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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: fatsoforgotso on September 01, 2010, 07:18:53 PM

Title: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: fatsoforgotso on September 01, 2010, 07:18:53 PM
I love good beer and I've been researching and looking into what it takes to make my own good beer since I'm too poor to continually afford microbrews and PBR is gets more disgusting everyday.  This has prompted some questions for you guys.  I'm looking at a basic 80 dollar starter kit with a fermentation bucket and bottling bucket.  For a first time brewer, is it worth it to pick up a carboy for secondary fermentation?  

My second question is as far as the actual beer, should I stick with premade kits for my first couple brews or would it be just as safe to use recipes I've found online or in zymurgy.

Lastly, I want to try an IPA first.  After that I want to do a fruit flavored wheat beer (I have a keg of a local breweries blueberry wheat beer in my kegerator and its fantastic, especially during these hot summer days)  How would I go about adding that flavor?  Actual fruit? Juice?

Thanks in advance guys

Also any other general advice would be awesome.

Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: weithman5 on September 01, 2010, 07:28:08 PM
there is really nothing wrong with using the basic buckets/bottling buckets.  i would not worry about jumping to a carboy.  spend money on things for keeping the fermentation cool enough (depending on your environment)  make sure you are comfortable with the process but when you want to try fruit there seem to be as many ways as their are brewers.  few issues of zymurgy ago was basically devoted to the topic.
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: majorvices on September 01, 2010, 07:31:04 PM
Welcome to the forum!

The 80 dollar kit is a good start. You really don't need a secondary for many beers, though you may for a fruit beer as brewers usually put fruit in after the fermentation has finished and they usually do this in a secondary. I would recommedn the Oregon Puree for your first venture into fruit beers. Depending on the fruit 1-2 lbs of fruit per gallon of beer.

As far as if you should use a premade kit or not, there are several very good kits out there. Also a lot of bad ones. Its hard to say exactly, but I have seen the recipes for the www.morebeer.com kits and the www.northernbrewer.com kits and they are well designed reciped for the most part.

Also, I recommend picking up a good homebrewing book as soon as you can - check out John Palmer's "How to Brew (http://www.howtobrew.com)" - the website version is free but the actual book is on its third edition and worth the purchase price.
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: svejk on September 01, 2010, 07:37:09 PM
First of all, welcome to this obsession.  Unfortunately in my case, I'm pretty sure my homebrewing hasn't saved me any money.  I suppose there are times when I reuse yeast and brew a low gravity, lightly hopped beer that it can be cheap, but there is an awful lot of equipment to be amortized to get the cost below what I can buy beer for.  That said, for the most part, I prefer my own beer to a good percentage of the commercial stuff.

For a beginning homebrewer, I think you are okay skipping a carboy and skipping using a secondary vessel at all.  There are a whole lot of homebrewers who only use secondaries in specialized circumstances.  That said, keep an eye on craigslist to see if you can track down some inexpensive equipment in your area.  I got my first kegging system for a hundred bucks at a garage sale.

I don't have very much experience with kits, but I think you should be fine choosing a reasonably simple sounding recipe that you find elsewhere.  My first time brewing was at a U-Brew place and the beer was an IPA.  It was great and I was hooked.  If you have a particular IPA that is your favorite, I would encourage you to find a clone recipe for it.  For me, IPAs are all about adding lots of hops very late in the boil.  Hmmm, now that I think about it, you might consider getting a second fermenting bucket so you can do a secondary with dry hops.  I suppose you could dry hop in the primary fermenter after it is finished, but I've never tried that myself.

I don't have very much experience with fruit beers, so I'll have to leave that part of your question to other homebrewers.

