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RockJeep

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I've got no clue what I need as far as equipment to get started brewing beer. Can someone tell me what all is needed?
Thanks,
Bobby Cox
 

NaeKid

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To get started - you can get a simple brewing kit and follow the basic instructions.

What you should do before you even begin the brewing process is to make sure that you have enough bottles for holding the finished product. My friend normally uses old water bottles (Evian type of bottle) as it seals very well and makes the whole process simpler.

He has tried using glass bottles but found that after a couple of refills that the tops of the bottles begin to chip away.
 

doesnothing

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NaeKid said:
To get started - you can get a simple brewing kit and follow the basic instructions.

What you should do before you even begin the brewing process is to make sure that you have enough bottles for holding the finished product. My friend normally uses old water bottles (Evian type of bottle) as it seals very well and makes the whole process simpler.

He has tried using glass bottles but found that after a couple of refills that the tops of the bottles begin to chip away.
water bottles are strong enough to stand the pressure?
 

Strange Brewer

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Start out with a brew kit from any reputable homebrew store. These vary in price from $35 to $150 depending on stuff included. To begin with you need at least a fermenter, 6.5 gallons, a secondary fermenter 5 gallons, bottles, caps, stir spoon, sanitizer, boil pot (Canning kettle of appropriate size will do, stainless steel is the ultimate product. I wouldn't mess with aluminum. It WON'T give you Alzheimer's disease (Thoroughly discredited homebrew myth) but they are a pain in the ass to maintain. Canning kettles are delicate. The enamel quickly chips. They have to be kept intact (You can patch them) Or your beer will develop an iron flavor. Stainless is worth the cost, virually all homebrewers will eventally get one if they stay with it long enough, but a canning kettle will do to begin with if you want to save money. One very important brew itrem is a good text. Homebrewing for Dummies by Marty Nachel is excellent. Dave Miller's Homebrewing guide is good. The new Complete book of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian is out of date and has MANY inaccuracies. Homebrewing Volume One by Al Korazonas is superb but may be a bit indigestable for a newbie. You will also need a syphon hose setup, access to brewing kits or ingredients, a bottle capper, hydrometer, a thermometer, airlocks for the fermenters, rubber stoppers for the airlocks, and a sampling tube for the hydrometer,. I would say at least one carboy is a good idea. You can ferment in plastic, but glass is better for a number of reasons. A lot of this stuff will be part of the kit, but all of it may not.
A word about bottling.
It's a pain in the ass.
It is probably the one thing that causes more people to give up brewing than any other thing except perhaps infections caused by careless sanitation.
I believe you should move to kegging as soon as possible. THIS is where it starts getting spendy. $150 for the CO2 bottle, Cornie Kegs, hoses, fittings and tapper. Then you find you need a fridge to have cold draft beer on tap... Yada Yada Yada... It never ends. But There is NOTHING like fresh draft beer on tap for sheer panache! For another five bucks, you can make a counter-pressure bottler to produce bottle beer you can actually drink out of the bottle (Filled from the keg, it won't have the sediment you get in bottle conditioned beer.)
Then there is the matter of going whole grain... But that's beyond the scope of your question, so I won't tackle it here. Suffice it to say, All grain gives you TOTAL control over the beer you make, opens the door to experimentation and takes you out of the mercies of someone else's idea of what good beer is. It is also an additonal expense, since you will need a heat source (Kitchen stoves take FOREVER) like a turkey or fish fryer, a 20 lb. LP gas tank, a mash tun... and the list goes on...
That's the beauty of this hobby. I know people who have made nothing but extract-only brews for years and are totally happy with that. Others like me, have become priests in the church of beer, investing hundreds and even thousands of dollars (And Hours) it this avocation. Where you go is up to you. Start small, and grow into the hobby is my recommendation.
 

