Noob question - cheap fermenter?

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dp69_2001

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Okay, I'm trying to get away from my mr. Beer so that I can brew enough beer for the longer summer nights. However, I cannot find a 6 gallon container to turn into a fermenter and I'm somewhat limited on funds. However, I have a 5.5 gallon pressure canning pot with an airtight lid. If I installed my airlock into the lid, would I be able to ferment in such a container? I'm not sure what it is made out of, though it appears to be aluminum. Well, that's my question. Or if anyone knows of some cheap 6 gallon container I could find at wal-mart or home depot that works well. any help is appreciated.
 

Tankard

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Hi, welcome to the site!

Personally, I wouldn't ferment in a container like the one you described. Aluminum is ok to boil wort in, but as far as fermenting, I would suspect that you would get metallic off-flavors in your beer with such a long contact time.
To my knowledge, I am not aware of a container at Home Depot or Lowes that will work for brewing.

I know you are low on funds, but to get into brewing the right way, it will take some degree of financial commitment on your part. I recommend the following kit to get you started. It's the cheapest I've found, and it has everything you need to brew very good beer on your first try. There is also a kit for $20 more on the site that includes a 5 gallon glass carboy, which you will want if you plan on doing secondary fermentation. I would actually recommend the latter kit, but if you are really low on funds, the basic kit is good enough.
Link to the basic kit ---- http://www.midwestsupplies.com/products/ProdByID.aspx?ProdID=6873

Link to the regular kit (the one I recommend if you can spare the extra $20) ---- http://www.midwestsupplies.com/products/ProdByID.aspx?ProdID=6874

Do you have a local home brew shop nearby? If so, I recommend going there first to see if they sell equipment kits, that way you won't have to pay for shipping.
 

Yooper

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An "ale pail" with a lid and an airlock is under $15. You do need a couple of other things, though, too. You need some siphoning tubing, and a racking cane or an autosiphon. You need a hydrometer, and an extra airlock just in case. You should be able to find this at a homebrew store, and probably find it all for under $30.

I would spent a little extra, though, and get the basic kit. It's worth it.
 

abracadabra

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There are a number of things you can do. Check out restaraunts for plastic buckets. Places like Dunkin Donut often have them. Talk with the mangager if they don't have any on hand they will likely save them for you if you ask.

Although it says not to reuse them I don't see any reason that a 5 or 7 gal. swimming pool chlorine bucket couldn't be used if it were rinsed out throughly. So if you know any place with a swimming pool you could check them out and ask them to save the buckets.

Moving from free to cheap:

Cornie kegs make excellent secondary fermenters. I've seen them as low as $15 for single handle cornies and unlike glass they are light weight, rugged and impervious to light.

Other ways to save money:

I have a buddy that reuses twist off bottles and caps he just twists them back on when he's bottling.

Reusing plastic bottles such as Coca Cola, or Miller Lite plastic bottles reduces the worry and elimantes the danger of bottle bombs so you won't have to purchase a hydormeter.

Other ways to save is to see if you can get a group together and have each person in the group buy one piece of equipment so that the cost of the entire brewery doesn't fall on 1 person.

DIY equipment projects are rewarding and a great way to save money too.

But be careful often people that buy cheap often end up buying twice. So plan carefully where you intend to go in the long run and buy toward that goal.

:mug:
 

tdavisii

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I agree with the above. Go to as many resteraunts as it takes to find food grade buckets and dont forget those lids.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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That kit is pretty expensive. I have some money to spare but not much. If there was a homebrew shop here that would save alot of trouble since the shipping on some of those kits is as much as the kit. I have a hydrometer and an airlock in the mail because I was planning on getting something together in the next couple of weeks. How important is the secondary. I've been reading around a bit and it seems that it's biggest importance is to add to clarity. If I found buckets big enough could I combine the functions of the secondary fermenter and bottling bucket into one? I have 5 gallons worth of bottles and some more on the way. My grandma has about twenty of the flip top bottles that she is going to give me. I also read somewhere that people were using food safe 5 gallon buckets. But I was worried that there wasn't enough space and it would ferment up and clog my airlock.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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Sorry for the double post. If I bought one 6.5 gallon ale pail with spigot, lid and airlock and then just another 6.5 gallon ale pail, could I use the one without the spigot for primary. Then siphon into the one with the spigot for secondary. Then just add priming solution and use the secondary to bottle? After secondary is there alot of dead yeasties at the bottom that could clog the spigot? Meh, just a thought. I better get ready for work.
 

illin8

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I would recommend buying the ale pale and the bottling bucket. Do your primary fermentation in the Ale Pale, leave it for 2-4 weeks (or however long you want), then rack to the bottling bucket when bottling, you don't NEED to secondary...and if you don't have the $$ to dedicate for a secondary, all the more reason not to...just let it sit a little bit longer....
 

