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Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Well, it seems like we got caught up in the whirling peas and pruned/goldmined. I'm still not done discussing homebrewing, though, and I don't think the rest of you are either.

The first thread got us through about a year and a half and 80 pages before the size became a problem for the forums software. The code was improved, and so was the thread, and the second thread lasted drat near three years and over 450 pages. It seems like we're accelerating to me, rather than running out of things to talk about. There was some rumbling a while ago the we ought to have a reboot, so those of you who were rumbling, you got your wish.

For those who might not have participated in the earlier threads, or who are just starting to get curious about homebrewing,this is the thread to talk about making your own beer at home. We get the occasional wine question, and the crowd so far has been helpful where it could be. There is occasional talk about beer in general, but I think most of the discussion of commercial beer goes on in the beer discussion thread.

As I did with HBT2, here are some FAQs, updated for your pleasure:

Q: How hard is homebrewing?

A: Not terribly. If you can read moderately complex recipes and convert them into tasty food, you can very likely brew. If you've ever done any cooking that took a while to yield results and had some finicky elements, you have all the experience you need. There's a crapload more information available to new brewers today than there was when I started, and we're here to help you if you want.


Q: Am I going to like homebrewing?

A: I and lots of others in this thread do. I've been brewing at this writing for over 18 years, and I only seem to be enjoying it more as time passes. However, it's not for everyone. We have had some people find they didn't care for it and stop brewing. There are much easier ways to get good beer, it has to be said, and no shortage of craft beer in the marketplace these days. Brewing takes time, space, and energy not everyone has. Not everyone enjoys the process. Not everyone has success (but as was recently pointed out in the last thread, some people react to adversity by trying harder - much, much harder). I do encourage you to try it if you have any interest at all - I find there is very little that is finer in the world than having a glass of beer you made yourself with a good friend.


Q: You said homebrew was good for sharing with friends, but I don't have any friends. Can I still brew?

A: Sure, you can brew all you want, and either drink it all yourself, alone, with the curtains drawn, or join a club (of which there are many across the US and around the world). I am a member of the Maltose Falcons, which is the club in the Los Angeles area, and I have had the pleasure of crashing a really excellent meeting of the Oregon Brew Crew in Portland. There is very likely a club in your area if you live in a city of any size at all.


Q: Am I going to get arrested for manufacturing alcohol? Is the ATF going to go all Branch Davidian on my rear end?

A: Probably not. In the US, nearly every state allows homebrewing these days. Even Utah has finally allowed it. It's technically illegal in Alabama, but largely unenforced. In Mississippi, home winemaking is legal, but making beer at home is still technically illegal. As of 5/10/2013, homebrewing is legal in all fifty states for the first time since Prohibition. There are doubtless smaller jurisdictions such as dry counties where you'll get in trouble. Check your local laws if you're not sure, because the sheriff won't be impressed if you tell him some guy from the Internet with numbers in his name told you it was okay.


Q: Big breweries must do all kinds of fancy poo poo to keep things safe, right? There's no way I can do this without killing someone, because alcohol is mysterious and makes people go blind when you make it at home.

A: Really, the process of brewing at home is pretty much exactly like any commercial brewery's process, just at a smaller scale. Oh, we don't pasteurize our beer or sterile filter it like the really giant guys, but that's not necessary to make great beer that's safe to drink (although someone from A-B InBev might disagree with me). We're using the same ingredients as the big boys and doing the same things with them. Of course drinking too much of any alcoholic beverage will give you a headache and can even kill you, but that's a problem of quantity and has nothing to do with the source of the beer.


Q: Ok, you sold me. Where can I get more information?

A: There are a number of very good books on the subject. For first-timers, How To Brew is an excellent resource. It's a free edition of one of the better books on the subject, and it has lots of great stuff in it. You could absolutely brew great beer with only that web page. I started brewing before the Web got big, so I started with a copy of The Complete Joy of Home Brewing. It's still a good book, but not everyone likes Charlie Papazian's very relaxed style.


Q: Brewing must need a whole bunch of really weird equipment that costs an arm and a leg, right?

