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BrewTops

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So I've been making beer for 6 or 7 months. Using Brooklyn Brewing Shop Beer Kits, made about 5 (6 if you include a cider) beers that have have ranged from alcoholic mildew to drinkable. My biggest issue right now is that the Brooklyn shop charges about 25 per kit (after shipping) and it bugs me that I have payed 25 bucks and waited 4 weeks for a 10 pack.

We started looking at other options and the beer that you make in a bag seems like a good way to compensate for that, but the idea of filling 50 bottles for a typical 5 gallon bucket sounds awful. Especially when I haven't found any beer that I am in love with yet.

So to simplify the question, I am looking for a next step, and is really the next step the beer in the bag option?
 

PCABrewing

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So I've been making beer for 6 or 7 months. Using Brooklyn Brewing Shop Beer Kits, made about 5 (6 if you include a cider) beers that have have ranged from alcoholic mildew to drinkable. My biggest issue right now is that the Brooklyn shop charges about 25 per kit (after shipping) and it bugs me that I have payed 25 bucks and waited 4 weeks for a 10 pack.

We started looking at other options and the beer that you make in a bag seems like a good way to compensate for that, but the idea of filling 50 bottles for a typical 5 gallon bucket sounds awful. Especially when I haven't found any beer that I am in love with yet.

So to simplify the question, I am looking for a next step, and is really the next step the beer in the bag option?
Well you're still going to wait for the beer to finish no matter what method you settle on to create it.

I would not say BIAB is "the next step", it is an option you can choose. You could also go directly to all-grain with multiple vessels for mashing.
You should also answer the question for your self as to how much are you willing to invest in the hobby/activity.
With more advanced brewing techniques there comes more options and potentially (probably) more cost, but also much greater flexibility. But usually an increase in brew volume to at least five gallon batches makes sense.
$25 isn't necessarily a lot to spend for ten bottles of beer. Some of my favorites (commercial) cost nearly that much for one 22oz bottle.
Others will surely offer their opinions as well, lots of good and diverse knowledge here.
 

redrocker652002

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Being there myself, I went with BIAB and am very happy that I did. I am still learning it and have purchased a used 10 gallon cooler to use as my mash tun, but that I still need to get up to speed with. I have a 10 gallon kettle and a propane burner, so the mess is limited to the garage vs the kitchen when I was doing extracts. So, for me, the BIAB was a good next step.

I have a keg that I fill with 5 gallons, but I like to have a few styles around, so I have bottles too. The bottles are not bad to deal with. I rinse them when I drink what is in them, then the day before I am ready to fill, I run them thru the Sanitize cycle in the dishwasher. I can fit 48 in my dishwasher and it works out well. I have some old 12 pack boxes I use to keep them in. My ultimate goal is to have a fridge or freezer converted and have 2 to 3 kegs on tap at all times. But for now, the keg and a nice supply of bottles has been working

As far as kits go, I have had great luck with the Morebeer kits. They are 5 gallon kits, so be ready to bottle about 40 to 48 bottles depending on the recipe. Their kits generally are in the 30 to 50 dollar range and anything over 50 dollars you get free shipping if I remember correctly,, so it is not that bad. I have a Citra Pale Ale in the fermenter right now that will go into my keg, and a blond ale in bottles getting carbonated. Sorry to be so long winded, but you are where I was a few months ago. Enjoy. RR
 

hout17

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If it were me I would grab a couple of 5 gallon extract kits from More Beer which should put you at or over $60 and then the free shipping kicks in.

Brew in a bag is just one technique for all grain brewing but not a bad way to go. You can brew great beer with extract it's all about technique and the freshness of the ingredients.

Edit: Regarding bottling just get the bigger 22oz bottles to cut down on the amount.
 
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hotbeer

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I started off by doing a dozen or so Brooklyn Brewshop kits before I finally started ordering my own malts and hops in bulk and just continuing to do 1 gallon brews for a time afterward. I found some 5 liter jars and used them to get a tad more than a full gallon of beer and have now move on to a 3 gallon conical.

