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Ok, tell me about home beer brewing

Rack OpsRack Ops Member Posts: 18,597 ✭✭✭
edited July 2010 in General Discussion
I figured someone around here has some experience with it.


First off....recommendations for reading materials. What are the best home brew reference guides? Also, how much of an initial investment am I looking at, and once I'm started, how much is it going to cost (roughly) per bottle?


Thanks for the help

Comments

  • penetraitorpenetraitor Member Posts: 3,870
    edited November -1
    Got everything to make my own beer at home. The unit sits buried untouched, and had to throw out the yeast, because it went bad.

    My parents bought it for me, and I did nothing with it.

    Since then I have quit drinking and have no use for it. Unless the SHTF, then I might start drinking again.[:D]
  • allen griggsallen griggs Member Posts: 34,340 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    This guy is the master, the sensei:


    http://www.ashevillebrewers.com/prodtemp.cfm?do=cat&catid=7&categoryname=Kits

    I recommend his extra special bitter kit, is is a wonderful English Ale.
    You can get these kits mail order, you can't buy a better beer making kit.

    Ask Andy for a book that he recommends, he will do you right.

    You have to buy about $100 worth of supplies, a big stainless steel pot to boil the beer in etc. Andy sells all that stuff.

    It costs about 30 bucks to make a batch of beer, which is 2 cases plus a few bottles, so sixty cents a bottle.
    That is really cheap when you consider the wonderful quality of homemade beer, done right.

    I have never bought a beer as good as my home made.
  • RockatanskyRockatansky Member Posts: 11,175
    edited November -1
    All depends.

    I would ask the same question on a couple of home brewing sites (homebrewtalk.com for instance).

    My advice is if you are determined to get into it, get the right equipment right off. If you just want to try, a beginner's kit will set you back about $150 or so, iirc.

    Cost per 16 oz. after the initial investment is something in the range of 40-50 cents.

    Here is a decent thread: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/cost-making-home-brew-139916/
  • He DogHe Dog Member Posts: 49,599 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I know nothing about home brewing, but I can help with the drinking...[:p]
  • MossbergboogieMossbergboogie Member Posts: 12,211
    edited November -1
    Slipgate I believe does a lot of brewing...
    might email him.

    I was just looking into it myself most good kits are in the 100 dollar range.
  • CaptFunCaptFun Member Posts: 16,677 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Get Charlie Papazian's Book "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing"

    51KFMQB4WFL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

    Find a local club. If you have a MicroBrewery close the clubs often meet there. That way you can participate some and find out what varieties that you like before you buy all in. I brew in Glass carbouys and instead of bottles use old 5 gallon soda kegs.

    My top 5 tips.

    1. Sterilize Everything. (one bad batch will teach you that fast)
    2. Use Liquid Yeast
    3. Use the freshest Hops you can get.
    4. Kreusen
    5. Watch your temps while fermenting. Make sure it matches your yeast type.

    (Have Fun!)
  • Rocky RaabRocky Raab Member Posts: 12,881 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I made beer and wine for years. Still have some of the nicely aged wine and even some fabulous stout that also gets better with age, unlike most beers.

    I wouldn't get into it thinking you'll save money. It's like reloading that way: you make so much of it that you end up spending as much or more than if you bought factory stuff. You do get to drink (or shoot) a lot more, but you also spend more.

    Homebrew can be as good as the best commercial beer - or worse than the cheapest junk on the bottom shelf.
    I may be a bit crazy - but I didn't drive myself.
  • LesWVaLesWVa Member Posts: 10,490 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I tell anyone that is interested in brewing, be it wine or beer to start with a complete kit. You get everything you need except the water and step by step instructions. This saves you a lot of time and cost over buying each item that you will need separately. You can get a basic kit for around $100.00 or and advanced one that includes everything including the bottles and caper for around $350.

    I agree with Allen. Ashville Brewers are some top notch people to deal with. Homebrewers Outpost is another supplier that I highly recommend.
  • Rack OpsRack Ops Member Posts: 18,597 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Alright guys, thanks for the information so far. Two votes thus far for asheville brewers, so I believe that's where I'll start my hunt.


    My boss used to brew, but got out of it...I'm working on him to see if I can get his old equipment for cheap. We'll see.


