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  1.  (1517.1)
    Alright WhiteChapel. Does anyone here brew their own beer(s)? Do you have the urge/desire to create and brew your own beer?

    I've been looking into this and over the past couple days I've found a fairly priced kit (about $80) and have checked some books out of the library on the subject. One a simple "Made Easy" book, the other a nicely thorough text book.

    The "Made Easy" book brought me through the steps and what was needed easily enough and, for the most part, clearly enough. The text book feels just like your taking a class without the professor to give you assignments (or to make sure your even reading/comprehending the material).

    I'm going to let this idea sit inside for the weekend and see if I want to actually do it and order the materials on Monday.

    What do you have to say on the subject?
    •  
      CommentAuthorFauxhammer
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2008
     (1517.2)
    Seriously: If you can wash a pot, and you can boil water, you can make beer...good beer, too.

    Was one of the books "The Complete Joy Of Homebrewing" by Charlie Papazian? That's pretty much the bible; it's got everything you need.
    • CommentAuthorMDickey
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2008
     (1517.3)
    You know, I have 20 pounds of frozen strawberries in my freezer, pissing off my wife, if anyone has any good brewing recipes that involve that much strawberry, I will certainly listen.
  2.  (1517.4)
    @Zak_Kaveney - What do you mean by 'kit'? There's a lot of crap home brewing contraptions, like 'all-in-one' kegs, where you ferment, brew, and drink from without ever racking (transfer by siphoning) to another sterilized container so you leave most of the sediment behind.

    Also, any recipe or canned kit that calls for corn sugar.... forget the corn sugar and use a can of light malt, or mix two cans together to make one 5 gallon batch, otherwise the beer ends up with a very cidery taste.

    After brewing and bottling, leave the beer for at least 45 days before drinking. Most 'kits' will say two weeks, but homebrew actually ages because it still has active yeast in it. I have had some mighty fine 4 and five year old beers.


    @MDickey - Strawberry Rhubarb wine. Might be a little early for rhubarb, but it makes a damn tasty wine. I'll see if I can find my brewing wines book and recipes for it tomorrow.
  3.  (1517.5)
    The kit I'm looking at is this one: http://www.heartshomebrew.com/home_brew_beer.cgi?cart_id=2127064.15181*WF22h8&p_id=BKIT1&xm=on&ppinc=dave2full

    It seems to have everything I'd need for a good first batch of home brewed beer.

    And the book I grabbed is by John J. Palmer, "How to Brew."
  4.  (1517.6)
    @Zak_Kaveney

    That's not a bad kit, but I have a couple recommendations.

    Get a 5 gallon glass carboy for secondary fermentation.

    During primary fermentation, the 6.7. gal primary fermenting pail is good, as you can get a lot of foam happening that can be several inches thick as it ferments vigorously during the the initial fermentation.

    Once it slows down (5-7 days), you rack it to the 5 gallon carboy. You want as little air as possible in the top to prevent contamination and oxidation. With a 6.7 gallon secondary fermenting pail, you have almost 2 gallons of air sitting in the top.

    During initial fermentation, don't use the airlock - it can ferment fast enough and with enough pressure to blow the sterilized water out of the airlock, leaving your brew open to contamination.

    What we used to do was stick the siphon hose in the rubber stopper (what the airlock sticks into before you set it in the hole or carboy), and put the other end into a 2L plastic bottle so the end of the hose was resting on the bottom. Fill the 2L bottle halfway with water, and add a little sulphite or sterilizing agent to the water. This works as an airlock to prevent air or contaminants from getting back in, and the pressure will not blow the water out, keeping a constant seal. Once the main fermentation is done, you can use the airlock.

    And don't use corn sugar. Use a second can of malt extract.

    One thing to watch for with the bottle capper is be careful with long neck bottles. The capper grips the neck of the bottle, then forces the cap to seal around the mouth of the bottle. Long neck bottles are weakest in the neck area. I have 8 cases of the old-fashion stubbies where the glass is just as thick in the neck as it is everywhere else on the bottle.
    •  
      CommentAuthorFauxhammer
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2008
     (1517.7)
    You will learn to loathe bottling.
    • CommentAuthorjayverni
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2008 edited
     (1517.8)
    @Chris
    I had a friend in college that brewed his beer right into some kegs from a keg-e-rator. It was purchased from a frat, and did away with bottling altogether. Not sure of the logistics for that one, but my brother's answer was to drink lots of flip top Grolsch. The big bottles. Made the washing process a little more complicated, but definitely made the bottling a about twice as fast. AND less trips to the fridge.

    @Zak
    As far as kits, I would take Mark's advice above. And do invest in the Complete Joy. I think it was the reference or inspiration for all the other books. It was the only book my brother used. Also look around in your area. Most stores have some type of club for home brewers, and they sometimes have get togethers/tastings. You may find some pointers and support from your local home brewers.
  5.  (1517.9)
    Washing is easy.... I just just use the dishwasher, and add sterilizer.

    Bottling is a pain. No place to set up a 40+ year-old capper that bolts to solid surfaces.