A: Not really. There are a few things like a bottle capper that you just won't see outside a homebrew shop, but even the specialty stuff is pretty drat cheap. Starter kits can be had for under $100, and if you have a decent kitchen set up, that's all you need to get started apart from an ingredient kit, which will set you back another $20-50 in most cases. You definitely can spend more if you want to as you improve and expand your equipment and process. That same $100 investment can last you a long time, though, and expansion is entirely optional.


Q: How much beer do I get for that?

A: That setup, like most homebrewing setups, makes five-gallon batches, or about two cases of beer at a time. Not terrible for call it $40 of ingredients.


Q: So it's a little cheaper than buying beer at retail, right?

A: For starters, yes. If you decide to stay with the hobby and get into some advanced methods, you can buy a lot of ingredients in bulk and even grow some of them yourself to bring costs down - way down. One friend of mine makes his house pale ale for fifteen bucks a batch - and that's a ten-gallon batch. That's the equivalent of under four bucks a case for tasty beer.


Q: Can I brew beer like my favorite brand?

A: I don't think there's a single style of beer that is outside the reach of a really dedicated homebrewer. Some of the farther-out styles take some dedication, but the real meat of the craft beer scene is in ale styles like IPA, porter, stout, etc., and these styles are all easy to make at home. If you want the very palest lagers or some of the sour styles, you're probably going to want to get some batches under your belt before you dive in - but you can get there eventually if you're serious.


Q: Okay, I bought all the gear and made my first batch last night, but it hasn't started bubbling yet, and I am freaking out.

A: Relax. Everyone goes through this the first couple of times. It is almost certainly going to be just fine. This is the lag phase, during which the yeast are waking up and multiplying. This doesn't make visible activity in the fermenter, but it will. Give it a while - it can sometimes take up to three days for this to get moving. If, after three days, you still don't see any activity, then you can worry. Until then, have a beer and relax.


Q: poo poo, you were right - now it's going. But how long will it be before I have actual beer in my glass?

A: For most "normal" styles of beer, it's about right to figure on four weeks or so. The fermenting will be about two weeks, then you will bottle it. It will take another two weeks to get carbonated, and then it will be ready to drink.


Q: So now I have a batch or two under my belt and I definitely want to keep going. What should my next investments in equipment be?

A: From the perspective of consistency and control, a temperature-controlled fermenting area is a giant help. The best and easiest way to do this is to acquire a cheap fridge or freezer from a garage sale, Craigslist, etc., and get an external thermostat (available at any good homebrew shop) to control it. This will allow you to brew even in summer heat without having to keep your whole house at 65 degrees F. Alternatively, you can simply place your fermenter in a tub of water and wrap a towel around the fermenter with the edge in the water - this will provide some evaporative cooling. Put some soda bottles filled with ice in the tub and point a fan at the whole thing for extra cooling power.

Another investment that goes a long way toward a satisfying brewing experience is a propane-fired burner that you can use to brew outdoors. These make anywhere from 4 to 20 times as much heat as a crappy apartment stove, so it's much much easier to get things up to boiling in a reasonable period of time. This will also let you get a larger pot and do full-volume boils, which is the next baby step to all-grain brewing. We'll talk about that more later, though - it's just the beginning of the rabbit hole, and it's a long way down. Again, entry into the rabbit hole is completely optional, and you can stop anytime you want (suuuuure...).


Q: So I was at the homebrew shop, and there are, like, a jillion different kinds of yeast. Why so many kinds? What's the difference? Why not just make one yeast that can do everything?

A: The yeast you choose can have a surprisingly large impact on the beer you make. Different yeasts emphasize malt, or hops, or create their own complex of flavors. Belgian yeasts, for example, often create spicy, fruity kinds of flavors. English yeasts tend to build malt character. American strains tend to be cleaner-tasting, and let the hops shine through. You will want to choose a yeast that's appropriate for the style you are brewing so that you can get the flavors you want in your glass.

Frankly, there's a crapload of information out there, scattered all over the place. Fortunately, our own rage-saq has put together the YeastBot database, which has a tremendous amount of useful information in it. Don't worry about this too much when you are just starting out, as ingredient kits will come with a suitable yeast, but if you have to make a substitution, or if you want to change up the beer a bit, or if you just want to wade through row after row of really great information, that's a spectacular place to start.


