1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Absolute noob here

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by TomFoolery_x, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. Alright guys, I've been wanting to try homebrewing for the longest time. I always see different starter kits that claim to be "the best" or "the only homebrew kit you'll ever need" but to be honest, idk what I'm looking for.

    So basically, I'm wondering what kit anyone here has used and enjoyed using. Preferably I'd like to get the most comprehensive kit so I won't have to buy additional things down the road. I know some things will have to be bought separately no matter what, but looking to minimize that.

    Also, should I buy the premade kits for brewing certain styles or do you guys suggest I buy the malts, hops, yeasts, etc seperately? I'd prefer to brew an ipa/pale ale for my first brew so any help along those lines would be greatly appreciated.

    In addition to everything listed above, are there any books or any good literature on homebrewing you guys would suggest?

    Thanks for any help and input you can provide!

  2. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Savant (415) Louisiana Dec 3, 2005

    There is literally a post called "What would be in your essential homebrewer's library?" AND a post called "First Homebrew" on the same page that you posted on. These two posts answer many of your questions.

    When you are ready, if you are thinking online, any of the kits from Northern Brewer, William's Brewing, or More Beer (among others) would be great kits to start with.

    Also use the search box with key words. There is a lot of good information already on the forum.
    jmw, VonZipper and exitmusic00 like this.
  3. I was gonna try searching, but I've had too many beers. I'll have to look into it tomorrow. Thanks though!
  4. exitmusic00

    exitmusic00 Savant (290) Oregon Mar 15, 2010

  5. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (800) Texas May 21, 2010

    Just make sure you have an auto-siphon and a bottling wand. Those two pieces of plastic are the most useful things you can possibly get. Any kit you decide on will likely have most everything you need though, especially if you spring for one of the not-the-cheepest possible one kits.

    As for your first beer, I'd buy a kit and follow the directions closely. There should be about fifty-bizzillion IPA and APA recipes to choose from if you're looking for that style. Get an all extract kit or one with steeping grains.
    inchrisin likes this.
  6. uptomonto

    uptomonto Disciple (70) Indiana Dec 15, 2012

    Equipment kits and ingredient kits are the way to go to start out. Don't scrimp on your first brewpot, assuming extract batches to start - get a heavy bottom to prevent scorching. And yes, the auto siphon and bottling wand will save much grief.
    Try a few batches, following directions, and start reading all the great sources listed on the "what would be in your essential homebrewer's library" post. All those steps you do while following directions will take on greater meaning and understanding as you page through "How to Brew", etc.
    You'll need pop-top bottles, too - ask your buddies to start saving them.
    It is pretty much the greatest hobby ever.
    VonZipper likes this.
  7. I'm not going to restart a tired debate, but it should be noted that aluminum brewpots have two distinct advantages over SS, particularly for someone just starting out - they tend to be cheap, and they largely mitigate the need for a heavy bottom. I would add don't scrimp on the size of the brewpot.
    uptomonto and OddNotion like this.
  8. uptomonto

    uptomonto Disciple (70) Indiana Dec 15, 2012

    Yeah, what he said!
  9. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (860) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member

    Any kit will work. You'll end up liking it, and spending a mini fortune anyways on shit any time you have a free buck to hide from the wife.

    I'd suggest finding a local homebrew store myself. Go in and pick their brain, and ask around. Most are ultra willing to help and love to chat. My LHBS is fantastic, and the guy there is super willing to help.

    I'd suggest getting "How to Brew" by Palmer and reading that.

    From there, go with what you want, most kits have it all. I'd suggest a wort chiller if you can spring for it off the get go. Saves your beer and your time.
    dachshunddude86 and mpyoung215 like this.
  10. PortLargo

    PortLargo Advocate (515) Florida Oct 19, 2012

    I had lots of heartache initially with good capping procedures. There are some real painful memories of pouring good brews down the drain because improper capping "leaked" out all the carbonation. Don't go cheap on your capping device.

    My suggestion: long before bottling-day, try capping a half dozen bottles with tonic or club soda. Make sure you have a good feel for how your capper works and test the bottles after several weeks for cap integrity. Swing-top bottles eliminate this problem. Kegging is even superior, but you probably don't plan on starting out that way.
  11. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (860) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member

    I had a regular ol' wingtop capper that came with a kit when I started. My little wife capped all of the 3 batches I did before I decided it sucked and bought a kegging set up.

    Which one did you use that caused such an issue? I know most people use what I had, and others go for the higher end bench cappers and whatnot.
  12. Awesome guys. Thanks for the great advice thus far. I have been reading "How to Brew", tons of info and I'm starting to understand all of the processes!
  13. PortLargo

    PortLargo Advocate (515) Florida Oct 19, 2012

    I believe my model was the Red Baron. It was solid red and had two hefty handles that worked together. It felt good and seemed to give a good crimp, but my results were mixed at best.

    For the OP, don't be frightened by this, just be aware.

    One final note: Palmer's How to Brew is a gold mine for successful brewing. I continually review it and always find at least one gem of wisdom previously undiscovered.
  14. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (615) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    Llots of good info here. Hit craigslist for turkey fryers, people buy them, never use them, and dump them for next to nothing. Also, for your first batch I would use a premade kit. Northern brewer has a huge selection of extract kits to choose from. It takes a lot of the guess work out of recipie formulation and gives you the chance to really focus on your processes. Although I really wanted to jump in with both feet, I am glad I brewed a kit beer first. Also, I know it has been mentioned, but look for a local homebrew shop. The ones I go to have helped a lot along the way, one even had a hands on class where he brewed a kit beer there while you asked questions. After the class you got a 20% discount on anything in the store.
  15. I go this route, its easy to control the heat. And if you have spills or boil overs (both are easier than you would expect to happen), you can just hose them down or do nothing if its in the grass.

