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stevefromga2000

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i have always been interested in making my own beer. i know a few people that do it already, but none of them are close to where i live so that i can ask lots of the dumb questions and/or see how the actual process works. i'm military, so i kind of rely of forums for a lot of information.

please help me get started.....i just went and bought a starter kit. it's a 2 stage kit, i got it so that i can make stronger beer in the future. the guys at the store seemed like he knew a lot of information, and he was pretty friendly, but he was busy. so he couldn't help me out with explaining how to start up. as far as i know, i have all of the necessary equipment, but before i start cooking everything up i was hoping somebody could explain a few answers.

mainly, i have 2 buckets, one for fermentation and one for bottling, but i also have a 5 gallon carboy. what is the carboy for? i thought that i would do all the fermenting in the bucket, then when it was ready i would transfer it to the second bucket for bottling. am i correct or am i missing a simple step?

again, all information is helpful and i am very excited to start this hobby.
 

jiggs_casey

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All of your fermentation will be done in the bucket. You can use the secondary (carboy) to transfer your beer to after primary fermentation is done to maybe help clear your beer (lots of debate about this), or you can use it as a step to add fruits or whatnot to flavor your beer. Lookup 'dryhopping' or 'racking your beer onto fruit'. Truth be told, carboys are fine, I use them when I am TRYING to get a beer I can see through. Otherwise, I don't use them much anymore. Fear of dropping one and hacking off an appendage gets to me...
 

choffon

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first off welcome to the most beneficial hobby out cause u get to drink your accomplishment.

Im sure everyone is gonna ask for a little more information on your buckets like sizes and what material they are made of i.e. glass or plastic.

And i also dont know much with only two beers and a cider under my belt but ill try to answer to the best of my knowledge
 

jason81

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The Carboy would be your secondary fermenter. Which can be optional. If you are doing a beer with a quick turnaround say 2-3 weeks you can just leave it in the bucket the whole time. Or you can use the Carboy for primary fermentation if you choose, just make sure there's enough head space. If you are doing a beer and expect to let it ferment longer, lagering or for whatever reason you will want to transfer to secondary generally somewhere between1 and 3 weeks after sitting in primary. You don't want to have it sitting in primary too long. Seconday will let the remaining yeast continue to do it's job and also help with clarity.
 

Face Eater

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What kind of beer are you brewing? Or what kind of beer are you planing on brewing? Eventually that carboy can come in handy depending on what your brewing or what your trying to accomplish.
 

frazier

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You've already taken two excellent steps along the path: First, you bought a decent kit (you'll be adding to it as you go along, don't expect it to have everything); Second, you have reached out to a group of experienced brewers for advice. Stick around, learn a lot, enjoy your brew!

Here's my advice: buy a decent book, such as Palmer's How to Brew, and you'll always have it for reference.
 

usfmikeb

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Welcome to the hobby! When I first started brewing, I found a couple books to be invaluable to building up my foundational knowledge. This site is great for learning, but sometimes you want to be able to get to answer fast. Those two books are Homebrewing for Dummies and Joy of Homebrewing.
 

fnord

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Umm, I don't really want to be discouraging, but....

You list your location as Moody, AL, homebrewing is illegal in Alabama. The consensus seems to be that you will generally be left alone, but you also say your are military and if you are on a base I don't know what sort of stricter law enforcement you might be subject to.
 

luke2080

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Steve - I'm guessing you got a beer kit to go with the equipment, to have something to brew. that should give you pretty decent directions to brew that.

Basically once everything is boiled, cool it off. (A useful trick I did my first batch, freeze a gallon of distilled water. Boil to get 4 gallons or whatever the instructions say of wort, and pour onto the ice (break it up, with something sanitized) This pouring/cooling should go into your fermenting bucket. Once it is at the right temp (for the kits, using dry yeast, the instructions probably just say "below 90....shoot for 70 if you can, but its fine) then pitch your yeast.