Q: What's your rig like? What's your process?

A: That could take pages and pages to answer. Long story short, I do ten-gallon, all-grain batches. My three brewing vessels are converted half-barrel beer kegs. I brew on a stand I made myself out of angle iron and crappy welding. My ferments are done in plastic brew buckets in a fridge with a thermostat to keep the temperatures stable. I serve from Corny kegs (there's the edge of the rabbit hole again...) through Ventmatic faucets, mounted on the door of my other beer fridge. Most of my brews are ales, and mostly I do single infusion mashes.


Q: Holy hell, this is a big thread. Ain't no one got time to read all this!

A: True. But there's a lot of good info in it (and its predecessors), so it's a good idea to read it anyway. But the people in it are good about answering questions, so do ask. We can't really expect you to get through however many hundred pages it is right now before we let you get started - we'd rather have you ask questions and get started brewing sooner, so you can be happier with the whole thing.

Q: Ok, I've gone whole hog. I've got all the gear, including a kegging rig, and all my friends and neighbors come to me for beer. But now I'm in a jam because I need to get some beer carbonated fast for a barbecue. Help me out, brewing thread!

A: Josh Wow has you covered. HOW TO FORCE CARB YOUR BEER LIKE A TOTAL BALLER


TL,DR: Beer is good; stick with us and we will teach you how to take control of your beer-drinking destiny.

We now return you to the new thread. Welcome back, everyone!

Edit: fixed a couple typos, added a line or two.

Jo3sh fucked around with this message at Apr 9, 2015 around 04:11

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Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

One of the ways that gets advocated a lot is air conditioner air filters with hops flowers spread across them, stacked up and bungeed to the face of a box fan - lots of air movement but no additional applied heat. I think you could also use a clean window screen lying in a warm place as you are doing now. Again, the key is air circulation.

When they are "dry enough," they will weigh about 20% of their harvest weight, I think I remember reading. The will be papery but not too brittle, and a well-shaped cone will still feel springy between your fingers.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

mattdev posted:

Harvest time is the best time.

I'd be stuffing my pockets. I'd wear cargo pants just to have more pocket volume to stuff.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

James Bont posted:

I'm going to start to convert a cooler to a mash tun after I get paid this week. I do 3 gallon batches, so I'm thinking a 7 gallon would be fine for handling pretty much any all grain beer in that size batch, including barley wine and stouts and stuff. I think the most convenient way to go would be getting a cylindrical cooler, the drink dispensers or whatever, swapping out the spigot for a ball valve, and then using a false bottom. Would that pretty much be all I need to do?

Oh yeah, I also hate hydrometers and want to get a refractometer. Anybody know what I should look for in one/ where a good place to get one is?

I agree with Killer Robot that the cylindrical cooler is a great way to go. I am pretty sure that I have only seen them in 5 and 10 gallon sizes, but if you have something else already scoped out, run with it. Be sure the false bottom you have earmarked will fit before you get nuts.

The typical all-grain system uses three vessels: the mash/lauter tun, which you have planned there, a boiler, which you evidently already have, and a hot liquor tank, which is a place to store hot water used for sparging. The hot liquor tank can be a kettle you heat directly, or another cooler that you transfer hot water into after heating in your boiler.

One very common setup is to make a sort of waterfall out of all your vessels so that gravity will move your liquids around for you. This puts the hot liquor tank at the top, the mash/lauter tun below that, and the boiler at the bottom. Remember that the boiler does need to have some kind of elevation so that you can drain to your fermenter, though.



As to refractometers, there are a few good vendors on eBay and the like. You can also find them at any good homebrew retailer; you may pay more, but you'll probably get it faster, and may have less anxiety about dealing with potentially flaky people in far-off places.

A lot of them read in Brix only, which is okay but requires a conversion to specific gravity if you want to use the units you're used to. If you choose a Brix-only unit, you want one that reads up to 28 or 30 Brix to cover the full range homebrewers work in.

