Where the heck to start?

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cmadd
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Where the heck to start?

Postby cmadd » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:26 pm

Generally looking for advice on getting going on a homebrew hobby. I have no idea how to start learning about brewing beer. I know I'm interested, and I will get some books, but I need the hands on experience. I could try a store like Fermentations, but I really want to be involved in the process. Buying equipment seems like a bit too much money (I'm just a student).

So, how did you guys get started?
EricM
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Postby EricM » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:36 pm

I got a kit from Defalco's. It had all the stuff you need to get going. But you should also take a look at online auctions, as people quit home brewing all the time and you can probably find stuff to do it with pretty cheap.

I've brewed about 3 batches from wort concentrate cans successfully. Though, living in an apartment right now makes it hard to continue, I will in the future, though.

First thing, get your bottles together. You need about 60 pry offs, or whatever combination you can to add up to approx. 23 liters.

Remember to Clean EVERYTHING really well.

Also, if you buy a kit it almost pays for itsself in the first 2 batches.
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JerCraigs
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Postby JerCraigs » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:39 pm

At its most basic you need a pot, a fermentation vessel (Bucket or carboy) with an airlock. A bottle capper is useful, but you can use the flip tops if you want. That is probably less than $50 depending where you get it. You could ask around here and see if anyone is willing to let you shadow them on a brew to learn the ropes.
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cmadd
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Postby cmadd » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:59 pm

First thing, get your bottles together. You need about 60 pry offs, or whatever combination you can to add up to approx. 23 liters.


I guess you mean just reclaiming bottles from beers I buy? Is there some standard pry off bottle that I need to make sure I have?

At its most basic you need a pot, a fermentation vessel (Bucket or carboy) with an airlock. A bottle capper is useful, but you can use the flip tops if you want. That is probably less than $50 depending where you get it. You could ask around here and see if anyone is willing to let you shadow them on a brew to learn the ropes.


I live in an apartment and regulating temperature might be a bit of an issue (no AC). I'm guessing that'll be a problem? I like the shadowing idea!
bufordsbest
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Postby bufordsbest » Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:39 pm

it kind of depends on what you want out of the hobby. if you're looking to save $ and make decent beer you can do it on the cheap. (ie. minimal equipment, pre packaged beer kits)

if you want to get into it to make and craft the best beer possible you will find it can get somewhat expensive.

i know when i started i had the idea of making great beer but tried to do it on the cheap. you'll start to find that lesser discussed things like fermentation temp control, mash ph control.... are critical to making the best beer possible.

I'd suggest going to a brew on premise site and asking to participate in the process of the beer you make. do this a few times and i think you'll get a better idea if the hobby is for you.

from that point i would suggest skipping the beer kit stage and getting right into partial mash brewing. if it's too expensive, see if you can partner up with some friends that are also interested and go together on some equipment.

hope i helped.
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RayOhm
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Postby RayOhm » Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:09 pm

I just started brewing beer myself. I recommend this book.

For my equipment I just bought a starter kit from homebrew-supplies.com as I live to far from most home brew stores. I bought this kit.

For my first batch I pretty much just read the first chapter of the above book and did it.

Good luck and happy brewing
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Tapsucker
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Postby Tapsucker » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:52 am

Read this: http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html

Don't get too hung up on the more complex science until you have done a brew or two. I recommend an extract brew, but not a 'kit'.

Read the first chapter, then either buy some wort from Magnotta or some dry malt extract from somewhere like here: http://www.homebrew-supplies.ca. You will also need yeast (a pack of dry yeast is a good start without worrying about the science of liquid) and some hops. Hop pellets are a good first step without headache.

Keep your first effort a simple recipe, here is a good source: http://www.tastybrew.com.

You will be surprised how good your first beer could turn out. None of the ingredients (extract, dry yeast, pellet hops) are sub-par, they just limit flexibility, but you can still get great beer. Don't have any fear!
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icemachine
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Postby icemachine » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:43 am

I'd also recommend doing an extract brew or two,and also my favourite tool is my copy of Brewtarget, the new version is pretty damn good

http://brewtarget.sourceforge.net/
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beeton
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Postby beeton » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:15 am

Last edited by beeton on Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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markaberrant
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Postby markaberrant » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:50 am

I personally think that it is best to start out with a quality "wort kit." FestaBrew and Brewhouse are the 2 decent brands that are readily available across most of Canada.

