be to invest $40.00 in a Mr Beer, play around with that, learn some of the basics, then once you're sure you like it and have a good handle on the basics of sanitation, temp control, bottling, etc, the go out and spend the remaining $200.00 on a good kit from midwest, etc.

You would still have the MRB fermenter for smaller test batches, etc., and could always use the bottles, etc. And MrB ratkes up almost no room....

Just a thought

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Old 03-08-2012, 05:32 PM   #4
Oct 2008
Oakdale, California
Posts: 71
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

If you're pretty sure you're gonna love brewing (and you sound like you are), I'd invest in some decent equipment.

Pot/Kettle - You didn't mention what size of a pot you currently have, but if it's less than 7 gallons, you'll probably want to get something bigger. You need the headroom for boiling 6 or 6.5 Gallons of wort down to 5-5.5 gallons. (You can always do partial boils if you only have a smaller pot. Palmer discusses this as well.) Stainless is nicer for cleaning, but aluminum is better for heat distribution. A great compromise, and what I started out with was a 7G stainless pot with an aluminum plate in the base, often called a sandwich style pot. A consideration, however, is whether your kitchen range can put out enough heat to boil 6.5G uncovered. Where I lived when I started, my range could not, even with 2 burners under the pot. This meant I had to boil covered, and keep a CLOSE eye on boil-overs. I couldn't keep a close enough eye, and made a frigging MESS, which I then had to clean up. I invested in a 70K BTU camp stove. Life = Much easier. With a camp stove, however, you'll want to make sure you have enough ventilation in your apartment. Dying is bad brewing technique.

Mash Tun - As you know from Palmer's How To Brew, a cooler makes a stellar mash tun. Easy to build out a bulkhead fitting, and with hot water infusions, you can add heat to keep your mash at the temp you want.

Fermenter/Bottling - The cheaper kits are 5G plastic buckets, and they work for awhile. You will likely eventually want something more, and I recently upgraded to a 6G better bottle plastic carboy for fermenting. MidwestSupplies.com has options for upgrading their kits with glass or plastic carboys, and that's definitely an option, if you've got the scratch. Your beginner kit will come with a capper, bottlecaps, etc. You will need bottles, but if you're truly dedicated, you'll drink lots of craft beer and save the bottles. Another great option is Kirkland beer. It's mediocre beer, but is cheap, and if you look at it as bottles for homebrewing that happen to come with beer in them, you'll be much happier with your purchase. lol

My recommendations are to spend the money on a decent kettle and go with the bucket kit for now. They'll hold you for awhile, and let you work out your techniques. Be diligent in your sanitation and clean thoroughly, especially those buckets. It's easy to scratch those things, and then bacteria can hang out until you feed it with your wort. Then you end up with infected yucks, which are very sad.

Awesome that you're getting into brewing, man. I hope you enjoy it!

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Old 03-08-2012, 05:54 PM   #5
Mar 2012
Lynchburg, Virginia
Posts: 407
Liked 8 Times on 8 Posts

I started out at Christmas, I have loved my progress!

I got a Brewers Best kit, for 115 that came with

5 gallon glass carboy
Thermometer (12 in)
1 6 gallon Fermenting Food Grade Plastic Bucket
1 6 gallon Food Grade Bottling Bucket
1 Bottlecap Press
2 Cleaning Brushes
250 Bottle Caps
1 Airlock
1 Rubber stopper for glass carboy
1 lid for fermenting bucket, along with hole and grommet for airlock

I may have missed out a couple of small things, but using this I did a couple PM (All I needed to invest in at this point was a 5 gallon boiling kettle)

Soon I moved up to All Grain which required the following additional things for me, that I feel I did rather cheaply.