    As to bottling...I'm honestly not a fan of bottles, I prefer beer to be on tap. How much of a pain in the * would it be to bottle it directly into something like a Pony Keg?
  • fishkiller41fishkiller41 Member Posts: 50,608
    edited November -1
    I don't think the KITS are 7.5 gallons, which is what it takes to fill a "pony keg".U could also run into BURSTING problems if it's not done just perfectly....( U could blow the *)
  • 45forme45forme Member Posts: 948 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I started brewing my own beer in college. Don't do it anymore, there are just too many good microbrews out there, and not enough time.

    Realize that if you are going to homebrew, you are doing it for the love, not the money, because it is a lot of work.

    Also, if you like industrial lagers, like Budweiser etc. you will not be happy with homebrew. It is for making stronger beers.

    To start doing it is very cheap. You need a bucket with a lid (the bottles are a lot harder to clean because you can't take the top off) a 1 way valve (like a P-trap).

    When you have this, you can buy malt extract and yeast. When it comes time to bottle, you can rent a hand capper and use your old saved bottles.

    All of the above for less than $100

    As you expand your skill, and if you enjoy it, you can add new and better equipment.

    Cost per bottle is the cost of the malt extract kit. IIRC, about $20 makes 2 cases of brew.
  • jwb267jwb267 Member Posts: 19,665 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Search ResultsWelcome To The Grape and Granary
    Home Wine, Beer, Cheese and Coffee Roasting supplies for the Home Brewer.
    www.thegrape.net/ - Cached - Similar
    Cheese making
    Beer brewing supplies
    Wine making supplies
    Soda Making Liquor Making
    Meadmaking
    Distillation
    Starter Cultures
    More results from thegrape.net ?
    www.thegrape.net
  • ManygunsManyguns Member Posts: 3,837
    edited November -1
    Yes, by all means get Charlie's book and a good kit. One of the most important things to remember is that you MUST have a good water supply. Most city water isn't going to work very well. If you have good well water, thats the way to go. Good luck and have fun.[8D]
    Tom
  • slipgateslipgate Member Posts: 12,741
    edited November -1
    This will be the single best decision of your life! It is easy to get started and NOT a lot of work!

    You only need the following to get started (5 gallon batches):

    making it:
    boiling pot that can handle 16 quarts or better
    6.5 gallon plastic fermenting bucket with top (make sure you use a "real" plastic fermentor which is food grade plastic and will not leach chemicals into your beer)
    airlock
    thermometer

    bottling it:
    bottling bucket (has a spigot)
    sanitizing agent
    bottles
    bottle caps
    bottle cap capper
    siphon
    bottling wand
    priming sugar (corn sugar) (most kits do not include this)

    That's it! There is not really any reason to go to a secondary which is usually a glass carboy.

    You will spend about 2-3 hours on a Saturday brewing your beer and putting it in the primary fermentor.

    Then you will spend about 1-2 hours bottling 1-2 weeks later.

    I do not bottle anymore (for 3-4 years now). I made my own kegerator using a mini-fridge and a kegging kit from kegconnection.com. It uses cornelious kegs and a 5 lb CO2 bottle. Kegging saves you about 2 hours of bottling and the PITA of cleaning all the bottles. Just siphon from the fermentor into the keg, pressurize, and in a week your beer is ready to drink.

    BTW: Cleanliness is important but don't get scared off by it. I have NEVER used a sanitizing agent and have NEVER had any problems due to cleanliness. I just use hot water and a no rinse cleanser.

    The beer you create at home will be better than anything you can buy in the store. I also use Asheville brewers but try to see if you have a local brew shop as they will have a lot of stuff and ideas for you. Not to mention beer classes and usually brew days where you can go and brew with other craft brewers. Do not order your kit until you are ready to make the beer. You do not want your cracked grains sitting for more than a day or so as the quality of your finished product will start to suffer. A local beer brewing store will help in this as you can go in the morning, they will crack you grains, and you can immediately brew.

    You will be doing what is known as "extract brewing". Someone has "extracted" the sugar from the grains for you and you are starting from that point using either liquid or dry malt extract (or both). The other type of beer (that I am starting to get into) is called "all-grain" brewing. In all-grain, you buy just the grains and extract the sugar yourself out of them. This requires quite a bit more equipment and quite a bit more money in your setup as you need several very large pots (10-15 gallons or so) to do this part of the beer making. Not to mention almost no stoves are able to boil more than 3-4 gallons of water so you also need a propane turkey fryer type setup.

