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  #1  
Old 02-02-2010, 08:17 PM
StriderDL StriderDL is offline
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Default So, You Want To Be A Homebrewer

Seeing as we were sparking a side topic in The Beer Thread, this thread is for the discussion of techniques, recipes and personal experiences with homebrewing. Whether you are an experienced hand or just taking your first steps into the word of malts, mashes, and worts, be welcome. And have a homebrew.

I just finished bottling an Irish Red (Brewer's Best kit) that we altered by using Scotch Ale liquid yeast (White Labs brand). Belgian Dark ready for quaffing Sunday. Good times!
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Old 02-03-2010, 07:47 AM
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Although not a complete recipe, when Deschutes Brewery killed Cinder Cone Red (boooooo), they offered to send a clone recipe out. Here it is if anyone wants it:

Specifics:

Recipe type: All grain
Batch size: 5 U.S. gallons
Original gravity: 1.052-1.056
Final gravity: 1.014-1.018
Boil time: 90 minutes
Fermentation temp: 65° F
Yeast type: English Ale


Malt:
NW 2-row Pale Malt
Caramel Malt
Dextrin Malt
Black Barley

Hops:
Cascade
Amarillo
Simco
Tettnanger

**Note**
Temps, times and weights are the challenge. Happy Brewing!
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Old 02-03-2010, 09:37 AM
StriderDL StriderDL is offline
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Interesting! Do we have any all grain brewers out there? I am still in the malt extract/specialty grains phase, but definitely looking to get into all grain brews.

Also, VV, were there any notes about when these hops were added, or if they were used for bittering or flavor?
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Old 02-03-2010, 09:40 AM
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I'm curious how much it costs to brew your own versus just buying beer. I imagine the initial investment is nothing to sneeze at but once it's set up it becomes better. I have some friends who do this and it usually comes out pretty good.
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:56 AM
StriderDL StriderDL is offline
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My equipment kit cost me ~$130 and included the following:

1 5 gal brew pail
1 5 gal bottling pail
1 5 gal glass carboy
5' of poly tubing
Auto-siphon tubes
4 oz (I think) of no rinse oxidizing sanitizer
Hydrometer
Bottle wand
Bottle brush
Capper
Air lock, drilled rubber stopper

Note that this does not include other important equipment, such as a big pot for boiling the wort. And you will need extra sanitizer at some point, or use diluted bleach, whatever.

Once you have your equipment, the price for ingredients can range from ~$40 to ~$50 per 5 gal batch (48-52 12 oz. bottles). It depends on how much you want to play around with ingredients

So, a standard craft brew 6-pack may cost you what, $12? 13? $96-$104.

So...it costs much less, tastes much better (fresh, no hangover-inducing preservatives) AND you are practicing a hobby. And then everyone thinks you are totally cool cause you are that guy that brews your own, delicious beer. And don't you wanna be cool? Eh?

Last edited by StriderDL; 02-03-2010 at 07:24 PM. Reason: Math!
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:07 PM
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I bought a kit from a garage sale for $30. They were originally selling it for $90, but it was marked way down, and apparently it had never been used. It came with ingredients, but they were extremely old and I ended up tossing them out.

The kit includes:

Several (?) 5 gallon buckets
a curly copper tube
some plastic tubing
a big pot for boiliing wort
other things?

I actually have to check what came with it when I get home, I don't remember. I bought it in July and it's sat in my closet. A few months ago I bought a cheap ($15) self contained ingredients kit for a red ale, but I still haven't started it. I should really get on that!

There is a place in Chicago called Brew & Grow, which is located in a shady looking alley and sells lots of supplies that could concievably be used for growing pot. Nevertheless, they have an excellent homebrewing section with barley, malts, yeast, various additives, cleaning supplies, and a good supply of self contained kits.

At this point, I really have no excuse for not brewing my own beer. I just need to find some time to do it. Any pointers?
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StriderDL View Post
Also, VV, were there any notes about when these hops were added, or if they were used for bittering or flavor?
No, that was all they had in the email. I haven't tried it myself as I haven't brewed since I moved in 08. This place doesn't have a cellar/basement/AC so I don't have a cool dark place to store everything. I had a recipe for an awesome honey brown, I'll have to dig that up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrenaline View Post
I'm curious how much it costs to brew your own versus just buying beer. I imagine the initial investment is nothing to sneeze at but once it's set up it becomes better. I have some friends who do this and it usually comes out pretty good.
Everyone noted important stuff, but another thing is to take all of the spare empty bottles your friends can give you. If you pay for bottles you are doing it wrong.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:41 PM
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Patrick, that curly copper tube might be worth it's weight in gold when your brewing. It's probably a wort cooler. When your done boiling your beer, you want to get it close to room temperature as quickly as possible so you can get it in the fermentation bucket with the yeast and sealed up so it doesn't pick up any random bugs that will mess up your beer. You hook up a hose, drop the tubing in the boiling hot wort, and run water through it to cool the beer quickly. The price of copper has been going up so these things tend to be expensive anymore.

