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Merz69

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Hi,

im new to home brewing. I’m wondering what is the first equipment beyond a starter kit to invest in. I’ve been looking at the following:
Tilt hydrometer
Yeast starter with stir plate
Wort chiller
Upgraded fermenter - conical
Upgraded fermenter - siphonless wide mouth
Carboy cleaning drill attachment
Crashing refrigerator
Aerator ? What type

obviously I’d like it all, but $$’s says one at a time. What do you think would be the best order to acquire this equipment ? Best bangfor the buck ?
I’m not planning on brewing heavy beers like stouts, I’m more of an ale/ipa guy with ABV’s in the 5-6 average range. Starting with extract kits.
if you had to choose one …
 
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MaxStout

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I don't know what you have for existing gear--that would help prioritize things. For example, if you are getting good results fermenting in a bucket or carboy, an upgrade may not be a priority at your stage in the hobby.

Not knowing that, I would choose (in order):
1. Wort chiller
2. Fermentation temp control: this could be a fridge with Inkbird controller, or as simple as a swamp cooler made from a plastic tub (you don't have to spend a lot of money here).
3. Yeast starter and stir plate
4. Aeration: O2 system with sintered stone and disposable O2 cylinders
Toss-up on the rest, or wait until much later.
 
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AlexKay

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Depends what you’re using now. If you’re still in buckets, a wide-mouth plastic bottle with a spigot is a big upgrade for not a lot of money. for more money, a stainless bucket with a spigot is an even bigger upgrade. A conical only makes sense if you know what you want to do with it that specifically requires a conical.

Otherwise, my vote is fermentation temperature control, fermentation temperature control, fermentation temperature control. Then a wort chiller, and then the other stuff is all icing.
 

GoodTruble

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Lots of cleaner and sanitizer.

After that, if 5-gallon+ batches, wort chiller. If you don't have an space that is reliably mid-60s F, then temp control.
 

Homebrew Harry

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Hi,

im new to home brewing. I’m wondering what is the first equipment beyond a starter kit to invest in. I’ve been looking at the following:
Tilt hydrometer
Yeast starter with stir plate
Wort chiller
Upgraded fermenter - conical
Upgraded fermenter - siphonless wide mouth
Carboy cleaning drill attachment
Crashing refrigerator
Aerator ? What type

obviously I’d like it all, but $$’s says one at a time. What do you think would be the best order to acquire this equipment ? Best bangfor the buck ?
I’m not planning on brewing heavy beers like stouts, I’m more of an ale/ipa guy with ABV’s in the 5-6 average range. Starting with extract kits.
if you had to choose one …
If I could only choose one I would get the chiller. What good is a big new fermenter if you can't cool your wort and get that cold break out ?
What kind ? Stainless steel
 

hotbeer

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Wort chiller.

I had a coil of 3/8ths copper tubing sitting around doing nothing. So just shortening it to a reasonable amount since 50 feet would be way too much. And then tightening up some of the coils around a bucket small enough to fit in my boil kettle and then using a tubing bender to angle the ends up and over the rim of the kettle was pretty inexpensive for me.

I used it on my first batch. With winter time temps on my water, it cooled my wort in 5 minutes to less than 70°F. However it was a 1 gallon batch so that helped too.

The big box home discount stores sell copper tubing in coils for reasonable prices. Get a proper size tubing bender for making those bends to turn the ends up and over the kettle. Otherwise the tube may collapse at the bend.

though, if you are happy with the look of a wide radius and ugly bend, you can just bend by hand till it starts to collapse.
 

Brewer Mike

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Are you "new" new? Have you brewed before? If so, I'd start slow. People have been brewing great beer in basic equipment kits for a log time.
Money is a focal point. How much are you willing to spend? There are tons of shiny toys out there that promise to make you a better brewer. If you're careful, it's easy to get carried away.

Fermentation temperature control is important, but it depends on your needs. My basement stays between 62 - 66 F year round. I have been fine brewing ales without any equipment to control temperature. That might be different in your environment, or if you want to do lagering or cold crashing. I did just buy and old refrigerator and Inkbird so I can lager.

The wort chiller is a must, in my opinion.

