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Hi, New here

Okohme

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Hello all,
I am brand new to brewing.  I just got a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas and  am excited to start making beer for people.  I'm not actually a fan of beer myself, but I like making things for people and what makes a better present than beer, right? Anyway, I know the Mr. Beer thing is not the best system, but I figured it was an inexpensive way to learn some basic skills before I see if I really have what it takes to make something really good.  Anyway, I just thought that I would say hey and see if anyone had some advice or tips to offer me as I am getting started.
 

Scott Ickes

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Welcome to the forum and to brewing.  I would suggest you get John Palmer's book, "How To Brew" and read it through before making your first beer.  Kit beers come with very rudimentary instructions.  By reading through How to Brew, you'll avoid pitfalls and have a lot of your questions answered up front.

I also have a feeling you'll begin to develop a taste for beer. 

When you do have a beer, do you usually have the "mass produced" beers from Budweiser, Coors, Miller, etc.?  If that is what you're used to, you will probably find out that there is an entire world of flavors out there that you're aren't used to. 

If you already drink the occasional craft or microbrewed beer, then you are already aware that there is a world of flavors to explore.  For example, I make a beer using tootsie rolls that has a mellow chocolatey bourbon character to it that my friends love. 

Please don't be afraid to ask questions.  Sharing information back and forth is why we're all on here.
 

Maine Homebrewer

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I'm not actually a fan of beer myself, but I like making things for people and what makes a better present than beer, right?

Lots of things. Homebrew doesn't transport well, bottle conditioned beer required decanting, and if you don't like what you're making it makes it difficult to tell if it's any good. 

Like Scott said though, not all beer is created equal.  I'd suggest finding a beer store with a good selection, and start trying random singles. Talk to an employee who knows the inventory. Get an idea of what is out there.  Not all beer is fizzy piss.
 

Okohme

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Welcome to the forum and to brewing.  I would suggest you get John Palmer's book, "How To Brew" and read it through before making your first beer.  Kit beers come with very rudimentary instructions.  By reading through How to Brew, you'll avoid pitfalls and have a lot of your questions answered up front.

Thank you, will do.


I also have a feeling you'll begin to develop a taste for beer.

Perhaps.  We shall see. 

When you do have a beer, do you usually have the "mass produced" beers from Budweiser, Coors, Miller, etc.?  If that is what you're used to, you will probably find out that there is an entire world of flavors out there that you're aren't used to.

If you already drink the occasional craft or microbrewed beer, then you are already aware that there is a world of flavors to explore.  For example, I make a beer using tootsie rolls that has a mellow chocolatey bourbon character to it that my friends love.

I've had nicer beers, I am not sure if I have ever had a microbrew.




Lots of things. Homebrew doesn't transport well, bottle conditioned beer required decanting, and if you don't like what you're making it makes it difficult to tell if it's any good.

I planned to use my husband as a guinea pig.



I think my main question at this point is if you do bottle conditioning, how do you taste along the way without having to doa whole bottle at a time.  Do you use tiny little jars or something, so sample along the way?
 

Scott Ickes

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Okohme said:
I think my main question at this point is if you do bottle conditioning, how do you taste along the way without having to doa whole bottle at a time.  Do you use tiny little jars or something, so sample along the way?

Either have patience or drink the whole bottle.  I keep 2 different sizes of bottles.  22 ounce bottles (bombers) and the standard 12 ounce bottles.

It's difficult to have patience when you're curious how it turned out.  I've learned that the secret to having patience is having enough batches in the pipeline, that you always have something new to try a few times before the next batch is ready.

I just bottled a batch of pumpkin ale and I won't be touching it for at least 3 weeks.  At that time, I'll open one bottle and try it.  Then, I'll probably wait another two weeks before opening a second one.

As you can see at the bottom of my posts, I have plenty of other beer to keep me occupied until the pumpkin ale is ready.  I'm also planning on brewing up a batch of Porter this coming weekend and then a batch of Gingerbread Lager a week or two after that.

I usually put up 6 bottles of every batch in the 22 ounce bombers for tastings at the brew club and to share with friends in cognac glasses.  The rest go into the 12 ounce bottles.
 

Okohme

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If you already drink the occasional craft or microbrewed beer, then you are already aware that there is a world of flavors to explore.  For example, I make a beer using tootsie rolls that has a mellow chocolatey bourbon character to it that my friends love. 

