New to home brewing, where to start?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by BrandonOakes, Aug 15, 2013.

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  1. BrandonOakes

    BrandonOakes Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Hello everyone,

    So I am going to be buying my first kit to start home brewing and I am a little unsure as to what site to buy a decent kit to begin with. I have been looking at three sites that I have seen mentioned on here, Northern Brewing, Midwest Supplies and Monster Brew. Granted, they all have good reviews from the buyers, but I want an honest opinion. I want to get into brewing seriously, so I want to get something that will not only last, but also produce good products over time. Money is not a real concern, as I am planning on dropping about $300 (or more depending on what I need to buy), it is my birthday present to myself.

    What do you all think? I am planning on buying a couple kits and bottles as well.
  2. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Maven (1,271) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    Well...welcome to the obsession / addiction.
    I'all think searching BA's HB archives would be a great place to start your research.
  3. BrandonOakes

    BrandonOakes Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2013 Pennsylvania

  4. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    Any of the kits would work. However, if you want to "get serious" about're going to need more than a $300 budget.

    Of course, it's best to start out small and work your way up, but be aware that you are going to have to invest a bit of money into this hobby.
  5. BrandonOakes

    BrandonOakes Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2013 Pennsylvania

    I understand that. $300 isn't a serious number, but I also don't want to be in a situation where I have a tight week funds-wise for rent/bills. As my cart at midwest looks now, it is at ~200. Aside from this kit: , what additional things should I invest in? I would rather have more proper equipment over kits/ingredients?
  6. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    Fermentation chamber...most efficient is a chest freezer and temperature controller. After that many would say the ability to pitch yeast properly. This would entail purchasing a stir-plate and flask to make yeast starters. I've just recently decided to try doing yeast starters, though I've had good results by pitching two vials/pouches of liquid yeast.

    Another important tool for me has been beersmith...though there are also some free brew software out there.

    I could keep adding onto this list...I'm serious when I say there are many items that people would think are absolutely essential to making good beer.

    However, of most import are: Temperature control, yeast pitching rates, and sanitation (which I didn't mention).

    Starsan is the best sanitizer.
  7. BrandonOakes

    BrandonOakes Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2013 Pennsylvania

    I really appreciate the input. When I finally get some product out of my work, I will definitely be getting your information to get you some of my work, that is, if it is good. lol
  8. WeaponTheyFear

    WeaponTheyFear Initiate (0) Mar 9, 2008 Connecticut

    Read this:

    Sanitation is #1 unless you like infected beer.

    This is what I started with from

    Bottle of Star San Sanitizer (4oz)
    Plastic Bottle Filler
    Bag of Bottle Caps (1/4lb)
    Bottle Capper
    Reusable Mesh Steeping or Hop Bags
    Plastic Spoon
    Home Beermaking Book
    Bottle Brush
    Package of Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW)
    Plastic Bottling/Sanitation Bucket with Spigot
    Rubber Stopper with Hole
    Hydrometer Jar
    5ft Vinyl Transfer Tubing
    Sterile Siphon Starter (Contains Racking Cane with Tubing, Air Filter and Carboy Hood)
    5 inch long dial thermometer
    2 Cases of (12) 22oz Bottles
    8-Gallon Heavy Duty Kettle with Ball Valve, Barb and Notched Lid
    Copper Wort Chiller with Tubing

    I'd suggest getting a wort chiller as well but it is not completely necessary. Although fermentation temps are very important if you can keep your beer between 60-70 when its fermenting, you should be fine. If you want to make world class beer you will most likely need a way to constantly monitor the temperature but you can still make good beer without it.
  9. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    LOL...I appreciate the sentiment. However, I am just another homebrewer who has charted some of the waters you're dipping your foot into. There are plenty of people with more knowledge than I, and far more deserving of your thanks.

    I just hope some of what I've learned can help.
  10. afrokaze

    afrokaze Pooh-Bah (1,883) Jun 12, 2009 Oregon

    I got the Northern Brewer deluxe kit and immersion chiller, plus an extra carboy for under $300 iirc. It was perfect for what I needed for my first few batches, and I saved up for a few upgrades since then. I think it's a great deal, shipping and customer service were great.
  11. bs870621345

    bs870621345 Initiate (0) Oct 29, 2009 Iowa

    Any equipment kit is going to contain at least the basics (bucket, carboy, bottling equipment, siphon etc.). I always recommend to get a 10 gallon (for a 5 gallon batch) pot and a burner to do everything outside. Included with that would be a wort chiller for full boils with a reasonable cooling time.

    Also, star san- its the best.
  12. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Grand Pooh-Bah (3,226) May 21, 2010 Texas

    And yeast pitching temperature. But yes, this ^^^^.

    If you don't have a wort chiller yet, get one. A pre-chiller setup is nice if you live in a place where the tapwater is quite warm. Or some people use plate chillers. I don't see the need with my current setup, but it's conceivable that I might use a plate chiller when my larger setup is complete. I haven't decided yet.
  13. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Maven (1,374) May 2, 2006 Utah

    To get going with making good beer you do not need to go all in to start. Two things that you can put off for the time being are the ability to make a starter and full-out temperature control. Eventually you will want to be able to make a starter so that yeast pitching rates with liquid yeast will be adequate. Until then you can use dry yeast; one packet of dry yeast is sufficient for most beers. Simply rehydrate in sanitized water (boiled, then cooled). As for temperature control, you want your fermentation temperature to stay below ~70 F for most ales. This means that if you can find a cool place (60 F to 65 F) in you dwelling, you should be fine. If not Google something like "fermentation swamp cooler" for a cheap and cheerful method of fermentation temperature control. Right now I suggest that you concentrate on (1) using a kit or a tried-and-true recipe (Brewing Classic Styles is a great reference), (2) sanitization, and (3) getting your wort to correct pitching temperature before pitching your yeast.
  14. Brewmaster6141

    Brewmaster6141 Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2013 Minnesota

    My buddies and I have started buying from these guys because the price is a decent. Plus they are new and trying to increase there inventory I contacted them regarding liquid yeast and they responded like an hour later and told me they would have it very soon. I just like their business model of low prices.
  15. Brewmaster6141

    Brewmaster6141 Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2013 Minnesota

    They actually just posted on Facebook that they got liquid yeast already... I am going to be requesting some more grain options shortly..
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