This past weekend I just brewed my first 5 gallon batch. I made the Cincinatti Pale Ale recipe from the Palmer book (probably the first brew for 80% of homebrewers out there, I’m guessing).
I don’t have any particular insight or anything yet, seeing as how my first batch isn’t even done. I was pretty funny with the fermenter though - acting like it was a new baby or something, getting excited over every little thing it did. “Look, it’s bubbling! omg!”
Anyone else want to share some homebrew anecdotes? Or recipes? Or advice? Bottling day is in another couple weekends, and I’m trying to figure out when to schedule my next brew day.
Congrats on your first beer! Do yourself a favor and start another batch every two weeks. When I started brewing I spent a lot of time lurking at a message board for homebrewers. In fact it’s the only other message board I check with any frequency.
It’s run by a local Homebrew Store here in Colorado. There’s a ton of great info there.
The Brew Hut
Yep. Need to go to the brew store and pick up a batch of ingredients soon. No real anecdotes, other than it’s so much easier than people think it is.
I’ve been homebrewing pretty steadily for a year and a half. My big suggestions are: take notes and stay clean! If you get something really good, you’re going to hate yourself when you can’t do it again. I usually brew 2 5 gallon batches at once, every 2 months or so - one is usually an experiment or a straight recipe of a style I haven’t tried yet, and the other is trying to perfect a recipe of something I really like - a hazelnut brown ale in this case. But of course if you have the time and funds, brew as much as you can.
What is the average cost/yield of a batch?
Hard to say; depends on what you’re making. You can make cream ales for dirt cheap or barleywines for megabucks. I’d guesstimate the ingredients generally run anywhere from $20 to $50 if you’re making one five-gallon batch at a time (less if you buy in bulk). Five gallons is about two cases of 12 oz. bottles, so even if you’re making the heavy stuff you’re still saving lots of money over storebought. Of course, you have to factor in your time and the cost of equipment as well, but you don’t need much equipment to get started, and if you’re having fun the time isn’t an issue.
My favorite online resources:
How to Brew, already mentioned by Jeff, mandatory for beginners
Northern Brewer forums
The ingredients for my pale ale were about 40 bucks. The setup I got - equipment, etc - was billed as a “deluxe starter kit” and cost about three hundy. You can do it cheaper - I’m guessing much cheaper with a few trips to home depot - but it was worth it for me to have everything in one package.
What the heck is in that? I’m assuming you got a couple of glass carboys? That’s crazy expensive.
Most folks go with the basic starter around $70. You can get a glass carboy for secondary fermentation. Then you get a wort chiller from another $100+ which is a help but not needed if you get ice.
Generally, the raw materials for me are from $40 (water included) to a high of about $105 for a blackberry wheat that needed some fruit extracts etc.
My rule of thumb is each bottle of homebrew is about a $1 maybe a little more depending on the specialty. That’s excluding your fixed costs of your start up equipment. It’s not really a hobby if you’re looking to save $$$ on beer.
Although, I’ve made some that are just awesome. A dead rogue clone that was just killer and was a money saver. Made some ales that are so-so think Sam Adams range.
Just bottled a Porter where I’m experimenting with some spices like cinnamon and used some extra chocolate malt.
Going to try to brew a Dunkle probably next week as I continue to experiment with some German styles.
I brew about half from some pre-made kits and half from scratch.
Has anyone kegged their own beer? I have a bar at home with a keg fridge in the basement and I think it would be pretty sweet to brew my own beer and dispense it from my bar.
I’ve been brewing for… wow, four years. Not constantly, mind you. The first batch I ever made, we used a college dorm kitchen. It was just a regular brown ale, and it turned out great. This is not counting the year before when my room-mate and I failed spectacularly at making mead, which is another story entirely.
Anyway, it’s a great hobby and if more people knew how easy it was it’d be a lot more popular. My advice is that after you’ve gone through the Charlie Papazian book (which is the book on homebrewing) that you pick up something with a ton of recipes and use a lot of ground malts (or grind them yourself). The variety of beer you can make is much greater than with the extract. Doing a lot of recipes is also the best way for you to get a feel for ingredients and start doing your own recipes.
Damn it, stop reminding me I have a batch in the cellar that’s been there for two years now! I’ll probably just have to throw it out and start over. The airlock gone. But certain Flemish ales are open-fermented, right?
And my first was an ESB.
I’m trying to think up a nice recipe for a batch I could bring along to my neighbor’s wedding, which is sometime either this or next summer. I can’t remember when. Something light in color, yet strong, like a tripel, with clover honey and blueberries for flavor.
Heh me and some guys tried to make cranberry wine last summer… it fermented in 11 days instead of a month.
Omnisicia that sounds like it would be a fantastic hefeweizen.
I’ve done it, and recommend it if you get serious about homebrewing because it saves you from bottling, easily the most annoying part of the process. Keep in mind that your keg fridge is probably not set up for soda kegs, which is what most homebrewers typically use for kegging, so you’ll need some kind of adapter.
wahoo: 2 carboys (1 five gal, 1 6.5 gal), 48 bottles, brewpot, floating thermometer, floating hydrometer, a few other random things I’m not thinking of. Oh, and a bottling bucket that, with a lid, could double as a fermenter.
Deluxe Starter Kit: $173.99.
Highly recommend Northern Brewer; great service.
You don’t even need two carboys, really, though it makes it easier to do the secondary fermentation (which isn’t even necessary in some cases).
My starting equipment cost probably $20 (glass carboy, bottle capper, plastic hose to use with a bucket of water for the airlock), and then it’s usually $15-$20 per five gallon batch for ingredients. Very economical way to get good beer ;-). You can get fancier equipment than what I listed, but that’s all you REALLY need. Plus a lot of people don’t get the capper and put their beer in screw-top bottles these days. Still, the fancy equipment does help.
Agreed, you can get started with very little. If you splurge on anything, I recommend you do it on an autosiphon. Makes transfers a lot easier, and it’s obviously way more sanitary, which gives you peace of mind.
I have a friend in Wisconsin that brews his own. He has a 3 tap system setup right in his kitchen area that looks like it came right out of a nice beer-bar setup. Uses soda canisters as someone else mentioned. I drink TOO much beer when I visit him, and know it would be a very bad thing for me to get into.
CH: How do you manage to brew a batch for $15-20? I can’t get malt extract for less than $17 or so for a 6-pound container, and that’s only enough to make some pretty weak beer. Add hops ($2-3/oz), priming sugar (~$1) and yeast ($2-7) and you’re looking at at least $25. Most of my batches run about $40, and I gave up brewing pale ale after my first.