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I've tinkered with making wine and enjoyed it. Thinking of trying to brew some beer. Anyone else here doing that? Any advice for a noob?
 
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I have been brewing beer since it became legal...

Cleanliness is king! Fermenters and anything that touches the wort once it has been boiled MUST be sanitized. Before that just regular kitchen level of cleaning is needed. I rinse the boil kettle out, hit it with a scotch brite pad to knock off gunk that is sticking, rinse it again and done. DO NOT use soap! Soap is the enemy of beer getting a good head of foam when poured. Same for oils...

Start with a brew kit like this https://www.northernbrewer.com/products/brew-share-enjoy-homebrew-starter-kit you will need bottles(can buy bottled beer and save them, but no screw off caps) but it looks to have most of what you need. Plan on buying PBW(powdered brewery wash) and Star San sanitizer in larger bottles if you brew much at all.

This kit will work on a kitchen stove. It is a partial mash setup(uses some grains along malt extract) or can do all extract brews with it.

You will need RO water or buy bottled water of your tap water is bad... you can get a print out of what is in your water form the supplier, or if it is well water send it out for testing.

RO water is handy because you can tailor it for any beer style in the world by adding minerals to match that location.

All grain brewing is more complex and you may move to it down the road but to learn the partial mash kits work well. More expensive than all grain but also take less time, 3-4 hours versus a 6-7 hour all grain brew day for me.

This is my current all grain brewing setup for 10 gallon batches.

Top Kettle is what they call the HLT basically holds hot water for sparging(rinsing) the grains, the copper pipe coming off it is called a sparge arm and sprays water on the grain below it during the sparge cycle

Middle kettle is the mash tun where I mix grains with water and let them sit an hour to an hour and a half so the starch can convert to sugar then I sparge it to rinse the sugar water down into the bottom kettle.

Bottom kettle is the boil kettle, it gets the runnings frmm the mash tun, stir them well because the denser sugar will sit at the bottom, add hops per the recipe schedule and boil for an hour(takes about 90 minutes, 30 minutes to get a good rolling boil), then cool it down to fermenting temps with an immersion chiller and cold running water.

Nothing at this point has been or needs to be sanitized. If a bug flies in pick it out LOL it gets boiled!

Once boiled and cooled I drain into sanitized fermenters(7 gallon plastic buckets with a spigot on the bottom), add yeast, close, add an airlock with sanitizer and let ferment.

After 2 weeks for either process(grain or extract) the fermented beer gets added to bottles with some priming compound in them or I keg mine(less work but more equipment!). Everything must be sanitized at this point...





 

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@MaryB - looks complicated, but I'm guessing that its just step by step, follow the directions until you know what's happening. Thanks for the kit link. That seems to be the simplest way to get started. Also appreciate the directions.
 
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I did it for a while. I had one of those 5 gallon plastic bucket fermenters.
A basic ale is easy if you just use the packaged malt extracts. Much harder if you are going to do it from grain.
I never got that into it.
It cost me more per bottle than most of your domestic beers, but cheaper than some of the fancy micro brews.

Using the pre-packaged malts is kind of cheating, but it's fun and you can try some different things.
 

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I have been brewing beer since it became legal...

Cleanliness is king! Fermenters and anything that touches the wort once it has been boiled MUST be sanitized. Before that just regular kitchen level of cleaning is needed. I rinse the boil kettle out, hit it with a scotch brite pad to knock off gunk that is sticking, rinse it again and done. DO NOT use soap! Soap is the enemy of beer getting a good head of foam when poured. Same for oils...

Start with a brew kit like this https://www.northernbrewer.com/products/brew-share-enjoy-homebrew-starter-kit you will need bottles(can buy bottled beer and save them, but no screw off caps) but it looks to have most of what you need. Plan on buying PBW(powdered brewery wash) and Star San sanitizer in larger bottles if you brew much at all.

This kit will work on a kitchen stove. It is a partial mash setup(uses some grains along malt extract) or can do all extract brews with it.

You will need RO water or buy bottled water of your tap water is bad... you can get a print out of what is in your water form the supplier, or if it is well water send it out for testing.

RO water is handy because you can tailor it for any beer style in the world by adding minerals to match that location.

All grain brewing is more complex and you may move to it down the road but to learn the partial mash kits work well. More expensive than all grain but also take less time, 3-4 hours versus a 6-7 hour all grain brew day for me.

This is my current all grain brewing setup for 10 gallon batches.

Top Kettle is what they call the HLT basically holds hot water for sparging(rinsing) the grains, the copper pipe coming off it is called a sparge arm and sprays water on the grain below it during the sparge cycle

Middle kettle is the mash tun where I mix grains with water and let them sit an hour to an hour and a half so the starch can convert to sugar then I sparge it to rinse the sugar water down into the bottom kettle.

Bottom kettle is the boil kettle, it gets the runnings frmm the mash tun, stir them well because the denser sugar will sit at the bottom, add hops per the recipe schedule and boil for an hour(takes about 90 minutes, 30 minutes to get a good rolling boil), then cool it down to fermenting temps with an immersion chiller and cold running water.

Nothing at this point has been or needs to be sanitized. If a bug flies in pick it out LOL it gets boiled!

Once boiled and cooled I drain into sanitized fermenters(7 gallon plastic buckets with a spigot on the bottom), add yeast, close, add an airlock with sanitizer and let ferment.

After 2 weeks for either process(grain or extract) the fermented beer gets added to bottles with some priming compound in them or I keg mine(less work but more equipment!). Everything must be sanitized at this point...





Damn, that's a NICE setup. Kinda makes me wish I hadn't stopped drinking.☹
 

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Just got in my second fermenter, well most of it... waiting for leg extensions, stabilizer brace and casters... 10 gallon stainless fermenter.