The_Guy

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Strange Brewer said:
A word about bottling.
It's a pain in the ass.
It is probably the one thing that causes more people to give up brewing than any other thing except perhaps infections caused by careless sanitation.
Yes, indeed. I began brewing about 10 years ago, but only did it a couple of times a year because I couldn't stand the bottling! I got a new roommate about 6 months ago and he has brewed beer for years as well - but he came bearing a keg and a CO2 cannister! We sat down and did the math. Depending on how much beer you drink, you can begin saving money very quickly by brewing your own. We invested about $300 for keggerator parts and after a month, we're back in the black, saving money, and drinking some excellent beers!
 

richanne

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The_Guy said:
Yes, indeed. I began brewing about 10 years ago, but only did it a couple of times a year because I couldn't stand the bottling! I got a new roommate about 6 months ago and he has brewed beer for years as well - but he came bearing a keg and a CO2 cannister! We sat down and did the math. Depending on how much beer you drink, you can begin saving money very quickly by brewing your own. We invested about $300 for keggerator parts and after a month, we're back in the black, saving money, and drinking some excellent beers!
Yes, kegging is great. We brewed for years, always bottling everything. We finally broke down and got some kegs for bringing beer to parties. Never looked back. We still bottle some stuff, including mead which we brew in small batches, but kegs are the way to go. Anyone need any bottles?
 

patooyee

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Something to note if you're going to use Evian bottles (which are clear, I believe) is that UV rays can affect the taste of the finished product for the worse during the carbonation process and after. (When the beer is in the bottle but before it is worth drinking.) Thus, if you plan on using clear bottles, plan to either store them in a dark place that does not see sunlight (which is a good idea anyway) or use brown bottles, which filter out most of the UV rays. Green ones are better than clear but worse than brown as far as UV filtration goes.

Another thing to consider is enjoyment of drinking. I like to drink out of the bottle, although many brewers think it is a sin to not pour it into a frosty mug first. And when I drink out of a bottle, it just feels weird to drink beer out of anything not brown. Also with clear the sediment on the bottom of the beer will be more apparent to onlookers who will think its gross. And to people who have reservations about drinking beer that you bewed already, often the sediment is enough to turn them off completely and not try it. (Which may be good, more beer for you.)

Just the ups and downs to bottles as I see them. :)

J. J.
 

richanne

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Although amber/brown bottles provide some protection from UV, it is, in fact, minimal. Basically, beer should always be kept out of the sun, regardless of the color bottle, as you mentioned. I have never heard of glass bottles gradually chipping away; have you?

If you drink beer straight out of a bottle, you lose out on the aroma, which is a great contributor to taste. That is why brewers are aghast when people do it. Also, when you pour it into a glass (not necessarily frosted or anything), you leave the yeast behind in the bottle, so you don't have to worry about anyone being grossed out by "sediment."
 

patooyee

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I took the chipping away comment to mean that, just through being used for a long time, they see more wear and tear and get chipped. I have the same problem with anything glass. I have some glass cups that are really old and just through clanging around in the dishwasher, being handled more than one at a time, etc. they get chipped. Same with bottles. I don't think it has anything to do with the glass fatiguing from age, just showing their wear and tear ... ?

J. J.
 

richanne

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The original post said that after "a couple of refills" the tops of the bottles began to chip away. He must have one brutal capper!
 

rdlamb2

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richanne said:
The original post said that after "a couple of refills" the tops of the bottles began to chip away. He must have one brutal capper!
This is my first post, hi all. I have a very old capper and works exceeding well. When I give out samples there in 12 oz bottles and I continue to refill my 22 oz and have never had a problem.
 

The Professor

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What kind of capper are you using? It may be that you are using more force than is needed to get an airtight fit. Try using just enough force to secure the cap. It sould not twist when you try to turn the cap after capping.

Good luck!
 

The Professor

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If you decide that you are going to bottle, I recommend reusing glass beer bottles. Even thought the plastic is somewhat easier to cap, plastic is a porous material that will not keep your beer as fresh as glass. It is also harder to clean and maintain than glass. If the issue is chipping bottles then I would suggest just using enough force to cap the beer but not chip the glass. If the cap wont twist when turned then you have a seal.

But the most important thing to remember when homebrewing is to use what's best for you. There will always be differing opinions on any matter so try both ways and weight the pros and cons for yourself.

My work is finished here. Quick, to the brew mobile!!!
 

Brewman

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I have a press capper, like one for putting corks in wine bottles. And I have used the same bottles for years with no problems...... I have to say go with glass bottles if you are going to age the beer for months.

I always make a batch and put a 12 pack on the side to drink like 9-12 months later...... its much better aged!
 
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