The one I have, and a lot of the ones being sold to homebrewers today, read on both Brix and specific gravity scales. I think this is the easiest way to go, as you don't have to keep a lookup chart or do arithmetic to relate your readings to recipes, etc.

One thing you will need to understand about refractometers is that they can't help you directly once the ferment has started. They are invaluable for catching gravity readings during the sparge, during the boil, and before pitching the yeast simply because you don't have to wait for 4-6 ounces of hot liquid to cool to 60 degrees F before you can get an accurate reading. Once the yeast start working, though, the alcohol present in the sample will throw everything off and the readings you will get will be wildly inaccurate. You can correct for this with more arithmetic, but only if you have a good gravity reading from before the ferment started.

It is for this reason I still keep my hydrometer around and prefer it for readings during and after the ferment. By then, obviously, the beer is not hot and doesn't need to cool, and I don't have to fiddle with things to get the output I am looking for. Plus, of course, drinking the sample afterward gives my insight into how things are coming along - licking the two drops off the refractometer slide is not nearly as useful.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Acceptableloss posted:

So I made the switch from extract to all grain relatively recently. I've brewed with others doing all grain before, and I've done several batches of all grain on my own. With the exception of batches in which I've used Beano to get complete coversion, I've had basically the same problem: My final gravity comes out low. In one case, very low.

Obviously I'm not getting very good conversion during the mash, which I can work on, but how do I measure conversion on brew day? Do I need to get a refractometer or are there other ways to do it?

To me "final gravity comes out low" means that the reading is smaller than you are expecting after the ferment. E.g., the OG was 1.060 and the recipe says the FG should be about 1.012-1.015, but the actual FG was 1.008 or something. This is a dryer beer than expected, but doesn't represent a conversion problem in the mash.

What I am now thinking you actually mean is that your Original Gravity (OG) is lower than expected. This is usually caused by some inefficiency in the mash.

Some things you can do about that:
* Mill your grain more finely. Tighten the gap of the mill you are using, or if it's a shop mill you can't / aren't allowed to adjust, get your own mill and adjust that.

* Watch your temperatures - make sure you are hitting what you are aiming for, and understand what it is you need.

* A big one for me was switching from a fly sparge, where I got channeling, to a batch sparge, which allowed me to stir the mash then rebuild my filter bed by additional recirculation.

* If using Beano helped your OG, then you may have a batch of malt with low diastatic power. Try switching brands for a batch or two and see if that helps. You might also try a longer saccharification rest.


As to measuring your gravity on brewday, yes, a refractometer is a very very easy way to measure this (see my post above).

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

MJP posted:

Just finished a batch of nut brown ale, and after I sealed up the lid of the brew bucket and pushed in the airlock, the little rubber bung around the hole of the airlock lid fell into the bucket and sank to the bottom.

I hate airlock grommets. They constantly fall in. I used a 1.25 inch holesaw to make holes in my lids, and I just use a #7 stopper for my airlock. It's never going to fall in, and the hole is large enough that I can put a thief or easy-siphon through it without having to pull the whole lid.

Acceptableloss posted:

I've been using a hydrometer and correcting for temperature. I was just wondering if there was another way to measure it other than a refractometer.

Not that I can think of - a refractometer is really your best bet for in-process gravity readings.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

crazyfish posted:

Would be great if it could be put in the OP.

The thing is, it would take a buttload of work to get all the recipes over here. Since the old thread is closed, the quote button doesn't work anymore, and those recipes would massively overwhelm what we have got here so far. I could paste in the link you just added, but eventually it will require archives, and page 1 is not a huge amount better than page 2.

This is why I kind of like using an online recipe formulator. I use Hopville, but there are probably other good ones. For anyone who cares, here's my online recipe book:
http://hopville.com/brewer/recipes/Jo3sh

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

clutchpuck posted:

This weekend will my first all-grain batch attempt - an oatmeal stout. I have a home-built mash/lauter tun made from a cooler, and I've been told that it may be a good idea until I get the hang of it, to expect lower mash efficiency, maybe somewhere close to 65%. Does this sound right?

