Thinking of home brewing

SuperDave wrote:
I just carefully tilt and carry it like it was my big five-gallon slippery child. You don't drop your child.

And if you did, unlike dropping a carboy, it probably wouldn't cause you to bleed to death.

Paleocon wrote:
SuperDave wrote:
I just carefully tilt and carry it like it was my big five-gallon slippery child. You don't drop your child.

And if you did, unlike dropping a carboy, it probably wouldn't cause you to bleed to death.


Plus, everything I've heard indicates that a 40-ish pound child is much more resilient than a full carboy.

PBW is magic for cleaning carboys. That and the 90 deg angle brush is all you need.

My husband uses buckets and hasn't had a problem with oxidation. He's Mr. Science, and told me that there's a level of CO2 (which the yeast puts off as it consumes the sugars) that covers the wort. It's heavier than oxygen, so no problem during primary fermentation. He doesn't do a secondary fermentation unless he's adding fruit, dry-hopping, or conditioning a high gravity beer (which he makes for me! like the awesome Russian imperial stout which conditioned 3 months prior to bottling, then 3 months in bottle. as good as Old Rasputin, IMO). He made his own mash tun for $25 in parts plus the cost of the cooler and it works very well. He does use carboys sometimes, but in his opinion it's not essential equipment. I'm no expert, but he does make excellent beer. I'll try to get him on GWJ, or you might go to Home Brew Talk and join their forums. That's where he's gotten a lot of great advice and information.

BTW, I also love the look of carboys much more than fermenting buckets.

I have been looking at the cost of mash tuns and it looks like I can probably put one together for pretty cheap. I was over at Home Despot last night and priced out the parts kit and cooler (the nice stand up 10 gallon Igloo beverage cooler) and the total price tag came out to about $65 (less than half what I would pay at a brew store). I'm fairly handy so I don't think it would be a huge ordeal putting it together.

I think I would probably like a little help getting the first batch going though just so I know I did it right. It looks like regulating the mash temperature and timing is the tough part.

Transferred my first brew to the secondary fermenter last night. The sediment at the bottom looked like pond scum, but smelled really really good. Gravity readings indicated that I was on the right path. Two more weeks and time to bottle.

Paleocon wrote:
I have been looking at the cost of mash tuns and it looks like I can probably put one together for pretty cheap. I was over at Home Despot last night and priced out the parts kit and cooler (the nice stand up 10 gallon Igloo beverage cooler) and the total price tag came out to about $65 (less than half what I would pay at a brew store). I'm fairly handy so I don't think it would be a huge ordeal putting it together.

I think I would probably like a little help getting the first batch going though just so I know I did it right. It looks like regulating the mash temperature and timing is the tough part.

Me and my brewing buddy just run an Igloo cooler with a manifold set up at the bottom tied to the drain hole. A handy tip, don't solder the pipes in the manifold just dry-fit and go with it. Much easier to clean that way.

Also, if you have an iPhone, the Sparge Pal app is your friend.

bennard wrote:
Paleocon wrote:
I have been looking at the cost of mash tuns and it looks like I can probably put one together for pretty cheap. I was over at Home Despot last night and priced out the parts kit and cooler (the nice stand up 10 gallon Igloo beverage cooler) and the total price tag came out to about $65 (less than half what I would pay at a brew store). I'm fairly handy so I don't think it would be a huge ordeal putting it together.

I think I would probably like a little help getting the first batch going though just so I know I did it right. It looks like regulating the mash temperature and timing is the tough part.

Me and my brewing buddy just run an Igloo cooler with a manifold set up at the bottom tied to the drain hole. A handy tip, don't solder the pipes in the manifold just dry-fit and go with it. Much easier to clean that way.

Also, if you have an iPhone, the Sparge Pal app is your friend.

The part I find most intimidating is getting a consistent sugar load out of each sparge. That and maintaining the proper liquid temp for the sparge.

Have I sung the praises of Better Bottles yet in this thread? Because they're pretty awesome.

I can't imagine bothering with my Carboy. I bought one, used it a few times, and then said "f*ck it" and just bought a few more plastic buckets. I'm on about my 20th batch in them, and have had no issues, and the beer is phenomenal. Dry hopping in a carboy is a god damned nightmare.

After listening to a lot of Basic Brewing Radio (best brewing podcast by far) and the comparison tests they always do on different techniques, I'm a single stage, plastic barrel guy unless I'm trying to do something very particular (like age a mead, which I will do in Glass, or clarify a lighter bear, in which case I'll rack).

