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Want to brew.. need advice to avoid mistakes...

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Brian Smith

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I have had a dream to brew my own beer. I know you have learned lessons. I need advice to getting started and also want to avoid the mistakes.
I have lots of questions.
What do I do?
Where do I start?
These are the first 2 and most important also.
 

RM-MN

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You start by reading John Palmer's book, "How to Brew". He has been gracious enough to post his first edition online for free at www.howtobrew.com but I would suggest you buy his latest edition for the updated information it contains. Once you have read it through a couple times you will have a decent understanding of how to go about the brewing.

Then you purchase a starter equipment kit. I suggest the most basic. If you decide that brewing just isn't for you, you don't have a lot of money invested in equipment and the most basic kit will have everything included that you need to get started except for a boil kettle and the heat source required. I have one like this and after 10 years have added very little to it.

https://www.midwestsupplies.com/simply-beer-brewing-starter-kit

Note that I am not endorsing this company although I have been satisfied with items I have bought from them. There may be others with similar kits.

Once you have done the reading and bought the equipment kit, you come back and ask any more questions.
 

mongoose33

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If I were starting over, the brewing kit I'd buy is this:

https://www.morebeer.com/products/premium-home-brewing-kit.html

It has everything you need except for bottles and a heat source. It includes an extract kit so you can brew your first batch. It has a bunch of stuff other kits don't have, from sanitizer (Star-San) to a kettle to a chiller (!); it has a long-handled spoon, hydrometer, capper, caps....

It has the great Fermonster fermenter. You can see what's going on whereas plastic pails are notorious for not sealing (my airlock doesn't work!) and you can't tell the progress.

All you need add is a heat source (turkey fryer will do) and bottles with this kit.

When you start having to add bits of equipment, it's hard, as a newbie, to know what you need, what's fluff, and which type. This takes that angst out of the equation.

There's only one thing I'd do to enhance this kit: I'd call MoreBeer and have them swap out the 8.5-gallon kettle for a 10-gallon kettle. It'd cost a few bucks more, but you'll wish you had it later. Should you want to go to all-grain brewing, doing Brew-in-a-Bag, a 10-gallon kettle will allow you to do that easily.

Good luck and welcome. And, have fun!

engage.JPG

PS: And yes, get Palmer's book.
 
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ProblemChild

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the three items above sum it up well. I only have one thing to add. Don't sweat mistakes.

Also learn, know or do.....
1) The difference between clean and sanitized (when each one is needed will help your day immensely)
2) You will make mistakes. Get used to it. Pay attention to what you did so you can learn YOUR process and refine it.
3) Come back here often and ask questions. Give specifics and add background information. Folks in here cannot help as well as you would like unless you get specific. Lots of awesome info in here.
4) Brew again and again - get good at what you do. Embrace errors and learn from them. Celebrate victories
5) Post a pic of your first successful brew. We want to see. As much as most of us like to brew, we also love to celebrate others success - especially when they are learning the art.
 

Redpappy

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I’ll add my 2 cents. Everything stated above is good advise. I would add to it, take notes. Note taking can help out when you run into issues, and help to fine tune your brew day. With extract kit, you will be able to brew right on your stove, so if you don’t have a turkey fryer, it’s not an issue.
 

Soulshine2

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I have had a dream to brew my own beer. I know you have learned lessons. I need advice to getting started and also want to avoid the mistakes.
I have lots of questions.
What do I do?
Where do I start?
These are the first 2 and most important also.
welcome !!
Where/how to start ...good questions.
What kinds of beers do you like?
what kind of work space or time available do you have ?
How "handy" are you?
I'm going to suggest doing a lot of reading . First book I would suggest is Charlie Papazians Joy of Home Brewing. Its a very simple ,well laid out introduction to home brewing,including ingredients, procedures and recipes to follow . He uses terms anyone can understand and also shows in illustrations what you can make and/or use that you may already own or find easily in a hardware store. I started out with a cheap Mr Beer kit but really I wouldnt suggest starting there.