That's pretty good advice. Keep good notes of your volume to fermenters and the gravity at that time so you can then compute what your actual efficiency was. This will give you a little better basis for making the computations for your next batch.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Yep, those are both brand new varieties (well, Simcoe's a little less new, but still very popular), and not available in giant quantities yet. But you're in luck, because all the hopyards in the Northern Hemisphere are harvesting now. Keep an eye out, you may find some soon.

Jo3sh fucked around with this message at Sep 21, 2011 around 01:27

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Yep, I was going to say, build a base to whatever gravity you want, add some crystal for sweetness and an ounce or two of roast barley, patent malt, or similar. Hit it moderately hard with American hop varieties. Ferment it with something like American Ale II.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Here's some thumbnail info about Rogue's Imperial red:

12 Ingredients:
Malts: Great Western Harrington, Klages, Hugh Baird Crystal, Black, Munich, Chocolate and rolled oats.
Hops: Willamette, Cascade and Chinook.
Yeast & Water: Rogue's Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.

19.4 PLATO
58 IBU
76 AA
47 Lovibond


So that right there gives you a pretty good idea of what to shoot for. I'm personally not crazy about the pacman strain, but a lot of people really do like it, and it gives Rogue's beers a character that might be missing otherwise.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

mintskoal posted:

Been thinking about trying out brewing for a long time and I'm ready to get started. One question: would I be better off getting the deluxe kit to start, or is the basic one just fine for now? The cost isn't really an issue, but if I'm going to have an easier time and will be better off in the future just getting better things right now, I'd rather do that.

Back to reading. Thanks!

That looks like a pretty good kit, and there's certainly nothing wrong with it. It looks like they are using Better Bottles for the fermenters, and they are pretty nice. I would recommend, though, that if you do use Better Bottles, you never use the brush they will ship you. A good soak in PBW will get all your gunk out just fine.

So add some PBW to your order if you go that way.

Me, I am still waiting for Santa to bring me BBs and I still ferment in buckets with good results.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

indigi posted:

Help Me With Head Retention

e: oh also if I measure out my strike water for Saturday tonight and keep it in a plastic Home Depot bucket, nothing horrible can happen, right?

A few comments I have seen various places seem to indicate a vigorous boil and good hot and cold breaks are important for good head retention - something to do with the structure of proteins and how they change in the boil. So if you use a mild boil in an attempt to avoid boilovers, you might do better to boil harder and find other ways of dealing with the boilover issue - Fermcap or skimming.

Also, no issue in measuring water ahead. I'm a trifle concerned about the orange Homer bucket, but even that I think is a pretty small risk.

Jo3sh fucked around with this message at Sep 23, 2011 around 14:33

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

James Bont posted:

Also, if anybody knows offhand what size false bottom I need for a 5 gallon cylinder coleman cooler that'd be great, otherwise though I'll just drag it along to the homebrew shop sunday and see which one fits best haha.

It's pretty small - I think it's like a 9" diameter. You'd probably be best off dragging along the cooler anyway.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

JohnnySmitch posted:

What's the best way to pumpkin it up a little? Is there any good way to flavor it during bottling, so I can maybe do have the batch plain, and half pumpkin?

Pumpkin itself doesn't really have a very distinct flavor, and I assume you're working from extract, so I suggest you leave actual pumpkin out of the beer for now. What you can do, though, is make a spice tincture by putting pumpkin pie type spices in some decent vodka for a few weeks, then add the tincture at bottling time to some or all of the batch.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

James Bont posted:

So I'm thinking since I haven't really done anything hoppy yet I'll do a pale ale, I'll probably use all marris otter. I'd like for it to have just a little richness to it though since it's not really spring/ summer any more, so a little more body/ sweetness is what I'm looking for I guess. What would be the best way to go about it, mash a little higher, maybe around 152 or something? Or throw in a little crystal? I'm using hopville and it seems like for my little 2.5-2.75 gallon batch 5 lbs of marris otter will do. Think I'll give the Thames Valley yeast a try, too.

Anyways I don't wanna use your usual amarillo/ cascade sorta american hoppiness, any more unique varieties? I don't really care about staying totally historically accurate to the pale ale style, I just want good beer and something a little different than the usual west coast hop profile.