If you're truly frugal, several of the items o your list are DIY-able. Wort chiller - buy a 25' coil of copper tubing form Home Depot, some hose clamps, vinyl tubing and a garden hose adapter. Drill Carboy cleaner - a threaded rod, some nuts, washers and strips of a Sham-Wow. I need to read more about the Tilt. I've heard a couple of reviewers comment that the Krausen leaves residue on it that affects the accuracy.
Start slow. All Grain brewing can be a lot work, but it's a labor of love. Make sure you enjoy brewing, want to stick with it and go from there.
 

GrowleyMonster

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Hi,

im new to home brewing. I’m wondering what is the first equipment beyond a starter kit to invest in. I’ve been looking at the following:
Tilt hydrometer
Yeast starter with stir plate
Wort chiller
Upgraded fermenter - conical
Upgraded fermenter - siphonless wide mouth
Carboy cleaning drill attachment
Crashing refrigerator
Aerator ? What type

obviously I’d like it all, but $$’s says one at a time. What do you think would be the best order to acquire this equipment ? Best bangfor the buck ?
I’m not planning on brewing heavy beers like stouts, I’m more of an ale/ipa guy with ABV’s in the 5-6 average range. Starting with extract kits.
if you had to choose one …
If you are trying to get in cheap, forget about the conical, the Tilt, the stir plate, dedicated crash fridge, aerator, carboy cleaner and carboys.

The Big Mouth Bubbler is a great fermenter and I have four of them, all with spigots for siphonless transfer. One would be enough, I suppose. But I have four. They are inexpensive but work great. The wide mouth is a big help in cleaning. The Fermonster appears similar and is probably just as good, haven't tried one. I already have basically three more fermenters than I need and can't justify the Fermonster until I wear out a BMB. Fermenting in a plastic bucket is the cheapest, but getting the lid on and off is a PITA and it can be difficult to get a good seal and so I don't recommend it.

A wort chiller is pretty near essential. You can make one out of stainless tubing. Copper, maybe, if you will keep it clean. Just wind a coil around a bucket and pipe cold water through it.

A brew kettle. A big stainless gumbo pot will work fine as long as it will hold about 9 gallons for a 5 gallon batch. Bigger is better. A long handle brewing spoon. A mash thermometer. A hydrometer. Stoppers both one and two hole. Tubing, airlock, hose clamps.

If you only want to do extract kits then you can use a smaller kettle and do a concentrated boil, then add chilled distilled water to bring it up to standard batch size and get a start on reducing temp to pitching temperature. Ice made from distilled water would be even better. You could maybe dispense with the wort chiller. Give the kettle a cold water bath in the sink, and add ice until correct pitching temp is reached. Transfer to fermenter, do final volume adjustment with cool distilled water.

Keg and associated piping, faucet, regulator, and initial CO2 tank, and an old refrigerator to convert, if planning to keg. Bottling bucket with spigot, wand, bottles and bottle racks, and capper, if bottling. I am a staunch proponent of kegging but bottling is cheaper to start with.

A gas burner if bringing a big brew kettle to boil on the kitchen stove is not an option. But you need one of them anyway, for boiling seafood or frying turkeys or other things of that nature, so don't count the price for that.

Under $200 all in, for a decent startup kit that will never "need" to be upgraded just to brew beer. Just a little over $100 if you repurpose a pot you already own for a kettle, and forego the chiller.
 

Broken Crow

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First; Welcome to the world of Good Beer!
My first thought was “Hose Clamps”, but as MaxStout said, without knowing what you have it’s a very vague question. I’ve noticed that you’ve also asked questions about stainless finishes and thermometers… this suggests to me that you basically want ‘everything, better than what you have now’.
Do yourself a very big favour and stop yourself right here, get a notepad and at the top, write down where you want to be in a year or two… Do you just want a gallon or so? Do you want 5 gallons or more in bottles? Do you want a kegerator or keezer?…How many taps? Will you want to do other things like cider, mead or whatever? Start at the very end, and that’ll dictate what you need to start. But: Looking through the answers you’ve gotten so far, everyone seems to forget the little things like hose clamps. [a bad thing to happen is to get halfway through your brewday and find you lack a hose clamp or swivel-nut washer or some seemingly less glamorous detail]
BTW; Brushed Stainless is a PITA to wash dried wort or beer from, but like with people, it’s what’s on the inside that counts…that is: if it touches your beer or wort you want as smooth a surface you can get to ensure sanitation.
Personally, I’d start with a pump and extra hoses, clamps, fittings and valves…. Having a nice big shiny fermenter does you no good if you can’t lift your kettle high enough to fill it. ; )
 
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Merz69

Merz69

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If you are trying to get in cheap, forget about the conical, the Tilt, the stir plate, dedicated crash fridge, aerator, carboy cleaner and carboys.

