Author Topic: New brewer...very soon..I hope  (Read 10325 times)

Offline top_jimmy44

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New brewer...very soon..I hope
« on: October 26, 2013, 10:07:29 PM »
Hello all.  My name is Jim.  I am seriously considering becoming a home brewer.  I have been doing a lot of reading and I am learning more and more about the brewing process, how it is done using extracts and how it is done using all-grain.  I have seen a few articles where people mention using extracts first, as a new brewer and then moving on to more advanced brewing using all-grain. 

Did any of you start by brewing with all-grain? 

I guess one way to describe me is that I am frugal, or in other words, cheap.  I noticed that the extract kits at my local store were anywhere from $39-$65, which to me, isn't really much of a cost savings considering I can buy 2 cases of Lager for 44 dollars.  Yes, it is not my own home brewed beer, but still pricey. 

Yes, it would cost more to set up an all-grain brewing system, but if I were to buy 50lb bags of grain, wouldn't it be easier to get back in the black quicker? 

Any advice you all can provide would be greatly appreciated.  I just want to do this right and do it right the first time, without wasting money on something that I will later sit to the side and no longer use. 

Jim

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2013, 10:56:47 PM »
First off, welcome to the obsession.  Yes, it is an obsession!

My suggestion would be to get John Palmers book "How To Brew" first and read it.  Then read it again.  If you rely on the internet only, you'll learn the best ways and the not so good ways of doing things, but you might have difficulty knowing which are which.  Anybody can post a you tube video or create a website or blog.

Once you have a reallly good grasp of "How to Brew", then you can make an informed decision on extract brewing at first or jumping straight into all-grain.  If I were starting out now, and knowing what I know, I'd jump straight into all grain brewing.  But that is me, and you might want to do it differently.  I have a friend in Seattle that makes spectacular beer doing extract with grain steeping.  He has never mashed anything and I see no reason for him to change his ways.  I couldn't make beer nearly as good as his, until I started all grain brewing.

If you know that you'll eventually make the jump to all grain, then plan your equipment purchases ahead of time, so that you don't purchase stuff that will become obsolete.  A great example is a brew pot.  Purchase the largest brew pot you can afford (15 gallon minimum).  Don't settle for an 8 gallon, you'll regret it in the long run.

Good luck and ask questions here.  We look forward to helping others get into this.  In the long run, we all learn from the questions that new brewers ask.

Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline top_jimmy44

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2013, 11:07:51 PM »
Thanks for the tips Scott.  I found a website online for How to Brew and it appeared as if it was a partial version of a book.  Is that right?  Is the website just part of the How to Brew book?  I have heard that is a good book.  I will look at purchasing it as step one of this process.


Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2013, 11:42:39 PM »
I think it's the first edition of the book.  Later additions have even more information.  You're off to a good start!
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2013, 08:54:13 AM »
Reading is where to start. All-grain may look a bit intimidating on paper, but it's really no big deal. It adds more time than anything else. For example I could start an extract batch after work and be done before bed, while with all-grain I'll start before breakfast and won't be done until after lunch.

I started off with a five gallon pot for extract brews, and now it is my mash tun. I lent it to a friend of mine who put together some foam insulation around it. Works great.

But  yeah. If I was to do it again I would have started with all-grain. It's much cheaper and you have so much more control over the end product. By cheaper let me put it this way. Buying my base grains by the 55# sack and my hops by the pound enables me to brew a five gallon batch for under twenty dollars. Liquid yeast might take it a little over twenty, but I use dry.
 
That's half the cost of an extract kit.

I think a 15 gallon pot might be a bit excessive for a five gallon batch setup, but I wouldn't go under 9.

I started with the Papazian books (Complete Joy of Homebrewing and The Homebrewer's Companion). Some people say they're outdated, but I like them. They're entertaining while still being serious.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline Mtnmangh

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2013, 02:22:03 PM »
Definitely read, and study!  And I totally agree with the above.  Don't buy equipment twice.  Many of us have done it and wish we could have had resources like this one to help us from the beginning.  Take advantage of this forum.  Ask questions!  I've learned tons here and I've been brewing for years.  Some of these guys are wizards and take their hobby a little further than I do, but those guys have forgotten more than I know.  Tap in!
Drinking: Belgian Golden Strong ale
              Step Up Porter
              Oktoberfest
               Brown IPA

Primary:  Step up Porter

Secondary: nada

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2013, 04:27:56 PM »
And check the AHA site for local homebrew clubs.   Homebrewers love to show off their rig, and you can see various options and decide what you want. 

Our club has monthly brew sessions at a volunteer's house. 

Offline top_jimmy44

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2013, 05:11:56 PM »
I will definitely take advantage of the knowledge here.  That is what the Internet is for anyway, right?  I use another forum for the database work I do and that has been a great help. 

I only know of one person in my area that brews their own beer but it is my wife's ex husband and I really do not know the guy and would not spend time with him for obvious reasons.  I'll have to look around for some clubs, check the local store that sells brew equipment and see if they can suggest someone.

I would love to actually meet someone and be their "helper" for a batch or two, just to learn the ropes.

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2013, 06:02:06 PM »
Advertise that you're planning to take up the hobby.  You might find that you are already acquainted with a homebrewer or two, but don't know only because the subject has never come up.