Moving to buying the malts in bulk will mean having to have your malts milled. So if you aren't going to use them all very soon, you probably should spring for a mill. I use an old hand cranked Crystal coffee mill. But any where from a inexpensive Corona mill to a somewhat expensive two or three roller mill will do the job.

Not sure what you mean about the bag. Is this fermenting in a bag? Or are you just talking about BIAB (Brew In A Bag). I've been BIAB from the very start even with the Brooklyn Brewshop kits.

As for having to deal with 50 bottles, well you don't have to. Just don't brew such a large batch. If you buy kits you can divide them up into smaller batches. And a bench capper instead of that 2 handed contraption makes capping much more easier. Or learn about kegging and build a keezer.

As to equipment for brewing in less than 5 gallon quantities. You have to look around and see what you can get that will work for you. Options are very limited for small quantities <5 gallon. I had to settle on a slightly less than desirable conical and get additional stuff to make it work correctly in the way I desired.
 
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IslandLizard

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If it were me I would grab a couple of 5 gallon extract kits from More Beer [...]
MoreBeer has good or at least decent sales at times, like 3 for $60 and such, with free shipping. I would definitely look out for one of those. Sign up with them for alerts and offers or use HomebrewFinds.com. You can even stock up a bit, but keep in mind that ingredients are best when fresher.

You can also simply ignore them as being single recipe kits, and use the ingredients in other recipes. Brew any size you want. 2-3 gallon is a nice size, I've been brewing more of that size lately. 2 or 3 back to back at times.
 

RM-MN

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So I've been making beer for 6 or 7 months. Using Brooklyn Brewing Shop Beer Kits, made about 5 (6 if you include a cider) beers that have have ranged from alcoholic mildew to drinkable. My biggest issue right now is that the Brooklyn shop charges about 25 per kit (after shipping) and it bugs me that I have payed 25 bucks and waited 4 weeks for a 10 pack.

We started looking at other options and the beer that you make in a bag seems like a good way to compensate for that, but the idea of filling 50 bottles for a typical 5 gallon bucket sounds awful. Especially when I haven't found any beer that I am in love with yet.

So to simplify the question, I am looking for a next step, and is really the next step the beer in the bag option?

I brew 2 1/2 gallon batches, enough to fill about 24 to 30 bottles (OK, I stretch the 2 1/2 gallons). With all grain you get to choose the size of batch you make. Most recipes are for 5 gallons but you can simply put less of each ingredient in and make any size you want. The recipes scale well.
 
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BrewTops

BrewTops

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So I've been making beer for 6 or 7 months. Using Brooklyn Brewing Shop Beer Kits, made about 5 (6 if you include a cider) beers that have have ranged from alcoholic mildew to drinkable. My biggest issue right now is that the Brooklyn shop charges about 25 per kit (after shipping) and it bugs me that I have payed 25 bucks and waited 4 weeks for a 10 pack.

We started looking at other options and the beer that you make in a bag seems like a good way to compensate for that, but the idea of filling 50 bottles for a typical 5 gallon bucket sounds awful. Especially when I haven't found any beer that I am in love with yet.

So to simplify the question, I am looking for a next step, and is really the next step the beer in the bag option?
Well you're still going to wait for the beer to finish no matter what method you settle on to create it.

I would not say BIAB is "the next step", it is an option you can choose. You could also go directly to all-grain with multiple vessels for mashing.
You should also answer the question for your self as to how much are you willing to invest in the hobby/activity.
With more advanced brewing techniques there comes more options and potentially (probably) more cost, but also much greater flexibility. But usually an increase in brew volume to at least five gallon batches makes sense.
$25 isn't necessarily a lot to spend for ten bottles of beer. Some of my favorites (commercial) cost nearly that much for one 22oz bottle.
Others will surely offer their opinions as well, lots of good and diverse knowledge here.
Well you're still going to wait for the beer to finish no matter what method you settle on to create it.

