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Old 08-17-2012, 04:34 PM   #1
Chef's Avatar
Aug 2012
Posts: 4

So I've been sitting and reading the forums for a few weeks now and figured the time had come to start posting.

First, thanks to the folks that run the boards for fostering what is clearly an amazing community. I'm especially blown away by the DIY section. We've got some seriously handy folks around here.

With the blessing of SWMBO, I'm getting ready to start homebrewing. What I'm looking for before I dive in is a little advice. I know I'm going to start out on the easy end with kits and extract brews. My question revolves around gear. I'm debating bypassing the bottling and going direct to kegging. I've been on the lookout for an inexpensive dorm fridge to DIY into a keggerator and since I plan on doing Lagers, a used chest freezer I can attach a temp control to do my lagering in.

Is this a recommended route? Or do you think having the "bottling experience" is something everyone should go through?

Also, are there certain starter equipment kits that are better than others or vendors that put together a better kit?

Finally if anyone here is from the NYC area (I'm out on LI), I would love to pick your brain about local groups/clubs and shops.


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Old 08-17-2012, 04:41 PM   #2
twistr25's Avatar
May 2012
Raleigh, NC
Posts: 1,440
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Bottling is an experience and it almost could depend on the type of beer. Some may turn out better being bottled and stowed away for a time. But going straight to kegging works too, just more expensive.

I'm a proponent of the Midwest Kits, maybe cause that's what I started with, but they also like to put out a groupon every couple months for $64 for $135 worth of stuff including first kit and gift certificate for a second. So it really is a good deal. If you can't wait till one comes out however, it still is an excellent kit, but Northern Brewer and a few others all have excellent beginners kits. In general, you'll want a boil kettle, I'd say go for around 8 gallons minimum, fermenting vessel, stir spoon, hydrometer, racking cane and Star San and your pretty well set. Couple other odds and ends, but that'd get you on your way.

Good luck and if you haven't already the free John Palmer How to Brew is a great place to start along with everything on this site.
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Old 08-17-2012, 04:46 PM   #3
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Revvy's Avatar
Dec 2007
"Detroitish" Michigan
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Originally Posted by Chef View Post
Is this a recommended route? Or do you think having the "bottling experience" is something everyone should go through?
It really doesn't matter, if you want to keg, keg, if you want to bottle bottle. It won't make you a better or worse brewer if you have a "Bottling Experience" or not. But if you go to kegging just don't be one of those guys who thinks it's funny to pop into a bottling issue thread and post "Hey you wouldn't have this problem if you keg." That's not being helpful, it's being dickish.

Personally I do both, I bottled for years and just built a keezer, not because "kegging is better than bottling" or it's the "Natural Progression" from bottling to kegging, BUT because I had some extra money lying around, and thought it would be nice to have some beers on tap.

And I wanted to build something....

But I STILL believe some beers should only be bottle conditioned, like Belgian Saisons and Barleywines for instance.

It's up to you to decide, there's no right answer.

Also, are there certain starter equipment kits that are better than others or vendors that put together a better kit?

No, a kit is a kit is a kit, the yeast don't care what you're fermenting in. Basically just find the best price, basic starter kits are pretty ubiquitous.

The only things to think about are....If I'm not going to bottle, do I want to buy a starter kit with a bottling setup?

Read up on the secondary/long primary debate, if you decide you don't want to bother with secondaries for normal beers, rather than buying a two stage fermentation set, buy two primaries instead.....You'll find if you grow in this hobby, you'll never have enough things to ferment in. I have at least 12 things of various sizes, and it's not too surprising for me to have almost all of them full at one time or another.

Hopes this helps!!!

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Old 08-17-2012, 05:09 PM   #4
Chef's Avatar
Aug 2012
Posts: 4

Good stuff!

I've been reading Palmers book, and also have the homebrew for dummies book. Not exactly the brewing bible, but still has some good info.

Thanks for the heads up on the groupon, I may wait for one to come up before I pick up the first kit. Being as I'm not local to them though, I'm not sure how to get notified when it comes up. I know groupon stuff expires pretty fast usually.

The more I'm thinking after writing my original post, the more I think I may start with bottles. Amazing how you can wrestle with something in your head for a while and once you write it out it becomes a little clearer for you, lol.

