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Homebrewers?


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You cannot produce spirits for beverage purposes without paying taxes and without prior approval of paperwork to operate a distilled spirits plant.  

They will pry my still, still dripping, from my cold dead fingers, the damn dirty revenoo'ers!

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ID

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One of the adds for a "turn wine into brandy" still contains the disclaimer that it is only exempt from taxation if it is not used as a still. I think George Orwell has been reincarnated as an ad-man.

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I am in Seattle.  Lots of beer choices, yay!

Thanks for the info.

Ben

Ben, when I was brewing on a regular basis I used to go to Bob's Homebrew Supply who's since moved to: 2821 NE 55th Street, a block west of the Calvery Cemetry, just north of U Village. They should have some starter kits and Bob's pretty knowledgable about brewing.

The basic kit (I belive, it's been seven years):

1 5 gal plastic primary fermentor (make sure it has a spout at the bottom)

1 5 gal glass carboy

racking tube

bottle capper

plastic tubing

hydrometer

a copy of New Complete Joy of Home Brewing (a damn good book)

and possilby a pot.

If you're going to do more than just a couple of batches, I highly recommend heading north/east to one of the Kitchen outlet stores and pick up a copper-clad 5+ gallon pot. I bought one for about $60 and it was worth every penny. Only if I was stupid did I leave a burn mark.

Only buy whole hops. Pellets and plugs are only for people who live in the South and can't get the real thing. I've had good luck with Porters and IPA's. The one English Bitter I made gave me headaches and the one barleywine I made looked like used motor oil and tasted like syrupy grape juice 'cause it didn't fully ferment. I suppose I added the champagne yeast too early.

I second buying only liquid yeast, start them the night before, keep them warm and your brew will be wildly fermenting in only a couple of hours after pitching instead of a day or two where there's time for other organisms to flourish.

Good luck.

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well, after years of storing the old gear, this weekend i was finally forced to check it when the wife made me clean up the basement.  :sad:

so, all y'all will just have to send me a bottle of anything you brew from now on.

regards,

tommy

check it or chuck it?

If you chucked it, I'm sad. I might've took it off your hands, cheap!!

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am a newby here, but I will pitch in my $.02 worth. I bottle my homebrew in plastic (I can hear the gasps from here) Pepsi bottles. It tastes just fine to me, and from what I have read, the one limit is that the beer should be drunk within 3 months. I don't know why, but I don't really care, mine never lasts 3 months anyway.

sparrowgrass
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well, after years of storing the old gear, this weekend i was finally forced to check it when the wife made me clean up the basement.   :sad:

so, all y'all will just have to send me a bottle of anything you brew from now on.

regards,

tommy

check it or chuck it?

If you chucked it, I'm sad. I might've took it off your hands, cheap!!

"chuck it," he clarified, 2 weeks later. :blink:

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So sad that you just threw it out, but we all have to make compromises, especially where wives are concerned.

Is it really that expensive to get started? I've been thinking about this starter kit just to get a brew under my belt (there's already several over my belt, but I didn't brew any of those and my dunlap doesn't count). Ever try a starter kit? Someone else said earlier in this thread that it would take about $100, but that seems kinda low to me.

BTW, love your new atavar, but kinda miss the old one (the super hero).

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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Is it really that expensive to get started? I've been thinking about this starter kit just to get a brew under my belt (there's already several over my belt, but I didn't brew any of those and my dunlap doesn't count). Ever try a starter kit?  Someone else said earlier in this thread that it would take about $100, but that seems kinda low to me.

BTW, love your new atavar, but kinda miss the old one (the super hero).

i suppose "expensive" is relative. when i started, i was barely earning enough to cover my rent and eating/drinking/drug habits. but as i recall, it was indeed about 100 bucks.

big bear is in full control of my avatar. that's the way it is. i'm not sure what happened, but i'm convinced that he stole one of my kidneys, and sold in on the black market as well. damn kidney thief.

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Did big bear at least say 'thank you' or perhaps 'welcome' when he took it?