For your first batch, I'd leave that alone. Let it sit for 2 weeks, then use the bottling bucket, bottle, and let that sit for 3 more weeks. No need to use the glass carboy for your first batch.

FYI - opposite what alot of others do, I only use 5 gallon glass carboys now, as opposed to the 6.5 gallon glass primary carboys. I use a blow off tube, and let it sit there for a month.

So..some general directions for you. Lots more in the beginner forum. Everything you want to know is here, just use the search bar and check the stickies.
 

billf2112

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Welcome to the addiction.....ummmm....hobby. Former Army here, thank you for your service.

If you have a home brew store near you, you are a step up on most new brewers. Ask them about brewing classes and brew clubs.

My local store has brewing 101 each month, cost me $25, most likely saved me hundreds of dollars in mistakes.

As a former MP, the only real rule on beer was you gotta be old enough to drink in the state you are stationed in. You are in a federal jurisdiction, so I do not think state laws will apply here. Check with your SJA if you are worried.
 
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stevefromga2000

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first of all, thank you for all the fast responses. the buckets that i have are both 5 gallon buckets. they are both made of plastic. i have one lid, for the bucket used for fermenting. the carboy i have is made of glass, also 5 gallons. i also have some really basic things. some rubber tubing, 2 cases of bottles with caps, a cleaning brush, and a cap installation tool. i was thinking that the carboy would be used in the future, but i like to prepare ahead of time.

the first batch that i am going to try is Asahi. it's a japanese beer. i spent the 4 1/2 out of the last 5 1/2 years of my life over there and it has become my favorite beer. i love all beer, but that's the one i prefer to buy usually. the guy at the store was telling me to compare it to a blonde because of how it's made. and yes, he gave me an instruction sheet along with all the ingredients.

now, i guess i just need to go for it and see how it goes. again, i'm really excited to start the hobby. i look forward to all of your help, and hopefully i can pay it forward later on.
 

ajf

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I don't want to discourage you, but Asahi is a pale lager, and lagers are not generally recommended for your first brew for two reasons.
1. The delicate flavor of such a beer will not hide any off flavors caused by beginner brewing mistakes. It won't hide off flavors caused by advanced brewing mistakes either. :)
2. Lagers need very good temperature control, and a long time. Fermentation temperatures need to be kept at about 50F, and this takes 3 - 4 weeks, then they need to be lagered for an extended period at even lower temperatures for a prolonged time in order to develop the delicate flavors. (Lager is the German verb to store.)
You can brew a blonde ale with much less difficulty, and that's probably what the guy at the store sold you; but it just won't taste quite like the Asahi you have been drinking.

-a.
 

luke2080

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If you only have the 5 gallon bucket/carboy to ferment in, be sure you search for Blow Off Tube here on the site. If you are brewing an ale, you'll need it. Hopefully the Local Home Brew Store sold you a tube for the blow off, but everyone sells the airlocks and neglects to mention it may explode off during the first couple of days of fermentation.
 
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stevefromga2000

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when he got me everything, he did tell me that it won't be quite like the kind that i buy. he said that it would be similar, but not the same. maybe that is what he meant. the paper he gave me with the brewing instructions says fermentation for 7 to 10 days. he mentioned that it could be a little more difficult, but that it doesn't take very long to brew compared to some of the others. it is asahi dry, i'm not sure if that makes a difference or not. and don't worry about discouraging me. i'm going to go for it no matter what, i'm too excited not to try it anyways. lol
 

soundsandsuds

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Best of luck with the new hobby. While I do enjoy a nice dry Japanese beer, they will be very hard. Use the hobby to try some new styles which are easier to brew. If you like pale lagers, try brewing blond ales, cream ales and other light coloured ales. They're quite a bit easier.
You should be able to get a refreshing, drinkable beer out of your kit, though. Enjoy it and don't get frustrated by any shortcomings in the beer. Like anything else it will improve with experience.
 

