Author Topic: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting  (Read 2441 times)

Offline Becky19631

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What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« on: March 23, 2018, 09:39:00 PM »
Hello everyone!

I am new to the home brewing scene, and I am interested in learning what it is you wish you have known before starting. If I can learn from your experience, perhaps I can save myself some time, money, and energy. Can you share with me some of your struggles and how you over came them? Thank you very much for your input!

Best,

Becky

Offline BUZZSAW52

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2018, 09:46:19 PM »
Bigger is better. I started 3 years ago on borrowed equipment and now I am on my second kettle and second mash tun. I spent a lot of money dipping my toe in brewing. Go big or don’t go at all.


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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2018, 10:24:07 PM »
What I wish I knew when I got started is that there are many ways to end up with really decent beer. Id get frustrated by seemingly contradictory info. 

Equipment wise, if I lost all of my brewing equipment and had to start over, the first thing I would buy is two 14cf chest freezers, and two dual stage controllers. One for fermentation and one for kegs. Then I would gather my equipment backwards, starting with CO2 and kegs, and working backwards with the last items being a boil kettle and mash tun. That way I wouldn't be tempted to brew until I had everything I need.

Offline ethinson

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2018, 10:25:29 PM »
Bigger is better. I started 3 years ago on borrowed equipment and now I am on my second kettle and second mash tun. I spent a lot of money dipping my toe in brewing. Go big or don’t go at all.


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So I guess homebrewing is only for people with $100,000 to piss away.. yeah?
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Offline Hooper

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2018, 10:26:12 PM »
You don't have to go big...I brew 6 gallon batches on a 10 gallon pot and cooler...No pumps...I have got it down to the least amount of equipment possible...less to clean. The one thing that I wish I knew starting out is how much of the info out there is total BS. I'd go to Brulosophy and read each experiment. This will give you an idea of what you can get away with and still make good beer...
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Offline Wilbur

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2018, 12:06:56 AM »
You don't have to go big...I brew 6 gallon batches on a 10 gallon pot and cooler...No pumps...I have got it down to the least amount of equipment possible...less to clean. The one thing that I wish I knew starting out is how much of the info out there is total BS. I'd go to Brulosophy and read each experiment. This will give you an idea of what you can get away with and still make good beer...

I've got a 10 gallon pot, single vessel BIAB. I wish I didn't waste the $60 on a cooler and trying to do a whole 3 vessel deal. I'm fine with starting extract/steeping. I wish I didn't waste time and went to distilled+minerals for water. I wish I knew I was going to be brewing every other weekend before I got rid of 5 kegs last year.

Offline IPAnic

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2018, 12:45:58 AM »
I would wish I knew the importance of ph and starting with lower fermentation temperatures. I also wish I would've not used a secondary fermentor for 99% of my beers.

Offline evilgiraffe

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2018, 03:22:12 AM »
The post boil chill is VERY important. Do whatever it takes for you to get the wort down to pitching temp (preferably as quickly as you can). I made a lot of brews where I could get the wort down to about 72-75 and no further unless I was willing to do the ice-bath thing for a few hours. So I either pitched into the low-70s wort (which resulted in so-so beer) or sat there nervously while the carboy sat in ice for a few hours. I've since gone with a second immersion chiller that I put in ice and am now able to get the wort down into the low 60s fairly easily before I pitch. And the beer seems to be much better for it.

Online Bob357

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2018, 07:58:14 AM »
I wish I was aware of BIAB, if it existed when I started brewing. After following what used to be, "the normal progression", I ended up there. Currently working on being able to BIAB during the colder months.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2018, 11:45:28 AM »
Electric brewing.  I learned a lot going through the picnic cooler then the three vessel propane system, but now that I brew on electric brew in a basket with separate HERMS vessel for step mashing, I see how much Less time for cleanup is needed.

Next up will be trying the 20/20 process on some English Bitters and double mashing a barley wine.  Both are pretty solid steps to make things work more simply without further upgrade to my system.
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Offline BrewnWKopperKat

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2018, 11:54:56 AM »
Brew-in-a-bag plus simple water adjustments (Zymurgy magazine, Nov 2015, p 34) makes it reasonable for many people to brew their first batch as an 'all-grain' recipe.