You could do a whole bunch worse than to scale j3rkstore's ESB recipe a few posts up to your batch size. ESB is not a super-hoppy beer by current standards, so if you just can't stand the idea of brewing non-hoppy beer, just tweak the hops upward to hit something like 50-60 IBU. The English hop varieties j3rkstore is specifying have a very different character than the citrus/pine thing a lot of American hops do, so you can use those if you want, or you can sub in American cultivars of English types, such as Mt. Hood or Willamette.

If you just want to get totally away from the crowd, look into some of the hop varieties out of New Zealand and Japan (e.g., Riwaka and Sorachi Ace, respectively) - they are definitely a little different than most of what we see here. They may be hard to find, but if you see them, they might be worth a look.

Whatever you choose, I suggest a nice dose of dry hops to really punch the aroma. 0.5 to 1 ounce in a 2.5 gallon batch should be plenty - add them after the ferment subsides, then hold the beer at ferment temps for another 10 to 14 days before packaging.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

You can also add only a portion of your DME at the beginning of the boil - something like a third to a half - then add the rest toward the end. This will help your hop utilization for your bittering addition.

E: or what waffles said right above me.

Jo3sh fucked around with this message at Sep 24, 2011 around 22:20

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Bellagio Sampler posted:

What else do late extract additions do? Is there an advantage to boiling all the extract at once? Why am I boiling it at all? What if I only put hops in the boil and added all my extract at 5 mins?

Late extract additions will help your hop utilization in concentrated boils, and will also help your color remain pale. If you don't have any extract at all while you are boiling hops, you won't get the proper conversion of the alpha acids into iso-alpha acids.

Some older recipes using pre-hopped extract do in fact call for no boil. This is called "dump and stir" - dump it all in and stir it up. There is physical and chemical magic that goes on in the boil, though, that is useful. Not the least among the effects is sanitation, but there are also benefits in clarity and other areas.

The best bet for a concentrated boil seems to be to add enough extract to get to a moderate gravity, say 1.050 or so, for the bulk of the boil, then add the remainder at around 15 minutes from the end. As indigi points out, kill the heat when you are adding additional extract, as it will want to boil over.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Alarbus posted:

add your tincture a little at a time until it tastes right.

... and shoot low rather than high, is my advice. You can always add more later, even in the glass if you want, but you can't take it away if you add too much by mistake.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

hbf posted:

I am about to do my first brew in Seattle, where I just moved, when I realized the water here has a good amount of Chlorine in it just from the smell. Will just boiling the water once before everything force the chlorine to evaporate out? should I avoid it totally?

I treat my brewing water by dissolving a crushed Campden tab in it. Campden tablets are cheap and a single tab will treat up to 20 gallons of tap water treated with either chlorine or chloramine.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

TenjouUtena posted:

Does anyone have a good site to find extract recipes?

It kind of galls me to say it, but the Zainasheff/Palmer book Brewing Classic Styles does actually have some good recipes to use as bases to work from - just check the numbers before you commit to quantities. You might also look at Ray Daniels' Designing Great Beers to get some ideas of what goes into a good (or at least winning) recipe.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Paladine_PSoT posted:

Hello brewers!

I just got my first taste of this, and I love it. I got a Mr. Beer kit from my mother in law for my birthday, and I've been powering through that. I've got my 3rd batch fermenting (blackberry wheat) and my 2nd is carbonating. I'm really looking forward to having a LOT more fun with my new hobby.

Where should I go from here? I know this has to be the ultra newb kit, so I'm trying to plan this so it's afordable and I upgrade properly. I'm thinking I'll look at getting some proper carboys and associated gear and still use the malt extracts for a while? Making my own seems to be way too advanced for me right now.

I guess my question is, has anyone started here, and how did you move up?

From Mr. Beer, I'd suggest you start with a regular starter kit like those sold by any number of good homebrewing retailers. Northern Brewer gets called out a lot, but for a good reason - they have good stuff, especially in the area of ingredient kits for a poo poo-ton of beers. Other places have good stuff, too, so don't limit yourself unnecessarily.