The Big Mouth Bubbler is a great fermenter and I have four of them, all with spigots for siphonless transfer. One would be enough, I suppose. But I have four. They are inexpensive but work great. The wide mouth is a big help in cleaning. The Fermonster appears similar and is probably just as good, haven't tried one. I already have basically three more fermenters than I need and can't justify the Fermonster until I wear out a BMB. Fermenting in a plastic bucket is the cheapest, but getting the lid on and off is a PITA and it can be difficult to get a good seal and so I don't recommend it.

A wort chiller is pretty near essential. You can make one out of stainless tubing. Copper, maybe, if you will keep it clean. Just wind a coil around a bucket and pipe cold water through it.

A brew kettle. A big stainless gumbo pot will work fine as long as it will hold about 9 gallons for a 5 gallon batch. Bigger is better. A long handle brewing spoon. A mash thermometer. A hydrometer. Stoppers both one and two hole. Tubing, airlock, hose clamps.

If you only want to do extract kits then you can use a smaller kettle and do a concentrated boil, then add chilled distilled water to bring it up to standard batch size and get a start on reducing temp to pitching temperature. Ice made from distilled water would be even better. You could maybe dispense with the wort chiller. Give the kettle a cold water bath in the sink, and add ice until correct pitching temp is reached. Transfer to fermenter, do final volume adjustment with cool distilled water.

Keg and associated piping, faucet, regulator, and initial CO2 tank, and an old refrigerator to convert, if planning to keg. Bottling bucket with spigot, wand, bottles and bottle racks, and capper, if bottling. I am a staunch proponent of kegging but bottling is cheaper to start with.

A gas burner if bringing a big brew kettle to boil on the kitchen stove is not an option. But you need one of them anyway, for boiling seafood or frying turkeys or other things of that nature, so don't count the price for that.

Under $200 all in, for a decent startup kit that will never "need" to be upgraded just to brew beer. Just a little over $100 if you repurpose a pot you already own for a kettle, and forego the chiller.
Thanks ! Wondering if you have glass or plastic BMB ?
 

Jim R

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Do yourself a very big favour and stop yourself right here, get a notepad and at the top, write down where you want to be in a year or two…

That is pretty good advice. I would probably forget spending money and study a little more. For example, if you primarily do IPA's, I would start thinking about pressure capable fermenters and reducing oxygen exposure. I have a nice stainless conical fermenter but for IPA's, I use a much cheaper Fermzilla All Rounder that allows pressure fermentations and pressure transfers to my kegs. Do you want to keg? I doubt I would stick with homebrewing if I had the hassle of bottling (especially for oxygen sensitive IPA's). Do you want to do All Grain - Mash tun, BIAB, etc..

I could think of several more basic questions like these. Maybe the best answer is to just buy a couple more good basic homebrewing books first.
 

MaxStout

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Getting into a new hobby is exciting, and it's easy to get drawn into the "bling." But bling by itself won't give you good beer. Good brewing practices will. There are many people who brew excellent--even award-winning--brew with $100-$200 in gear. Cheap turkey fryers, plastic bucket fermenters and such.

Think of what's important in the process: sanitation, temp control, etc. What gear do you need to maintain those processes? Money's better spent on an immersion chiller, cleaning and sanitizing chemicals, and some way of maintaining fermentation temps. Conical fermenters and Tilt hydrometers are nice toys for down the road, but the fundamentals should come first.

As @Jim R pointed out, get some basic brewing books. John Palmer's How To Brew is an excellent resource. (There's an older edition of it you can read online for free.) Mastering Homebrew by Randy Mosher might also be helpful.

Be active here. Keep asking good questions (there are no bad ones). People will help.
 