I've read the Primary/Secondary debate and will most likely just do a long Primary and see how it goes.

Thanks much for the input!

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Old 08-17-2012, 05:18 PM   #5
lowtones84's Avatar
Oct 2011
Montclair, New Jersey
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This is only in regards to bottling. I'm one of those weird people who actually enjoys bottling. If you think through your setup first with efficiency in mind it's not so bad. Get a friend or significant other to help. All of my friends and my girlfriend actually enjoy helping me bottle as long as I do the tedious work such as sanitizing the equipment and bottles. Give them a bottle wand (be prepared for a little mess one way or the other) or the wing capper after giving them some instruction and people usually have a blast to be honest. Put on some music, chat, fill bottles, empty bottles of commercial brew into your stomach, have a good time. What if you buy all of this kegging stuff and it ends up you or your significant other don't enjoy the hobby? Also like Revvy said, some styles should traditionally be bottle conditioned anyways.

But whatever you do, good luck and have fun!

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Old 08-17-2012, 08:46 PM   #6
Jul 2011
Glenview, IL
Posts: 6,368
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I bottle, I've only bottled, I've bottled so much that I have cases upon cases of empty bottles just waiting for more beer to fill them, although I have cases and cases of full bottles too

I enjoy having many varieties of beer in my fridge at any given time, not limited by tap towers, kegs and CO2 tanks.......and cost!

As for kits, they are all about the same so wait for the Groupon, unless you decide you want to keg, then get Midwest's ultimate advanced kit that comes with everything you need plus the keg set up! Welcome and have a great time!
Nothing Left to do but smile and drink beer.....

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Old 08-17-2012, 11:25 PM   #7
Feb 2012
Posts: 109
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I have done 6 or 7 batches so far and I have only bottled. This is mainly because it's less expensive than legging. I actually get excited for bottling day. Sure the set up and sanitizing is a boring tedious process but once I get going, bottling 5 gallons doesn't take that long. Then again I've never bottled 5 gallons on my own and I've always had at least one other person helping me out. BUT.....

Tomorrow I take the next step. I'm buying a corny keg tomorrow off Craigslist and I will ending up legging my next batch. I have a dorm fridge I used in college that I plan on converting to a kegerator. I'm sure I will continue to bottle as well.

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Old 08-17-2012, 11:50 PM   #8
tnvol's Avatar
Oct 2010
Portland, Oregon
Posts: 85
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I've only bottled simply because it's always been the most convenient for me. However you decide to do it, good luck!
Just brew it..

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Old 08-18-2012, 12:34 AM   #9
Apr 2012
Pittsfield, MA
Posts: 547
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I'm a kegger. I love it. I haven't bottled except for special beers for years. Its stricty preference and cash flow. I like that I dont have to clean and sanitize all those bottles, and all the hassles of yet another transfer. But really, its just preference. Bottles are so much more transportable. When I bottle for transport now, I have a pressurized bottler and use 500ml bottles with flip top ceramic caps.

I am also one who believes in secondary. I will use finings, then cold crash minimally after transfer. Again, its really preference. The debate rages. Longer primaries than what was historical are important though, as is temp control for style in primary. i secondary many beers for a while then cold crash them with finings, depending on style. An IPA or strong ale gets a transfer and cold crash. Lagers get cold aged in secondary for a while. Thats just me. Its my preference. Beer is kinda like that.

One huge piece of advice. Learn to love the ales. So much more going on with the palate when you brew ales.

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Old 08-18-2012, 01:27 AM   #10
Oct 2011
Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 153
Liked 8 Times on 7 Posts

If you have the money to start kegging then go for it. I don't have the patience and the budget to buy a kegging setup plus the freezer/fridge and co2 all at once. I was saving to do it but the recent move had me spend money on upgrades elsewhere in my setup. I truly believe that kegging is cheaper in the long run if you brew heavily through the year otherwise bottling is just fine since bottles are easily obtained for free and caps are cheap.

For a starter kit though...I'd find a brew shop in your area and check prices/perks before ordering online. Sometimes prices may be cheaper online, but shipping may kill the perk of getting freebies or discounts. I got lucky and got what northern brewer calls a deluxe kit w/ glass carboys and everything I needed to make my first batch to include Wirl tabs and Carb drops for cheap.

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