12-10-2014, 10:37 AM
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Hi everyone -


I put this here because I figured it probably has more to do with "cooking" than anything else, but moderators, if this is in the wrong place, please feel free to move it.

Homebrewers! I need some advice. A couple of buddies and I are planning on homebrewing some beer. Aside from ingredients themselves (i.e. hops, yeast, malt, etc.), what are the bare essentials we would need to get started? There is a pretty well-regarded homebrewing store in the Boston area that we will probably go to to stock up, but I figured I should know a little bit before we head in there. Also, I've been reading up some and I have the Charlie Papazian/Joy of Home Brewing book, but would there be any other recommended reading?

Thanks,
Josh

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 12-10-2014, 10:40 AM
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Josh, I know next to nothing about this, but I just wanted to wish you much luck and happy brewing! Thumbup

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 12-10-2014, 11:22 AM
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(12-10-2014, 10:40 AM)celestino Wrote: Josh, I know next to nothing about this, but I just wanted to wish you much luck and happy brewing! Thumbup

Thanks! Kind of ironically enough, I don't drink a lot of beer. We still have beer from when we moved into our house six years ago in our fridge in the garage. But I figured this would be a pretty interesting experience and one of my buddies who's doing this with me has gotten into beer in a major way, so I thought this would be at least a fun get-together.

Also, I have been wanting to to do this off-and-on since I was in college in the mid-90's. In fact my copy of that Charlie Papazian book is from then. Of course my "tastes" at that time ran toward 30 packs and cheap beer.

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 12-10-2014, 02:06 PM
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Josh, will this help?:





Your adventure sounds very interesting. I hope you make something dark like Guinness. I'll be watching your progress. Report back when you can with pictures. Good luck.

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 12-10-2014, 02:09 PM
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Josh, Papazians book is a very good one. I wish I could find my copy as I had quite a few of his recipes tweaked slightly for my taste. I wish I still had time to brew beer, I really liked it. It was beer worth drinking just at shop temperature; it had great flavor and quite a kick if that's what you want. Check out his Colonel Coffin Barley wine ale. It finishes with enough alcohol to easily smell and taste it, close to 20% and a head just as fine as whipped cream- nectar. Just delicious stuff!

Bare essentials...

A honkin' huge pot. Big enough to boil all of your wort and water is great. I boiled a few gallons and just used my well water. Brewing beer will point out the fact of bad water, that's why it beame so popular after the dark ages. If the beer smelled good it could be imbibed and it wouldn't kill the drinker. The same couldn't be said of water back then. Read about sanitizing below.

A food grade bucket, I think I used 7-8 gallon buckets. The brewing supply will have them. It will have a grommetted hole in the lid.

That grommetted hole will accept an airlock.

Bottles and caps

bottle capper

Tubing for siphoning

Corn sugar for bottling

Bleach and a bucket to hold sanitizing solution. Everything, and I do mean everything needs to be sanitized. And no mouth for starting the siphon. Using your sanitized hands and arms and tubing, just lower it into the brew. One end first and slowly allow the length to progressively enter the brew. Put a finger over the end, withdraw it and you'll have your siphon and no lactobacillus infected beer.

I think that's the bare minimum. As time progresses you'll find things that will make the process go much easier. I liked to use a bottle filler, and to speed up wort cooling I rigged up a heat exchanger; a length of coiled copper pipe. In just a few minutes I could cool 5 gallons of wort down to the point where I could add my yeast and not get off flavors. Add it when the wort is too warm and you can get a grassy taste and such. You want to reduce as much as possible the time between boiling and introducing the yeast. The longer the wort has to collect bacteria from the air, the more chance that the beer won't be good.

Beer is easy to make, but I want to emphasize again, everything needs to be sanitized if it's going to touch the wort in any way. The wort can grow yeast (what you want to happen) but if there is anything else introduced to the wort you can get dinosaur snot or something that smells like a cesspool. Wort will easily grow anything else if anything else is given a chance to contact it.

If I think of anything else I'll post it.

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 12-10-2014, 02:51 PM
#6
  • freddy
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Josh, speaking as a moderator, I think this is the perfect place to post this, at least for now. I am not really a beer drinker and much prefer wine (wine making, anyone?) but, by placing your query here, you enhance the What's Cooking? thread, in my opinion.

Good luck to your friends and you and if your work bears fruit (er, beer Tongue ) then, as Aaron has posted, please share.

