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RM-MN

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I'd go with the cheapest since the major difference is the fermenter and second PET bottle for the most expensive. If you have to see the action of the ferment you have to have a fermenter that you can see through. I use yeast often enough that the action of the yeast is old hat to me and an opaque fermentation vessel is fine. The buckets are 6 1/2 gallon, the PET bottles are 6 gallon so you will likely need a blow off tube for nearly every batch with the smaller bottle. I haven't had a batch hit the lid on my bucket yet since it has half a gallon more space.

From my experience and lots of other people's experience on HomeBrewTalk, a secondary fermenter has very limited use and you may never find much use for it so why pay the extra for it. Spend that money on ingredients since that is what really makes beer.

The real way to make better beer is to learn temperature control during ferment, pitching the proper amount of yeast for the batch, and giving it enough time in the fermenter so the yeast do their cleanup and settle out.
 

william_shakes_beer

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I have a bottling bucket and 2 fermenters. I use the second fermenter as a vessel to mix starsan. Never had 2 batches going at once.
 

SittingDuck

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I got the cheapest Brewmasters kit when I started, and added an autosiphon at their recommendation.

I really didn't consider the bucket vs. carboy issue, I just wanted to start cheap in case I didn't like it. I now have a lot more fermenters (and you will too I bet. :) ) but they are all still buckets. I don't care if I see the fermentation, but I like being able to add and remove fruit, oak, dry hops, etc. without a ton of effort, and cleaning is a breeze.
 

Tykees

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Buy the cheapest kit. Furnish your own stockpot of at least five gallons. I went all grain this weekend. Only have a 4 gallon pot. If I knew then what I know now
 

nanofreak

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I would go with the cheapest. I bought a bigger kit when I started, and dont use half the stuff that was in it. Go small, and see what is worth adding on to make it easier as you go. The Auto-Siphon is a great example.
 

Rbeckett

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Go to the class. Decide if you even like this first. Then set your brewing goals and your budget. By then you will have a very good idea of exactly how far you want to go in the hobby. The rest is really pretty easy from there on. Select the kit with the most complete set of your desired tools. Package deals with extra carboys, extra pails and more complete small parts assortments do occasionally save a little bit of money. You will have to decide how mechanical you do or do not want to be. Once you have accumulted all the required stuff, take a long deep breath and relax. Even if the batch you are about to attempt to make is bad, you will still be learning something. Take notes and record temps times and additions. Once you get a record keeping system keep using it till the beer just magically appears at your house when you think about doing a batch. Dont forget the common things like tubing, hose clamps, sanitizer and cleanser, they are neccessary and can run a bill at the hardware store pretty quickly if your not controlling your costs. Once you got it all home, and the ingredients kit is sitting there calling your name and just waiting to be boiled, restrain youself and do not give in to the urge till you have washed and sanitized every thing that came in, on, or around the kit. I personally would do it twice. If you have a turkey burner and an aluminum pot now is the time to assemble the turkey frier and safety contol box for the gas valve. Learn how to safely operate the burner and how adjustment affect the flame and fire height. Boil the alluminum pot till you get a nice hard oxide layer on the inside and out before you allow the burner, pot and IC Coils to get into contact with wort. After all this, now start your batch and snap a pic or three as you go. You'll be glad you took your time and approached it a little more slowly. Hope this help, I am a noob too, since Dec 22, but this is the exact formula I have been following with great results so far. Sorry for the mile long reply, i got carried away, sorry

Tore up Bob
 

Euphist

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I would go with the cheaper one...just noticed that it includes an auto-siphon! :D

I would mention, however, that I ended up buying a couple more fermenting buckets and airlocks in the first month! (yea, I'm hooked)
 

Rbeckett

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So what did you decide to buy? You probably got your first beer in there fermenting already. The class is still a couple of weeks away but you sounded like one of the type who is prepared before you arrive at school. I'm like that too, I hate not being ready when the time comes. I would rather be two hours early than one second late to an appointment, but thats just me. Have fun and let us know how your working out.
Bob
 

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