When I started my current job I let it be known that I made my own beer.  In a eighteen person office, there were four people in addition to myself who had made at least one batch.  All were extract brewers. I took up all-grain first, and managed to inspire two of my workmates to do the same. One of them is the guy who built the insulated sleeve for the five gallon pot I use as a mash tun. I gave it to him when I upgraded my brew kettle, and when he gave it back it had this cool octagonal insulation thing on it.

Anyway, my point is that you may already know people who brew.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline SharpsRifle

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2013, 06:32:10 PM »
If you're getting into the hobby to save money, don't bother.
You will have lots invested and the cost savings are more than offset by the many hours you will have into each batch.
If the two cases for $44 beer is what you like, you are also not necessarily going to appreciate the difference in quality.

I'm not trying to discourage you but savings isn't a realistic reason to get into the hobby.
I've got $40 or more into many of my five gallon batches.
Between that, equipment costs, cleaners and sanitizers and my time, I would be better off buying quality beer at the store.   I would much rather drink my beer so that and the fun of the process and trying to perfect a recipe are why I do it
I like beer
It makes me a jolly good fellow
I like beer
it helps me unwind and some times it makes me feel mellow
I like beer
whiskeys too rough, champagne costs too much and vodka puts my mouth in gear

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2013, 09:14:22 PM »
If you're getting into the hobby to save money, don't bother.
You will have lots invested and the cost savings are more than offset by the many hours you will have into each batch.
If the two cases for $44 beer is what you like, you are also not necessarily going to appreciate the difference in quality.

I'm not trying to discourage you but savings isn't a realistic reason to get into the hobby.
I've got $40 or more into many of my five gallon batches.
Between that, equipment costs, cleaners and sanitizers and my time, I would be better off buying quality beer at the store.   I would much rather drink my beer so that and the fun of the process and trying to perfect a recipe are why I do it

As you get into this more and more, you'll also meet other homebrewers as others have stated.  You won't only be enjoying your own homebrew, but there homebrew as well.  SharpsRifle and I spent hours together on Saturday at my house talking homebrewing and drinking my homebrew (glad to see that you made the two hour drive home safely David).  He'll be coming back down in two weeks to brew at my house.  We'll be making 60 gallons of beer that day, between he, I and a bunch of our club members.  We'll also be sampling his homebrew and many others that day.

So, you see, you "will" meet others that share your passion!
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline SharpsRifle

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2013, 10:46:10 PM »

As you get into this more and more, you'll also meet other homebrewers as others have stated.  You won't only be enjoying your own homebrew, but there homebrew as well.  SharpsRifle and I spent hours together on Saturday at my house talking homebrewing and drinking my homebrew (glad to see that you made the two hour drive home safely David).  He'll be coming back down in two weeks to brew at my house.  We'll be making 60 gallons of beer that day, between he, I and a bunch of our club members.  We'll also be sampling his homebrew and many others that day.

So, you see, you "will" meet others that share your passion!

Scott's right.  Like with cars or most any other hobby, spending time with others who enjoy the same hobby is always a fun part of it.
I'm not sure how many beers we sampled, but there were three homebrewers as well as Scotts neighbors stopping by.  He even got someone who hasn't drank beer in 30 year sampling his homebrew!

Lots of fun.
Wish I could help with all the weighing out and packaging of hops and grains in preparation for the big day!

Homebrewing is a craft.  It can be fairly simple, or very complex depending on where you want to go with it. 
It can be as simple as following well established extract recipes, or it can be a complex process involving minute grain, hop and small temperature adjustments.
It can be a free flowing process of designing your own beers, or many guys try and be strict about the style guides so that their beer can compete. 
I like the free flowing recipe design.  Scott for example wants to have beer that fits nicely into a category so that he can have it judged.  He's got a half dozen ribbons for his effort.

If you want to make beer you can be proud of, are willing to make a few that you aren't happy with and want to maybe meet some new people, homebrewing is a great hobby.
If all you want to do is make cheaper Busch, it's not going to work out well.
I like beer
It makes me a jolly good fellow
I like beer
it helps me unwind and some times it makes me feel mellow
I like beer
whiskeys too rough, champagne costs too much and vodka puts my mouth in gear

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2013, 09:38:38 AM »
If you're getting into the hobby to save money, don't bother.


Ha!  That's the truth.   I don't think I can physically make enough beer to reach break-even.   And I bought a lot on the cheap.

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2013, 03:12:45 PM »
On saving money.

I can make two and a half cases of good tasting pilsener for around twenty bucks (all-grain, buying base malt and hops in bulk, keeping the recipe simple). Ignoring labor I probably save thirty bucks per batch? 

Not counting the equipment I use for kegging, it might take as many as fifteen batches to recoup what I've spent on brewpot, burner, fermentation vessels, tubing, cleaners, etc.  I might make a half dozen batches in a year.

Saving money isn't the point. The point is that it's fun (except for bottling, that sucks, kegs rock). It's cool. You can hand someone a glass and say "I made this." You can make beer that you like, instead of waiting for someone to make it for you.

I can't think of a better way to spend a lazy Saturday or Sunday than making a batch of brew.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2013, 03:40:54 PM by Maine Homebrewer »
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: New brewer...very soon..I hope
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2013, 05:23:45 PM »

I can't think of a better way to spend a lazy Saturday or Sunday than making a batch of brew.

+1  Making with friends around, while they're also making a batch of beer, and sharing brews and stories is even better, but that's still the same thing.
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

 

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