    Good Luck!
  • allen griggsallen griggs Member Posts: 34,340 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    It is well and good if you can find a local brewer supply place, but, it is unlikely you will have a local shop as good as Asheville brewers.

    As slipgate said, a good brew supply store will crack a pound of malted barley the day you make your order. Of course you want to make your beer on that same day, or else, you want to put your cracked barley in the refrigerator and make your beer in a day or two.
    Also, a good supply shop keeps their hops refrigerated.
    Also you want to use liquid yeast, which must be refrigerated.

    If you can find a local outfit to provide these , then great.

    But Asheville brewers ships out kits every day, they pack the liquid yeast in ice to preserve it, so you can get a kit via UPS that is just about as fresh as if you bought it in the store.


    Call up Andy and ask him about his shipping procedure, he is a no bs kind of guy.
    Asheville is known as one of the top microbrew towns in the country and Andy is the brewmaster at one of the microbreweries. If they want to develop a new beer, Andy develops it for them.
    If they have a problem with a beer, Andy is their troubleshooter.
  • Rack OpsRack Ops Member Posts: 18,597 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    there's a ton of good information in this thread....thanks for all the help guys.

    Just some clarification, since I don't think I clearly stated my motivation.

    I'm not trying to produce the cheapest beer possible. Nor am I trying to replicate what's generally popular among American beer drinkers.

    Honestly, I wouldn't even call myself a "beer drinker", as there's not really a whole lot that I seem to like......and the beers I do like tend to cost a bit more than "normal" brews.

    What I'd like to be able to do, and what I think I can do, is brew the kind of beer I like for less than what I'm paying now....and maybe even explore my own tastes further.
  • allen griggsallen griggs Member Posts: 34,340 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    To expand on what 454me said.

    There are two types of beers, lagers and ales.

    Budweiser is a lager. Lagers are lighter beers. Ales are heavier. An ale has more hops.

    Heineken is also a lager.


    Most home brewers make ale. Ale is fermented at room temp, 70 degrees or so. Lagers have to be refrigerated and fermented at much colder temps.

    I have made at least 40, five gallon batches of home brew and I have never made a lager.

    Stout is an ale and I make a great stout, beats Guinness hands down, and I love Guinness.


    Most of the beers that are made by microbreweries are ales.


    So if you like the heavy ales, you will be happy with home brewing.
  • Rack OpsRack Ops Member Posts: 18,597 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by allen griggs

    I have made at least 40, five gallon batches of home brew and I have never made a lager.

    Stout is also a lager and I make a great stout, beats Guinness hands down, and I love Guinness.


    [?]


    Stout is what I intend to make......Something like Guinness would be my starting point, then work to something a bit thicker with more flavor.

    "Breakfast Stouts" seem to be the niche I'm working myself into.
  • allen griggsallen griggs Member Posts: 34,340 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    You like Guinness, you are a man after my own heart!
    You are going to be a happy home brewer.


    Andy at Asheville brewers has a stout kit. You want something thicker and with more flavor than Guinness, the first thing you would do is add maybe an extra pound of the cracked barley. Andy has 14 varieties of barley so he would know which one to use.

    Also, for more flavor you may mean more hops. Here again, no problem.
    Another good thing, with the thicker heavier beers you can make them with a higher alcohol content.
  • HandLoadHandLoad Member Posts: 15,998
    edited November -1
    I will be watching this with GREAT INTEREST. Keep us updated on how it goes.

    I love Stouts and Porters. One of my favorite Stouts comes out from the MicroBrewer only once a year, it is Smoked - I love that! If I could make it, I would!
  • GTRiemGTRiem Member Posts: 268 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Go to this site and you can see how its done. http://www.brewingtv.com/
    Its a pretty new site so the episodes few, but you'll get the idea.
    Its sponserd by northern brewer and they have a active forum you may find helpful.
    I enjoy brewing. I bottle (not as much as before kegs)I also use corny-kegs and sankey, but started with just a basic starter set-up and a 5gal. beer kit. Then drank some sam adams and sierra nevadas to get my bottles.
    Go for it! Have fun.[:)]
    GTR
  • slipgateslipgate Member Posts: 12,741
    edited November -1
    I have a chocolate porter on draft right now that I made a few months ago. I added almost a cup of raw cocoa to the boil. It is very good!
  • elkdroppingelkdropping Member Posts: 722 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    If you are going to do it right, here is the guy you want to get your equipment from. Not the cheapest, but by far the best small scale brewing equipment available. John is a great guy and happens to be in my home town. Good luck!

    http://www.blichmannengineering.com/


    quote:Originally posted by Rack Ops
    I figured someone around here has some experience with it.