TestTickle

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I need to read more about the Tilt. I've heard a couple of reviewers comment that the Krausen leaves residue on it that affects the accuracy.
The Tilt is actually a very useful tool, although I wouldn't count on it for accuracy. It's great for tracking fermentation and monitoring temperature. In fact, combined with a fermentation fridge connected to the Inkbird ITC-308 WiFi model, it gives you a lot of control. For example, I went to California for 10 days last year and had brewed a lager a few days before we left. I was able to raise the temp for a diacetyl rest while I was gone. It really provides a nice window into the entire fermentation process. Krausen can affect gravity readings, but they aren't that accurate anyway and it'll still let you see when fermentation is done without having to take a sample. I still take an FG reading with a hydrometer or refractometer when it's time to keg or bottle.

With that said, +1 on a wort chiller and temperature control.
 

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I think you're approaching this question backwards: Decide what it is you think your beer is lacking, and then figure out what equipment will help you do that.

A whole continent of Aussies gets by without wort chillers (look up no chill brewing).

The right yeast minimizes the need for fermentation temperature control (kveiks and saisons).

Think about what you want to achieve, and pick the hw to make it happen.
 

Gusso

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I think you're approaching this question backwards: Decide what it is you think your beer is lacking, and then figure out what equipment will help you do that.

A whole continent of Aussies gets by without wort chillers (look up no chill brewing).

The right yeast minimizes the need for fermentation temperature control (kveiks and saisons).

Think about what you want to achieve, and pick the hw to make it happen.
Water is plentiful here. Get a wort chiller first.
 
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Merz69

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I am a super noob !! I am trying to get a list together on what’s most important. I didn’t even order my starter kit yet. Every time I research - it’s a must have … “you don’t need a stir plate to make yeast starters, but it will surely help you make better beer !” Looks like I’ll start with plastic buckets and a wort chiller - maybe a BMB. I’ll ferment in the basement @ 68 degrees - is that temp ok ?
 

palmtrees

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I am a super noob !! I am trying to get a list together on what’s most important. I didn’t even order my starter kit yet. Every time I research - it’s a must have … “you don’t need a stir plate to make yeast starters, but it will surely help you make better beer !” Looks like I’ll start with plastic buckets and a wort chiller - maybe a BMB. I’ll ferment in the basement @ 68 degrees - is that temp ok ?

Since you're just starting out, maybe try a few brews at your basement temperature first to see if you like the hobby. If you do, then I would really recommend getting a mini fridge and an inkbird temperature controller.

Most ale yeasts need to be at 68 degrees or less in order to not create off flavors. But that's 68 degrees *wort temperature*, not ambient room temperature. Because the fermentation process creates heat, your wort will be hotter than ambient temps--sometimes five degrees hotter, maybe even up to ten degrees hotter in some cases. So if your basement is 68, your fermenting wort is almost certainly hotter than you want for most ale yeasts. Putting your fermenter in a mini fridge and using an inkbird will let you control your wort temperature exactly, and it will HUGELY improve the taste of your beer.

Now note that I said most ale yeasts like cooler temps. But there are some yeasts that can go hotter. Saison yeasts and some Belgian yeasts can go into the 70s and make great beer with no off flavors. Then there's kveik yeast, which is a family of farmhouse yeasts from Norway. Those yeasts can ferment into the 90s without off flavors. Some will give you more yeast flavors (like orange or other fruits) at high temps, though some ferment clean (like Omega Lutra) no matter the temperature. So if you don't want to invest in a mini fridge, I'd tailor your yeast selection to your temperatures. Lutra is great if you don't want much yeast character, like in a blonde ale or a west coast IPA. Some other kveiks, like Hornindal, are well suited to fruitier beers like New England IPAs.

Point is, you have lots of options! But if you are going to stick with the hobby, temperature control is a very solid investment. I personally noticed an enormous improvement in my beer quality, and I wish I had gotten a fridge and temp control much much earlier than I did.
 
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Merz69

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Thank you all for your help ! I believe I have a direction forward. I will prolly make a swamp cooler until I can find a refrigerator or freezer to my liking. I don’t think I have to drop the temps too far to compensate for the yeast rise.
—or—
I turn down the thermostat and make the wife and kids put on a sweater during fermentation ;)

last question - I would like to bet a big mouth bubbler for a fermenter - glass or plastic ? Siphonless or no valve ?
 