william_shakes_beer

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Welcome, newbie. Experienced newbie here, I am in the hobby for a short enough time to remember your confusion. (Batch 5 ready to bottle next weekend) I remember it fondly. You will find that everybody has a favorate way of brewing and its a little like baseball players on a hitting streak: refuse to wash their socks for fear of jinxing the process. Its actually fairly difficult to screw up brewing Beer. Vikings and babylonians were brewing beer in open top vessels before anybody knew what Yeast6 was. They just knew that if you stirred the wart with the "lucky" family mash paddle and didn't wash it, the beer came out better. I usually brew using the recipie as a guide, adjusting as per my superstitions. Here's my process for what its worth:

Equipment:
2 plastic buckets 6.5 Gallons with lid
1 plastic buckets 6.5 Gallons with hole and spigot for bottling
Brew pot: 7.5 gallon turkey pot, Stainless steel, with balve ( $40, bass pro)
5 gallon nylon paint strainer

Process:
Brew day:

Rehydrate dry yeast or put liquid yeast vial in warm (76F) water to warm, shaking frequently to keep sediment suspended and oxygenate

heat 3.5 gallons of water to 165F

put paint strainer over mouth of pot, secure with binder clips

put in any specialty grains, steep as per recipie, maintain temp below 170F

lift out paint strainer at end of steep, hang from a convenient cabinet door handle until it stops dripping. Don't squeeze.

heat wart to boil

add extracts, return to boil
add hops per recipie schedule

teminate boil

cool wart to pitching temp listed on yeast container

pour wart through SST seive into 6.5 Gal bucket

add potable top off water sufficient to total 5 gallons

Stir to homogenize water and wart

Check temp is within yeast's required range.

Pour in yeast

snap on bucket lid

sit on a chair with bucket in the floor between your knees

Rock bucket back and forth 20 times to add oxygen to wart

Add a blow off tube first 7 days, then replace with airlock.

Ferment a total of 28 days.

Bottle

A couple of things to remember as you "adjust" the recipie to suit your preference:

1. If you want a lighter beer, add most of the extracts 15 minutes prior to terminating the boil. As you boil wart it tends to darken. You need minimum 15 minutes to pastuerize the extract, which kills any bacteria that might have found its way into your ingredients

2. Hops are generally added to the boil for a total of 60 minutes. There can be 1,2,or 3 additions. The first (60 minutes) is for bitterness. The second, (20- 40 minutes), for flavor. The third, (0-15 minutes), for aroma. If you like the beer bitterness but want more aroma, increase the hops volume at the final addition. IF you want less bitterness, decrease the volume of hops at the 60 minute boil.

3. Make sure you sterelize anything ( ingredients, tools, containers) that will come in contact with the wart after it has cooled.

This post became quite a bit longer than intended. Hope I have done more good than harm. Have fun, and remember, no matter what mistakes you make, it'll still be beer. Relax Don't Worry Have A Home Brew (RDWHAHB)
 

mdgagne

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Palmer's book (First edition) is available online - it has a great section describing "your first brew day". It helped ease a lot of the anxiety I had about brewing beer. I would suggest picking up his latest edition I hear it has been update quite a bit. Good Luck and welcome to a hobby that always leaves you thirsty for more.

:mug:

http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html
 

Irishbrewer11

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Ok, here is some info that will likely help you.
1. brewing can be very simple, or as complicated as you want to make it.
2. every (extract) brew follows the same basic format. I have basic brewing instructions on my site here:
MOD EDIT - Please do not link to for-profit sites.

this will give you the lay of the land for the brewing process. All you will need are the specific details to the brew you are brewing. This includes the type and amount of hops being used and when they are added, as well as any specialty grains that may need to be steeped.

Check out the link to my instructions page above, peruse my recipes page for more detail, and feel free to contact me directly to fill in any gaps you have left.

Good luck!
 
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