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  1. #1
    Connoisseur
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    Home brew - how to get started

    I've had the idea to try home brewing for some time. Any ideas, resources or pointers from those who've done this??

    Thanks!!

    Ken

  2. #2
    Administrator in exile
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    Re: Home brew - how to get started

    I'll reply in more detail later, but for now check out:

    http://www.brewboard.com

    It's my favorite home-brew hangout

  3. #3
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    Re: Home brew - how to get started

    I've had the idea to try home brewing for some time. Any ideas, resources or pointers from those who've done this??
    Wow. You could write a book on this subject.

    Wait. There are already dozens of 'em. (See below).

    A good starting point is The American Hombrewers Association beginners page. It gives a brief outline of the basic brewing steps, and has some links, including how to get a copy of Zymurgy for Beginners, a more detailed booklet.

    The American homebrewers Association is a 10,000 strong national organization of homebrewers that has been around since 1979. It is part of the brewers Association, which also has a professional brewers division. Its many programs are listed on the web page.

    It is member-driven via the Governing Committee and the Member Liaison program in many local clubs.

    The AHA publishes Zymurgy , a bimonthly magazine on homebrewing and beer appreciation. Many of the authors are names you will see elsewhere in professional and homebrewing. It also runs a daily brewing digest called TechTalk.

    The Homebrew Digest is the standard and IMO best online forum. It comes out in more or less a daily digest form with about a dozen posts. The posts range from beginning technique to some really esoteric biochemistry that I just PgDn on. You can learn an awful lot from reading it.

    Perhaps the most comprehensive book of the many available is John Palmer's How to Brew, in available online. A second edition is also available in softcover at homebrew shops and some books shops, as well as Amazon or through the the AHA store.

    John doesn't shy away from detail and some theory, but it is not "techie." He is working on a third edition to be published by the Brewers Associations' Brewers Publications (the second edition is self-published). This will get it the distribution it deserves.

    If you are not so much interested in the how and why but more just how, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, Third Edition by AHA founder Charlie Papazian is a more more loosey-goosey and fun to read. It is available more widely, including at the AHA store.

    Another magazine is Brew Your Own (BYO).

    One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to join a local homebrewers club. Here is a listing of clubs by state on the AHA web page. Some clubs are stronger than others. Some, like my club, Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, offer support for beginners, inspiration from advanced brewers, a club brewing system for rent, organization of competitions, social events, and so on.

    If you have a good local homebrew supply shop, that is a good place to get information as well as supplies. You don't say where in Ohio you are. Listermann's in Cincinnati is an excellent one, run by Dan Listermann, who has invented many homebrewing gadgets as well. It also sells online.

    You can make really good beer using malt extract and dry yeast on your stove top, or you can brew from scratch by grinding malt and steeping it (called mashing), adding your choice of hops and fermenting with your choice of several dozen liquid yeasts. This advanced method gives you the most control and choice of styles of beer, but don't let it scare you off.

    An intermediate or advanced brewer can make as good a beer as any commercial brewer in the world. As a beer judge, I have tasted many world class beers. I even brew some myself, as do other members of my local club.

    It's a great hobby!

    Jeff

  4. #4
    Apprentice
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    Chicago
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    Re: Home brew - how to get started

    Jeff has supplied you with a lot of great information. Two books that I enjoyed were:

    The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, Third Edition by AHA founder Charlie Papazian (which Jeff mentioned)

    Homebrewing for Dummies by Marty Nachel

    I found both to be very helpful. Also there are now several podcasts on the topic that I have been listening to and find very interesting.

    So when is someone coming out with a podcast on Bourbon?

  5. #5
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    Re: Home brew - how to get started

    Thanks guys. Lots of great material. Gonna take a few days to sift through it....

    Quick question. What is the best to brew it?? Copper? Stainless? Doesn't matter??

    Thanks

    Ken

  6. #6
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    Re: Home brew - how to get started

    Stainless is generally preffered to aluminum, but mostly depends on if you're scared of aluminum leaching into your beer. I'm not. Jeff summed it up quite nicely. I'll second Palmer's <u>How to Brew</u>. It's a great reference and it's free online. In addition to the site I recommended earlier, http://www.northernbrewer.com has a great forum with a lot of information as well. The 2 most important things I can tell you up front is to be meticulous in your sanitation, and always use the freshest ingredients available.

