Newb questions...moving on from Mr. Beer...

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BubbaMan

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I've been doing Mr. Beer extracts since Febr. I'm ready to move on to 5 gallon batches (or just maybe bigger). I think I'm going to go to Brewer's Best partial extract kits because a local shop has them at reasonable prices. They also sell Fastfermenters in stock (5 gallon ones). I may go to all-grain brewing, but I live in a small apt and it looks like a lot of equipment in my limited space, so I'm not sure yet. Could some kind soul please answer a couple of questions...

1. If I go to 5 gallon batches, will a 3 1/2 gallon stainless pot work with the Brewer's Best 5 gallon kits? That's what I have available without buying a new one.

2. Is the Fastferment a good idea for a newb? The local retailer recommends that I skip the 5 gallon bucket kit and go strait to Fastferment. I know, he wants to sell equipment but I think his advice seems reasonable.

3. If I get a Fastferment, will I still need to use secondary fermenting? I plan to brew IPA's and stouts/porters for myself and lagers/pilsners for family.

Is it smarter for me to get a stainless fermenter right out of the gate? I'd probably have to go fairly lower end like the Ss if I do.

Thanks and have a great day!
 

NSMikeD

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I am an apartment dweller with limited space.

The fast ferment requires dedicated space or a stand. A bottling bucket will stow away inside a fermenting bucket. FWIW, my conical gets less use than my bucket. The conical is all cool looking and stuff, but my bucket fermentor with a spigot is much easier to use. IMO, I would not get a fast ferment unless I had dedicate space for it

You may want to rethink your path to all grain. 5 gallon all grain will exceed your stove top's heating capabilities. On the other hand, small batch stove top BIAB is a very popular all grain method for apartment dwellers. I do 2.5 gallon BIAB.

If you decide to do 2.5 gallons now, the transition to all grain will require less additional equipment. While I primarily do BIAB all grain, I do routinely brew from kits and just divide them in half. I brew extract with special grains and partial extract/gain kits. When I do kits this way I use my 3 gallon pot. All my equipment stows away in the large plastic bucket in a closet.

Consider setting aside secondaries and brewing lagers for now. Lagering will require a fermentation chamber to maintain low temperature for an extended period of time. If space is tight the secondary and your cooling solution will take up space. Consider golden and cream ales for now as alternatives to pilsners.
 

jaspass

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Welcome to brewing! Here are my thoughts on your questions:

1 - You should be fine with a 3 1/2 gallon pot. You'll just need to add water after the boil to bring volume in your fermenter to 5 gallons.
2 - I've not used the Fastferment so I can't speak to the pluses and minuses. For what it is worth I started with buckets, then moved to glass carboys, and have been using those for the last 20 years. There are lots of fermentation vessel options that will do the job, and many will come down to preference in cleaning, space used, yeast management, and sometimes just how cool it is (like stainless steel fermenters). My first inclination is to recommend keeping it simple initially until you get your brewing legs under you and you decide how much of a brewer you will be. My second inclination is to tell you that if money is no object, get all the cool stuff!
3 - Many kits (and sometimes people) tell you to use secondary and it seems like a blanket rule. It isn't, and most the time you don't need to sweat it. I only use a secondary if I need to ferment and condition over 30 days. The yeast doesn't hurt anything hanging in there for that amount of time, and your beer will come out just as clear. However some beer styles have long conditioning times before bottling, for example if oak aging a beer. You would also want to use a secondary when lagering if you plan to lager your beer before bottling.

I hope this information helps. Best of luck!
 
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BubbaMan

BubbaMan

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@NSMikeD
@jaspass

Thanks for your helpful replies!
 

Oginme

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I started with a Mr Beer kit and, as you are doing now, decided to move to partial mash and then all grain. I had a 3 gallon pot and went to BIAB for 2 gallon batches in my Mr Beer kegs. They are compact and stored nicely when I had little space to store large carboys, buckets and other equipment. I still do mostly BIAB and have moved up to 10 liter batches (~2.7 gal) for about 95% of my brewing. It gives me more chances to brew, I get more variety of styles that I can brew before I run out of storage room, and allows me to develop recipes much quicker than if I did most of my brewing on my 5-gal set-up.
 
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