One other last piece of advice is that I would encourage you to see if there is a homebrew club in your area.  I brewed for about 8 years before I joined a club and I'm sure I learned more from the first couple years in that group than I did in all the previous years combined.
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: Hokerer on September 01, 2010, 08:03:36 PM
there is really nothing wrong with using the basic buckets/bottling buckets.  i would not worry about jumping to a carboy.  spend money on things for keeping the fermentation cool enough (depending on your environment)

+ about a bazillion.  Figure out before you start just how you're going to keep your fermentation under control.  That's probably the single most important first step to better beer.
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: weazletoe on September 01, 2010, 08:27:49 PM
Welcome to the board, and hopefully to brewing. Like everyone else has said, the 80$ kit will start you just fine. That's what I started with, and I'm sure many other s here as well have, and are currently still using it. You only need the basic stuff that  comes with it to make great beer. The reason the rest of us have so much other crap, is because, well, it's just cool!  ::)  I got the basic kit, and a cheap 2.5 gal pot from the dollar store, and made some really good beer with it.
  For right now, just stick to brewing what comes in the kits. Once you get a feel for everything, you can play with recipes, but it's best to first start with tried recipes, that way if something goes wrong, you know it your process, and cannot blame a bad recipe.
 As far as your wheat goes, just brew a wheat kit, probably the simplest beer you will ever brew, and at bottling / kegging add some blueberry extract. That's how I make mine, although it's AG.
  Have fun, and be prepared, your life is about to change!!  ;D
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: denny on September 01, 2010, 08:47:17 PM
Welcome to the board and a great hobby!  Here's some info from our hosts about how to get started...

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/lets-brew
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: bluesman on September 01, 2010, 09:07:28 PM
Welcome to the AHA Forum and this great hobby.  Keeping it simple is the best policy for a beginner.  I would highly recommend doing some research and reading to gain a decent understanding of the brewing process so you can start off making good beer.

As was mentioned a great book "How to Brew" by John Palmer is your best bet.

Feel free to continue asking as many questions as you want.

Good Luck!

Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: fatsoforgotso on September 01, 2010, 09:41:28 PM
Cool thanks for the replies doods.

Someone mentioned spend money on keeping cool while fermenting, my apartment's air conditioning has been on the fritz for awhile now.  It's constantly on but doesn't really do anything at all.  As a result my place can be anywhere from 77 to 81 degrees during the afternoon.  How much will that damage the fermentation process and are there any simple ways of keeping it down?

10/4 on the carboy, I'll wait on that.  I do however have a couple quick general questions that I'm just curious about.  Someone mentioned for IPAs, add a lot of hops late in the boil.  I'm assuming that brings out their bitterness/flavors more? What effect does dry hopping have on the beer in the respect?

From what I've read about the chemistry of brewing beer, you'll get more alcohol if you have more sugar in the beer.  I can't imagine adding straight sugar would make it taste good so does that mean more malt?  And if you add more malt for a higher abv, do you need to adjust the hops accordingly?  

I wouldn't mind doing a couple brews similar to Ska's Modus Hoperandi or Boulder Beer's Mojo, those are probably my favorite beers. If any one can chime in with one of those recipes that'd be awesome.

Cheers

Oh and I realize this is a dumb question but when looking at recipes, I can't tell how much water they require.  Is it just how many gallons the recipe is for?

Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: rabid_dingo on September 01, 2010, 09:44:26 PM
So it begins! Prepare yourself for what is probably the most fun hobby out there. Welcome
to the board. Ask questions. If you can find a local homebrewclub or homebrewer try and
get together with them to see the process. It's probably better to be walked through it
before your try it yourself. When you do, invite them over to guide you a bit..
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: denny on September 01, 2010, 09:49:40 PM
Cool thanks for the replies doods.

Someone mentioned spend money on keeping cool while fermenting, my apartment's air conditioning has been on the fritz for awhile now.  It's constantly on but doesn't really do anything at all.  As a result my place can be anywhere from 77 to 81 degrees during the afternoon.  How much will that damage the fermentation process and are there any simple ways of keeping it down?

You really don't want to ferment at those temps, especially considering that the fermentation itself can raise the temp by as much as 10F.  I put my fermenter into a large plastic tub of water and add ice packs to it to keep the temps down.  I like to shoot for the 62-65F area for the beer itself.

10/4 on the carboy, I'll wait on that.  I do however have a couple quick general questions that I'm just curious about.  Someone mentioned for IPAs, add a lot of hops late in the boil.  I'm assuming that brings out their bitterness/flavors more? What effect does dry hopping have on the beer in the respect?

In general, ther eralier you ad hops (like at the beginning of the boil) the more bitterness you get from them and the later you add them the more aroma and flavor you get.  IMO, dry hopping is the best way to get a nice hop aroma in an IPA.

