First time brewing... looking for a little help in getting started, recipe picking

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Hi all, I had a few questions about my upcoming first attempt at home
brewing.  I've read a bit on this list; everyone seems to have so much
knowledge.

A bit of background--although I've never had the chance to try this
yet, my wife did try it once about a decade ago.  Unfortunately, her
attempt ended badly (I haven't got much more information than it was
"really, really bad").  This has soured her on the entire idea of
homebrewing.  I would still like to give it a try (it sounds both fun
and rewarding), but would like to have a nice easy-to-make batch or
two at minimal cost to convince her that it a) is possible/can produce
something that tastes reasonable, b) is not "too" expensive, and c)
won't drop a huge amount of cleanup work in her lap.

We get relatively cheap beer that works out to about $5.50/gallon.
It's not the best in the world, but it's drinkable.  I'd like to try
to aim for this or ideally cheaper, especially for the first couple of
forays into it.  If it tastes good (hopefully better than what we
buy), it's easier to justify spending more.

As for flavor, we'd like just about anything (light, dark, etc.).
Where we grew up, the beer we liked had around 6.50-7% alcohol in it,
so I'd rather avoid the recipes that come out with amounts in the 3ish
range.

As for local homebrewing options--we are now living in Western New
York, perhaps someone knows some good ones.  If not, maybe someon has
some online suggestions.

I think I have most of the most basic hardware necessary, I'm
especially looking for recipe/supply suggestions with an eye on ease
and price.


Re: First time brewing... looking for a little help in getting started, recipe picking


Are you wanting to get into it because you hope it will save you money
or because you think you will enjoy the hobby, or both? You really
have to enjoy it as a hobby, forget about the money (although it is
somewhat cheaper once you acquire all the equipment, especially when
you switch to all-grain). Everyone here loves brewing and the fact
that we can enjoy doing something that will produce really great beer
at a fraction of the cost of decent commercial beer, both microbrew
and imported, is very satisfying. You can make as good or even better
brew than you can buy in the stores.

Extract kits will run you between $20-40, depending on style and place
and those are for 5 gallon batches. Personally I wouldn't attempt all-
grain until you have at least 10 good extract batches under your belt.
Just don't give up if you get a bad brew, learn from your mistakes and
strive to avoid them next time. Don't think of homebrewing as a chore,
to me it's an obsession and a great hobby. Plus you get rewarded for
the hard work you put into it.

You're in the right place for any questions. Welcome to the
community.......


Re: First time brewing... looking for a little help in getting started, recipe picking


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For your first go, I'd stick with a nice simple extract recipe.   If
you have a local homebrew store (abbreviated in this group as LHBS)
just go in, explain your situation and they'll probably have a bunch
of recipes they can put together for you depending on your taste.

A really simple recipe for an American Ale would be somthing like:

7 lbs of pale malt extract
2 oz Cascade hops
Wyeast 1056 or WLP001 yeast (if you want to save some money on yeast,
ask your LHBS about dry yeast)
2/3 cup of corn sugar (for priming the bottles)

Bring your pot to boil (about 3/4 full) and turn off the heat.   Pour
in the extract and stir until it's completely dissolved.   Make sure
none is hiding on the bottom of the pot.  Bring it back up to a boil.
(Keep an eye on it, it's going to want to boil over at this point).
Once it's boiling (just a nice slow boil) throw in 1 oz of the hops
and mark the time.   30 minutes later throw in another 1/2 oz. of the
hops.  25 minutes after that (55 minutes since the first hops) put in
the last 1/2 oz of hops.   Five minutes after that, turn off the heat.

Put the whole pot in in a sink full of ice water to cool.   Put the
lid on the pot to keep anything from getting in your wort.   When the
temperature of your wort is below 75 degrees, pour the whole pot into
your sanitized fermenting bucket (your LHBS can tell you how to
sanitize).   Top up the bucket to five gallons using clean water (some
people will boil the water the night before to make sure it's
sterile).   Agitate this really well with a spoon to mix it and to get
a lot of air into the beer (the yeast need Oxygen when they first
start working).  Take a small sample for your hydrometer if you choose
and record the reading (this will let you calculate how much alcohol
is in your beer after fermenting).  Then simply add your yeast, put
the lid on, put a little water in your airlock and put this in a nice
cool dark corner of your house.

