How does one start brewing Quality Beer - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

I remember the day that I said that I want to give brewing beer a try. I was cliping coupons and thinking of ways to save money during the modern day depression (or whatever they are calling it.) I read an article on how to save money in gifts. One of the suggestion was to brew beer. I thought screw giving it as a gift, "What about for my own enjoyment."
This began my search in to what the process is. I came upon what seems to have been the guide that I think everyone has glanced over. "How to Brew," by John Palmer. This was a good introduction into the world of brewing. It was easy to understand and not as overcomplicated as many seem to think. Convert wort into fuzzy brew.
I will offer what I did because it has began with limited equipment and the very basics and has evolved to making the jump to All Grain and upgrading my equipment. This is laid back process and meant to not detail each steps or the whys and hows. I did this on a budget of about $100 Please read from other smart people who have detailed each step and process.
Here is what you need to get started:
Brew pot- I started looking at prices and was like a $100 for a brew pot was out of my reach. I also had to convince the wife that I could do this on a limited budget. I settled in on a $40 quart aluminum pot that was just under $30.
Carboy, cap, and "Bubbler"- I was lucky to find a glass carboy, cap and bubbler on Craigslist from someone getting out of the hobby (such a shame). I think I got it along with a few other items for like $40.
Hoses, racking cane- I bought these new because they didn't seem to be expensive and I know that they are new because sanitation seemed to be an important part in the whole brew process
Bottling buckets- I got some food grade buckets from a couple of restaurants. I made sure that it was a neutral food and not something like pickling. I know some will say spend money to get quality ones, but I rolled the dice and have not been disappointed.
Bottles and bottle capper- I drank my way and was lucky to have others donate the bottles. You need a little more than 2 cases (give or take) for 5 gallons of brew I got my bottle capper used for like $5.
Funnel- Buy the big me..I learned the hard way
Cleaning stuff- Star Sans and PBW- These are the basics that you will need to clean and sanitize your equipment.
Thermometer- You really only need this to make sure your wort has cooled to pitching temps

Here is the process:
1. Purchase an extract brew kit from your local beer supply store or online. They usually cost about $50. I actually looked through some forums for recipes and built a recipe on my own. It was about the same money as a kit.
2. Wait until delivery. This was the hardest part and I wish I went down to the store.
3. Brew day- Have your brew plan. Typically the kits will include this, so it is easy to follow.
4. Make sure to clean and sanitize whatever will touch your beer after the hot magma cools down. This includes funnels, carboys, filters, ladles, etc. I would do this before you start brewing or during the 60 min boil if you can multitask.
5. Bring your water to a boil and turn off stove.
6. Add extract and stir it until it is dissolved.
7. Bring to a boil again
8. Once the wort starts boiling, you will add your hops at specified times according to your recipe.
9. Burn yourself and make a mess on your stove when it boils over. It happens to everyone, so you learn to watch it.
10. Get your yeast ready. I have done this several ways and people will tell you that there is many ways to do this. I have tried them all. Yeast is yeast and its basic job on this spinning rock is to eat sugar and convert it to alcohol. Sprinkle it directly into the cooled wort or make some basic yeast starters by scoping some of the wort as it boils and cooling it. Like I said, no one ever complained about my beer.
11. Turn off stove after you completed the 60 min and added your hops or other fining agents (that is whole other topic)
12. Now you must cool the wort to at least 80 degrees (give or take). The aluminum pot made it easy to cool. I stuck it in my sink with just cold water and slowly stirred it with a sanitized ladle. Some will tell you not to do this. No one complained about my beer since I started. The idea is to get it to pitching temps as quickly as you can without too much work. I would then drain the water and add ice water to the sink to help.
13. Pour cooled wort into carboy using funnel. Add some more water if you didn't do a full boils. I was not going to be pouring 5 gallons of wort into my fermenter, so I settled on 3-4 gallons and added room temp water to bring volume up to 5 gallons.
14. Add yeast and shake the carboy like you mean it.
15. Place in a dark room temperature place. Basically, the yeast will need a certain temperature to perform at its best. Read the yeast package to figure out this temperature. Sometimes it is your upstairs closet or your garage. It really depends on the temperature.

16. Wait until you see the glorious bubbles. It takes at least 2-3 weeks. I am not going in to taking original gravity and final gravity readings, but those help.
17. Rack beer into your bottling bucket with some corn sugar
18. Bottle beer and cap
19. Wait some more with the bottles stored in room temperature. I moved a couple of bottles in the fridge after about 2 weeks and tasted.
20.Enjoy & repeat steps 1-20

Yep that about does it... Except you forgot to mention the consumption of some other brewed and fermented substance... That would be every third step or so...
nice little write up man. cool to see a testimony of someone who actually did get in to home brewing to save. Most people like the idea of saving money by brewing, but it becomes a hobby very quickly and more of an investment. Also good to note that you could easily be doing all grain brewing BIAB style with pretty much the same set up!
That about sums it up, nice.
I do things as cheaply as i can, I would even go as far as dipping the arse end of my dog in the wort if it got it to ferment to save a few bucks on yeast.
Nice write up.
Most brewers that I know that got into the hobby to save money, actually ended up spending a lot more in the long run than they'd spend if they were still buying store-bought beer! ;)
Nothing wrong with that of course, but I always get a chuckle out of people who get into it to save as the opposite tends to happen....
I don't think home brewing leads to the cheapest ever beer, but you can have champagne tastes on a beer budget (or rather, Founder's taste on a Natty Ice budget) when you home-brew.
If you are agonizing over reproducing a Budweiser clone for the cheapest possible price, may I suggest a different hobby ;)
What I love about this article is this is a snap shot of me trying for my first brew. My brew day was approximately 1 week ago and I approached it with the same attitude. Sanitize like crazy, follow the instructions, keep it simple.
Right on man.
Oh the memories. I got into brewing because I liked to cook and figured making beer had to be great. I sold myself on it with the justification that I could drink quality beer for the price of Busch Light sold out of hot trunk of someone's car. Fast forward 2 years and I now have built a keezer and just picked up a mash tun... Funny how plans change so fast. The best part is I still buy food as cheaply as I can, yet I'll buy quality beer supplies. I suppose priorities tend to fall into place, eh?
@kal One must simply keep brewing until they have recuperated the sunk costs of their equipment. And this is the tricky part... avoid the temptation of buying shiny new equipment.