I would not say BIAB is "the next step", it is an option you can choose. You could also go directly to all-grain with multiple vessels for mashing.
You should also answer the question for your self as to how much are you willing to invest in the hobby/activity.
With more advanced brewing techniques there comes more options and potentially (probably) more cost, but also much greater flexibility. But usually an increase in brew volume to at least five gallon batches makes sense.
$25 isn't necessarily a lot to spend for ten bottles of beer. Some of my favorites (commercial) cost nearly that much for one 22oz bottle.
Others will surely offer their opinions as well, lots of good and diverse knowledge here.
Right I heard that fermentation can be shorter since you can more easily use a hydro meter in a jug rather than a carboy.

I am trying not to do the classic, where I dump 500 into a hobby then drop the hobby. So I'm trying to ease myself in, I think the my current phase is that I'm going to measuring the beer with hydrometer.

However I was hoping that there is a step between measuring the levels of the beer and dropping 300 for a 5 gallon kettle + burner (ball park number)

Yea I agree there are some beers that are 20+ for a ten pack but I guess what irks me is waiting for 4 weeks for it and paying the same amount.

Would you thinking buying malt and yeast smallest bulk size would fit what I am looking for?
 
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BrewTops

BrewTops

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Being there myself, I went with BIAB and am very happy that I did. I am still learning it and have purchased a used 10 gallon cooler to use as my mash tun, but that I still need to get up to speed with. I have a 10 gallon kettle and a propane burner, so the mess is limited to the garage vs the kitchen when I was doing extracts. So, for me, the BIAB was a good next step.

I have a keg that I fill with 5 gallons, but I like to have a few styles around, so I have bottles too. The bottles are not bad to deal with. I rinse them when I drink what is in them, then the day before I am ready to fill, I run them thru the Sanitize cycle in the dishwasher. I can fit 48 in my dishwasher and it works out well. I have some old 12 pack boxes I use to keep them in. My ultimate goal is to have a fridge or freezer converted and have 2 to 3 kegs on tap at all times. But for now, the keg and a nice supply of bottles has been working

As far as kits go, I have had great luck with the Morebeer kits. They are 5 gallon kits, so be ready to bottle about 40 to 48 bottles depending on the recipe. Their kits generally are in the 30 to 50 dollar range and anything over 50 dollars you get free shipping if I remember correctly,, so it is not that bad. I have a Citra Pale Ale in the fermenter right now that will go into my keg, and a blond ale in bottles getting carbonated. Sorry to be so long winded, but you are where I was a few months ago. Enjoy. RR
So question about the switch to BIAB did you have a beer that you enjoyed or do you experiment using the big kettle?

So when your fermentation is done you currently have to bottle everything until you get the keg ready. This might be not knowing but do you still have to add sugar to get carbonation as well?

Thankyou!
I'll definitely take a look at that beer kit
 

CascadesBrewer

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However I was hoping that there is a step between measuring the levels of the beer and dropping 300 for a 5 gallon kettle + burner (ball park number)

I am also a huge fan of 2.5 gallon batches. Assuming you have a stove that can heat and boil around 3 gallons of liquid, all you need is a 5-gallon kettle, a brew bag, and a fermenter. You can get all these items for $50 to $100. There are plenty of upgrades that you could do in the future (grain mill, immersion chiller, kegging system, etc.) but the basics, plus the items you already have, will get you started.

There are also plenty of options for making 1 gallon sized batches for a LOT less than $25 per pop. There are plenty of sources for recipes. You can likely get the ingredients for an extract based 1 gallon batch for maybe $12.
 

redrocker652002

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So question about the switch to BIAB did you have a beer that you enjoyed or do you experiment using the big kettle?

So when your fermentation is done you currently have to bottle everything until you get the keg ready. This might be not knowing but do you still have to add sugar to get carbonation as well?

Thankyou!
I'll definitely take a look at that beer kit
Sorry for my late response, but here goes.

I have been trying a few different ones with the BIAB. I have not hit one that I was over the top happy with, but these last two have hit the numbers I was looking for, so I am hopeful. I have taken recipes from here, I have bought kits from Morebeer and looked on the internet as well. I think the kits from Morebeer are good as they are already measured and have all you need in one bag.