From what I've read about the chemistry of brewing beer, you'll get more alcohol if you have more sugar in the beer.  I can't imagine adding straight sugar would make it taste good so does that mean more malt?  And if you add more malt for a higher abv, do you need to adjust the hops accordingly? 

Yes to both your last 2 questions!  More malt will increase the ABV and more hops when you add more malt will retain the balance.  Adding sugar, though, is not necessarily a bad thing if you don't overdo.  You'll likely start off brewing with extract and subbing some of the extract for sugar can help you reduce the final gravity of the beer and increase the crisp mouthfeel.
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: fatsoforgotso on September 01, 2010, 09:57:13 PM
Yes to both your last 2 questions!  More malt will increase the ABV and more hops when you add more malt will retain the balance.  Adding sugar, though, is not necessarily a bad thing if you don't overdo.  You'll likely start off brewing with extract and subbing some of the extract for sugar can help you reduce the final gravity of the beer and increase the crisp mouthfeel.

How much sugar are we talking? Like a pinch a bottle or a cup or two during fermentation? Sorry for one question after another, I'm just extremely curious.
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: majorvices on September 01, 2010, 10:05:53 PM
Pick up a copy of Palmer's Book (www.howtobrew.com) - it will answer you formulation questions and more. As far as how much sugar - a pinch won;t do anything. Usually a half pound, a pound - it just depends on a lot of things. We usually factor sugar in as a percentage of the total fermentables. If you add, say, 5% of sugar to your total fermentables it will raise your starting gravity by a certain amount (depends on your ingredients, OG, Volume, etc). If you substitute 5% of sugar for your malt the starting gravity will be the same but the recipe will have more alcohol and the beer will taste dryer.
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: denny on September 02, 2010, 03:42:22 PM
How much sugar are we talking? Like a pinch a bottle or a cup or two during fermentation? Sorry for one question after another, I'm just extremely curious.

Up to 20% if your total fermentables from sugar will be OK.  Probably the best way to start experimenting is to replace .5-1 lb. of extract with the same amount of sugar.
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: weithman5 on September 02, 2010, 04:05:44 PM
don't get too ahead of yourself. read. read. read.
to keep cool ferments in your conditions there is a good thread recently that shows (pictures) how to build a swamp cooler. basically put the fermenting bucket in a tub with water and ice as needed to keep temp down.  some people cover with t shirts towels etc.

as far as how much water. it depends.your first batch or two may be extract. how much water you end up will affect the specific gravity and thus the alcohol percentage.  i wouldn't fret missing the mark on this too much the first time you will still make a good beer if you are clean, and cool.
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: gordonstrong on September 02, 2010, 05:16:20 PM
Honestly, I'd take a little time to do some more reading while you wait for temperatures to cool down into the 60s.  You have enough to worry about the first time you make beer; no sense adding fermentation temperature control onto that pile.

Join a club, go see other people brew, talk to people, read some books. Figure out what you want to do, get the equipment, get ready to go.  Then when the weather breaks, go for it.

IPA is a pretty easy style, so you don't need a kit. Most of it will be pale extract anyway. Just pay attention to whatever recipe you use to see if they did a full boil or not. If you do a concentrated boil, know that it won't be as bitter as you'd expect.

Feel free to ask away, but do some reading first. There are a lot of different ways to brew, so you'll likely get a lot of different advice. Don't worry about that too much. Most of what you learn now you will change if you advance to more complicated brewing later.
Title: Re: Looking to get into homebrewing
Post by: smitty on September 06, 2010, 12:28:53 AM
Welcome the fold.  I would invest in a carboy for secondary.  It probaby saved my first couple of batches, and if they had not been good I might have given up. 

Also I would keep it simple to start out with.  I am just starting to move beyond kits, because they allow you to feel like you are involved in the process, without you having to get to crazy knowledgeable right off the bat.  Brewers best has some good stuff:
http://www.brewersbestkits.com/

Supplement this with a good book perhaps:
 http://www.amazon.com/Brewmasters-Bible-Gold-Standard-Brewers/dp/0060952164/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1283732769&sr=1-2

Good Luck!