    But the 30 minutes of bottling is made up for with 50+ bottles of good, inexpensive booze. Still can't find my recipe books unfortunately. And I have a hankering to make some Blackberry Cider for summer drinking.....
    •  
      CommentAuthorFauxhammer
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2008
     (1517.10)
    @jayverni

    Definitely looking into investing in some growlers, and a Party Pig or two.
    • CommentAuthorpurvision
    • CommentTimeMar 27th 2008
     (1517.11)
    We used the Papazian book too.

    Zak, I'd also highly recommend a wort-chiller. For us, this ammounted to a length of copper pipe, curled so it could fit down into the fermenter. Our first couple of batches we were trying to cool the thing in a bathtub of ice, which was just a nightmare and takes forever. Running cold water through the copper coil will chill the wort in no time.
    • CommentAuthorNecros
    • CommentTimeMay 4th 2009
     (1517.12)
    I currently have a batch of Apfelwine going in the closet. Probably the easiest batch of anything I have ever brewed.

    Next step for me is making some mead, I am going to start small, until I can get a hold of some bulk honey. My next batch is going to be a one gallon Cyser made with 3 pounds of honey and organic apple juice. I can ferment it in the bottle the juice comes in and make a killer mead, plus use the bottle for experiments later.

    I do recommend you read the Papazian book for Beer though, as it gives you all the basic knowledge you need to get the ball rolling. I am not doing beer anymore as it is something that I can't drink due to carbonation, hence the still ciders, meads and maybe eventually wine.

    It is pretty easy to get into home brewing, you don't really need a kit. I think if you just get a bucket and glass carboy, you can make a beer. Everything else is really cheap. A wort chiller is a great help, but I would wait and see if you are going to keep making beer before i get and/or make a chiller. Oh yeah, and for beer you need a great big pot to boil the wort in. If you have a local homewbrew shop you should go check it out, you can get an idea what is available to you. It is a great hobby to get into, and once you have the gear it is actually pretty cheep, considering you ,ake about 5 gallons at a time and then bottle it. Once you get consistent results you can really cut down on your alcohol purchase costs.
    •  
      CommentAuthorRandroid
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2009
     (1517.13)
    Almost done drinking my first batch with another in the wings ...

    Brewing is so easy I feel dumb for not starting sooner. Its cheaper and you will feel awesome when you crack open your first beer and discover it tastes like ... BEER!?
  6.  (1517.14)
    About how much would you say the initial investment is to brew a batch of beer?
    • CommentAuthorVaruker
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2009 edited
     (1517.15)
    I spent about $200 usd on all my stuff, including " The Joy of Homebrewing" (can't recommend that book enough). It may seem like a lot, but excluding the ingredients, everything is reuseable. Just remember to sanitize like it's going out of style.

    A couple of other books I'd recommend are "Radical Brewing" by Randy Mosher, and "Extreme Breweing" by Sam Calagione. Both of these books give you great insight as to where you, as the homebrewer, can take you beer.

    (edited to add info)
    • CommentAuthorG. Foyle
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2009 edited
     (1517.16)
    For what it's worth, I think you could probably give it a shot for less than $200, though that depends on what you have in your kitchen that you can put to use. (E.g. a big-ass pot that can hold 3-ish gallons.)

    That said, if you start getting into it, you'll probably end up spending more on all the neato stuff that can make the process easier. Wort-chilling device? Check. Bottle-drying rack. Check. ... Pretty soon it's, pony keg? CO2 regulator, tank, etc.? Mini-fridge? Check, check, and check.

    Edited to add: Replacement liver? Check!
    • CommentAuthorsacredchao
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2009 edited
     (1517.17)
    Ill probably be unemployed or employed part time for a while starting August, so I should have plenty of time. May have to give it a try, if I can get my wife behind the idea.
    • CommentAuthorCymro
    • CommentTimeMay 12th 2009
     (1517.18)
    I've been brewing for a couple of years now. It's as easy as everyone here makes it sound.

    The best advice is to find a homebrew store near you and pick their brains. The business tends to attract really good people who will help you out.

    When you're ready, let me know and I'll give you a great cider recipe.
    •  
      CommentAuthorCamMc
    • CommentTimeMay 12th 2009
     (1517.19)
    Brewing is probably one of the most rewarding and interesting things one can do, and it's dirt simple.

    Starting out, everyone seems to bemoan the bottling. Which while a chore, isn't nearly as bad as you think. With just a bottling wand, a good capper and a buddy you can get a nice assembly line going. I've managed to bottle an easy 5 gallon batch in less than an hour with a friend pouring the bottles and me capping.

    That being said, a used corny-keg only runs you about $30 USD, and the CO2 regulator+tank is a worth while investment. I personally haven't been able to scrounge up a kegorator but I can still dream.
    • CommentAuthorsacredchao
    • CommentTimeMay 12th 2009
     (1517.20)
    I was just reading about the beer laws in Iowa. Apparently, they charge a 25% tax on beer over 5% ABV and a lot of beer companies won't even bother sending their stuff to Iowa. What sucks is I'm moving to Iowa in August. Guess I'll have to get started on this homebrewing thing sooner than I thought, as I can't think of a single beer I've drunk in the last two months that was below 5% ABV. Fuck that's irritating.

    Of course Iowa City is only three hours from Chicago- does anyone know if Illinois has similarly stupid beer laws?