Which Starter Kit?

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StarCityBrewMaster

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Hi to everyone, this is my first post :tank:

Sorry to ask such a newb question as I'm sure it's been beat to death over time but me and my buddy have been tossing around the idea of brewing our own beer for a while and have decided to go ahead and take the plunge and I am PUMPED!

My question is on which of the two kits we are thinking about purchasing is the better deal. They are both relatively the same price but include some major differences so I'm coming to you experts for help.

1st Kit: The Delux Starter Kit from Northern Brewer (link below)
http://www.northernbrewer.com/starterkits.html

or

EVERYTHING + A CARBOY - Complete Brewing Package Equipment Kit #2 w/ Irish Red Ale from Midwest Supplies (also linked)
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/products/ProdBySubCat.aspx?SubCat=11166&fd=1

or

Is there a better kit on the market you all would recommend? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks
 

flyangler18

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The Midwest kit gets my vote. 5 gallon is too small for a primary fermenter, and two-stage fermentation isn't necessary if you just extend the time in primary and let the yeast clean up after itself.
 

devaspawn

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I'd go with the one from Midwest. It looks a like a pretty good deal for the money and it comes with an ingredients kit. You won't find a whole lot out there better for the money.

:tank:
 

McGarnigle

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The Midwest kit is a little unusual. It has a recipe kit (do you want to do Irish Red?) and bottles included, as well as a 4-gallon kettle (do you need one?). It's a better price for your first batch, but you don't get the second fermenter.

NB's, you'd have to buy a kit and acquire bottles (can you save them instead?) and get a kettle before doing one batch. The danger is, if you don't really like brewing, you've bought some long term equipment you'll never use.

What's shipping? The glass carboy, the bottles, the kettle can add up.

I would lean toward NB if you think you're in this for the long haul. And if you don't need a pot and can save bottles on your own, all the more reason to avoid Midwest's.
 

shertz

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I didn't really look at the Midwest site, but I got the NB Deluxe set last year to start. I use very few of that equipment today...capper, bottling bucket, transfer stuff. I would start cheap to make sure that this is the hobby for you. Or if you think it really is, check Craigslist for people who thought they would like it, but didn't. You will go through equipment upgrades pretty fast so don't invest a ton of money on a kettle. And bottles, don't buy them, get a case of SN Anniversary and use them....and enjoy the brew. Good Luck.

PS- Find a good local Homebrew Club to learn.
 

BADS197

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I picked up my kit from www.morebeer.com so you might also look at those.

The 5 gallon does seem kinda small for a primary. I have 2 (20liter) carboys and they are while only .2 gallons larger, appear to be a lot bigger.

I'm planning to use it as a secondary fermenter but then again if you get that kit, you can always pickup another larger carboy.
 
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StarCityBrewMaster

StarCityBrewMaster

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I guess I just have a tough time understanding what is necessary to have the most complete system that will need the least amount of upgrades in the future and will also be good enough from the get go to churn some good brew.

I have no doubt I will be in this for the long haul as I'm the type that always needs something to tinker with. What better hobby is their then to brew your own beer? (Maybe growing your own smoke but the legalities are a little worrisome ;)


How did some of you start and then what changes and upgrades did you have to make to have the systems you preferred?
 

Rick_R

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I guess I just have a tough time understanding what is necessary to have the most complete system that will need the least amount of upgrades in the future and will also be good enough from the get go to churn some good brew.
The problem is that's an open-ended question. I don't know your budget, but let's assume it is ten thousand dollars. You need three thirty-five gallon stainless steel pots for your HERMS or RIMS system along with the pumps, heating elements, controllers, etc. You'll need a grain mill and the motor to drive the mill. You'll need a kegging system with multiple taps and, say, thirty kegs. You'll need two or three freezers with controllers for fermentation/serving, five stainless steel conicals for fermentation, some storage bins for the grains, . . . . I'm sure I'm leaving something out, but you may be over budget already.

Again, it's an open-ended question. Personally, I'd start small. Get one of the kits previously mentioned; if it doesn't have a [hydrometer], add that to it. Get Star San for sanitizing. If bottling, I'd opt for a bench capper as opposed to a wing capper. Then buy an extract kit and make some beer. Buy another and make more beer. Buy another and make some more beer. By this point, you'll have an idea of what you want to do next, which could be moving to kegging, moving to all grain, moving to a fermentation temperature controller, adding multiple carboys or upgrading to conical fermenters, etc., etc.

Rick
 

HBHoss

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I'm only on my second batch of brew (it's in the bottles and still have another week to go) so I'm no expert but I went through Yahoo store and got the Beer Man Microbrewery brewmaster series kit which had everything except a hydrometer. I was very happy with the beer it produced, as were others :D. It uses the True Brew buckets and I got the Canadian Ale kit.
Good luck and happy brewing!
 
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StarCityBrewMaster

StarCityBrewMaster

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Your first answer was a little over the top considering the fact I'm a beginner but now at least I have a basic understanding of how to start a fairly large scale brewery later in life!

Your 2nd answer was very informative though and I do appreciate it. I now see that this is just one of those hobbies you just got to get your feet wet in and feel out the process for yourself then make the changes necessary to meet your demands.

I'll continue to do a little research on the kits and what I hope to accomplish early on and then make a purchase.


Any suggestions on bottling? (open ended.......)
 

HBHoss

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I went with the plastic bottles with the screw on caps. Not the most professional looking but cheap to ship and easy to cap. I will be moving to the Grolsch type bottles in the future.
I figure until I get more proficient in this hobby I'll use the K.I.S.S. method and not worry about looking like some pro, yet. ;)
 

Rick_R

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Your first answer was a little over the top
It was meant to be. :)

Regarding bottling:
If you plan to move to kegging and you have the budget, go with kegging to start with; by the time you get both the kegging equipment and the fridge or freezer to serve it from it'll add probably $500-$700 (or more - the sky's the limit) to your initial investment.

If you are planning to start out bottling, you can either save bottles or buy bottles. Keep in mind if you buy bottles, shipping is usually pretty high; I like Austin Homebrew Supply for bottles because of their $6.99 shipping. If there's a homebrew store in your area, by all means check there as well.

I've never used a wing capper but I've heard they're more difficult than a bench-top capper. I got a bench top capper to start with and it works great.

Another thing you'll need to work out is how to siphon from the fermenter to the bottling bucket. I bought an autosiphon but it doesn't work; apparently I got a bad one because most here swear by them. Siphoning is the worst part of brewing for me, so think about prior to brew day.

Some folks use a bottling wand; I just use a short length of tube that goes to the bottom of the bottle and attach that to my bottling bucket. It does mean I have to keep opening and closing the bottling bucket spigot, though, so a bottling wand is probably a good investment.

Rick
 

soonermagic70

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I too am looking to get started brewing my own beer. I love the dark beers my father used to brew his own when i was a kid.I found a starter set here in Tulsa and it had (2) 5 gallon plastic buckets and the next step up was the plastic buckets and a 5 gallon carboy not much price difference like 30 bucks or so.I dont remember what my dad had and he is gone so i cant ask him do i need to get the carboy or can i wait on that?
 

Rick_R

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do i need to get the carboy or can i wait on that?
You can wait. The carboy is kind'a nice, in that you can see what's going on, but not necessary. If you do go carboy, I'd recommend one of the Better Bottle plastic carboys as opposed to glass. Lots of folks use glass with no problems, but there is more of a risk because of the possibility of breaking glass.

Rick
 

pcolson

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I got my kit from my LHBS everything has been fine with me... also bought a lot of extras chiller, 3 yeast starter bottles bottles for first batch ya know the usual :)
 
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