Alternatively, if you're interested in staying with the Mr. Beer batch size (isn't it like 2.5 gallons?), you can scale recipes (most are for 5 gallons) to that size. I'm not sure what your process has been, but if you're not already, I'd strongly suggest going to a process that includes a boil (I think I remember that the basic Mr. Beer directions are pour everything in the fermenter and let it go). This will help you make better beer in the long run. You can either stay with the Mr. Beer fermenter or use a 3-gallon carboy like a Better Bottle.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

indigi posted:

$150? For that? Where do you live?

I sense a bidding war just among the denizens of this thread.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

indigi posted:

gently caress yeah. He could quadruple that price and you'd still save about 200 bucks off any comparable stand I've ever seen. There's no way I'd only pay $150 for it even if that's what he was asking for.

Agreed. Hypno, if you do decide to sell this stand, the bare minimum you should ask is not just to recoup costs on this one but to pay for the next one as well. I'm confident you'd have takers even at that - assuming any of us live close enough to you to make getting the thing at all reasonable.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

the42ndtourist posted:

I recently acquired one of these:
http://www.speidels-braumeister.de/...-20-litres.html

I think really high gravity (<9%) brews may not be possible without using a fair bit of sugar or extract, as there's definitely a limit to how much malt it can hold for the mash.

That was a comment I saw a couple of places, too. I think people have said that it's fine for ordinary-strength beers (morebeer says OG 1.057), but you would probably have to add fermentables to make big styles.

Jo3sh fucked around with this message at Sep 28, 2011 around 00:33

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Prefect Six posted:

Anyone have any comments on [wheaten porter]?

It's not going to be as deep brown/black as I usually think a porter should be. Chocolate wheat seems less dark to me than choc barley malt. It does look good, but I think you will get more like a brown wheat beer than a wheat porter.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Cointelprofessional posted:

For those of you that brew higher abv beers (7-9%), how long do you usually leave them in the fermenter(s) before kegging or bottling? Is it advisable to leave them in a few extra weeks to let them mellow?

It's an unusual beer for me that stays in the fermenter more than 2, maybe 3 weeks, and gets most of its mellowing in the keg. The IPA I just did was in longer, but that was because I was on vacation for two weeks and did not get to the dry hops until I returned, so it was in maybe four weeks all told. A Belgian quad was in for 5 weeks, I think, but the bulk of its mellowing has happened in the bottle.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

If that's what you want, of course. I don't think a brown wheat beer is a bad thing at all. You might look at a porter recipe you know you like and work from that, subbing in part wheat extract and wheat specialty grain. I like a porter to have a fair measure of chocolate malt, a bit of roast dark roast malt, and some medium or dark crystal in it. But don't brew to make me happy; you're the one who [has|gets] to drink it.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Yep, the gauge just reads low because it really can't deal with CO2 very well. At room temperature, CO2 liquifies at about 800PSI; when you chill the bottle (mine lives in the fridge also), the pressure at which the gas condenses drops even lower. On my gauge, it's well into the 'order gas' range.

So get used to where the needle is, because it will be there until there's no more liquid CO2 in the bottle. Once it starts to drop, though, you're drat close to out, so be sure to keep an eye on it, and know the business hours of the gas supplier near you.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

RiggenBlaque posted:

Every so often a deal pops up in the thread for a vacuum food sealer. Something like this came up a couple months ago for $35 or so, and everyone jumped on it instantly. A great purchase

I jumped on that, for one. I tend to buy pellets as opposed to whole leaf. Once I open the pound bag, I put them in a Foodsaver bag and vacuum pack them. I store them in the freezer.

Before I had the vacuum sealer, I had reasonable success with putting the pellets in plastic jars, also stored in the freezer.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

indigi posted:

Maybe underpitching a batch with a vial that's been in your warm cupboard for a few weeks with no nutrients or aeration and fermenting mid-70s could get you autolysis flavors after half a month, but under normal circumstances, not a chance.

I think that's what irritates me about the whole yeast discussion in homebrewing circles - it's all based (it seems to me) on really pessimistic assumptions, and then the pessimistic results are used as the basis of the One True Way to Brew.


Today's brew was a Dusseldorf Alt (sort of - I am pretty sure Citra is not to style for that beer). I was one point over my predicted gravity, which seems pretty good to me.