GrowleyMonster

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I am a super noob !! I am trying to get a list together on what’s most important. I didn’t even order my starter kit yet. Every time I research - it’s a must have … “you don’t need a stir plate to make yeast starters, but it will surely help you make better beer !” Looks like I’ll start with plastic buckets and a wort chiller - maybe a BMB. I’ll ferment in the basement @ 68 degrees - is that temp ok ?
For most ales, stouts, porters, etc it is a very good temperature. When you are deciding on an ingredient kit or a yeast in a recipe, check the fermentation range for the yeast and make sure that 68 to 70 degrees falls inside the range. The yeast by their biological action can actually raise the temperature in the fermenter a bit. Whatever you get, make sure that your ambient temperature is going to suit the yeast.

A couple of good yeasts for that temperature would be Fermentis BE-134 and Fermentis BE-256 formerly known as Abbeye. US-05 is a popular yeast often found in kits and your basement fits near the top of the ideal range I think, I would have to check, but I have used it successfully in a 70 degree house and the first two in a 73 degree house, with good results. There are several other popular yeasts that work well at that temp. Be warned though... you can't always just arbitrarily change the yeast in a kit and expect to get the same flavor profile. Check with the vendor for recommendations and possible substitutions if indicated. I think I have taste buds made of stone or something because I barely notice the different flavor characteristics of most yeasts, but you might be more discerning.
 
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MaxStout

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There were some quality issues with glass BMBs, namely very thin glass, or uneven thickness, with breakage problems. Not sure if that's been fixed. Plastic is safer, but prone to scratching if you're not careful when cleaning. But if you take care of it a plastic fermenter will last a long time.
 

GrowleyMonster

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There were some quality issues with glass BMBs, namely very thin glass, or uneven thickness, with breakage problems. Not sure if that's been fixed. Plastic is safer, but prone to scratching if you're not careful when cleaning. But if you take care of it a plastic fermenter will last a long time.
I didn't even know that there were glass ones. I have some plastic ones and they work fine. The dimples call for a vigorous scrub with a soft brush when cleaning up after a batch, is all. I think the Fermonster has smooth walls. I need to somehow wear out a BMB so I can justify getting a Fermonster to try.

Honestly though I would not be too keen on messing with a 5 to 7 gallon glass vessel that sometimes has to be moved with 5 gallons of beer in it. I do appreciate that scratching is not an issue, but with plastic, shattering into a kazillion pieces is not an issue.

The extra precautions in cleaning are made easier by the big mouth. I would very much not like using an old style carboy.
 

IslandLizard

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There were some quality issues with glass BMBs, namely very thin glass, or uneven thickness, with breakage problems. Not sure if that's been fixed. Plastic is safer, but prone to scratching if you're not careful when cleaning. But if you take care of it a plastic fermenter will last a long time.
That! ^

Since you're new to brewing, you need to explore first if brewing is for you. Brewing smaller batches (2-3 gallons) gives you more variety in beer, while brewing more often makes you a more seasoned brewer quicker. You may be able to get 3-4 gallon icing buckets from your local bakery, lids and all.
Even a 5 gallon kit can be split into half or 3rds, then maybe use different hops and steeping grains to make different styles.

If you haven't done so, start collecting 12 oz (longneck) beer bottles, crimp cap ones, not twist offs. And maybe some 22 oz "bombers."

Don't get glass fermenters, get plastic ones. A brew bucket is cheap, or one of those PET ones, there are different designs.
 
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Merz69

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Wow ! You guys have been amazingly helpful. I’ve learned so much from this thread :). Thank you !
If y’all don’t mind - I’d love to keep picking your brains and experience …
Are there any little tips and tricks to do or avoid ? Adding yeast nutrients to the fermenter or using a flocculant like whirlfloc ? I plan on washing and sanitizing everything 3 times !
 

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Something like this



 
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Soulshine2

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Hi,

im new to home brewing. I’m wondering what is the first equipment beyond a starter kit to invest in. I’ve been looking at the following:
Tilt hydrometer
Yeast starter with stir plate
Wort chiller
Upgraded fermenter - conical
Upgraded fermenter - siphonless wide mouth
Carboy cleaning drill attachment
Crashing refrigerator
Aerator ? What type