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2 pails will make bottling much easier, and will let you decide whether or not to do a secondary. You can use the two buckets you described for all 3 stages if you like.

  1. Transfer wort from boil to Bucket A with spigot for primary, pitch your yeast, and attach the lid with airlock or blowoff tube.
  2. Siphon beer to Bucket B without spigot for secondary, move lid with airlock to Bucket B.
  3. Put your priming solution in Bucket A, siphon beer into A from B, and bottle from the spigot.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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OMG mr. dwarf, you are the most brilliant person I've ever met. I am going to buy those buckets tonight. I think I can spare the 43 bucks for them. I have a siphon I made when I clogged the spigot on the Mr. Beer that should work nicely. I feel so happy. If I had a tail it would be going crazy! What should my first 5 gallon brew be? Anyone working on anything exciting? I need something very refreshing. As it's going to be getting rather warm in the next few weeks. Anyone know of a St. Pauli's clone or something equally tasty?
 

Hoosierbrewer

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I did not add a secondary until 6 months after I started brewing. I like the idea of using what you have as a secondary though. Get One ale pale and one bottling bucket. You should be fine.
 

Tankard

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My suggestion to get the carboy wasn't just for secondary fermentation. I think it's best to leave your beer in an oxygen-impermeable vessel once the fermentation is over with. I've heard of people leaving it in their ale pails for up to a month, but I wouldn't do that myself.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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My suggestion to get the carboy wasn't just for secondary fermentation. I think it's best to leave your beer in an oxygen-impermeable vessel once the fermentation is over with. I've heard of people leaving it in their ale pails for up to a month, but I wouldn't do that myself.
Huh? once the fermentation is over shouldn't I bottle it?
 

xamers

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Man, you guys don't know cheap!:D

I started with Lowe's 5 gallon buckets to ferment. Drilled a hole in the top. Bought a cork and an airlock and boom!, $8 later, I had a fermenter for about 4.5 gallons of beer. Throw in a 1/2 ID hose and I had a blow off tube, my racking tube, and my bottle filler.

My beers weren't the best, but they weren't bad; and the crappy Lowe's bucket was no less to blame than was my brewing ability.

$10 dude. No secondaries. Ferment for 3 or 4 weeks and bottle.

EDIT: Never a bottle bomb.
 

Tankard

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After the beer is done fermenting, it needs time to clarify and condition before you bottle it. Ale pails are not oxygen-impermeable, so it is not ideal to let the beer sit there for 3-4 weeks. It's better to use a glass carboy or better bottle.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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oh, right. Are better bottles just like those huge water bottles that you generally see in offices and hospitals? They have those at home depot for under 10$.
 

xamers

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oh, right. Are better bottles just like those huge water bottles that you generally see in offices and hospitals? They have those at home depot for under 10$.
No, BBs are made of different material that is virtually impervious to gas movement.

You pay for it, too. But they are great.
 

Tankard

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They look like them, but they are made from a completely different kind of plastic. The ones you get at Home Depot are highly permeable to oxygen and do not work well as fermenters for that very reason. Better Bottles are made from PET plastic and are virtually impermeable to oxygen.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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I just bought two fermenters and a premium hef kit with liquid yeast for 50 bucks off a shop in Salt Lake. Shipping should only be about 1-2 days, and it was only 10 dollars. No spigot. But, I could probably find one at home depot or rip one out of something.
 

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Sorry for the hijack, DP, but it seems as you got your answer and I've been following this thread with interest. I have yet to brew my first batch. Still collecting and learning, as cheap as I can. Don't even have the Mr. Beer, I'm trying to collect stuff that will "grow" with me for awhile.