In about 3 weeks fermentation should be complete.  (you can verify
this by taking hydrometer readings on consecutive days.  If the
readings stay the same the fermentation's done.  If they continue to
go down, the yeast is still active.)  The recipe I gave you should
have a final gravity of approximately (1.013).   At this point
carefully transfer this to your bottling bucket using a siphon (we
don't want any oxygen in our beer at this point), stir in the priming
sugar, and bottle into your sanitized bottles.   Let this sit for
another week or two, and voila! - your first homebrew.

Once you get the basics under your belt you can start to complicate
things by adding specialty grains (which will give your beer more
character) and different hop additions as well.   Then, if the
homebrew disease really takes over, you'll be building mash tuns, wort
chillers, and a three-tiered brewing sculpture by this time next year!

I glossed over a ton of stuff so read this article:
http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/index.html
I can't help you with supplies in Western NY, but www.morebeer.com is
a pretty good online vendor if you don't have an LHBS.   If you do
have an LHBS, by all means patronize them.

Good luck,

Steve





Re: First time brewing... looking for a little help in getting started, recipe picking


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I would highly recommend reading http://www.howtobrew.com if you have not
already done so.  IMO, it's probably the best source of information for
how to make your own beer.

As far as a particular recipe to start off with, I usually recommend that
a beginner start with a dark beer.  Something like a porter or a stout, if
you like those styles.  The darker, stronger flavor, of a stout will really
help to hide any mistakes that you make while you are still learning and
will be "more forgiving".  If your wife likes dark beers and you want
somthing that is relatively easy to make without messing it up, I'd go
that route.


John.

Re: First time brewing... looking for a little help in getting started, recipe picking


Lactose wrote:

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I suggest you buy a cheap, glass lab thermometer. It can help you to
prevent shocking your yeast when pitching it into your wort. This is
especially important if you don't have a wort cooler. I prefer to keep
5F max difference between yeast and wort. If there is a bigger
difference, you can add small amounts of wort to the yeast cream until
it gets closer. This pertains to rehydrated yeast, but some seasoned
members of this group will recomend you just sprinkle dry yeast onto the
wort. I prefer to rehydrate, but don't dispute the claims of those who
pitch dry.

Before I had a wort cooler, I boiled in smaller volumes (~3 gal) and
used chilled water to bring down the wort temp. A wort cooler was the
best thing I ever did to improve the quality of my beer, since smaller
boil volumes affect hop utilization (inversely proportional to SG).
Also, smaller boil volumes can lead to caramelized (unfermentable)
sugars. I found it helps to dissolve the extract in hot water, off of
the burner, and keep it stirred frequently during the boil.

Regards,
Tom


Re: First time brewing... looking for a little help in getting started, recipe picking


Hi,

When people ask me for advice on their first beer I usually recomend
buying two of the cheapest kits (cans) of malt extract (for the
weight). Throw away the yeast that came with it and buy a liquid
yeast. Probably something that is neutral, that is, like american
lager. Use both kits to make 1 - 5 gal batch, no sugar, no nothing,
you don't even have to boil it. Just make sure is thoroughly
dissolved.

Helpful tips
1 - SANITIZE EVERYTHING, pretend you are doing open heart surgery so
anything that touches, or gets near your beer has been sanitized. I
use 'diversol' which I buy at a place that sells eqip/supplies for
dairys. But it has fairly universal applications. I suspect 'sani-
clean' is the same. Even cheaper is some bleach in water, it just
doesn't have the detergent part. This is the MOST IMPORTANT RULE and
is why your girlfriend prob. made swill (unless you're Belgian, they
like that taste   lol)
2 - Use a glass carboy for both primary and secondary.
3 - If you like what you made and are interested in the hobby (there's
some kind of primal satisfaction in making booze) I would start
shopping around for a corneleus keg system. You can buy these new, but
lordy, there must be a zillion pop systems that are used and unused
out there. For the bottling part is the part that makes a lot of
people quit, and the sediment in the bottles turn their friends off.
4 - The lower the temp. it fermants at, the cleaner the taste. If you
are really blessed and can keep it from 45 - 50*F a lager yeast is
your choice (45*F=lager 50-55*F=Steam or common beer) 55*F and above
use ale yeast, preferred for ale is 60*F

hope this helps

also welcome from moi

cheers


Re: First time brewing... looking for a little help in getting started, recipe picking