Aside to Brian: Every time I think you can no longer surprise me, you do! Thumbsup

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 12-10-2014, 04:38 PM
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I highly recommend an auto siphon, especially when you make small batches like I do. A gravity siphon is a pain in the butt.

If you're going to make an all-grain or partial mash brew (part grain, part malt extract), you'll either need a grain bag in which to boil your grain, or you'll need a strainer of some sort to separate the wort from the grain. I started out with small batches and a big colander, but progressed to a home made lauter tun (fancy brewing term for strainer) made from palm and coconut oil buckets (I have a bunch, as you might imagine), and a grain bag.

You can kind of tell that primary fermentation is done when the bubbles stop, but a hydrometer can help you determine if fermentation is done. They're cheap, and they help ensure that your bottles don't explode from over carbonation. A refractometer is even easier, but they're costly.

You can buy no-rinse sanitizer, if you trust that sort of thing. Otherwise, you're supposed to rinse off the sanitizing solution.

If you'll be doing an all-grain beer, you'll want an extra pot or two.. ...and towels... Lots of towels (in case you have a spill).

Supposedly, extract beers are easier for beginners, but I started off with grain and didn't find it too difficult.

I should be going over to my dad's over the holidays to brew a stout, so that should refresh my memory as to anything else that's needed.

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 12-10-2014, 05:06 PM
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The two biggest factors I have found are water quality and keep EVERYTHING clean !!!!

The beer I make using our old farm well is spectacular. However the city water at my dads house results in less than satisfactory results.

Again, keep it CLEAN.

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 12-10-2014, 05:27 PM
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(12-10-2014, 02:51 PM)freddy Wrote: Josh, speaking as a moderator, I think this is the perfect place to post this, at least for now. I am not really a beer drinker and much prefer wine (wine making, anyone?) but, by placing your query here, you enhance the What's Cooking? thread, in my opinion.

Good luck to your friends and you and if your work bears fruit (er, beer Tongue ) then, as Aaron has posted, please share.

Aside to Brian: Every time I think you can no longer surprise me, you do! Thumbsup

Freddy, should we add a new area adding wine, beer and spirit reviews? I like wine and some whiskeys and bourbons.

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 12-10-2014, 07:46 PM
#10
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(12-10-2014, 05:27 PM)DoctorShaveGood Wrote:
(12-10-2014, 02:51 PM)freddy Wrote: Josh, speaking as a moderator, I think this is the perfect place to post this, at least for now. I am not really a beer drinker and much prefer wine (wine making, anyone?) but, by placing your query here, you enhance the What's Cooking? thread, in my opinion.

Good luck to your friends and you and if your work bears fruit (er, beer Tongue ) then, as Aaron has posted, please share.

Aside to Brian: Every time I think you can no longer surprise me, you do! Thumbsup

Freddy, should we add a new area adding wine, beer and spirit reviews? I like wine and some whiskeys and bourbons.

Aaron, for now, lets leave it here. While we have a thread on whisky/whiskey, it is more on the tasting and drinking aspect. Josh is talking about the actual making of beer. If we get a lot of winemaking and such then we can talk about a new sub-forum. Let's give it a while and, in the meantime, keep any beer making here as it is a cooking process.

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 12-10-2014, 08:18 PM
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Freddy, I wasn't suggesting that we move this thread. I agree with you that it belongs here. I was just suggesting a new and separate sub-forum for spirits, etc.

As for the current thread on whisky/whiskey...I must have missed that one. Huh

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 12-10-2014, 08:29 PM
#12
  • freddy
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Aaron, the whisky/whiskey thread is in The Parlour, currently near the top.

Where would we put the sub-forum and exactly what would it contain? My concern is that it would eventually just get lost in the shuffle. We can always add a sub-forum later if there is a genuine need.

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 12-10-2014, 09:03 PM
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Freddy, ok I found it ...thanks. It just seems lost where it's at...sort of floating around. Maybe it should be placed in its own sub-forum under "The Front Porch." What is your advice?

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 12-10-2014, 10:43 PM
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(12-10-2014, 02:51 PM)freddy Wrote: Josh, speaking as a moderator, I think this is the perfect place to post this, at least for now. I am not really a beer drinker and much prefer wine (wine making, anyone?) but, by placing your query here, you enhance the What's Cooking? thread, in my opinion.

Good luck to your friends and you and if your work bears fruit (er, beer Tongue ) then, as Aaron has posted, please share.

Aside to Brian: Every time I think you can no longer surprise me, you do! Thumbsup

That's a good thing! I take that as a compliment; thanks! I have a personal hero that I looked up to as a child and have tried to emulate as best I can as an adult; Thomas Jefferson. If you know him, you know my thrust, emulating him being a worthy goal for anyone. He was a truly great man.