And hey, it's been so long, I just gotta ask:

how's the peepin' tommy? :raz:

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...
I am a newby here, but I will pitch in my $.02 worth.  I bottle my homebrew in plastic (I  can hear the gasps from here) Pepsi bottles.  It tastes just fine to me, and from what I have read, the one limit is that the beer should be drunk within 3 months.  I don't know why, but I don't really care, mine never lasts 3 months anyway.

Interesting. I guess the only real concern is gas escaping through the plastic or the cap, but that's probably not a biggie. I doubt the plastic would affect the taste of the beer.

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I haven't seen mention of kegging instead of bottling. Once you convert to kegging you'll never go back to that PITA bottling method. You can buy stainless steel syrup concentrate tanks that will hold a standard 5 gallon batch. Hook a CO2 bottle to it, and stick it in a refrigerator that you've modified with a tap. The only way to go!

OK, I'll admit that there may be some romance to the bottling method and it DOES lend itself to portability. It's just that I never found it to be that much fun. Home brewing involves a lot of drudgery so you really gotta like it to put up with all the cleaning and sterilizing. Still, it's more fun than wine making. At least for me. And you also have a much wider range of choices when it comes to the final product than you do when winemaking. Oops, maybe I just opened a can of worms there.

--------------

Bob Bowen

aka Huevos del Toro

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I am a newby here, but I will pitch in my $.02 worth.  I bottle my homebrew in plastic (I  can hear the gasps from here) Pepsi bottles.  It tastes just fine to me, and from what I have read, the one limit is that the beer should be drunk within 3 months.  I don't know why, but I don't really care, mine never lasts 3 months anyway.

Interesting. I guess the only real concern is gas escaping through the plastic or the cap, but that's probably not a biggie. I doubt the plastic would affect the taste of the beer.

I think the bigger problem with brewing in plastic (at least for secondary fermentation) is that the plastic is permeable to bacteria which can get in and skunk your beer. Glass doesn't have this problem.

"Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."

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I haven't seen mention of kegging instead of bottling. Once you convert to kegging you'll never go back to that PITA bottling method. You can buy stainless steel syrup concentrate tanks that will hold a standard 5 gallon batch. Hook a CO2 bottle to it, and stick it in a refrigerator that you've modified with a tap. The only way to go!

Bottling sucks. It sucks so bad, that it's why I rarely brew.

How much does a decent 5 gal. keg operation cost? How much to buy and convert one of those little fridges?

As for brewing in plastic -- never seemed right to me, but lots of people I know have a plastic primary and/or secondary.

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I haven't seen mention of kegging instead of bottling. Once you convert to kegging you'll never go back to that PITA bottling method. You can buy stainless steel syrup concentrate tanks that will hold a standard 5 gallon batch. Hook a CO2 bottle to it, and stick it in a refrigerator that you've modified with a tap. The only way to go!

Bottling sucks. It sucks so bad, that it's why I rarely brew.

How much does a decent 5 gal. keg operation cost? How much to buy and convert one of those little fridges?

As for brewing in plastic -- never seemed right to me, but lots of people I know have a plastic primary and/or secondary.

When I used to brew with my ex, we switched to kegs and CO2, extra fridge and all, although we didn't ever put a tap in. It was easier, but I always thought our bottled beer was better. And it was very difficult to get the amount of CO2 right.

Our primary fermenter was plastic, and we never had any trouble with it. Everything else we used was glass.

Janet

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I haven't seen mention of kegging instead of bottling. Once you convert to kegging you'll never go back to that PITA bottling method. You can buy stainless steel syrup concentrate tanks that will hold a standard 5 gallon batch. Hook a CO2 bottle to it, and stick it in a refrigerator that you've modified with a tap. The only way to go!

Bottling sucks. It sucks so bad, that it's why I rarely brew.

How much does a decent 5 gal. keg operation cost? How much to buy and convert one of those little fridges?

As for brewing in plastic -- never seemed right to me, but lots of people I know have a plastic primary and/or secondary.