Some tips to keep in mind:
When your cleaning everything, use a non sudsing cleaner if you can. Regular countertop dishsoap (the kind that produces bubbles) can leave a bit of a residue unless your super thorough about rinsing.

You will end up with a better beer if you boil up everything in one pot. Some beginner instructions have you boil up 2 or 3 gallons and then add boiled water to make a five gallon batch in the fermentation bucket. Related to this, keep in mind your dealing with a very large quantity of liquid. If your doing 5 gallons, I don't recommend using the stove unless you've got a VERY powerful gas model.

When your beer is fermenting, make sure it's in a dark, temperature stable place. A dark indoor closet works well. Garages are generally bad.

You can also use a diluted iodine solution for disinfecting.

If you throw everything in bucket after boiling your wort, seal it up and it doesn't seem to be fermenting, even after a day or two, don't give up on it!
You may have needed to oxygenate the wort more (splashed it around) or some of the yeast had trouble, but it can make a comeback. It can just take some time for the yeast to recover and build up enough steam (reproduce) to really get going.

Probably more to come as I think of it or people talk about stuff.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:14 PM
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If not the stove, then where should I boil it?

And I have a spare room (not quite big enough to be a bedroom) that is going to be devoted to storing beer, in addition to its current job of storing books and extra boxes of things.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:45 PM
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Well, you CAN use the stove... it just might take several hours to bring 5+ gallons of water to a boil. Least that's how long it took for me on my electric. I don't think normal kitchen stoves are made to handle that kind of volume.

What I currently use is a propane burner. The type they use for boiling large quantities of shellfish or for deep frying turkeys. I use this model, but there are varying types, sizes and prices. Using this thing I actually start with 6 gallons of water. Since your cooking/boiling your wort for an hour you can get a lot of boil off. I had to buy a propane tank (it's just the normal type used for gas grills).

Unless you can borrow this stuff or get it for cheap, it's all investment. Definitely worth acquiring if your going to be doing this enough

My first time making beer I actually went to a friends house and used his gas stove. But I only boiled about 2.5 gallons and added boiled water for the rest of the volume.

Maybe someone else can chime in with idea's for a first crack at things without spending too much on extra equipment.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:57 PM
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You know, I realized it might be helpful to post some actual brewing instructions for people curious about the process and those wanting to learn about it.

So here you go.

That place is actually where I get my ingredients and where I got my initial equipment.
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Old 02-03-2010, 03:15 PM
StriderDL StriderDL is offline
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This isn't to say that not boiling the full 5 gallons won't make good beer. I use a stove top and my beer comes out just dandy.
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Old 02-03-2010, 03:47 PM
StriderDL StriderDL is offline
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Double post for relevant links from The Beer Thread:

For an introduction to brewing:
John Palmer's How to Brew is free, and recommended reading for new brewers. - Provided courtesy of fumner

For the homebrewer with some experience, author of Brewing Classic Styles Jamil Zainasheff's website and his podcast. - Also provided courtesy of fumner

And for the budding homebrewer with some curiosity into making beer but doesn't want to make the 5 gallon commitment, or perhaps does not have a lot of space, a place where you can get 1 gallon kits.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:11 PM
fumner fumner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StriderDL View Post
Once you have your equipment, the price for ingredients can range from ~$40 to ~$50 per 5 gal batch (48-52 12 oz. bottles). It depends on how much you want to play around with ingredients

So, a standard craft brew 6-pack may cost you what, $12? 13? $96 - $104.
Fixed because those 48 homebrews equate to 8 craft beer sixpacks. You actually save quite a bit if you replace buying craft beer in the $12/six range for an equivalent homebrew. So you can make great beer and it costs roughly half the price per volume... sweet!

And in fact it can be even cheaper than this! When you stop buying extract and switch to all grain brewing, you'll begin to save lots of money. Bulk grain malt is much cheaper than malt extract. I also buy my hops in bulk and sometimes use one vial of yeast to brew 2 or three batches of beer. Overall I average around $30 per 5 gallon batch which is pretty cheap to me. But the switch to all grain does come with added equipment costs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StriderDL View Post
This isn't to say that not boiling the full 5 gallons won't make good beer. I use a stove top and my beer comes out just dandy.
Depending on the style of beer you are brewing, there can be major differences between a partial boil and a full boil. A partial boil is very convenient, I admit, but if you're going to be brewing beers with higher bitterness levels or lighter colored beers I'd advise against it. A full boil will allow for better extraction of the hops' alpha-acids which is extremely important for IPAs, barleywines, Imperial Stouts, etc. And if you're brewing a light colored beer, a full boil will reduce the rate of caramelization and therefore keep the beer's color from changing too much (though for some styles lots of "kettle-caramelization" is desired).
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:50 PM
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Cool, someone who knows about whole grain brewing. I've only ever messed around with extracts.