Wow, I bet my husband would LOVE that.  I might have to try and make a tootsieroll beer once I get some more experience and have at least SOME idea of what I am doing.


Lots of things. Homebrew doesn't transport well, bottle conditioned beer required decanting, and if you don't like what you're making it makes it difficult to tell if it's any good. 


I guess I will have to read up on decanting, too.


Either have patience or drink the whole bottle.  I keep 2 different sizes of bottles.  22 ounce bottles (bombers) and the standard 12 ounce bottles.

It's difficult to have patience when you're curious how it turned out.  I've learned that the secret to having patience is having enough batches in the pipeline, that you always have something new to try a few times before the next batch is ready.

I just bottled a batch of pumpkin ale and I won't be touching it for at least 3 weeks.  At that time, I'll open one bottle and try it.  Then, I'll probably wait another two weeks before opening a second one.

As you can see at the bottom of my posts, I have plenty of other beer to keep me occupied until the pumpkin ale is ready.  I'm also planning on brewing up a batch of Porter this coming weekend and then a batch of Gingerbread Lager a week or two after that.

I usually put up 6 bottles of every batch in the 22 ounce bombers for tastings at the brew club and to share with friends in cognac glasses.  The rest go into the 12 ounce bottles.


I guess I was thinking it'd be great if there was some way to conserve more of the beer for the end/finished stage.  I understand patience will be required, but I have read that some beers take their time to mature properly and if there were some way to have maybe a single bottle broken down into discrete samples to test along the way, then all but one bottle would remain of the final batch.  Perhaps I'm being a bit squirrely about it.
 

Maine Homebrewer

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I guess I will have to read up on decanting, too.

That's just a fancy way of saying that you gently pour the beer out of the bottle into a glass in one clean pour, leaving the last little bit behind.  Bottle conditioned beer has a bit of sediment in it from the brave yeasties that gave their lives to carbonate the beer in the bottle. It won't hurt you, but it's not that tasty either.

I haven't bottled in years. Instead I use soda kegs.  I prefer to clean one keg instead of fifty-odd bottles. 

Then when I want a beer I just go downstairs and pull a tap (I bet your husband could get used to that).  I keep a couple growlers on hand in case the beer needs to travel.
 

tom_hampton

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Maine Homebrewer said:
I haven't bottled in years. Instead I use soda kegs.  I prefer to clean one keg instead of fifty-odd bottles. 

Then when I want a beer I just go downstairs and pull a tap (I bet your husband could get used to that).  I keep a couple growlers on hand in case the beer needs to travel.

Ugh...bottling. 

50x of anything kills just thinking about.  Washing 50 bottles, Sanitizing 50 bottles, draining 50 bottles, filling 50 bottles, capping 50 bottles, wiping spillage off of 50 bottles.  Oh and the whole bottling bucket, priming sugar, waiting 2 weeks to condition thing.  So much work, so much chance of infection, spillage, etc.....Storing bottles from 5 batches of beer?  Where would I do that even?  Bottles take up so much room compared to a soda keg. 

As many have said: If I still had to bottle, I wouldn't be brewing. 

Compared with: rinse keg, sanitize keg, push sanitizer out with CO2, drain beer into keg from primary, turn up CO2 pressure and roll keg around to carb, drink beer 2 hours later.  Yeah....me like kegging.  However, I will admit that having as many as 8 full batches (40 gallons) ready to drink at any one time, can create its own issues: 

Pants don't fit, shirts are a little tight around the middle, I cant see my belt anymore, I have this strange bulge between my ribs and hips. 


 

Okohme

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That's just a fancy way of saying that you gently pour the beer out of the bottle into a glass in one clean pour, leaving the last little bit behind.  Bottle conditioned beer has a bit of sediment in it from the brave yeasties that gave their lives to carbonate the beer in the bottle. It won't hurt you, but it's not that tasty either.

Hahahaha, okay.

Then when I want a beer I just go downstairs and pull a tap (I bet your husband could get used to that).  I keep a couple growlers on hand in case the beer needs to travel.
Yes, I bet he could.  We have an unfinished basement so it's usually nice and cool.




Ugh...bottling.

50x of anything kills just thinking about.  Washing 50 bottles, Sanitizing 50 bottles, draining 50 bottles, filling 50 bottles, capping 50 bottles, wiping spillage off of 50 bottles.  Oh and the whole bottling bucket, priming sugar, waiting 2 weeks to condition thing.  So much work, so much chance of infection, spillage, etc.....Storing bottles from 5 batches of beer?  Where would I do that even?  Bottles take up so much room compared to a soda keg.

