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Old 08-15-2007, 06:22 PM   #1
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Default Getting Back into Brewing after 15 Years

15 years ago my wife convinced me it was too dangerous to brew with a baby in the house. Our son will be going off to university soon, so I'd like to get back into things.

I thought I'd start with at least one extract brew before getting back into full grain mash. As you could imagine I have several questions:
  • I've got a boiler, a primary and secondary fermenter, a wort chiller a syphon as well as a hydrometer. Will I need any more equipment to brew extract?
  • I love English style ales and seem to recall the better extract brews don't use a lot of adjuncts and added sugars. Can you suggest a simple all-extract recipe? What should be my original and final gravities?
  • A friend grows hops (variety?) and has offered some. Since I don't know the variety is it possible to judge how bitter they will be and how much to add to the boil? (I like a very bitter ale!)

Thanks for your help.

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Old 08-15-2007, 06:38 PM   #2
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Welcome to HBT and back to brewing!

If your primary is a bucket I would consider replacing it with a new one. 15 years is a long time and plastic can pick up funky smells and various nasties etc. Buckets are cheap so it's good insurance.

For a recipe I would check out the recipe database, there are tons of good recipes and if you see an all-grain one you like, there are lots of people to help convert it to extract.

I don't know much about growing hops, but I would imagine you would need a lab or something to find out the alpha acid percentage. I would maybe use them for flavour and aroma additions and use something with a known value for bittering.

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Old 08-15-2007, 10:50 PM   #3
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Welcome back. I second the replacement bucket.

happy brewing!

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Old 08-15-2007, 11:13 PM   #4
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Welcome to HBT and welcome back to the obsession. Brad has some good advice buckets are cheep and there are several places online to aquire your stuff, if you dont have a LHBS (local home brew store) around you I personally like BeerBeer & more Beer others have lots of luck with I think its called northern brewer but I have never ordered from them. as far as your hops taste them eat one if there VERY bitter chances are thay can bitter up your brew nicely using them for flavor or aroma would be a better choice as brad also suggested, calibrate your hydrometer @ 60 deg F toss out all your hoses or anything that is plastic 15 years is too long to keep and its just not worth the risk, you could end up chasing a funk in your brews for many months amd many brews and that stuff is fairly cheep anyhow Good luck.
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Old 08-15-2007, 11:54 PM   #5
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Although you can't really judge the AA% of a home grown hop, you can tell the difference between a high AA hop and a low one. Just chew a flower. If it's a high AA hop, you'll be wondering why you did something as stupid as chewing a flower. Having done this with Summit (AKA Experimental 19% AA hop), I speak from experience. Fuggles and EKG are actually tasty.

If you brew a fresh hop ale, use 4-5 times as much as you normally would. Finally, if you do a 3 gallon boil and use lots of bittering hops, you'll max. out around 90 IBU. Diluting this to 5 gallons would mean 55 IBU, which is a good spot for an ESB.
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Old 08-16-2007, 12:09 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by david_42
If it's a high AA hop, you'll be wondering why you did something as stupid as chewing a flower. Having done this with Summit (AKA Experimental 19% AA hop), I speak from experience.
This comment just made me smile.

I agree with everything said here. If there's a local homebrew shop, you could look for a Brewer's Best kit. They're pretty decent, often have some specialty grains for added flavor and color, and never have you use sugar for anything but priming the bottles (unlike most Cooper's kits which call for sugar to make up the rest of the alcohol).

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