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 12-10-2014, 11:26 PM
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Patience and strict adherence to being clean and on time.

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 12-11-2014, 07:25 AM
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Josh,

I have been brewing for about 12 years with about 3-400 5 gal batches worth under my belt. You can make it as simple or complex as your preference steers you. For basic extract brewing, I would only add a racking cane and second the auto siphon as must haves.

A you might also consider strongly list:

Plastic (PET) Carboy ILO the bucket. It will hold up and handle better. Soak with an oxyclean solution to clean.

Use Starsan ILO bleach. Ole Charlie is right, bleach is cheap and easy, but..starsan is just as cheap and way easier.

Google How to Brew by John Palmer. Updated from Papizian, free, and simply the best single book to get started.

A stock pot of four gallons minimum is essential, seven gallons is ideal for 5 gallon batches. You want to be able to boil the whole wort. 5 gal is a lot, so you might consider some of the 1-3 gallon kits many online shops offer. It may actually yield much better results during fermentation.

Dry yeast: cheaper, easier, and now of quality that makes it no issue. Used to need liquid to get quality and variety. Not anymore.

Check out some of the brewing forums. Northern Brewer is OK. The best, but an old and dwindling one is hbd.org Brews and Views. Many, many, many years of experience and patience, and unrivaled archives.

I can refer you to loads of resources and answer any questions, just post them or send a note.

Before you know it, you'll be all grain, joining a club, obsessing about style and enjoying great beer. If you can boil water you can make good beer.

Cheers,

Matt

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 12-11-2014, 07:30 AM
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(12-10-2014, 10:43 PM)ShadowsDad Wrote: That's a good thing! I take that as a compliment; thanks! I have a personal hero that I looked up to as a child and have tried to emulate as best I can as an adult; Thomas Jefferson. If you know him, you know my thrust, emulating him being a worthy goal for anyone. He was a truly great man.

Quick thanks for all the initial replies. I'm working through them and taking notes and might have some follow-up questions. But I just wanted reply quickly to this one. Jefferson is one my personal heroes too. I grew up in Charlottesville, basically on the campus of "Tom's University" and although we moved up to Massachusetts when I was in elementary school, I still have a place in my head and heart for Jefferson.

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 12-11-2014, 10:34 AM
#18
  • freddy
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(12-11-2014, 07:30 AM)jpakstis Wrote:
(12-10-2014, 10:43 PM)ShadowsDad Wrote: That's a good thing! I take that as a compliment; thanks! I have a personal hero that I looked up to as a child and have tried to emulate as best I can as an adult; Thomas Jefferson. If you know him, you know my thrust, emulating him being a worthy goal for anyone. He was a truly great man.

Quick thanks for all the initial replies. I'm working through them and taking notes and might have some follow-up questions. But I just wanted reply quickly to this one. Jefferson is one my personal heroes too. I grew up in Charlottesville, basically on the campus of "Tom's University" and although we moved up to Massachusetts when I was in elementary school, I still have a place in my head and heart for Jefferson.

I, too, have a special place for Jefferson. I can remember, as a child of about 10, going to both Mt. Vernon and Monticello. While I don't remember much about Mt. Vernon, the genius that was Jefferson came through in Monticello.

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 12-11-2014, 11:15 AM
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OK - I've finally read through the responses (thanks again), and I plan to not use extracts, but here is the equipment I'm looking at with questions/comments in parentheses. It does not include bottling and capping:

(1) 4+ gallon pot
(2) 6 gallon bucket/carboy
(3) 6 gallon fermentation bucket
(4) 3-4 nylon bags (I've read that brand new pantyhose can work)
(5) racking cane/auto-siphon (not gravity siphon)
(6) sanitizer/bleach
(7) hygrometer (would the refractometer take its place)
(8) waterproof thermometer (is this for the brewing phase, i.e. does it attach to the pot when boiling?)

Thanks again everyone!

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 12-11-2014, 01:15 PM
#20
  • freddy
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(12-10-2014, 09:03 PM)DoctorShaveGood Wrote: Freddy, ok I found it ...thanks. It just seems lost where it's at...sort of floating around. Maybe it should be placed in its own sub-forum under "The Front Porch." What is your advice?

Aaron, for now, let's leave it where it is as folks who are interested know where to find it. As I stated, if it really takes off then we can always move it so nothing is written in stone. Smile

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