Is there any reason not to use the plastic 6.5 gallon buckets my friend who owns a Chinese restaurant routinely throws away? They come with the tofu he buys in bulk.

Lucky you. That would never have a curd to me.

Just kegged 11 gallons of Munich Helles. 5.5 gal got Kolsch Yeast, and the other 5.5 got Wyeast 2487 Hella Bock. Now to let them lager for a month or so.

Paleocon wrote:
Is there any reason not to use the plastic 6.5 gallon buckets my friend who owns a Chinese restaurant routinely throws away? They come with the tofu he buys in bulk.

The tofu in direct contact with the bucket? If so, sounds like food grade plastic to me. Just clean it up real nice and you're good to go I'd imagine.

LiquidMantis wrote:
Lucky you. That would never have a curd to me.

LupusUmbrus wrote:
Paleocon wrote:
Is there any reason not to use the plastic 6.5 gallon buckets my friend who owns a Chinese restaurant routinely throws away? They come with the tofu he buys in bulk.

The tofu in direct contact with the bucket? If so, sounds like food grade plastic to me. Just clean it up real nice and you're good to go I'd imagine.

You might also want to make sure it's not scratched up on the inside. I've been told scratches can hold bacteria that can mess up your beer. I have no idea what the process for transferring tofu from a bucket to someone's stomach is, so I'd just do a quick check.

Wembley wrote:
LupusUmbrus wrote:
Paleocon wrote:
Is there any reason not to use the plastic 6.5 gallon buckets my friend who owns a Chinese restaurant routinely throws away? They come with the tofu he buys in bulk.

The tofu in direct contact with the bucket? If so, sounds like food grade plastic to me. Just clean it up real nice and you're good to go I'd imagine.

You might also want to make sure it's not scratched up on the inside. I've been told scratches can hold bacteria that can mess up your beer. I have no idea what the process for transferring tofu from a bucket to someone's stomach is, so I'd just do a quick check.

The buckets look pretty pristine. The tofu is transported in liquid and there is nothing abrasive that comes in contact with the inside of the bucket. They don't reuse the buckets and I would imagine that if infection is a concern in beermaking, it is a concern in the storage of tofu as well.

I think you're in business. You can get tops predrilled with rubber grommets from midwest or northern for almost no money (or by from a LHBS if you have one, I don't).

Soak them in hot PBW or Oxyclean Free for 24 hours.

rabbit wrote:
I think you're in business. You can get tops predrilled with rubber grommets from midwest or northern for almost no money (or by from a LHBS if you have one, I don't).

Sort of figured. I can also get carboy bungs and drill appropriately sized holes in the current lids.

Okay, it looks like the whole all grain project is going to have to wait a bit because I underestimated the amount of equipment doing it properly would take.

The mash tun is easy enough to put together. The false bottom and the cooler are the only "pricey" parts (about $45 each). The ball valve and fittings will add another $20 or so. The total should come in right around $125 with tax.

Where I underestimated was in the need for a hot liquor tank and an appropriately high output burner for sparging. I figure I can get a 30 PSI Banjo Cooker for $100 and I can build a 15 gallon keg kettle with a ball valve and thermometer for about $130.

That puts the final pricetag at about $355.

Ouch.

Paleocon wrote:
Okay, it looks like the whole all grain project is going to have to wait a bit because I underestimated the amount of equipment doing it properly would take.

The mash tun is easy enough to put together. The false bottom and the cooler are the only "pricey" parts (about $45 each). The ball valve and fittings will add another $20 or so. The total should come in right around $125 with tax.

Where I underestimated was in the need for a hot liquor tank and an appropriately high output burner for sparging. I figure I can get a 30 PSI Banjo Cooker for $100 and I can build a 15 gallon keg kettle with a ball valve and thermometer for about $130.

That puts the final pricetag at about $355.

Ouch.

We do our all-grain batches with a single pot and burner. I don't think you would need to get an extra setup, especially just starting out.

bennard wrote:
Paleocon wrote:
Okay, it looks like the whole all grain project is going to have to wait a bit because I underestimated the amount of equipment doing it properly would take.

The mash tun is easy enough to put together. The false bottom and the cooler are the only "pricey" parts (about $45 each). The ball valve and fittings will add another $20 or so. The total should come in right around $125 with tax.