I do have a question about the secondary. Would it be possible (granted, will take alot of extra time, but possible nonetheless) to use plastic soda bottles for secondary? Then pour from secondary (soda bottles) to glass beer bottles? I've been reading about brewing but haven't seen this mentioned. Soda bottles are made for the pressure, right? I saw somewhere on the internet that some people use soda bottles for that last bottling stage.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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I wouldn't do that. It sounds like contamination waiting to happen. If you are useing a Mr. Beer you could probably find a 2.5 gallon water bottle or something at the grocery store to secondary in. Most people don't secondary when they use Mr. Beer. I don't know I'm pretty new at this, but using multiple little bottles seems pretty risky. Also, you don't want to oxygenate the brew after primary (like pouring it back in from the water bottle) because the newly introduced oxygen will put your yeast back in reproduction mode and you would end up with a poorly carbonated beer. (That's how I messed up my last one)
 

Hoosierbrewer

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Sorry for the hijack, DP, but it seems as you got your answer and I've been following this thread with interest. I have yet to brew my first batch. Still collecting and learning, as cheap as I can. Don't even have the Mr. Beer, I'm trying to collect stuff that will "grow" with me for awhile.

I do have a question about the secondary. Would it be possible (granted, will take alot of extra time, but possible nonetheless) to use plastic soda bottles for secondary? Then pour from secondary (soda bottles) to glass beer bottles? I've been reading about brewing but haven't seen this mentioned. Soda bottles are made for the pressure, right? I saw somewhere on the internet that some people use soda bottles for that last bottling stage.
It is good to do the research. I would just jump into it and brew something. Do not worry about a secondary at this time. I did not use one when I first started and the beer was excellent. Try something that will be ready quickly like an ENglish Pale ale. I like the Brewer's best kit. AHS also has some great kits and Forrest will be happy to help you.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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I agree. The best way to learn is to get in and do it. I still have no idea what I'm doing but I find that with each batch I do the more I learn what not to do. You can read all the books and every forum on the internet, but in the end some things you just have to figure out. Both of the beers I made were good (and are now all consumed) but I can point out several things I would have done differently with both recipes. For your first batch just make sure you get a fresh yeast rehydrate and prime it before pitching. and sanitation is key. With that in mind I don't think you can mess up an ingredient kit.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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Hoosier: On the wheat beer you are doing right now is there a lot of blowoff or foam? I'll be making one from an ingredient kit I bought from Mr. Beer but I wanted to use a traditional wheat yeast so I bought one from beer-wine.com now I'm just hoping it won't create a yeastie time bomb in my closet.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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****. I can't wait for all my new stuff. I ran out of hb's today and I'm drinking commercial **** (pbr). grrr, I hate slow shipping.
 

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dp, I just noticed you're in Richfield. My dad used to live there when I was a kid! I'd go visit him all the time and he lived in this creepy old house... Do they still have that ice cream parlor there? I loved that ice cream man. It was excellent.

Sweet T, you can use soda bottles as a secondary, but why? You may as well just use them for your actual bottles, since they're rated for pressure and you have the beer in them anyways. Just leave the beer in the primary for at least two weeks or more, then bottle it(and remember to add your bottling sugar!). The more the beer is moved around and handled, the more likely that you can get infections or oxidation.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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K new question. I have two 3.3 lb cans of Coopers Wheat extract. I'm also adding two 15 oz cans of raspberries. Since my hydrometer hasn't come yet I was wondering what kind of alcohol percentage I'm looking at to know if I should pick up some extra fermentables.

using the Brewing with Mr. Beer booklet I get about 7.9% If I divide it in half because I'm doubling my quantity. Does that sound about right? that's a pretty hefty brew. Hope my yeasties rock.
 

EvilTOJ

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YEA that's it, the Ideal Dairy! It was right across from the elementary school, now that you mention it. Good times, good times.

As for your new question, I would skip the second 15 oz can of raspberries. Trust me. I just had a raspberry fruit beer that had 4 oz of raspberry puree in the secondary, and it was the predominant flavor. Wheat beers typically are low alcohol content and meant to be drunk young as well. Also, are you making a 5 gallon batch?