The first batch I ever made (mentioned previously, made on my friends stove) was a basic amber ale, and doing the partial boil resulted in a bit of an odd beer. It wasn't bad, but it had a buttery nose (which was probably a temperature thing) and it didn't seem to condition right. Some swallows had a... bit of a watery taste? Not sure how else to describe it. Someone with way more experience than me said it was mostly the fault of the partial boil.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:52 PM
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While there are advantages to all-grain and a full boil, I think it's very important for nobody to be even the slightest bit discouraged from brewing beer because of these things. I've had several of my friends' homebrewed creations before; many of them have tasted fantastic, and (I believe) all of them were made beginner-style, with malt extract and a partial boil. It's just not practical to go larger-scale than that in a city apartment, but you can still make great beer and have great fun.
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Old 02-03-2010, 07:23 PM
StriderDL StriderDL is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fumner View Post
Fixed because those 48 homebrews equate to 8 craft beer sixpacks. You actually save quite a bit if you replace buying craft beer in the $12/six range for an equivalent homebrew. So you can make great beer and it costs roughly half the price per volume... sweet!
*facepalm*
I need to get back in a real job, my brain is atrophying. Adding and multiplication are fun!
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Old 02-03-2010, 07:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by destro713 View Post
While there are advantages to all-grain and a full boil, I think it's very important for nobody to be even the slightest bit discouraged from brewing beer because of these things. I've had several of my friends' homebrewed creations before; many of them have tasted fantastic, and (I believe) all of them were made beginner-style, with malt extract and a partial boil. It's just not practical to go larger-scale than that in a city apartment, but you can still make great beer and have great fun.
I agree with the bolded part 100%. If you are brewing beer that you love, then you are succeeding.
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:09 AM
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Even though I've only brewed once and haven't even tasted the results yet, I already feel that being a homebrewer is kind of like joining a secret society – an underground order of the world's least uptight chemists. Talking about it is great fun, and I'm constantly mulling over what my next batch should be and wishing I had a second set of equipment. It's easy to see how this could become a lifelong obsession.

Yesterday I found myself researching brewing schools. Apparently, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world is about four miles from my apartment. Very interesting.
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Old 02-04-2010, 07:59 AM
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Quote:
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Yesterday I found myself researching brewing schools. Apparently, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world is about four miles from my apartment. Very interesting.
What school?
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Old 02-04-2010, 09:05 AM
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Siebel Institute of Technology. They have a renowned 20-week brewing program that takes place partly in Chicago and partly in Munich, and gets you a certification that would most likely make you employable at brewpubs, micros, and macros alike.

I don't plan on doing anything like this right now, as I'd like to spend some time teaching English in the far east first, but I could see coming back here, taking a few continuing education courses in math and organic chem, and then pursuing a program like this.

There's also a very respected program at UC Davis.
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:09 AM
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Wow, I had no idea that was there. It looks like an empty lot on Google Maps, I'll have to stop by the next time I'm at Goose and see what it looks like.
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:03 AM
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Chai Porter to be brewed tomorrow! We have to select a brand of tea, most likely an caffeine-free or decaf variety because we're not sure the if the caffeine will make it too bitter. Using English Ale Yeast (White Labs), and I picked up a pound of lactose to toss in. I am excited!
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Old 02-10-2010, 08:05 AM
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Dang, Chai Porter sounds crazy ambitious. I'm also not sure how the taste would be so I definitely want updates!
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:39 AM
StriderDL StriderDL is offline
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Eh, it's not too ambitious. All we are really doing is taking a stock porter kit and dressing it up a bit. The hardest part is going to be figuring out how much tea to steep, but as fumner (I think) mentioned in the other thread, we can always prepare a tincture of chai to throw in at bottling if it's too weak.

I will definitely keep you updated though!
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:02 PM
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I think I'm going to start my first batch this weekend. I have a small kit for a Red Ale (makes about 13.5 liters), and a friend with some minimal brewing experience is coming over to help. I will report back with results!
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:36 PM
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If it turns out, I'll trade you a sixer of mine for a sixer of yours. My altbier is just finishing up its fermentation. I'm bottling it next week and then aging it for another two.
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by destro713 View Post
If it turns out, I'll trade you a sixer of mine for a sixer of yours. My altbier is just finishing up its fermentation. I'm bottling it next week and then aging it for another two.
Sounds good. And if not this batch, then one down the road for sure.
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Old 02-11-2010, 04:58 PM
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Well, the east coast storm delayed stuff, but my 1gal kit should be here on Tuesday.

Next question: can I just use 1/5th of a normal 5gal recipe and have everything turn out fine? Or is there more advanced math/ratios involved?
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Old 02-11-2010, 05:39 PM
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So my kit has everything except for a sugar, which it recommends that I supply on my own. Any suggestions? Does it make a big difference?
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