Where I underestimated was in the need for a hot liquor tank and an appropriately high output burner for sparging. I figure I can get a 30 PSI Banjo Cooker for $100 and I can build a 15 gallon keg kettle with a ball valve and thermometer for about $130.

That puts the final pricetag at about $355.

Ouch.

We do our all-grain batches with a single pot and burner. I don't think you would need to get an extra setup, especially just starting out.

How do you sparge? Do you have a valved brewpot?

I just have the one kettle and burner setup for all grain, and yes my kettle has a ball valve. It makes the transfer to the fermenter easy, too.

Paleocon wrote:
Okay, it looks like the whole all grain project is going to have to wait a bit because I underestimated the amount of equipment doing it properly would take.

The mash tun is easy enough to put together. The false bottom and the cooler are the only "pricey" parts (about $45 each). The ball valve and fittings will add another $20 or so. The total should come in right around $125 with tax.

Where I underestimated was in the need for a hot liquor tank and an appropriately high output burner for sparging. I figure I can get a 30 PSI Banjo Cooker for $100 and I can build a 15 gallon keg kettle with a ball valve and thermometer for about $130.

That puts the final pricetag at about $355.

Ouch.

Why not check out how to do brew in a bag? My husband does 5 and sometimes 10 gallon brews in nice weather, and brew in a bag during the winter because it's much easier to do stovetop. Because it can do under 5 gallons easily it's also a nice way to try out recipes. And the cost is far cheaper than investing in a burner and kettle. My husband sews the bags himself or just uses paint strainer bags. Pm if you like and my husband will give more info. No difference in the finished product.

Get yourself a Turkey Fryer setup from Bass Pro for 30-50 bucks, burner and brew kettle. I've done over 50 batches with the same setup.
Buy a 20 dollar 48qt. coleman cooler for Walmart, and build yourself this: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/chea...

If you really want to get fancy, buy 25' of copper coil and make yourself a simple immersion chiller.

I would wager you can do this all for under 150 bucks. Don't overbuy stuff when you are just starting out. You need to learn the process, and then build a brewery around your OWN process.

My 2 cents.

I already have the immersion chiller. I bought that with my basic kit.

I talked with my buddy who does all kinds of all grain and he suggested the same cheap rubbermaid mash tun idea. He said that as long as I have a pot capable of heating 8 gallons of water, I should be okay using it as my hot liquor tank. He also suggested that I didn't need a spigot on it as long as I was careful. He suggested I just ladle the water in with a glass measuring cup or saucepan until it gets down to a level where I can easily just pour the contents into the tun.

He seemed to think I would need about 8 gallons for a 5 gallon batch because the grains would keep between .5-1.5 gallons, the tun itself would keep about .5 in the bottom, and evaporation loss would cover the rest.

It looks like I can probably get by on the cheap with just the tun at this point ($125).

My kit is fully assembled at this point. Think I might have to make a batch of all grain IPA this weekend.

It's late and reading six pages of this undoubtedly excellent thread is just not happening tonight. However, I am passionate about this subject so I'll take a risk and simply say...

The all powerful, all important, and singularly most critical component of all home brewing is not...

The grains you use...

The addition of specialty malts or extracts...

The kind of water used...

The hops selected...

The final temperature of your wort...

The variety of yeast...

Your preferred bottling and capping method...

No, the absolute most important, all critical, component of good home brewing is an obsessive attention to cleanliness. If the concept of "cross contamination" isn't in your vocabulary, you are unlikely to ever brew quality beer. Period.

ringsnort wrote:
It's late and reading six pages of this undoubtedly excellent thread is just not happening tonight. However, I am passionate about this subject so I'll take a risk and simply say...

The all powerful, all important, and singularly most critical component of all home brewing is not...

The grains you use...

The addition of specialty malts or extracts...

The kind of water used...

The hops selected...

The final temperature of your wort...

The variety of yeast...

Your preferred bottling and capping method...

No, the absolute most important, all critical, component of good home brewing is an obsessive attention to cleanliness. If the concept of "cross contamination" isn't in your vocabulary, you are unlikely to ever brew quality beer. Period.

My wife and brewing partner is a nurse practicioner and former surgical nurse. We know from cleanliness.

Paleocon wrote:

My wife and brewing partner is a nurse practicioner and former surgical nurse. We know from cleanliness.

Note that the "you" in my previous post was a general "you" meaning all of us, and not directed at anyone in particular.

That said, I have every confidence that Mr and Mrs Paleocon know how to brew good beer.