    Agree on this until you know more about the recipies and process its best to start with a proven recipie, plus the instructions are detailed so it helps you learn

    This is probably the best advice I have for a new brewer. The stores have been very helpful, they can help show you how the equipment works, fine tune your recipies, and answer any questions you may have. It is in thier best interest to help you make the best beer possible and then hopefully you will become a repeat customer and even help with their marketing.
  16. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (820) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    There are some good LHBSs out there. And some horrible ones. I'd recommend sanity checking any LHBS advice with this forum, at least until it's apparent he's found one of the good ones.
  17. a immersion chiller was my most important tool when I first began and made my homebrewing life easier. if your not all grain I guess using chilled water will nock your temps down pretty quickly
  18. pschul4

    pschul4 Advocate (635) Illinois Jan 7, 2011

    How much does something like that cost? I brewed my first batch over thanksgiving and its going to be ready to drink soon. Using chilled water was a total pita tho
  19. usually 40-60$ price of copper.
  20. pschul4

    pschul4 Advocate (635) Illinois Jan 7, 2011

    That's not too bad, once I graduate and get more income I will likely invest in one. Thanks man
  21. cmmcdonn

    cmmcdonn Savant (390) Virginia Jun 21, 2009

    If you are one level above completely useless with tools, you can build one. I built a 25' 1/2" chiller for $20 less than my LHBS was selling, and theirs was 3/8". It took me longer to find the adapter to connect to my sink at Home Depot than it did to build.
  22. pschul4

    pschul4 Advocate (635) Illinois Jan 7, 2011

    This is definitely something I will keep in mind. I like to think I'm better than completely useless haha
  23. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (800) Texas May 21, 2010

    I haven't had any issue with my capper leaking at all. It's a black capper with two swinging handles, similar to the red one described above. The only issue is that each type of bottle is a little different and caps a little different. Some tall bottles (Schlafly Quad etc) have broken when capping tho. I now avoid using those bottle types.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  24. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (615) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    Absolutely. I am lucky enough to live in an area where people take their beer seriously. Hell, I have three neiighbors who also brew. I didn't even think about warning him about bad advice. That being said, also price check. My LHBS has a ten gallon liquor tank and mash tun for sale for almost 400$, found the exact same ones online for mid 200 and on craigslist for less than 200. Also start to know your local brewers, I've bartered and traded for a lot of items. Picked up my immersion chiller for the price of a couple bombers.
  25. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (800) Texas May 21, 2010

    Good advice.

    Anecdote alert: My LHBS is great, but it's brand new and not everybody who works there knows their stuff. Two of the employees I have dealt with so far are "amateur" homebrewers. One has only experience from going to the classes they offer (TBF though, it's great that it's a requirement that employees go to the homebrewing classes). One day I showed up when they open and it wasn't open, but as I sat there scratching my head, someone pulled up next to me. They opened the door and I went inside. They splained me that the normal employee was sick and this was their first day. I kind of helped them out in weighing out my grains, milling them, grinding them up etc. She knew how to use the bagger, but we both kinda figured out the mill together. I showed her where the scale was and how to weigh grains, lol. Another employee was a brewer but was obviously a newbie, doing extract batches. So evaluate people in LHBSs as they come.

    However, I have nothing but good to say about any of these employees nonetheless. The store has been great on prices, availability (so far, lol), and definitely an A+ on helpfulness, even if I had to help them help me. :D
  26. I have three brew shops within a few miles of me.

    One is owned by an avid homebrewer with dozens, if not hundreds of ribbons, medals, certificates, etc. He conducts classes in the store and is a gold mine of information. Most of his employees are also very active in the local homebrew community and love talking about brewing.

    The second, I've only been to once, but I got a very good vibe during my visit, and would not hesitate to pick their brains.

    The third is attached to a brewery that produces some eye poppingly fine craft beers. The people working in the brew shop double as hosts for the adjacent taphouse/pub. They know where to find things on the shelves and how to work the cash register. It's kind of like going to Radio Shack for electronic components. They probably have what you're looking for, but it helps to know exactly what it is before going in. A major plus for this particular shop is that it's open whenever the pub is open. That means you can replace a broken hydrometer at 1 am, if you need to.
  27. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (820) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    Dear Penthouse, I never thought something like this this would happen to me, but...
  28. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (860) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member

    I had the same big red one when I bottled. It worked perfect is why I asked, I hadn't heard of anyone having bad luck capping, but I'm sure plenty do.

    Some bottles didn't work, like Founders bottles didn't work with the capper I had. A shame since I had a ton of them.
  29. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (800) Texas May 21, 2010

    I think you just need a light hand and carefulness yet firmness. :rolleyes: You learn your capper, with the occasional broken bottle. If you break one, you probably won't break that style again. I have broken two. Shit happens, then you RDWHAHB. :D
  30. [​IMG]
  31. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (860) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member

    I never had a problem, but still got tired of waiting, so I keg. More control I think.