Jo3sh fucked around with this message at Oct 3, 2011 around 22:35

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

How much oak are you going to use? I used one ounce of medium+ toast cubes and four ounces of Jack Daniels in each five-gallon keg of an Imperial Stout and I did not think it was too much oak, even after months on the wood. I did not heat-treat my cubes - I just soaked them in the booze for a couple of weeks.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

That's a shitload of whiskey and oak, IMO. I'm pretty sure the guys at NB have tested it as written, but I used a lot less of both and had great results.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

tesilential posted:

I'd mash lower than 155-156* for a DIPA.

I agree. 156 is good for beers that would otherwise be too thin, like milds, but as your gravity rises, you need to keep things fermentable just so it won't be cloying. Especially for a DIPA, where you want a balance toward the hoppy end of things, the malt really just needs to get out of the way.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

rage-saq posted:

In reality you can scale a homebrew recipe up however big you want with the only adjustments being mash efficiency and kettle hop utilization.

Mash efficiency is easy, but since no one has any real idea what the actual IBU content of their homebrew is, how do you adjust for kettle hop utilization as volume scales? Or is that just a variable in the Tinseth (and other) formulae?

Regarding this:

http://www.tastybrew.com/forum/thread/95044 posted:

John Harris, Full Sail's brewer at their Portland Brewery, uses 35% as his utilization for a 20 BBL system for a 60 minute addition. 45% for a 90 minute addition. Over the years they have had IBUs checked by labs so this should be pretty close.

Does that mean that hop additions are reduced by 35 - 45% from the size we would expect from a linear scaling at a 20BBL batch size? That is, I am using 2 ounces of Citra at 60 minutes in 1/3 BBL as a homebrew batch. A linear scaling would imply that I would use 60 times as much, or 120 ounces in a 20 BBL batch, but if I were to go to Full Sail and try it, I would use 35% less, or 78 ounces?

Edit to add: A little Googling and reading shows the utilization varies from rig to rig and process to process. Basically, the brewer just has to have experience with the rig and derive his own utilization number.

Edit again: There's a little brewery near me that is run by some former homebrewers. Maybe on Sunday I will go over there and ask them about it.

Jo3sh fucked around with this message at Oct 6, 2011 around 16:07

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

silver97232 posted:

I mix up 5 gallons at time with distilled water then put it in a corny keg.

That's a frighteningly good idea, considering I have been rehabbing these kegs I have had lying around and now have extras...

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

tesilential posted:

Candy sugar is definitely a serious business, but it's one of the first things a desert chef learns to make.

What about chefs from the rainforest? I know sugar is hygroscopic - are you saying it's not worth trying in a humid climate?


vvv Spelling pedantry ITT!

Jo3sh fucked around with this message at Oct 7, 2011 around 15:23

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Morbid Florist posted:

No poo poo. I thought I'd read that I'd need more fresh but the amount could vary depending on form. Now to start figuring out what I'd want to use to substitute kent goldings for cascades...

If by "fresh" you mean just harvested, not dried, "wet," then yes, you'll need more than for dry hops. Lots more. 5x the weight is the rule of thumb, I think.

Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

Regarding making your own candi syrup or brown malt, together with growing your own hops, malting your own barley, or anything else where you make an ingredient you might otherwise buy:

If your goal is consistency, matching a commercial beer, or brewing on style, the commercial product is almost always the superior choice.

On the other hand, there's no reason to avoid trying new things if your goal is to make tasty beer that might not match any particular example. It's the spirit of homebrewing taken to another remove.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with either approach. Rage-saq buys his syrup because he likes the results and finds that he can't get the particular flavor he wants by making it himself. Testilential makes his own because he likes the results, and probably also enjoys the process of making the syrup and the cost savings.

So either way, brew what you like, how you like.

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Jo3sh
Oct 19, 2002

Like all girls I love unicorns!

One fairly safe and effective way to add fruit to beer is to use canned puree. I think the Oregon company makes the best-known product. It's just fruit, but it's broken up so you get the most out of it, and it's pasteurized so you don't have to worry about infections.

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