    First off....recommendations for reading materials. What are the best home brew reference guides? Also, how much of an initial investment am I looking at, and once I'm started, how much is it going to cost (roughly) per bottle?


    Thanks for the help
  • elkdroppingelkdropping Member Posts: 722 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Also check out:

    http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/Brew-Strong

    quote:Originally posted by Rack Ops
    I figured someone around here has some experience with it.


    First off....recommendations for reading materials. What are the best home brew reference guides? Also, how much of an initial investment am I looking at, and once I'm started, how much is it going to cost (roughly) per bottle?


    Thanks for the help
  • CaptFunCaptFun Member Posts: 16,677 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Rack Ops
    quote:Originally posted by allen griggs

    I have made at least 40, five gallon batches of home brew and I have never made a lager.

    Stout is also a lager and I make a great stout, beats Guinness hands down, and I love Guinness.






    Stout is what I intend to make......Something like Guinness would be my starting point, then work to something a bit thicker with more flavor.

    "Breakfast Stouts" seem to be the niche I'm working myself into.



    What Allen is really saying is that there are two main types of Yeast. Ale yeast which grows at room temp (and on the Top of the liquid) and Lager yeast which grows on the bottom and needs a CONSTANT cool temp (that varies by the specific yeast strain) Successfully completing fermentation with a Lager yeast is for the advanced brewer and does require special equipment.

    That said, it is possible to brew a Lager type recipe with an Ale yeast (Anchor Steam is a common commercial one)

    Stouts are fun, but I have yet to find that "Perfect" recipe. The malts have lots of caramelized sugars so it is tricky to not burn the wort during boiling. (I prefer a gas stove for better temp control)

    You mentioned Pony kegs, commercial kegs require very special equipment to clean and fill. Cornelius Kegs (What soda syrup used to come in) come in several sizes, are relatively cheap and you can get parts easily. They are easy to clean and fill and the best part... A standard kegerator will hold several. Oh, the other best part is that after fermentation, bottled homebrew will always has a layer of dead yeast at the bottom. You have to be very careful when pouring not to disturb it. Kegged homebrew on the other hand, all that yeast blows out with the first pint or two and the rest of the keg is as clear as commercially filtered beer.
  • allen griggsallen griggs Member Posts: 34,340 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by CaptFun
    quote:Originally posted by Rack Ops
    quote:Originally posted by allen griggs

    I have made at least 40, five gallon batches of home brew and I have never made a lager.

    Stout is also a lager and I make a great stout, beats Guinness hands down, and I love Guinness.






    Stout is what I intend to make......Something like Guinness would be my starting point, then work to something a bit thicker with more flavor.

    "Breakfast Stouts" seem to be the niche I'm working myself into.



    What Allen is really saying is that there are two main types of Yeast. Ale yeast which grows at room temp (and on the Top of the liquid) and Lager yeast which grows on the bottom and needs a CONSTANT cool temp (that varies by the specific yeast strain) Successfully completing fermentation with a Lager yeast is for the advanced brewer and does require special equipment.

    That said, it is possible to brew a Lager type recipe with an Ale yeast (Anchor Steam is a common commercial one)

    Stouts are fun, but I have yet to find that "Perfect" recipe. The malts have lots of caramelized sugars so it is tricky to not burn the wort during boiling. (I prefer a gas stove for better temp control)

    You mentioned Pony kegs, commercial kegs require very special equipment to clean and fill. Cornelius Kegs (What soda syrup used to come in) come in several sizes, are relatively cheap and you can get parts easily. They are easy to clean and fill and the best part... A standard kegerator will hold several. Oh, the other best part is that after fermentation, bottled homebrew will always has a layer of dead yeast at the bottom. You have to be very careful when pouring not to disturb it. Kegged homebrew on the other hand, all that yeast blows out with the first pint or two and the rest of the keg is as clear as commercially filtered beer.



    Capt. Fun caught me making a big mistake.
    I had written that stout is a lager.
    OOPS.

    Stout is, of course an ale.



    Bottom line is, most home brewers like me stick with ale, because you have to refrigerate a lager while it is fermenting.
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