Having a strong vocabulary of aroma and flavor descriptors makes evaluating and troubleshooting beer (and the brewing process) much easier.

Having good techniques for temperature control during the mash, wort chilling, fermentation, and bottle conditioning will make a difference in both the outcome and in enjoying the process.

Initially, homebrewing will be a noticeable time commitment.  When starting out, extract-based brew days are 2-3 hours,  brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) can add 1 - 2 hours.  Over time, you will find ways to shorten the brew day.

(late addition): if the volume of information available is overwhelming, consider starting to brew your first batch by ignoring everything else except this: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/how-to-brew/ .  After your 1st couple of batches, an AHA membership (many great recipes available to members), a single book (a number of great ones ones have been published recently) and this forum will give you access to numerous lifetimes of brewing information. 
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 12:15:03 PM by Brew'n w Kopper Kat »

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2018, 01:22:17 PM »
Rule number 1:  Be patient!  Relax!  Don't worry!  Give the beer TIME.  Don't fuss over it.  When the beer looks like it might be near end of fermentation, take a specific gravity reading.  Then wait 3 days.  Then measure again.  If the gravity reading doesn't change, it's ready!  If it does, then it's NOT ready!  Don't be in any hurry.  Yeast works at its own pace, and it might not be your preferred pace.  Be patient with it, above all else.

Brewing is as easy as you want it to be, and it can be as expensive or difficult as you want it to be.  But it can be whatever you want it to be, and you'll make great beer either way.

Don't use Liquid Malt Extracts (LME).  They are less fermentable and darken the beer, and oxidize fast.  Stick with dry extract (DME) and quickly jump to all-grain brewing as soon as you learn the ropes...

Brew In A Bag (BIAB) is the simplest method of all-grain brewing and costs almost nothing to start -- you need a big container and a big bag, and that's about it!

If using tap water (which is just fine), just be sure to get the chlorine out of your water.  To do that, add 1/2 crushed Campden tablet per 5 gallons prior to adding any other ingredients.  Then you're all set.

For extract beers, you really should use distilled or RO water.  Extract already contains all the minerals in the water that you need, so distilled or RO is best.

Read a book.  If you haven't read up on how to brew, maybe read How To Brew!  Or any starter book is fine really.

That's about it for advice for starting out.  All the other little details come as you gain experience.  You can easily make great beer on your very first try if you listen to your homebrew shop owner's advice, and my pointers above, and the folks here on this forum if you have any more questions.  You found the right place, that's for sure!  The AHA forum here is the finest on the whole internet, I swear it.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 01:23:56 PM by dmtaylor »
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Offline tommymorris

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What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2018, 02:53:38 PM »
I wish I would have skipped extract and started with BIAB. Of course, BIAB didn’t exist then.

PS. I now brew 3 gallon batches. I think you should size your batch based on what you can consume. My wife doesn’t drink and I don’t have friends over a lot to drink. So it’s mostly just me. I take growlers to parties a few times a year.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 02:55:58 PM by alestateyall »

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2018, 03:44:53 PM »
I now brew 3 gallon batches. I think you should size your batch based on what you can consume. My wife doesn’t drink and I don’t have friends over a lot to drink. So it’s mostly just me. I take growlers to parties a few times a year.

That is great advice as well.  I brew just 2 gallons per batch on average.  It's enough without being too much, for me and for how much I drink.
Dave

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Offline Robert

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Re: What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2018, 03:54:56 PM »
Just so you know there's another view (Well lots of them) I would never change from full size, conventional 3 vessel brewing (pots and cooler, stovetop, no pumps or racks.) Wish I'd gone all in on the right equipment up front. It actually can be easier, faster,  and easier to clean up, if you're not a super gadget geek. 

But I agree rapid cooling, learning water and pH, and controlling fermentation temperature are things I wish I'd grasped the importance of sooner.

  Welcome to the world of homebrewing, Becky!  There's a lot of diversity of opinions, goals, and paths here, but the best thing you'll have that didn't exist decades ago is access to information and support.  This forum is freaking awesome.  Good to have you aboard.

EDIT  Oh yeah, TAKE NOTES!!!
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 05:36:12 PM by Robert »
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