When I used to brew with my ex, we switched to kegs and CO2, extra fridge and all, although we didn't ever put a tap in. It was easier, but I always thought our bottled beer was better. And it was very difficult to get the amount of CO2 right.

Our primary fermenter was plastic, and we never had any trouble with it. Everything else we used was glass.

Janet

Yes, you're right about the CO2 pressure. You just have to play around with it because it IS rather a pain to get set properly. As for current costs for a kegging operation I'd suggest you visit a nearby homebrew supply shop. I've found most of them very friendly and knowledgable, eager to help.

--------------

Bob Bowen

aka Huevos del Toro

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I've always used kegs, they're great. The CO2 setup (5# bottle, regulator, tubing, quick connectors) will cost you about $150. You might be able to buy the bottle and regulator at gas supply company cheaper than you can at a brewer's supply but you'll have to go to the brewer's for the connectors. The regulator doesn't need to be fnacy but the outlet gauge should be easy to read and accurate at lower pressures.

The kegs can be gotten at the brewer's supply or a soda bottling plant if there's one near you. If you buy used kegs inspect the inlet and outlet valves for dings or gouges that might prevent a good seal with the quick connects. Also take your CO2 with you. Pressurize the keg and wet the valves and filler area to check its internal seals. There should be no bubbling around any of them. If they bubble get the seller to knock off a few bucks for new O-rings adn rebuild the valves when you get it home.

As to pressure, it can be a little tricky. When you first keg the beer put a few pounds of pressure on the keg just to close the seals up tight. Durring this last fermentation you'll need to blow it down once or twice to releive the built up CO2. Too much pressure will stop the fermenting. Just pull the relief valve for a second or two. Don't let all the pressure out or you'll have to re-pressurize to close the seals again. I've found 4psi to be a magic number for serving the beer. It gives a good flow without excesive head. Your regulator may be a little different.

Sorry to ramble on so long. Its been a while since I've talked homebrew. Anybody have a good recipe to share?

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I assume you're not in the States (if you are, I suggest you don't actually try to make whiskey.  It's still quite illegal to distill without a license.)  In the states, I usually go to a beer store and ask for the returned Grolsch bottles.  Usually they'll sell them at $.20 per.  Of course, the bigger the bottle the better (Rogue beer bottles are great), since bottling is a pain in the ass.  Someone also told me that champagne bottles fit the bottle caps, but I've never tried it.

Here's an interesting article on distillation that ran in the Portland Mercury, which has got to be one of my all time favorite independent freebie papers.

That's a great idea about the Grolsch bottles, I hear you on the bottling being a pain. I bought my partner a starter kit a few years ago for xmas and 4 carboys later he's still going strong. Sometimes, to be nice, I help out with the bottling. Champagne bottles do not work, domestic (to the US) sparkling wine bottles do. We call 'em beer magnums at our house. The bad thing about leaving Chicago is we can't do lagers (unless we cough it up for another fridge) but the cool thing is that we now have one of the greatest homebrew shops. They even made Saveurs 100 list this year.

We have a bitter made in the style of Twist of Fate bottled. A stout with a few extra spices and honey in secondary and a Porter in the pipeline...

When I was shopping for books I really didn't care for Charlie's as much as the one by Dave Miller. It could be due to the fact we tend more towards the smug scientific bastard camp and appreciated the extra details. Someone has since given him the Homebrewing book for dummies which I think he finds useful when you have to look something up really quick but doesn't like as well as the "Homebrewing Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great-Tasting Beer" by Dave.

regards,

trillium

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When I was shopping for books I really didn't care for Charlie's as much as the one by Dave Miller.  It could be due to the fact we tend more towards the smug scientific bastard camp and appreciated the extra details.  Someone has since given him the Homebrewing book for dummies which I think he finds useful when you have to look something up really quick but doesn't like as well as the "Homebrewing Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great-Tasting Beer" by Dave.