  7. #7
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    Re: Home brew - how to get started

    Stainless is generally preffered to aluminum, but mostly depends on if you're scared of aluminum leaching into your beer. I'm not.
    Nor am I. I brew in a three vessel system that uses commercial 40 qt, 5 mm thick aluminum stock pots. I have had no metallic off flavors in hundreds of brews, and this includes some very delicately flavored pale lagers.

    In an article in the late, lamented Brewing Techniques magazine back in the 90s, an identical batch or wort (that's the unfermented beer) was boiled in two vessels - one stainless, the other aluminum. They were then sent to a lab for alluminum assays. They both had identical levels of aluminum, and it was lower than the level in the original water! Apparently the aluminum complexed with some wort component and precipitated out.

    I like aluminum because it's cheaper, lighter and a better conductor of heat.

    I've just kegged a wonderful dark Munich-style lager. That's one of those styles that is hardly available commercially. Delicious, and it's straight out of the fermenter. It will be even better after lagering six weeks.

    Watch out - once you start brewing your own, it's a slippery slope!

    Jeff

  8. #8
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    Re: Home brew - how to get started

    I've just kegged a wonderful dark Munich-style lager. That's one of those styles that is hardly available commercially. Delicious, and it's straight out of the fermenter. It will be even better after lagering six weeks.

    Watch out - once you start brewing your own, it's a slippery slope!
    Sounds wonderful. It's a world I'm looking forward to getting into. There is a company that provides expertise and equipment for you to go brew, frement and bottle it there. Anyone tried anything like that?

    The Brew Kettle

    Seems like a good way to get some experience before going out on your own.

    And, just to reiterate, copper is absolutely mandatory for distilling but of no real value to brewing???

  9. #9
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    Re: Home brew - how to get started

    Oh it's of some value, but not necessarily as a brewpot. It would be lined with some other metal, tin or SS anyway. And the cost of a 34-40qt copper kettle would be rather expensive. It is use-full though. I just built a new copper manifold for my mash-tun and I use a copper wort-chiller.

    I'll suggest picking up an aluminum 30-34qt turkey fryer. It will be a necessity if you go all-grain, but even if you make beer from malt extract, use it to do full-boils instead of partial boils with top-up water. This will all make more sense as you read and study further. Don't hesitate to ask any questions though. I love talking home-brew

  10. #10
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    Re: Home brew - how to get started

    Oh it's of some value, but not necessarily as a brewpot. It would be lined with some other metal, tin or SS anyway. And the cost of a 34-40qt copper kettle would be rather expensive. It is use-full though. I just built a new copper manifold for my mash-tun and I use a copper wort-chiller.
    I agree. In distilling, the copper is important in the still to strip away some harsh sulfur compounds. In brewing, a very tiny amount of copper is necessary for yeast health. I use a copper false bottom and immersion chiller, so I get a bit of copper.

    It is interesting that the FDA (or some other officious government agency) proposed in the last few years that NO copper come in contact with wort or beer as it can be toxic at higher (but still low) levels, and the acidity of wort and beer does, indeed, dissolve some. Fortuantely, last I heard, that had been quashed in the name of common sense and tradition. after all, copper has been used in brewing for so long that the British term for the wort boiler is the copper.

    I'll suggest picking up an aluminum 30-34qt turkey fryer. It will be a necessity if you go all-grain, but even if you make beer from malt extract, use it to do full-boils instead of partial boils with top-up water.
    Good advice. You can get those turkey fryers with a propane burner quite inexpensively at big box stores. Now might be an especially good time for sales at the end of the outdoor cooking season.

    Another advantage to them is that they keep you out of the kitchen, which contributes to domestic tranquility. Boilovers are inevitable, and they are a mess to clean up from a stove top. Much easier on the garage floor.

    Don't hesitate to ask any questions though. I love talking home-brew


    Jeff (The other one)

 

 

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