As many have said: If I still had to bottle, I wouldn't be brewing.

Compared with: rinse keg, sanitize keg, push sanitizer out with CO2, drain beer into keg from primary, turn up CO2 pressure and roll keg around to carb, drink beer 2 hours later.  Yeah....me like kegging.  However, I will admit that having as many as 8 full batches (40 gallons) ready to drink at any one time, can create its own issues:

Pants don't fit, shirts are a little tight around the middle, I cant see my belt anymore, I have this strange bulge between my ribs and hips. 


So if you put your beer into a soda keg, do you omit the yeast portion of the project?  I was under the impression that that was what accounted for the carbonation.  Does that change the flavor or texture or anything?

If I ended up doing soda kegs, would I be able to dispense beer into my little reusable bottles to take and share?
 

tom_hampton

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Okohme said:
So if you put your beer into a soda keg, do you omit the yeast portion of the project?  I was under the impression that that was what accounted for the carbonation.  Does that change the flavor or texture or anything?

No yeast is required for kegging.  You CAN still carb using priming sugar in the keg. But I've never tasted a difference so I stopped that several years ago, and just force carb (see below for my procedure). 

I connect the CO2 to the keg, and turn the pressure up to 30 psi.  Then I lay the keg on its side and gently roll the keg back and forth on the floor.  I usually do this with my foot.  I just stand near the keg with one foot on top of it.  then I just push my foot back and forth to roll the keg and gently slosh the beer.  The CO2 dissolves into the beer quickly.  You can hear it bubbling into the keg as you rock it back and forth.  When the bubbling starts to slow down, I know I'm pretty close.  If I'm in a hurry I'll keep rocking until the bubbles almost come to a stop.  Then I let the keg sit for an hour or two to settle (like an over shaken pop can).  At that point its ready to serve.

Okohme said:
If I ended up doing soda kegs, would I be able to dispense beer into my little reusable bottles to take and share?

Yes!  That is exactly what I do, and what Maine Homebrewer is stating above.  It is dead simple.  I use a party tap (aka cobra tap).  A 3/8" racking cane fits into the spout perfectly.  So, I took a racking cane and cut its length down to a few inches taller than my tallest bottle. 

1.  Insert the top of the racking cane into the mouth of the cobra tap. 
2.  The bottom goes into the bottle. 
3.  Drop the regulator pressure to 5 psi, and release all pressure from the keg (pull the pressure release valve).
4.  Open the cobra tap, and beer will flow VERY slowly.
5.  Increase the regulator psi until beer is flowing at a medium rate, but isn't foaming.
6.  Fill bottle until foam comes out the top, then close cobra tap.
7.  Remove racking cane from bottle, and cap.

I use swing-top (grolsch style) bottles.  I use the 1 liter size.  I like 1 liter because its a good compromise between individual servings, and wasting beer because only a partial was served.  I've served parties of 25 using this method.  In fact I just did this exact thing for New Years eve. 

I don't even bother with sanitation.  I'm only filling to transport and drink the same day.  At most the left overs (if there are any) will be drunk within a week.  That's not enough time for an infection to develop and create any off flavors. 

it is also possible to bottle straight from the bar taps.  There is a guy over on homebrew talk that sells (or used to sell) a machined insert with o-rings that would fit perfectly into a perlick style tap.  Then you could attach a length of vinyl or silicon tubing and fill straight from there.  I've never tried it, but the youtube videos looks like it works great. 





 

Okohme

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If I understand you correctly, you can use a force carb system to essentially have something "on tap."  That sounds fun!
Is that something that you could set up so that you could sort of test along the way for its conditioning, or maturation?
 

tom_hampton

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Yes, force carbing allows me to put something on tap within hours after its done and ready to be bottled.  Using priming surgar in any container takes 2 weeks or so for it to fully carbonate.

yes, you can test along the way.  Durettdd does that, as do many others.  In that case, you can simply put the keg onto CO2 pressure (something like 30 psi) and taste it over several days until it reaches your desired carbonation level.  Then you dial the psi back to serving pressure (around 15psi give or take). 

I usually use a cobra tap for these types of tastings over time...you do have to let the pressure off (turn off the gas, and release the excess psi from the keg) while you take a sample.  Then you can turn it back up.
 
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