3 lbs of dried malt extract
a package of corn sugar(about the same size
2 ounces of cascade hops(1 boil for 30 minutes) (1 boil for 12 minutes)
1 brew pot, 1 hydrometer, 1 bottle capper, 1 big brewing pail, 1 gas trap,
3 cases of old beer bottles(with lip not screwtop), 1 bottle of bleach, 1
package of caps, 1 bottle scrubber
1 very big sink
lot's of warm water
4 feet of vinyl tubing and a clamp for it
(it actually adds up to cheaper after four brews)
1 compendium of charlie papzani's "the new complete guide to the joy of
homebrewing" for when your waiting for it to pay off
3 sanitary skill point
1 speechcraft skill point
1 patience skill point
1 reading skill point
1 graphics art skill point

soak beer bottles in a tub of lukewarm water with half a liter of bleach for
1 hour
fill 2.5 gallons of tap water in brewpot
heat, wait till boil, add 3lbs of light dry(unhopped) malt extract
add cornsugar, add 1 ounce hops
boil 20 minutes
add 1 ounce of hops
boil 10 minutes
remove from heat
quench with well aerated Cold water
pour in bucket
top off bucket short one gallon from top( how your supposed to know is about
two inches)
put lid on, put cork in, run blow-off tube through cork
put down bowl of water for blow-off tube to bubble through
wait one week
remove blow-off tube, put airlock into cork
wait two weeks, check with clean hydrometer
wait one day, check with clean hydrometer
wait one day, check with clean hydrometer
when it stops changing specific density
    1. scrub labels off bottles(easier the 2nd, third, fourth)
    2. bottle scrub it inside half-full of basin water a bit
    3. empty bottle, fill with clean water, shake violently, drain
    4. keep your bottles unexposed
    5. place bucket on top of case of beer
    6. get racking cane or whatever, but try not to suck up too much
sediment
        however with four feet of vinyl hose trimmed to taste
    7.fill bottles up nearly full
    8.cap as many as possible
    9.wait 10 days
    10.drink
-yours truly from mazitlan dreams, G_cowboy_is_that_a_gnu_hurd?





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Re: First time brewing... looking for a little help in getting started, recipe picking


If U can link up with a local homebrew club,U'll probably be able to tag
along and learn and even brew by sharing materials/equipment
NEW YORK
Endicott: Brewers In the Endicott Region
New York City: Malted Barley Appreciation Society
New York City: New York City Homebrewers Guild
Orange County/Washingtonville: NY FOAM (North Yeast Fellowship Of Ale and
Mead)
Poughkeepsie: Hudson Valley Home Brewers
Rochester: Upstate New York Homebrewers Association
Staten Island: Grumpy Old Brewers of Staten Island
Staten Island: Homebrewers of Staten Island
Syracuse: Salt City Brew Club

...i perfected my technique in my early years with an excellent brew shop
and this GREAT newsgroup...I have never personally met any of them  but
consider this the most focused,helpful, non-political,non-foul mouthed group
on the 'net


--
Thanks
Hank (Crescent City Homebrewers)



brewing addendum


three things.

-save 3/4 cup of corn sugar per five gallons of beer for addition when your
going to bottle
-use your graphic arts skill to make labels on your computer printer and
glue to clean
        bottle after bottle with a glue stick or starch glue
-add one gallon of frozen berries for any one week the beer sits in your
    fermenter, preferably the second week when it has become resistant to
infection
    which you then remove from fermentor after one week before they really
begin to rot
-try to sanitize everything before and after you use it, with bleach and
lots of water

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Re: First time brewing... looking for a little help in getting started, recipe picking


I would suggest going with a extract kit recipe the first time around.  The
necessary knowledge is all in the brochure!  :)  You're probably not going
to come in under $30 but the cost goes down significantly once you have all
of your equipment.  And for about the same price you'll have something
infinitely better than "drinkable"

"True Brew" makes kits that mimic most styles so there is a freedom of
choice.

Warning!!!!  There is a reason that the greeting for most new brewers from a
veteran is "welcome to the obsession.... uh hobby!

I started out two years ago with extract kits and now have a five tap
kegerator!  My wife won't drink commercial beer anymore unless it's
something I haven't perfected the clone of yet!


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