I haven't seen my hydrometer since the first time I brewed. How scientific do you get? Do you get to level of alpha acids, bittering units, 2 row, etc? Everyone I know just goes into the store and says, "I want to make a [fill in the type of beer], can you make me a kit?"

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I haven't seen my hydrometer since the first time I brewed.  How scientific do you get?  Do you get to level of alpha acids, bittering units, 2 row, etc?  Everyone I know just goes into the store and says, "I want to make a [fill in the type of beer], can you make me a kit?"

Well, not as scientific as when we are in lab, but yeah we do the whole hydrometer, alpha acids thing. But we don't do whole mashes, just extracts with a partial mash...don't have that kinda time! We've never bought a kit in our lives, it's more fun to try to figure things out yourself. I think at this point he doesn't even follow a recipe, but makes up his own. My ex-boss, a Brit, loved them. I have to confess I'm not a huge beer drinker, but I like to help make them. I like your basic wussy lager finished with Saaz hops on hot days in summer, and a nice mellow stout or ESB in the winter. The Imperial stouts, brandywines, IPAs etc., get drunk by him and grateful friends.

regards,

trillium

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  • 2 years later...

I'm thinking of buying a homebrewing kit for my boyfriend as a Christmas gift. SHHH! I guess I'd better hope he doesn't see this, and if he does: THERE ARE OTHER POSSIBLE GIFTS, YOU KNOW!

Anyway. I don't know a whole heck of a lot about homebrewing beyond what I've found on eGullet and a few other linked sites. I imagine that with the kit I will get one of the prehopped extracts, or at least it sounds that way from its description. Is there anything else in particular that I should examine with regards to the kit, to make sure it's quality?

And as far as bottles, we already drink a lot of good old Straub, which comes in big bottles. I think I'd rather reuse them than have to cart them back to the distributor (and I think it's $1 deposit on the case, so that's pretty cheap).

Jennie

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I'm thinking of buying a homebrewing kit for my boyfriend as a Christmas gift.  SHHH!  I guess I'd better hope he doesn't see this, and if he does: THERE ARE OTHER POSSIBLE GIFTS, YOU KNOW!

Anyway.  I don't know a whole heck of a lot about homebrewing beyond what I've found on eGullet and a few other linked sites.  I imagine that with the kit I will get one of the prehopped extracts, or at least it sounds that way from its description.  Is there anything else in particular that I should examine with regards to the kit, to make sure it's quality?

And as far as bottles, we already drink a lot of good old Straub, which comes in big bottles.  I think I'd rather reuse them than have to cart them back to the distributor (and I think it's $1 deposit on the case, so that's pretty cheap).

A good choice of gift. Congratulations on quality thinking.

You won't have to buy bottles. It will take about one month to two months (depending on the style of beer) to be ready, the last two weeks of that (at least) is in bottles, so there should be plenty of time to collect bottles between the giving of the gift and the task of bottling the first brew.

As for what else to get ... I would suggest equipment. This amounts to a food safe bucket for the first stage of fermentation. A secondary fermentation vessel, usually a glass carboy, but IMO these are dangerous and should be avoided, get a milk crate to protect it and carry it around with. And some other sundries like hoses and stuff.

I think the best bet is to post on a brewing message board and ask for advice about the most reputable shop in your area. I suggest either

http://hbd.org/discus/messages/1/1.html?1087231765

or

http://www.tastybrew.com/forum/

The thing about the packaged kits is that the freshness is suspect. There are two kinds of extracts, dry and liquid. And the liquid suffers over age. You want to get it as fresh as possible. The best way to buy it is from a store that repackages it from barrels. You know they're moving it and it's fresh. Dried extract can be a bit messy, but it doesn't have the same storage problems. Anyways, my advice is to go to a shop and ask the owner to put together a "kit" for you. There are lots of decisions still to be made, but the owner will certainly be able to steer you to good choices. Oh, and buy him a book. Perhaps "The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing" by Papazian, but a better choice is John Palmers book http://howtobrew.com/ which is generously available for free online, but he deserves to make some money. It's a great book.

Have fun,

Mark.

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