My wife was kind enough to buy me the kettle and the burner for Xmas last year. The only thing I would have changed is to look for a kettle with no thermometer built in. The probe in the kettle snags on the bag and rips it. It has not ripped bad enough yet to toss it out, but it is getting close. Also, if you use the kettle as a mash tun, make sure you have a sleeping bag or blanket around. The last batch I did I used an old blanket to cover the kettle (flame off of course on the burner) and it held the temp much better.

As far as your bottling question, I have been using the carb drops that they sell at Morebeer. They are measured out for a 12 ounce bottle. I drop one in each bottle, fill and cap. Store for about two weeks, then put a few bottles in the fridge. I try one about a week later, so 3 weeks in the bottle, and see where I am. I don't mind having bottles on hand, and bottling them does not take all that long for me. I figure a few hours to do it, then a few beers and relax after. LOL.

Also, I rinse each bottle as I empty them, and then store them in boxes in my shop. It seems to be the best way to make sure all the yeast and stuff at the bottom gets out of there and does not dry and become very difficult to clean out.

I am very new to this as well, so please take what I wrote for what it is worth. I am starting to buy ingredients and try things on my own, but I still think the Morebeer kits are the way to go for now. Also, Austin Homebrewing is a good place to get kits. I have had success with them as well.

If I can be of any help, feel free to contact me via PM. Like I said, I am still new but I am enjoying the BIAB brewing more than I thought I would.

Regards,

RR
 

redrocker652002

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Right I heard that fermentation can be shorter since you can more easily use a hydro meter in a jug rather than a carboy.

I am trying not to do the classic, where I dump 500 into a hobby then drop the hobby. So I'm trying to ease myself in, I think the my current phase is that I'm going to measuring the beer with hydrometer.

However I was hoping that there is a step between measuring the levels of the beer and dropping 300 for a 5 gallon kettle + burner (ball park number)

Yea I agree there are some beers that are 20+ for a ten pack but I guess what irks me is waiting for 4 weeks for it and paying the same amount.

Would you thinking buying malt and yeast smallest bulk size would fit what I am looking for?
I am very much with you on this. I have put out a bit more than I wanted due to finding a used converted Kegerator, but other than that, I am trying to keep cost low until I know I am going to stay with it. My ultimate goal is to get an all in one electric system like the Anvil, but in all honesty, it is fun to do it the old fashioned way too.
 

IslandLizard

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The only thing I would have changed is to look for a kettle with no thermometer built in. The probe in the kettle snags on the bag and rips it.
Remove the thermometer and screw a plug into the hole, such as this one:

I repurposed the thermometer (half) port on my brew kettle as a return port for a whirlpool fitting. That's a much better use for it, IMO.
 

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My 2¢:

Move to 2.5 or 3-gallon no-sparge BIAB. You can order your own bulk ingredients or buy 5-gallon kits and get 2 batches out of them (or kit-bash and make 'em your own).

Even cheap bags will hold the grain for a 2.5 gallon recipe, and you probably already have the other equipment you need.
 

hotbeer

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Right I heard that fermentation can be shorter since you can more easily use a hydro meter in a jug rather than a carboy.
Not quite certain what you are getting at here. Just because fermentation is over doesn't mean the beer is ready to be bottled or kegged. And the bulk of fermentation takes place in just a few days leaving just a few points lower to be gained over the next week or two.

There is likely still some yeast and other stuff suspended in it and you need to give that more time to drop out of suspension. Depending on your preference, you can simply wait days or weeks longer or help it along with gelatin and/or cold crashing. My preference is to wait.
 

redrocker652002

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Remove the thermometer and screw a plug into the hole, such as this one:

I repurposed the thermometer (half) port on my brew kettle as a return port for a whirlpool fitting. That's a much better use for it, IMO.
I like that idea of adding a whirlpool port. I will have to look a bit more into that.
 

devilssoninlaw

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I just bottled 5 gallons of Chocolate Milk Stout by myself and start to finish, including cleaning everything and putting it away was a little under 2 hours, time I could have spent watching TV or surfing the internet.