1.) Bigger Boil Kettle, you will be boiling between 6-7 gallons in general for your 5 gallon batches. I suggest at least a 10 gallon boil kettle vessel
2.) My next lesson, my electric stove, even though it's really nice, sucks at heating up 7 gallons of wort. Get a turkey fryer burner or something of the like, usually you can find these second hand (If you are going for cheap, of course there is plenty of things on the internet you can find that will be better, but this is just from a scrounger point of view) I took a turkey fryer and it had a ring around it to hold a smaller pot it came with (got it for free was behind a shop for 2 years), cleaned it out, sandblasted it, re-welded the ring and extended it to accomodate a bigger pot.
3.) You need a Mash Tun, I found a 5 gallon water cooler that I had bought a few years ago at home depot..(this has worked fantastically well as it holds the temperature of the steep to within 2 degrees on a 90 minute steep)
4.) You need a way to strain your grain from the wort, many here put a bulkhead on such a cooler and then attach a stainless steel braid. I took some copper pipe I had (1/2) and made a manifold using a hacksaw to make cuts on the top half of the pipe lengths to act like a sieve.

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It's a square of the pipe, with a line across the middle and the exit goes through the bulkhead to a ball valve. The SS braid would be cheaper if you have no current materials and an easy way to go ahead and get started IMO.

Oh, get an extra thermometer, you will break the one you get eventually. It just happens, sucks to break one in the middle of a brew.

You don't have to have a wort chiller, but it sure helps a lot. I simply got some flexible coiled 1/2 copper from lowes (about 30 bucks total), worked it out with my hands, and added some tubing to go to the faucet. (Plus something big enough to accomodate an Ice bath for a large brewing kettle is hard to find, and it isn't nearly as efficient).

I ended up making a 3/8 and a 1/2. I put the 3/8 in a bucket of ice cold water, then come out of it into the 1/2 in the kettle. It seems to work extremely well at cooling the beer, and can get it VERY COLD.

Of course this is from the viewpoint of a scrounger, so I figured I would share with you my experience in finding what I needed.

If possible you should go ahead and invest in a mill too, though if you find yourself with some leftover grain and you can't go to your LHBS, you can use a rolling pin (Not fun to do with more than a 1/2 lb, which is why I suggest a mill to reduce trips to your LHBS and so you can buy grain in bulk (which reduces your cost).

Even if you bought it all new:

BB kit - 115 (you can get it with a plastic carboy cheaper)
Manifold - 20 bucks or so
Wort Chiller - 30 bucks
Cooler - 30-40
Extra thermometer - 4.50
Burner - 20-50 bucks (of course you can spend more or probably less on all this stuff if you look around)
10 gal kettle (ranging from 50-200 dollars depending on SS, aluminum, brand, etc, Im sure you can spend more or less once again)
Plenty of others probably hav ebetter ideas, but I'm new this is how I started and what I learned on my way to AG

Edit: As a side thought I said buy two thermometers, but buy two hydrometer's too. Also if you can afford it get another carboy. This insures nothing will break. When you have only one of something, it is bound to break during a brew, when you have two, neither of them break for years. So don't think of it as a backup, but more an insurance plan for your primary tools.

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Old 03-08-2012, 06:00 PM   #6
Oct 2008
Oakdale, California
Posts: 71
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Originally Posted by dbhokie View Post
You don't have to have a wort chiller, but it sure helps a lot. I simply got some flexible coiled 1/2 copper from lowes (about 30 bucks total), worked it out with my hands, and added some tubing to go to the faucet. (Plus something big enough to accomodate an Ice bath for a large brewing kettle is hard to find, and it isn't nearly as efficient).
Oh yeah! +1 to this. A wort chiller is so freaking much nicer than trying to do an ice bath. If you're doing a full boil, you'll want 50' of coiled copper tubing in your chiller.

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Old 03-08-2012, 06:21 PM   #7
Dec 2010
Beaverton, OR
Posts: 366
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts

I'd go BIAB. get a 7-8 gal pot, a nice heavy mesh bag and a decent chiller. Saves space and allows you to do all grain or extract from the get go. figure less than 90 for a pot, 50 for an immersion chiller, 20-30 for a really good bag, 30-50 for a false bottom and 30 for weldless a ball valve kit. use a meat thermometer for keeping track of temps, find bottles at bars/craigslist, same with a wing capper and caps, vinyl tube, auto siphon, air lock are cheap. get buckets from bakeries since you're doing 3 gal batches 5 gal buckets will be perfect. If I was living in NY or a big city that is what i'd do. Often you can get stuff cheap on Craigslist too

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