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Rhys

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I need to find another hobby that has nothing to do with my regular job, and have been thinking about trying brewing my own beer. I have no local shop to buy the regular equipment and supplies so I would be ordering it all off the net. On the other hand there was a store here in town that had some of the MR. Beer kits and refills or at least they still had them a couple weeks ago. I know the MR. Beer gets mixed reviews but has been credited by several people here with getting them started. If you are just starting and wanting to try it or were starting again which way would you go. My preferences in beer go towards Bass, Smithwicks, and Guinness if that makes any difference.

Thanks
 

talleymonster

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As far as the Mr. beer goes, you've got to start somewhere. But you will probably soon find out that you will want to brew more. If you can afford to, I would suggest trying a starter kit from Midwest or Austin Homebrew Supply. But whatever route you go, Welcome to the hobby!
 

BuffaloSabresBrewer

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If you post your location maybe someone from your area might be able to help you out. If there really is no one local then there are some great online retailers that alot of people swear by on this site.
Go for it! Brew your own. You wont regret it...IF you do your research first. You found one of the best resources for help. Read on and welcome.
 
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Rhys

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Located in south east Wyoming
 

ArcaneXor

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Rhys said:
I need to find another hobby that has nothing to do with my regular job, and have been thinking about trying brewing my own beer. I have no local shop to buy the regular equipment and supplies so I would be ordering it all off the net. On the other hand there was a store here in town that had some of the MR. Beer kits and refills or at least they still had them a couple weeks ago. I know the MR. Beer gets mixed reviews but has been credited by several people here with getting them started. If you are just starting and wanting to try it or were starting again which way would you go. My preferences in beer go towards Bass, Smithwicks, and Guinness if that makes any difference.

Thanks
Do yourself a favor and skip the Mr. Beer. Brewing with real equipment and ingredients isn't much harder and yields much better results. Something like the Brewing Starter Kit w/ Better Bottle from Midwest is affordable, will last for a while, and can produce outstanding beer. Or you can do 2 gallons at a time in 1-gallon glass jugs if you want to save some money while you figure out if the hobby is right for you.
 

blackshirtproud

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Welcome to the best place for knowledge on this craft.
I am new to this and I gotta tell you, I love it! I was given a Mr.Beer for x-mas and it peeked my interest. Me, being the acquisitive person that I am searched everything I could and found this site. Last week I finally pulled the trigger bought the "Starter Kit w/Carboy" from Midwest supplies for $78.00. I added a few extra things and also an Extract kit, the grand total was $152.00 w/shipping. I live in Nebraska and I ordered it on a Fri and received on a Wed so to me thats pretty fast shipping for 60lbs of stuff. I too was a bit worried about not having a LBHS but this forum takes care of the ?'s and Midwest takes care of the equipment. As far as cost, If a guy sticks with the basics I think its a fairly reasonable hobby cost wise and as time and money allow you can grow your collection. My personal advice from a NOOB is "Walk before you run".

Good luck, ZAC:mug:
 

TheJadedDog

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There's an old saying about how if you buy cheap you end up buying twice. My biggest issue with Mr. Beer is that no matter what, you will out grow it in a batch or two and end up buying real equipment anyway. Why waste the $40? Brewing with real equipment is no harder than using a Mr. Beer and the beer will be significantly better.

I'd also suggest skipping the pre-hopped, beer-in-a-can kits and start with extract+steeping grains+hops. There is no reason a beginner cannot start at this stage and again, your beer will be significantly better for it.

As for online retailers, check out www.austinhomebrew.com, www.northernbrewer.com, and www.more-beer.com.
 

Rick_R

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To get started, you can look at these sites (among others) for a beginner's kit of equipment:

MoreBeer
Austin Homebrew Supply
HopTech
Midwest Homebrew

Normally the equipment kits do not come with a brew pot. For partial boil extract with grains, five gallons is nice but you can easily do it in as small as a three gallon (12 quart) pot as well. Just boil water and extract to equal about 2.5 gallons of water and top off. You don't need a secondary fermenter but they are nice to have; personally I prefer the plastic Better Bottle carboys over the glass and I think most of the suppliers will substitute (may affect price, I don't know). But others will (correctly) tell you that with care you can use glass for years without any problems . . . I just worry about the high consequences that might occur should there be a slip with a full glass carboy. You will also need a grain bag for steeping the specialty grains, though you can "brew your own" (pun intended) with a large piece of cheesecloth.


As to what to brew first, I would start with an "extract with grains" ale kit from a homebrew supply house that puts together tried and true recipe ingredients for you. The links below are to the index of recipe kits from some online suppliers:

MoreBeer
Austin Homebrew Supply
HopTech
Midwest Homebrew

Pick an ale that sounds like what you would want to drink and order the recipe kit. You will need a yeast to go with it -- for starting out, order a dry yeast and get a couple of spare packages.

I would also take a look at the site where John Palmer has the first edition of his book How to Brew available online. The first of the links below is for brewing a very simple extract, a Cincinnati Pale Ale. The second link talks about adding specialty grains. You can use whatever ingredients kit you buy and follow the process Palmer outlines.

Extract Recipe
Specialty Grains

The above sections will get you started, but the more of the book you read the more you will understand what you are doing. I would suggest ordering the book as well. It gets you the latest edition and it is handy to have around. The one thing I would ignore in the Palmer specialty grain section is the line on removing the steeped grains: " Remove the grain bag from the pot, giving it a squeeze to drain the excess wort and avoid dripping on the stove." Don't squeeze it; I think doing so can cause harsh tannins to be released into the wort. What I (now) do is to put the grain bag in a strainer that I sit over the brew kettle and let drain for about a minute.