My wife or son usually help, saving me a few more minutes. I personally don't mind an hour here or there doing a hobby I enjoy.
 

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@BrewTops If your having issues with the consistency of the quality of finished beer, I believe the best next step for you is to focus on is your process, not equipment, not different kits, nothing else. Not only is this going to be your cheapest fix, but it's also the most practical. Sure, it may require a bit more patience, but hopefully you'll gain a better understanding of what "next step" you want to take will be.

Your first and most important point of focus should be sanitation. Especially if you mentioned one of your batches was like alcoholic mildew. Take the time to make sure everything is clean, and then sanitary. It's important to have those steps in place and in order. You're dealing with microorganisms and a very nutritious environment for many little critters to thrive. Clean everything thoroughly so that your sanitizer has a surface to, well, sanitize. It's as easy as a wash cloth with scent-free soap. Then sanitize. StarSan is a great choice for many, just follow the directions. If, for whatever the reason, you don't have or can't get StarSan, use vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then rinse with a can of bud light.

Next, make sure that you do each batch the same way. Everytime. Get your rhythm and stick to it until you feel comfortable with what your doing. This will establish a base of reference to which you can start troubleshooting and expanding.

Honetly, when it comes down to it, the process in which you make beer will ultimately be the most important factor on the results. Ingredients, yes, but only to an extent.

When it comes to what is right or wrong about technique, only you can decide for yourself what works for you.
 

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Especially when I haven't found any beer that I am in love with yet.
I would say you need to find something you like, and keep trying to make it better, otherwise what is the point?

I am 5 brews in as well though I started 5 gallon whole grain, I am just getting kits from the LHBS that end up around $40 (with bottled water that's like a buck a beer). I just try to improve technique on each batch, and find doing something makes learning what is written ( How to Brew, Brew like a Monk, etc) easy to understand.
 

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Especially when I haven't found any beer that I am in love with yet.

This is my chief argument for sticking to smaller batches. I can iterate through my 6.5-liter batches (fits a 2-gallon bucket with reasonable ullage for kräusen) quickly and try new recipes way faster and cheaper than working through sequential 5-gallon batches.
 

AlexKay

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To summarize, it seems your position is that you want to spend less on a batch of beer, you don't want to invest a lot in equipment, you want the beer to be better, and you don't want long, long bottling days.

Coming up with your own recipes (as simple as searching the internet for them) and ordering ingredients by the pound avoids kit surcharges and can definitely save you money. I wouldn't go to full sacks of grain right away (see: no big investment). If you have a local store they can probably mill for you (don't buy a mill right away), or you can order pre-crushed grain online (plus there are a few sites that will mix and mill an entire grain bill for you, down to per-ounce quantities.)

Stick with small batches! You can continue brewing on the stovetop (no extra equipment), you'll have less to bottle, less to spend on fermenters, and you'll be able to experiment more (and quite possibly brew more often.)

All-grain is all-grain, but the smaller your batch, the more sense it makes to BIAB: BIAB gets easier as you go smaller, and a multiple-vessel setup stays the same difficulty or gets harder. I defy anyone to use a traditional mash tun for a 0.25-gallon batch (where I can squeeze the bag with one hand!) If you do need to get a bigger kettle, you can save money buying a stainless pot (with thick bottom) on Amazon instead of a brew kettle. You'll miss out on etched markings, but nbd. For small batches, you'll need a ~4-8 gallon pot, depending. That's a size that will see other uses in the kitchen. (Big batches of soup or chili, sous vide.)

For one-gallon batches, you can use part of a packet of dry yeast and save the rest. Dry yeast also tends to be cheaper, and there are a ton of good options nowadays. Check out the 1-gallon brewers thread on these forums.
 

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Funny thing, I still bottle about as much as I keg.
Several years ago we moved and everything brewing went into storage, except bottles. I had 4-5 cases of bomber and Belgian bottles that got recycled. Starting to collect again.
 
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