All grain really isn't that complicated. Crush grains, hour long soak in 154 degree water, rinse the sugar liquid into the boil kettle, boil... once it is in the boil kettle no different than a malt extract kit, just that you are doing the extracting and have much more control over flavor by using different grains.

Partial mash with extract kits add some flexibility of this but still stuck with the extract base flavor.

10 gallon Spike Brewing stainless conical fermenter, pardon messy floor, still rearranging my office and it is a disaster plus one of the cats barfed on it leaving a nice stain to sand out... I love my cats, I love my cats LOL some days...

 

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@MaryB - looks complicated, but I'm guessing that its just step by step, follow the directions until you know what's happening. Thanks for the kit link. That seems to be the simplest way to get started. Also appreciate the directions.
Kits come with step by step instructions and I can answer questions if you have them... Have to get used to the way brewing is timed... if it says add hops at 60 minutes that is when it starts to boil, at 5 minutes that is 5 minutes before it is finished. That is the biggest point of confusion newbies run into. The partial mash kits are okay, Northern Brewer uses very fresh ingredients so you will have good results. Grains are crushed to make batches of kits every week so no stale year old grain. Kits come with a bag for the grain, it doesn't say to do it but I pour a quarts of boiling water over it then squeeze it out to get the most flavor from it.

I am not above making one of the kits to try a new beer style. If I like it I can create a recipe using all grain to clone it, or buy one of the NB all grain kits of it to get the amounts of grains and hops and the timing.
 

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@MaryB - looks complicated, but I'm guessing that its just step by step, follow the directions until you know what's happening. Thanks for the kit link. That seems to be the simplest way to get started. Also appreciate the directions.
That kit is a good starting point.
If you have a propane turkey fryer you can save a few bucks for a kit that doesn't have a pot. You will also save time. It takes a long time to bring five gallons to a boil on a stove.
 

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That kit is a good starting point.
If you have a propane turkey fryer you can save a few bucks for a kit that doesn't have a pot. You will also save time. It takes a long time to bring five gallons to a boil on a stove.
Those kits are a partial boil, cool it, move to a fermenter then top it up to 5 gallons with distilled or RO water and stir. Only boiling ~2 gallons. Makes them nice to play with in winter because I can do them in the kitchen...
 
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Those kits are a partial boil, cool it, move to a fermenter then top it up to 5 gallons with distilled or RO water and stir. Only boiling ~2 gallons. Makes them nice to play with in winter because I can do them in the kitchen...
Who says you can't use a propane turkey fryer indoors? What's a little carbon monoxide gonna hurt? :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Who says you can't use a propane turkey fryer indoors? What's a little carbon monoxide gonna hurt? :)
Mine is in the garage. I use it to render wheel weights and range scrap for casting. I think I know where I can "borrow" a turkey pot. My burner came with a fish fryer, too small for beer
 

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Mine is in the garage. I use it to render wheel weights and range scrap for casting. I think I know where I can "borrow" a turkey pot. My burner came with a fish fryer, too small for beer
I bought mine at a garage sale. Dusty old box. Like new in the box. All stainless steel with pot, pan, lid & accessories. $15. Only used one time (and looked it) according to the owner.
 

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for a full 5 gallon batch boil you will be starting with approx. 6 gallons and it will reduce during the hour boil. When wort comes to a boil the hot break foams up big time, I recommend an 8 gallon kettle minimum and 10 is safer. Boil overs are a sticky mess to clean up, been there done that! I do 11 gallon batches and start with 13 gallons of wort. 15 gallon kettle and I have came way to close to a boil over dozens of times. My new electric brew setup is a 20 gallon kettle, boil overs won't be happening!

I am probably selling my old brew setup, no more propane fumes for me. Turnkey ready to go other than wash off the dust it gets from being in the garage. 2 15 gallon kettles and a 10 gallon(barely) for the HLT. 3 high power 160k BTU turkey fryer burners, custom stand built from the finest junk I had laying around the garage! Needs new kettle thermometers... I was using the cheap Northern Brewer ones and they do not last. Mash Tun is a Northern Brewer Mega pot 1.2, other2 are turkey fryer pots with no gallon markings... I punched in some dots for markings but not super accurate...

My new setup is electric brew in a basket, single vessel so simplified/more complicated LOL https://spikebrewing.com/products/spike-plus-solo but I have a different controller I built myself, this is the electric brew controller. 240 volts, 5,000 watt heating element, pump control...

Controller innards

 

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Mary is right it can get messy.

Patience is golden. Waiting is boring. Spend a little more and get a kit with a glass or transparent plastic carboy instead of a regular bucket fermenter. It's fun to observe the action going on inside.

One more thing. Don't get discouraged by a bad tasting batch. Chances are you will brew a batch that you couldn't give away to highschool boys on a Friday night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I appreciate all the help and advice. We'll see what happens after Christmas, but I'd like to give it a try
 

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Mary is right it can get messy.

Patience is golden. Waiting is boring. Spend a little more and get a kit with a glass or transparent plastic carboy instead of a regular bucket fermenter. It's fun to observe the action going on inside.

One more thing. Don't get discouraged by a bad tasting batch. Chances are you will brew a batch that you couldn't give away to highschool boys on a Friday night.
Had one of those, got infected by something... it was n tap so I ignored it for 3 months... went to taste it and danged if it didn't turn into a decent sour...

No matter how hard you clean eventually something will get a batch of beer now and then. Had it happen a dozen times over the years.
 

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I've tinkered with making wine and enjoyed it. Thinking of trying to brew some beer. Anyone else here doing that? Any advice for a noob?
Brewed beer, mostly whole grain for about 20 years. I can't add much to the advice here. Sanitation, A-#1.
 
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