There is also a Homebrewing Wiki here at homebrewtalk.com: Wiki

Lots of information there. And, of course, these forums are great for asking questions.

Good luck!

Edit: Oh, and I forgot to mention, it's a great hobby! A ton of aspects from the tinkerer trying to constantly play around with the brew equipment to the hobby chemist getting deep into the science behind brewing, yeast cultivating, mashing, to the cook who loves to tweak the recipes looking for the perfect beer -- there's something for everybody.

Rick
 

paranode

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When I first started I just read John Palmer's How To Brew book online as mentioned. I read it back and forth for a few days until I felt that I understood how it worked. Then I got the standard beginner's kit from the local HBS and got cracking with extract brews. They turned out well and soon I graduated to doing partial mashes. Haven't gotten to the point of all grain yet simply because I brew in the kitchen and there are some equipment constraints that I'd have to overcome.

Personally I would skip the Mr Beer because you probably won't think it tastes all that great and it might turn you off of the hobby. When you make a beer the proper way and wait for it to finish and finally have that first glass it can be very rewarding when it tastes great!
 
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Rhys

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Thanks for the info guys. I was looking at the Austin site, and found a couple Ales that looked pretty good. I wish I had kept the bottles I've gone through in the past year or so as that looks to be a fair bit of the cost of getting set up. Out of curiosity how long will the beer keep if put into Growlers or flip top bottles, and kept in the dark. I have a small storage room in my basement that I would be setting everything up in, it used to be the coal room. It is usually the coolest place in the house, and the temp stays relatively stable year round.
 

Kevin Dean

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Rhys said:
Out of curiosity how long will the beer keep if put into Growlers or flip top bottles, and kept in the dark.
If you carbonate in the growler or flip-tops, consider them like any other bottleed beer. Shelf-life should be around a year though that can change dramatically depending on style. I've heard of some specialty beers that do well after many years.
 

DeathBrewer

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i've had good success with the 1 L flip-tops (although my growler just broke after my beer was three days in the bottle for no apparent reason.)

Some say you have to replace the rubber pieces every 2-3 batches or it won't have a good seal.

you also have plenty of time before your beer is finished. remember, it's AT LEAST 6 weeks before you can drink the beer (minimum 1 week in primary, 2 weeks in secondary, 3 weeks in bottles) so drink up that commercial beer and save some bottles!
 

Rick_R

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how long will the beer keep if put into Growlers or flip top bottles
If talking standard flip-top beer bottles, assuming a good gasket it should be fine in those. I don't think you can use the growlers as they aren't designed to take the pressure of the bottle conditioning. Could be wrong, though; if so, someone with more experience will come along and correct me.

As to the cost of the bottles, two things: 1) 22oz bottles make bottling day much nicer so if you buy, consider that; 2) If you order equipment/ingredients kits today, you've got at least four weeks to empty some commercial beers - just make sure you buy recappable bottles. A six-pack a week gets you one of the necessary two cases.

If you go for it, good luck.

Rick
 

Rick_R

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AT LEAST 6 weeks before you can drink the beer (minimum 1 week in primary, 2 weeks in secondary, 3 weeks in bottles)
Well, it's a tad difficult to count the bottle conditioning time since it's so darn hard getting the beer to stand up in bottle-shapes until you have the bottle available to slip around it. :)

But if you come up a bit short you can always leave it in the fermenter an extra week or so until you empty a few more.

Rick
 

Dynachrome

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Where is your nearest craigslist center. You can find this stuff on line. My wife and mother-in-law got me gifts for Cristmas that drew huge yawns.

Then about three Christmases back they got me a beer making kit and I lit up.

My wife found a couple light gauge stainless steel stock pots. I used my father's old bottling hose. It looks like the same stuff they use for air lines on a car. I inherited his capper and use that with good memories also.

I have 400 bottles that my rbother and a friend gave to me after they had separate adventures at a St Paul brew haus. That's tough to come by, but look at what these guys have and get yourself in slow and cheap. I found a bunch of bottles on craigslist once. didn't need them, but i forwarded it to a friend for him to think about.


I have upgraded. The firstcouple batches I didn't even use a hygrometer. Wait till it stops foaming - wait a couple more days - then bottle. Be very careful to keep things clean and sterile. There's no substitute for that. I also have a thermometer ,a better hose, a hygrometer and a bunch of little stuff that makes it nicer. My first three were kits - my fourth is an "All Grain". I needed a mash tun for that. So I built one. You can find instructions here also.

Good luck, and welcome aboard.
 

PanzerBanana

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Our friends have a Mr. Brew Kit. We had a beer making party a while back and we whipped up an improvised oatmeal stout with it. It turned out pretty well. So if you're ok with it's limitations it could be a fun pastime or a decent first step.

Me, I like to learn by biting off more than I can chew. So when I took that leap, I got all my equipment and went straight into a partial mash kit.

You can check out Quality Wine and Ale Supply Gotta plug my local supplier. hehe. They've got everything you'll need. I've been very happy with their selection and prices.
 

wendelgee2

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If you carbonate in the growler or flip-tops, consider them like any other bottleed beer.
!!DO NOT bottle in a growler.!!
They are made with thinner glass and are not rated for pressure. The bottom will blow out as the pressure builds up prior to being absorbed into the liquid. Big mess.:(
 
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