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488 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 151761 4-Sep-2014 12:34
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Fortunately, I have been gifted most of a brew kit's hardware and I'm about to start making awesome beer. I got a fermentation bucket, air lock, capping tool

I want to start simple and have a low investment/average expectation so that I can get a handle of what to do without getting discouraged - yes, I've never done this before.

I found this video which seems to be achievable for me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=T1l1oCyCZKo

Is it realistic?

How do you maintain the tempreature and how critical is this?

Is it okay to buy used parts off TradeMe?

Any other experiences or hints or tips for beginners?

Your help and feedback is much appreciated.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1121768 4-Sep-2014 12:42
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Main tip from my POV I can give you is: You cannot sterilize enough. Any bad bacteria getting into your batch will mess with the end result. We've had two ruin because The Hubby™ went with the good old 'She'll be right' attitude. :P

Try not to use chemicals (ie. bleach) to sterilize though - really hot water should do the trick just fine. We buy big 10L bottles of bottled water and filter it just in case - the water in our town is really hard and makes the beer taste meh.

Other than that it's pretty much just following instructions. You'll be buying your own malt and hops before long ;-)

Edit: oh, we keep our batch in the hot water cylinder/drying cupboard in winter. This keeps the temp constant enough. In summer we don't bother insulating or keeping it warm in any way.




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  Reply # 1121776 4-Sep-2014 12:51
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Did you have a read of the following?

http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=141&topicid=132240

Might be some helpful tips.




Keep calm, and carry on posting.

 

 

 

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  Reply # 1121777 4-Sep-2014 12:53
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Background: I got a starter kit about 1 year ago and have done six batches since. Most of them pretty good!

I have always used the cold water sterilization (chemical of which I forgot the name but easy to find on brew shops) and am quite happy with it.

For bottles, I have been using plastic 750ml bottles which are cheap enough ($25 for 30 bottles) and work pretty well. I also bought some flip top 750ml ones which look better but I have had a few flat beers, probably due to them not really being air tight.

My first batch was a Mangrove Jack Munich Lager and it was really nice!

I keep the fermenter in my bathroom during Winter and Summer. Might be getting a bit cold in Winter but never cold enough to stop the yest from...yeasting.
My problem is more in Summer, it feels like fermentation occurs to quickly because the room goes up to 24deg and sometimes more but every house is different.

One trick I have read somewhere: After you bottle, put the bottle back in the same spot so that the beer is kept in the same conditions. Helps with secondary fermentation. Also, make sure you put them in a spot where a bit of mess is OK in case you get exploding bottles. (one of my PET bottles had a leak wich you couldn't see or feel but which was releasing beer slowly on the floor.

That's it for now,

Cheers

EDIT: Typos

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  Reply # 1121779 4-Sep-2014 12:54
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That is a good beginners guide, going through the basics, you will be able to find more information on youtube.

I started a year ago and have since put down several brews of different quality. In the last few months they have become better and better through trial and error. The latest being an IPA that my workmates thought was better than some bought ones. Im still only doing the malt kits, with added spray malt and hops, we plan on moving to grain brews in the not too distant future.

Regarding temperature it is the second most important part of brewing (after cleaning and sterilized equipment). These two things are responsible for a good tasting beer or that nasty homebrew taste which is an infection to the brew.

Depending on what type of beer and where you are keeping the fermenter, you may not need to do much. In the middle of winter we use heatpads and blankets to keep the fermenters warm. We have just acquired a temperature controller and plan to mount this inside an unused fridge with a heatpad to try and get this excatly right.

Excuse the mess, this is in our garage (you also have to avoid sunlight, UV and beer don't go well together)


Heres what we got upto last weekend.. We put those three brews into our new kegging system in an unused fridge, this weekend we will mount taps to the front of the fridge ;)




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  Reply # 1121788 4-Sep-2014 13:07
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I agree with Demeter and the sterilise, sterilise, sterilise philosophy - thats the main key.
I have never had any issues with the commercial sterilising products - when used as directed residue should not be an issue.

If you are near a Homebrew shop then its perhaps worth making a visit - just tell them you are after some washing/sterilisng products - they should know what you need and what works best. They usually like to talk to/help people.






Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself - A. H. Weiler

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  Reply # 1121836 4-Sep-2014 13:49
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garvani: Heres what we got upto last weekend.. We put those three brews into our new kegging system in an unused fridge, this weekend we will mount taps to the front of the fridge ;)





Now that's cool (pun slightly intended)




Keep calm, and carry on posting.

