Author Topic: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby  (Read 2203 times)

Offline dunkelben

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Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« on: July 18, 2011, 04:56:16 AM »
Hi all,

I'm new to the forum and didn't see any forum section indicating a "Beginners" area, so I thought I'd post here.  I'm considering starting homebrewing as a new hobby and before I spend the money thought I'd ask on here if you all think my idea is feasible. 

As you may have guessed from my user name, I'm a fan of dunkels.  I thought it might be fun to try brewing a batch, and over time tinkering with various recipes to come up with something different.  Is a dunkel something that is not too complicated for a beginner?  I've read through some of your posts and find a lot of what you say very confusion, and I'm hoping that by getting into the hobby and learning as I go that it will all begin to make sense.  But I'd hate to get into it and find that the couple hundred dollars I spend to get going was spent poorly in pursuit of my idea.

So far I purchased The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, with the plan to by a kit this coming weekend, depending on my research on the feasiblilty of doing dunkels.

Thanks all for any comments.

Offline jeffy

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2011, 05:14:31 AM »
As I'm sure you're aware, a Dunkel is a lager, which, when made correctly, is fermented and aged cold.  This style pretty much requires refrigeration to make.  Most people starting out and for that matter, most brewpubs find making ales less equipment reliant and faster to make.
You could make an ale similar in color, malt flavor and hop schedule to a Dunkel and use a clean ale yeast, but it wouldn't be exactly the same as commercial Dunkels, perhaps not as "clean" as what you're ultimately looking for. 
Once you have made a few batches of ales and are indelibly hooked on the hobby, you can obsess about buying or making new equipment.
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2011, 05:14:51 AM »
welcome.  no it is not too difficult. i started with a lager kit. since that first batch i have been all grain lagers.
read read read, practice read and practice

if you go to the main aha website there is a section on brewing 101. lots of down loads.  john palmer's book is online.  simple book to get the main ideas with lots of pictures is "basic homebrewing" edited by jim parker.

this is a fun hobby, rewarding, keep it simple and read and practice
Don AHA member

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2011, 07:00:08 AM »
Anything is possible.  Try a dunkel recipe with ale yeast - something like White Labs WLP001 or SafeAle S-05 - these are both clean fermenting (There is a Wyeast version too, but I don't know the number). Then, if you have a cool basement or garage, try it with a lager yeast during the fall/winter - or ferment inside with ale yeast and move it out to cold condition for a month.  Either way, I doubt you'll be wasting your money.
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Offline glastctbrew

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2011, 07:05:06 AM »
Anything is possible.  Try a dunkel recipe with ale yeast - something like White Labs WLP001 or SafeAle S-05 - these are both clean fermenting (There is a Wyeast version too, but I don't know the number). Then, if you have a cool basement or garage, try it with a lager yeast during the fall/winter - or ferment inside with ale yeast and move it out to cold condition for a month.  Either way, I doubt you'll be wasting your money.

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Offline richardt

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2011, 07:25:17 AM »
Given that you're new to this, you need to understand the old saying, "brewers make wort, yeast make beer."
Whatever yeast you use, you need to control fermentation temperatures as best as you can in order to allow the yeast to do their jobs well.  Yeast give off heat during fermentation, so the temps inside the fermentation vessel (called the "fermentor") is often 5 or more degrees F above ambient air temps.  What Jeffy means by a "clean" fermenation is that your chosen yeast strains are allowed to work at the desired temps and produce little or no additional flavors, such as esters (fruity flavors and aromas) or phenols (usually peppery, clove), or fusel alcohols (i.e., those other than ethanol).
Given that it is Summertime, it is doubtful that you have a fermentation area in your house that is at ideal temps (55F for lagers, 64F for most ales).  Fermenting in the 70's or higher is a bad idea, especially for a Dunkel.
Sub-terrain basements might work if temps get into the 50's down there.  Refrigerators are too cold unless you get a Ranco controller and hook your beer fridge up to that.

Offline dunkelben

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2011, 08:07:07 AM »
Thank you all for the replies. I have already visited the Homebrew 101 section and will certainly download the mentioned book.  I have a cold basement where I am planning to do the brewing, but it won't be cold enough. It's too bad a fridge is too cold, I don't mind spending additional money to get a proper refrigeration method, so I'll look into this Ranco controller that was mentioned.

Offline scooter2374

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2011, 09:24:12 AM »
Welcome aboard Dunkelben. This has quickly turned from a hobby into a passion for me so be wary, lol. In fact I recently downsized 3 other hobbies to concentrate solely on brewing. Good luck to you.
AHA member since '10

Online morticaixavier

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2011, 09:26:04 AM »
Thank you all for the replies. I have already visited the Homebrew 101 section and will certainly download the mentioned book.  I have a cold basement where I am planning to do the brewing, but it won't be cold enough. It's too bad a fridge is too cold, I don't mind spending additional money to get a proper refrigeration method, so I'll look into this Ranco controller that was mentioned.

If you want to be on the cheap pragmatic side, you can get a 10$ timer from the hardware store and fiddle till you figure out how often to run the fridge to get the temps you want.
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Offline tom

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2011, 09:37:50 AM »
Welcome Ben!

What parts are you from?  I have a Dunkel in the fridge right now.

Cheers,
Tom
Brew on

Offline oscarvan

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2011, 10:38:05 AM »
I started in October of 2010.....just brewed my 41st batch.

Get a kit.....like they said above use Ale yeast, whatever the kit recommends.

Do a few more kits.....and then...well in my case all hell broke loose....(see link below)

Read Papazian, Palmer, the AHA site, hang out here and join a brew club where you can find people to observe in the process....

It's easy to make very decent beer. To make perfect beer will take a lifetime..... :P
Wooden Shoe Brew Works (not a commercial operation) Bethlehem, PA
http://www.woodenshoemusic.com/WSBW/WSBW_All_grain_Setup.html
I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline dunkelben

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2011, 12:47:49 PM »
I'll certainly hang out here and try to learn more and more about the process.  I think I'll start easy with a batch or two that won't require refridgerting the fermentation process. In the meantime I'll figure out how to use a Ranco controller, and then hopefully start brewing dunkels.

And to answer a question, I'm from Columbus, Ohio; and plan too find a local club.

Thanks so much for the warm welcome.

Ben

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2011, 12:49:46 PM »
Are you going to make an extract beer?  If so, it may be difficult to get the right malt flavors.  Those rich flavors come from the base malt.  You can't take generic pale extract and add some steeping grains and get it to taste right.  You will probably have better luck if you can use Munich malt extract or something designed for that style.  Otherwise, you're likely making just a random brown ale.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2011, 01:59:30 PM »
A temperature-controlled fridge is certainly nice to have, but not necessary, even for lagers. A "swamp cooler" and some frozen water bottles will let you ferment at least 10°F below the ambient temperature.

http://seanterrill.com/2009/05/20/regulating-fermentation-temperatures/
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Considering Homebrewing as a new hobby
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2011, 02:33:52 PM »
A temperature-controlled fridge is certainly nice to have, but not necessary, even for lagers. A "swamp cooler" and some frozen water bottles will let you ferment at least 10°F below the ambient temperature.

http://seanterrill.com/2009/05/20/regulating-fermentation-temperatures/

And don't forget that the basement floor is typically cooler than the surrounding air.  You can set you fermenter on the the floor to help keep it cool and then move it to a higher location a couple of days before siphoning it another vessel.

Just remember, beer was brewed in caves long before refrigerators showed up, much less microbiology.  You'll be amazed how straight forward and simple it really is.

Paul
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