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Best starters kit?

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schristian619

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Hello all,

I am brand new to this and am planning to start brewing in the next month or two(after I move). I just wanted to get some suggestions as to what the best starters kit would be. I would like one that I will be able to use for a while with various beer types and that is resonably priced. Any help is appreciated. Thanks
 

Gammon N Beer

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schristian619 said:
Hello all,

I am brand new to this and am planning to start brewing in the next month or two(after I move). I just wanted to get some suggestions as to what the best starters kit would be. I would like one that I will be able to use for a while with various beer types and that is resonably priced. Any help is appreciated. Thanks
Are you asking about beer kits? Or, equipment?
 

Moonpile

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I'd suggest starting with two 7.5 gal food grade buckets (if you get them from your LHBS or online try to get them graduated). One of the buckets should have a lid with a hole in it and rubber grommet for airlock, while the other should have a spigot for bottling (and may also have a lid, though not required). If money is not a huge concern and/or you're SURE you're already into this hobby, you could swap one bucket for a 6.5 gal carboy (but still get the bottling bucket).

You'll want the largest pot you can get. I used a five gallon S/S pot for several years before recently getting keggles. With a 5 gal pot I still had to do concentrated boils, but with a boiling wort size of 3.5 to 4 gal I still got good hop utilization and was able to keep lighter colored worts light. I had used a 2.5 or 3 gal pot in the distant past and had some problems with both hop utilization and color). A big spoon will be required too.

If you can beg, borrow or steal a propane burner, then do so. It's just much easier to have a boilover in your backyard than in your kitchen and it the whole thing goes much faster. However, this is optional and your kitchen stove will work fine.

A hydrometer is highly recommended, but not strictly required. You'll use this to check the gravity of your wort and later your finished beer. This will help avoid bottle bombs and also let you know the ABV of your finished product. If you don't get this right away, put it very high on your list for future purchase.

Those items will be what you need to actually brew the beer. I include the bottling bucket because I always used one to guage the volume and gravity of my wort post boil and to then calculate the water needed for dilution and to mix it in. It's also handy for aeration in that once the wort is mixed you can drain it down into the primary fermenter and it'll splash and foam nicely.

OxiClean is great for cleaning most everything in your set up and StarSan or Iodophor is great for sanitizing it. Personally, I prefer StarSan.

If you didn't get bottling equipment initially, then you can get it during the week or two that your beer will be fermenting:

  • ~50 12oz bottles, labels removed (try soaking in Oxiclean to remove the labels), and sanitized.
  • Bottle scrubbing brush
  • Bottle rinser jet (optional but highly handy)
  • Racking Cane (if you can afford an autosiphon right away, go for it)
  • Hose (for use with racking cane and for bottling bucket spigot to bottling wand)
  • Bottling Wand
  • Capper
  • Caps
  • A bit of corn sugar or light DME (Dry Malt Extract) to prime. Shops usually sell these by the lb. You'll want 3/4 cup of corn sugar or 1-1/4 cup DME.

I think that covers the most basic required equipment.

As for recipes/ingredient kits, I never used a recipe kit and I've never regretted it. When I first got interested in brewing the kitchen store/LHBS near me sold kits but the guy steered me away from them and helped me put together a recipe for a porter, which I was most interested in brewing. If you can't find an extract recipe to your liking in the HBT recipes, or online let me know and I'll help you out.

A few more words of advice:
  • Go with an extract plus steeping grains recipe and don't use pre-hopped extract.
  • Brew the style you really want to brew first, then brew another beer right away, as soon as you've bottled that first beer. The second should be quick to mature, like a Mild or Hefeweizen. You will not regret having more beer.
  • A big keg tub is great for washing/sanitizing stuff in, and can also be used to moderate/reduce the temp of your fermenter in warm environments by adding water and/or ice. Rope handled ones at WalMart are $8, but remove the rope handles before lifting one that's even half full of water. They just pull through.

I hope this helps!
 

nyer

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I just started too, I'm on my 3rd kit. I'm using True Brew kits and so far they are cheap, quick and easy to make and my first one (blackberry porter) tastes great. I'm still waiting on the other two to finish.

You better get ready to start spending money. I started with a "kit" put together at my local store. I then bought bottles and carboys from another store. I don't even need the bottles now. Then I started searching for corny's and luckily got three free. Then I saw an add for a local guy selling all his equipment. I bought everything he had for $85, it's easily worth $400. I finally decided to build a countertop brewing area in my basement with cupboards for storage. Now I can't stay away from the homebrew stores and I collect bottles like they're going out of style. When people tell you this is addicting they aren't kidding. I want to brew every weekend now, luckily my wife is holding me back a little. Good luck........
 
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schristian619

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Thanks for your input! Now i just have to decide between one or two stage fermentation. I know 2 stage is better but I'm not sure that its the best idea for a first timer.
 

Gammon N Beer

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schristian619 said:
Thanks for your input! Now i just have to decide between one or two stage fermentation. I know 2 stage is better but I'm not sure that its the best idea for a first timer.
My advice is don't buy equipment twice. Look ahead at the next step in the process. Will you go to all grain? If so, then the size of your brew kettle should be defined early and used for full wort boils when you do your kits.

Don't spend a lot for an 8 gallon kettle when you know you will want a 15 gallon keg.

E-bay and Craigs List are your friend. And do not forget that many of your freinds know an uncle that used to brew and might be willing to part with their equipment.
 

libs

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holly crap Moon, can you say sticky!

Great post. My only thoughts are that recipe kits are valuable when trying to clone a comercial beer the first time (expecially from AHS), then put it together yourself, and hydrometer is almost a must have.
 

Revvy

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Moonpile said:
I'd suggest starting with two 7.5 gal food grade buckets (if you get them from your LHBS or online try to get them graduated). One of the buckets should have a lid with a hole in it and rubber grommet for airlock, while the other should have a spigot for bottling (and may also have a lid, though not required). If money is not a huge concern and/or you're SURE you're already into this hobby, you could swap one bucket for a 6.5 gal carboy (but still get the bottling bucket).....

I hope this helps!
Moonpile, this post of yours should be a sticky in the beginner's forum.

Good summation!:mug:
 
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