Starting out this way allows you to focus on cleaning, sanitation, fermentation and packaging (bottling). There is a steep learning curve when starting out, so I think it is best to minimize the variables. You don't need that much equipment to get going with these kits, and none of it will be throwaway.

Once you have the wort kits mastered, you could then look at stepping up to extract, adding specialty grains, partial mash, or all-grain. I didn't jump straight to all-grain when I started out, but I would lean towards recommending it, as the other options are all kinda intermediate steps, and I ended up with a lot of equipment I could not reuse.

Find out who is brewing all-grain beer near you, and shadow them during a brew session to see what it is all about. The SOBs put on such an event in early Nov each year as part of Learn to Homebrew Day (http://learn2brew.ca).

Other than that, soak up as much info as you can. How to Brew is the best introductory resource.

Welcome to the hobby!
fishnerd
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Postby fishnerd » Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:14 pm

Howdy,

The quick 'n' cheap way of doing things is something like this:

10l pot (so you can boil 5 or 6 litres of sugar water [wort] with room to contain the foam that'll form)

2 6 gallon fermenting buckets with lids (I've heard enough horror stories of people dropping glass carboys that I won't use them anymore)

Air lock

Racking cane

Bottling wand (same diameter as cane)

Hose for the racking cane

Bottle capper

Bottle caps

Fine mesh strainer (or even a laundry bag / paint strainer) that will fit over the bucket.

Starsan sanitizer

1 kilo corn sugar

For a first recipe, I'd do a saison (unlike most beers, saisons are supposed to ferment warm, up to about 30 degrees), something like this:

4.5l water
2.75 kilos amber dried malt extract
3oz hallertau hops

WLP468 Belgian Saison Yeast Blend

Get everything set up -- sanitize, per instructions, bucket, lid, air lock, strainer.

Add the water to your pot
Add the dry malt extract
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat so you still have an active boil, but avoid having the volcano of sugary doom
Add 1.5 oz hallertau hops
Set a timer for 50 minutes
Empty out your bucket, add 10l cold water to it and get the strainer over it.
When the timer goes off, add .75oz hallertau hops
Set timer for 10 minutes
When the timer goes off, add .75oz hallertau hops and turn off heat.
Let the pot sit for a couple minutes, and marvel that you've made it this far.
Pour your wart into the bucket, through the strainer -- you want it to catch your hops and some coagulated proteins called hot break.
Top off the bucket to 20 or 21 litres
Add your yeast.
Put on the lid.
Put on the air lock (remember to put some sanitizing solution into it).
Wait. For about 2 weeks.

And then you have to figure out how to bottle :)
EricM
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Postby EricM » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:12 pm

Maaaan,
Now I want to step up my game beyond the "it tastes good because I made it" level.
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markaberrant
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Postby markaberrant » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:28 pm

EricM wrote:Maaaan,
Now I want to step up my game beyond the "it tastes good because I made it" level.


There is absolutely nothing wrong with that "level."

I repeatedly tell our club members, "if you think it is a good beer, then it is a good beer." Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

However, what can make homebrewing a rewarding lifelong passion is the pursuit of continual improvement. Read as much as you can, join a homebrew club, enter comps, etc.
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cmadd
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Postby cmadd » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:03 pm

Wow, guys, I've got lots of reading to do now. This is all very encouraging. I know it seems like a total pipe dream right now, but I'd really love to try out recipes that push boundaries, e.g. going back to ingredients that used to be more common for bittering the beer. I recently heard about Wilderness Brewing, a small nanobrewering starting up in Kansas, that was making a Dandelion Saison, or even Beau's Bogwater that uses bog myrtle. Anyways, thanks for the suggestions. I'll probably start with water, hops, yeast and barley :)

However, what can make homebrewing a rewarding lifelong passion is the pursuit of continual improvement. Read as much as you can, join a homebrew club, enter comps, etc.


Where does one join these clubs?
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markaberrant
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Postby markaberrant » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:29 pm

cmadd wrote:Where does one join these clubs?


Move to Regina and join the ALES club!

In Toronto, check out the Southern Ontario Brewers.

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