obviously I’d like it all, but $$’s says one at a time. What do you think would be the best order to acquire this equipment ? Best bang for the buck ?
I’m not planning on brewing heavy beers like stouts, I’m more of an ale/ipa guy with ABV’s in the 5-6 average range. Starting with extract kits.
if you had to choose one …
Having started brewing almost 6 years ago and having brewed a good variety of beers in that time (Ales, porters stouts,Hefeweizens, Oktoberfests,sour, Dubbel,etc) i can tell you its going to depend on how much you have to spend, and how serious you are about continuing to brew after a few batches. Some people spend wads of money on shiny stuff and a load of electronics. Start out with a simple kit- really simple- If you dont have a LHBS then you'll have to order your malts milled or not. Save on the expense of a grain mill at least for a couple brews, You'll need a strike/sparge water vessel, a boil vessel , a mash tun( a converted cooler works great and its cheap) a glass hydrometer, thermometer( buy a digital one ,they're faster and more accurate) make a copper coil chiller, whatever method you prefer to heat things up- i use electric with a homebuilt 3 tier brew rig i built from salvaged parts from an electric stove. It works. Some use propane (outdoors)and some lucky few use Nat gas in their homes . Most packaged dry yeasts dont need to be started ( yeah , i know, big ongoing argument about this. i never start a yeast, toss a packet in the fermenter(Fermonster!)) but you can if you'll sleep better knowing you did,go for it. Buy a couple ready to brew kits. Buy a good brewing book. Get your technique right , dont stray from the recipe or method .Hit your numbers (FG/ ABV) and temps. Its the first timer who wants to "make his own recipe" and it fails that wont continue because it didnt turn out and the next brewer will be buying your equipment cheap. Brew a SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop)say- a Pilsner with some Hallertauer/Mt Hood, easy peasy. Oh and do yourself a favor and bottle the first batch or two. I STILL prefer to bottle , pretty much because i dont have the room or ability to house 5 or 6 kegs and chill them and have CO2 and taps, etc,( you get the idea) I like bottling day , its something to do and if one cap doesnt seal ( and thats never happened to me) i dont lose the whole batch. Go from there. Have fun with it, grow and learn YOUR brew rig. Might take you a few brews to figure out a few things. Post what you brew. ask questions.
 

MaxStout

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Wow ! You guys have been amazingly helpful. I’ve learned so much from this thread :). Thank you !
If y’all don’t mind - I’d love to keep picking your brains and experience …
Are there any little tips and tricks to do or avoid ? Adding yeast nutrients to the fermenter or using a flocculant like whirlfloc ? I plan on washing and sanitizing everything 3 times !

Here's a few tips:

Yeast nutrient and flocculant are not an either/or, they are 2 different things.

Add the whirlfloc at the last 10-15 minutes of the boil.

Same time for yeast nutrients--add late boil. You generally don't need to add more nutrients in fermentation, and opening up the fermenter unnecessarily increases risk of infection and oxidation.

You will rarely need to use a secondary fermentation vessel. Maybe if you plan to bulk-age a beer 6 months or more. Otherwise, you can do everything in primary, including dry hopping.

Get a 1qt. pump spray bottle and fill it with mixed Starsan, to sanitize items. About 1.5ml (1/3 tsp.) Starsan concentrate to 32 oz. water.
 

Soulshine2

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Thank you all for your help ! I believe I have a direction forward. I will prolly make a swamp cooler until I can find a refrigerator or freezer to my liking. I don’t think I have to drop the temps too far to compensate for the yeast rise.
—or—
I turn down the thermostat and make the wife and kids put on a sweater during fermentation ;)

last question - I would like to bet a big mouth bubbler for a fermenter - glass or plastic ? Siphonless or no valve ?
shop yeast that works in the temperature your fermentation area will be in. no worries that way. theres a lot of yeasts out there that basically dont care or just work a wide range . plastic for sure, with a spigot valve. especially if you have a hard time lifting 5 gallons from floor to counter height OR you have small children who might possibly knock your stuff over . Broken glass carboys are no fun,and(fingers crossed ,knock on wood) havent been a thing for me yet.
 

Soulshine2

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Wow ! You guys have been amazingly helpful. I’ve learned so much from this thread :). Thank you !
If y’all don’t mind - I’d love to keep picking your brains and experience …
Are there any little tips and tricks to do or avoid ? Adding yeast nutrients to the fermenter or using a flocculant like whirlfloc ? I plan on washing and sanitizing everything 3 times !
stay away from actual soaps and stock up on Star-San. its cheap and goes a looooong way (fyi-foam is good)
 
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