 

 

 

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  Reply # 1122440 5-Sep-2014 11:26
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With the hardware you have you can do any extract brews you want. Brew in a bag (BIAB) and all grain require more hardware, although BIAB is relatively cheap to upgrade to.

The hardware you still need is a bottling wand or siphon, bottles and caps

As everyone has been saying sterilise, sterilise, sterilise. You clean with dish soap to get rid of any large particles and then use a steriliser solution (iodine or strong basic solutions you can get from the home brew store) to kill the bugs that you can't see to clean away.


Temperature control will help with brewing consistant batches but if you have a cupboard or a blanket for around the fermenter you can mitigate most of the starting out issues.


If you really get into brewing I recommend "how to brew" by John Palmer as a great book to read



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  Reply # 1122489 5-Sep-2014 12:21
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Sweet, thanks for all the advice and good wishes. I picked up the last few items I needed today from BrewYourOwnLiquor on Te Rapa straight (they were very helpful and friendly), so I hope to have good beer in the nest two months or so.

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  Reply # 1122491 5-Sep-2014 12:23
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I use non scented common household bleach to sanitise the fermenter and some of the other stuff. One tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water and rinse with hot water to get rid of the smell. Works a treat and I have done a reasonable number of batches. 

I stick my fermenter in the hot water cabinet which is reasonably consistent and put a blanket around it in winter. 

Am looking to go all grain soon but for the extracts I try as much as possible not to use dextrose but malt extracts or golden syrup for belgian ales 



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  Reply # 1122626 5-Sep-2014 15:47
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I purchased a $50 fridge and $30 temp controller (stc-1000) to keep the brew at consistent temp - also allows me to cold crash the beer at the end of fermentation to drop any hops / trub before I siphon out for bottling.

I started with kits, but when you are making your beer with half sugar / dextrose, it'll still have that kit taste

If you want to spend a little extra money  - try one of these

http://allgrain.co.nz/product_info.php?cPath=75&products_id=602&osCsid=1j32ss8st8nf5qkt4kt40ftg40

It's $75, so not cheap, but for 22l of commercial craft beer, hard to go past (this includes yeast & 100gm of dry hops)
I've brewed this, and the Kereru one (which is due for bottling this weekend)


Doing BIAB now, and along with crash cooling, I use a teaspoon of gelatin and it drops my beer completely clear within about 5 days.



The fridge: (excuse the wires / tubes - I like the mad scientist look)





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  Reply # 1122631 5-Sep-2014 16:04
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JonnyCam: I purchased a $50 fridge and $30 temp controller (stc-1000) to keep the brew at consistent temp...


You get an extra 10 points for the Homer Simpson Avatar.

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  Reply # 1122647 5-Sep-2014 16:23
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gundar:
JonnyCam: I purchased a $50 fridge and $30 temp controller (stc-1000) to keep the brew at consistent temp...


You get an extra 10 points for the Homer Simpson Avatar.



That's the beer baron to you!



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 1122693 5-Sep-2014 17:53
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I went to all grain pretty quickly because I found the kits were not making nice enough beer. I started doing BIAB (brew in a bag) and got far better results doing it. I have now moved on to a 3 vessel system which I havnt used yet, just getting every last piece together before I break it in. I will be looking at selling my old BIAB setup sometime soon which is a 50 litre pot, grain bag and 4 ring burner with a high pressure regulator. One of the best purchases i have made was a bottle of StarSan for sanitizing. Its a no rinse sanitizer that you spray on and it only takes 30 seconds to sanitize. Saves you so much time on brew day.

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  Reply # 1122695 5-Sep-2014 17:55
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+1 on the fridge with temp controller too, makes a hell of a difference to finished product.

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  Reply # 1122729 5-Sep-2014 20:05
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My 2c on sterilization.  Boiling water and/or straight bleach only.  Sodium Metabisulphate or whatever the cold water sanitizer is will catch you out sooner or later.  Just a tidy bit left will make a whole batch taste like sh*t.  Don't use any scouring pads et al that can scratch your vessels.  Scratches are where bacteria will live.  Don't buy heavily scratched kit either.

If you're going to use a kit or can of malt, don't use the yeast it comes with.  Buy yourself some better yeast from a brew shop. 

I have a plant propagation heater which I've used under a fermenter in winter, but they're not the greatest as they great different heat zones.

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