Start out with an extract kit of the style of beer you like most, an 8 gallon kettle and small list of basic equipment- thermometer, hydrometer, 3 food grade 5 gallon buckets with tight fitting gasketed lids and spigots,a stainless steel long handled spoon, airlocks ,10 ft of 3/8" clear silicon tubing,unscented oxiclean or PBW ,a small container of star san and a couple cases of empty 12 oz brown longneck bottles (NOT twist off)a wing capper and a bag of oxigen absorbing crown caps .Relatively a cheap start that you can eventually and easily expand on.
See how that goes.
From there you can expand to a BIAB /AG method and again , use a pre-measured,pre-milled,printed instructed kit. See how that goes.
If the bug/addiction has hit you by then, by all means keep going.
If by chance its not for you , what supplies you accumulate could be sold to another beginner. This is where I insert the information that my best friend growing up gave me the kit I have and still use most of today. He never got around to using it between work and kids plus a divorce thrown in and it sat in his garage a few years before I went to visit him ,I saw it and commented on it. he said "here take it...I am more into drinking it than I am into making it."
I'm going to guess though that once that first sip of homebrew hits your lips , it will become a great hobby .
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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I would suggest you buy his latest edition for the updated information it contains.
It's a great book ...

Once you have read it through a couple times you will have a decent understanding of how to go about the brewing.
... that is organized so that one can read chapter 1, brew an extract batch, then read the rest of the book while the beer is fermenting.
 

S-Met

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Follow above directions. Don't get smashed during your first brew day.
I'm not saying not to have any beers during the day, just remember you're dealing with molten hot sugary liquid that you really want to enjoy at a later time. Be safe.

you need add is a heat source (turkey fryer will do) and bottles with this kit.
Be cautious with turkey fryers, a lot of them have a 15-minute safety timer which can get really annoying especially when you are boiling for an hour or more stepping away for a minute only to realize you forgot to hit reset really can piss you off.

I would also suggest to avoid any instructions for secondary vessel fermentation, at least for your first few brews. The risks of leaving in primary as compared to the risk of infection in transferring to secondary do not make up the difference at least not for a basic Brew.
 

RM-MN

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Be cautious with turkey fryers, a lot of them have a 15-minute safety timer which can get really annoying especially when you are boiling for an hour or more stepping away for a minute only to realize you forgot to hit reset really can piss you off.
I made up a bypass for that safety timer which was better but the burner did not have sufficient BTU's to heat my wort to boil on a cold windy day. Before you buy, check out the BTU output.

I started with extract brews and was intimidated by the complexity of the all grain process until I discovered BIAB. I had more extract kits on hand but it was really difficult to go back to them after I had a taste of all grain via BIAB.
 

mongoose33

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I made up a bypass for that safety timer which was better but the burner did not have sufficient BTU's to heat my wort to boil on a cold windy day. Before you buy, check out the BTU output.

I started with extract brews and was intimidated by the complexity of the all grain process until I discovered BIAB. I had more extract kits on hand but it was really difficult to go back to them after I had a taste of all grain via BIAB.
That was the basis of my recommending OP get a 10-gallon kettle. It allows easy transition to BIAB. I'm doing LODO but I miss the simplicity and ease of BIAB.
 

mongoose33

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I'm not saying not to have any beers during the day, just remember you're dealing with molten hot sugary liquid that you really want to enjoy at a later time. Be safe.
Two things can really screw up my brew day. One is having newbie friends over to watch. They ask questions and given that I'm an education professional, I tend to teach which, unfortunately, can distract me. Can't turn them away, though. :)

The other is drinking while brewing. The safety issues notwithstanding--they're serious enough--if I have enough beer I get a little relaxed, lose a bit of focus, and before I know it, I forgot to add the water additions. Or miss a hop addition at the proper time. Or forget to add a whirlfloc tablet at 15 minutes. Or....

I've gotten to where I might start drinking a pint when I add that whirlfloc tablet; by the time that beer is gone, I should have the wort chilled and heading into the fermenter. Not enough time nor enough beer to screw it up.

Everybody gets to make their own choices; mine are to be hyper-organized if I have friends over to kibbitz, and that I won't have any beer until the tail end of the boil.
 

Soulshine2

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I save my having a beer on brew day until I'm done transferring it to the carboy ,call it the victory beer. By then I can't screw anything up . At that point ,I'm just cleaning up .
 
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