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What's a good starting kit?

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Benner 201

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I am new to this forum. I have always wanted to home brew. I am committed to try it.

What I would like to know is what is the best basic beginners kit?
I want to start with a decent experience and sometimes new hobbies are spoiled by shotty equipment.

Also, how much does it cost in ingredients for a batch? (Ballpark)

Thanks and I look forward to sharing my experiences in the future.
 

Gammon N Beer

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Benner 201 said:
I am new to this forum. I have always wanted to home brew. I am committed to try it.

What I would like to know is what is the best basic beginners kit?
I want to start with a decent experience and sometimes new hobbies are spoiled by shotty equipment.

Also, how much does it cost in ingredients for a batch? (Ballpark)

Thanks and I look forward to sharing my experiences in the future.
There are a number of good places to shop. If you are doing so on-line, a reputable shop is Northern Brewery: http://www.northernbrewer.com/ I bought my equipment there.

Costs of beer ingredients is another issue. Kits range from $18-$35. I brew all grain and when I save yeast I can do a batch for $12.00 - 20.00 let's say.
 

Rick_R

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If you don't have any equipment, 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 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.

Good luck!

Rick
 
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Benner 201

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thanks for the help guys! I can't wait to try it. I havent
ordered a kit yet but I'll just have to watch "Strange Brew" while emptying some glass bottles in the meantime. (and study of course)
 

EvilTOJ

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Your local homebrew shop (or LHBS) should also have a lot of starting kits available and give you tons of good advice.

Another mandated movie to watch while emptying commercial beer bottles is Beerfest :rockin:
 

JamesKY

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Good luck with your first batch and don't take your eyes off the brew pot. It will boil over on you if you're not careful. Of course a first brew boil over is one of those things that is sort of a right of passage.
 

doublegun

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Yes, you must have a boil over and drop something that you need in the just-pitched wort, like car keys or a watch. Good luck.
 

Empty_One

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Is the kit from HopTech worth the additional cost, or is all of their flowery language about how the pieces of the kit are a higher quality just marketing speak?
 

Yooper

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Is the kit from HopTech worth the additional cost, or is all of their flowery language about how the pieces of the kit are a higher quality just marketing speak?
do you have a link, so we can check it out and see?

Edit- there is a new LHBS in Slinger, run by a member on this forum, and I think that they'd be great on helping you out if you're in the market for some new stuff. I'm going to stop in next week when I'm down there and see it for myself!
 

Empty_One

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do you have a link, so we can check it out and see?

Edit- there is a new LHBS in Slinger, run by a member on this forum, and I think that they'd be great on helping you out if you're in the market for some new stuff. I'm going to stop in next week when I'm down there and see it for myself!
Sorry, thought it was in the thread above. Here it is:
http://www.hoptech.com/cart/cart.php?target=category&category_id=3

I plan on going to the LHBS in Slinger in the next week or so. But first I wanted to get some ideas on price from online shops to compare to the prices in the store. If it's close, I'll go with the LHBS.
 

Yooper

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Well, the only difference I see is that their fermenters have spigots, so you don't have to siphon. The reality is that you'll probably still have to siphon occasionally anyway- sometimes the trub layer is pretty high, especially if you pitch on a yeast cake. And I'd think that the spigot would get clogged with hops particles if you were doing an IPA or a hoppy beer.

The other thing is that you get two plastic buckets. I'm not a fan of the second plastic bucket for a clearing tank- I prefer a carboy for that stage. This is a matter of preference though, so others may disagree.

I think an ale pail, a bottling bucket, a hydrometer, an autosiphon and tubing, some grain bags (for steeping grains and/or hopbags), a couple of airlocks, a lid for the fermenter, and some cleaning/bottling things would be all you need.
 

robbiex0r

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whoa, WI homebrewers!

I've been to the shop in Slinger, nice place.

(first post, been lurkin, readin, gonna start brewing in just a few weeks)
 

431brew

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I'm a noob myself, but the advice that I offer is to buy a brewing kit from one of the places the guys listed above instead of getting parts and pieces along the way. It will save you money in the long run.
 

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