I'm at work so I don't have any way of doing any gravity calculations (stoopid work proxies) but I'd hazard a guesstimate of 6.6 lbs of wheat extract and almost a pound of raspberries to be about 5%-6% ABV
 

Eves

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K new question. I have two 3.3 lb cans of Coopers Wheat extract. I'm also adding two 15 oz cans of raspberries. Since my hydrometer hasn't come yet I was wondering what kind of alcohol percentage I'm looking at to know if I should pick up some extra fermentables.

using the Brewing with Mr. Beer booklet I get about 7.9% If I divide it in half because I'm doubling my quantity. Does that sound about right? that's a pretty hefty brew. Hope my yeasties rock.

I'm really new to brewing so I don't know squat but... Aren't the Coopers pre-hopped extract kits (like their Wheat) supposed to be 1 can per ~5 gallons of beer? Why use two? More flavor? Higher ABV? Is the second being used in place of DME or other sugars?

Again, I am a total noob so I am just curious
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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I'm not sure if they are pre-hopped or not. I got two bags of aroma hops with it though. They both say 60 min. on them so I guess you through them in at the end of the boil making them aroma hops right? Either way I'm super excited.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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Somewhere I read that the later you add the fruit the more predominant it will be. Does everyone pretty much have that same experience? I'm looking for a light fruit flavor, with kind of a refreshing full finish. I don't know, I really like plain wheat beer but I read somewhere that raspberry hef was really good. The instructions that came with my stuff say to not poor the bags of pellet hops into the fermenter with the wort. I've never heard that. So if I add them at the end of the boil. and then wait for it to cool. and then don't put them in the fermenter the hops don't contact the wort much at all? I'm confused.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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Oh yeah, the Ideal dairy upgraded to a new facility probably 8 or 9 years ago. Big building right on main street. Really great place. They now make soup and sandwiches and all sorts of stuff. Kind of expensive, so I don't got there much.
 

EvilTOJ

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I'm not sure if they are pre-hopped or not. I got two bags of aroma hops with it though. They both say 60 min. on them so I guess you through them in at the end of the boil making them aroma hops right? Either way I'm super excited.
dp, if the hops say they're 60 minute hops, they're for bittering. You put them in at the beginning of the boil and let it go for an hour.

Some kits are pre-hopped, others are not. It will say so on the side of the can. You can use one 3.3 lb can for 5 gallons, but will get a weak watery brew. Even though some kits will tell you to add 2 or 3 lbs of sugar along with the can of extract, never EVER do this! When the yeast eats the table sugar it stresses and can add a cidery flavor. Two cans of malt is much better, and tastier.

Somewhere I read that the later you add the fruit the more predominant it will be. The instructions that came with my stuff say to not poor the bags of pellet hops into the fermenter with the wort. I've never heard that. So if I add them at the end of the boil. and then wait for it to cool. and then don't put them in the fermenter the hops don't contact the wort much at all? I'm confused.
If you add them right as you turn the heat off you'll get aroma. And no, they don't contact the wort very long at all. I've not made much fruit beer, but from what I've read putting the fruit into secondary will give a more pronounced fruit flavor.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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I'm throwing it in right at the end of the boil. That way I can get some sleep at night without worrying about the sanitation of my brew. I got a wicked picture of my wort for you guys. Sam Adams would be proud. I can't figure out how to attach it though.
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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mmm... I hope it won't be too fruity. I just threw it in the closet. I'm pretty worried that I have no way of keeping it cool. I could use some bottles of ice and some cool water in a rubbermaid tub. But I haven't frozen any yet. I just decided I need a wort chiller. What started out as a 3 gallon boil ended up being 4.5 I didn't really think the 6.6 pounds of extract would take up that much space. I threw the pot on top of two bags of ice and probably 6 gallons of water and it simply turned all of that ice into really hot water. Took me about a half hour to get it under 100f. I just kept pouring out hot water and pouring in cold water. Lots of excitement. check out the beautiful picture of wort, taken right after my first boil-over ever!
 
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dp69_2001

dp69_2001

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It's doing great! (I hope) bubbles every second or so. It smells really yeasty, But not bad. I've been keeping it right around 68 or 70. So it should be doing good. I would rather it be just a couple degrees cooler but It'll be fine I suppose.
 
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