Author Topic: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good  (Read 8631 times)

little stache

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Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« on: August 25, 2013, 08:27:34 PM »
Read about other bad ass brew masters and looked at my beer bill and thought, I could lower that cost. I did the first batch (small effort for small spaces) to test it out. I did not save money yet, since I had to buy the initial supplies and such, but did learn that I can pull this off. The next batch will be easier and likely larger. Did a grapefruit honey wheat as my first try and it is yummy! Once i get production up and going, the savings will just barrel along, so to speak. Thanks for the inspiration folks!

grantmeaname

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 02:59:40 PM »
Hell yes. One more brewer for the forums!

I'll just leave this here in case you really get hooked.

Cromacster

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2013, 09:02:24 PM »
You start with the justification "This will save me money in the long run"

But, if you are like me and are a gadget geek, your expenses in home brewing can skyrocket.  If you keep it simple you might be able to come out ahead.  Then you get into kegging, build a keezer, figure expenses of running the keezer....$3,000 later you can brew beer, keg it, and pour it out of a tap for all your friends to enjoy (i'm serious I usually get 4-5 beers out of the 48ish a 5 gallon batch makes).

The cheapest batch I made myself came out to around 23.65 in ingredients (before taxes), $0.66 per pint, or 11.83 per 24 pack, which is cheap if you are buying good beer and not swill.  The most expensive batch I made was $1.57 per pint (barleywine).

Then on top of the brewing you tend to buy more craft beer to compare to the batches you have made.....its a vicious and delicious cycle.

Mini-Mer

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013, 09:16:22 PM »
Yay!  It's a great feeling when you open it up, and it tastes like beer! 

I started on beer last year, and made four large batches, all of which turned out great.  Based on very quick-and-dirty calculations, they cost $1.50-$2 per bottle, including the equipment.  (Not counted: time, water and energy used; value of experience and bragging rights.)  That should improve this year, provided I do not buy more equipment.   

This year I'm planning to explore uses of spent grains, and saving yeast between batches.   

@grantmeaname - Helpful tutorial!  I got a couple good ideas for when I start up again in the fall.  Specifically, steamer insert to keep the grain bag off the bottom of the pot, and I hadn't thought of pre-chilling the water for topping off.

grantmeaname

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2013, 09:21:42 PM »
This year I'm planning to explore uses of spent grains, and saving yeast between batches.
My partner in crime's family makes dog biscuits from the spent barley. We've had no luck reusing yeast though, unfortunately.

NWstubble

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2013, 12:37:48 AM »
Congrats on the successful brew! Before you know it you will be sweating over a gas burner doing 15 gallon batches on a tiered system, with more glass bottles than you know what to do with.

Cromacster

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2013, 06:07:45 AM »
with more glass bottles than you know what to do with.

Then you will get sick of bottling and get into kegging.....then you just have empty bottles that you know exactly what do to with..nothing!

Samsam

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2013, 07:56:02 AM »
with more glass bottles than you know what to do with.

Then you will get sick of bottling and get into kegging.....then you just have empty bottles that you know exactly what do to with..nothing!

This is about where I am right now.... I have brewed about a dozen batches of beer and I'm getting sick of sanitizing and keeping bottles.

FitStash

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2013, 10:57:17 AM »
with more glass bottles than you know what to do with.

Then you will get sick of bottling and get into kegging.....then you just have empty bottles that you know exactly what do to with..nothing!

This is about where I am right now.... I have brewed about a dozen batches of beer and I'm getting sick of sanitizing and keeping bottles.

One thing that can help (only somewhat) is using 24 oz bottles.  I got a bunch of free ones from the recycling center for my first batch.  I am planning on starting my second batch within the next few weeks.  Brewing is great fun so far :-)

davisgang90

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2013, 01:08:44 PM »
I haven't brewed a lot lately, trying to lose weight, but I've got a kegerator setup in an old fridge I got for free.   Kegs are the way to go, well worth the initial expense!!

As for reusing yeast, I've had the best luck putting a new wort batch into a fermenter I've just kegged.  Works best to do a darker beer than the original.

You have to stand back when you do this, the yeast TAKE OFF!

Luck better Skill

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2013, 02:00:52 PM »
  LOL, when I saw the title made me thing someone was kicking the Starbucks habit to brew their own coffee.  Maybe my mind just needs some coffee to wake up.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2013, 02:13:27 PM »
You start with the justification "This will save me money in the long run"

But, if you are like me and are a gadget geek, your expenses in home brewing can skyrocket.  If you keep it simple you might be able to come out ahead.  Then you get into kegging, build a keezer, figure expenses of running the keezer....$3,000 later you can brew beer, keg it, and pour it out of a tap for all your friends to enjoy (i'm serious I usually get 4-5 beers out of the 48ish a 5 gallon batch makes).

The cheapest batch I made myself came out to around 23.65 in ingredients (before taxes), $0.66 per pint, or 11.83 per 24 pack, which is cheap if you are buying good beer and not swill.  The most expensive batch I made was $1.57 per pint (barleywine).

Then on top of the brewing you tend to buy more craft beer to compare to the batches you have made.....its a vicious and delicious cycle.

You sound like my husband.  He got a part time job at the beer and wine making supply store, for a discount, and to fund his hobby. And he does buy craft beers, so he can try to emulate them.  And we give most of it away to friends and family.

nighttrain

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2013, 02:47:27 PM »
Just a heads up that I'll hopefully be jumping on the home-brew-train this fall as well.  I heard someone recommend this book starting out:

Charlie Pappazian. The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.

There is also a local brewery/establishment that for around $160 they walk you through everything.  You just come on a Saturday and they help you cook up your batch.  You can bring in your own recipe or they have a bunch on hand you can use.  They keep everything on site so you come back, when appropriate to finish up and bottle your stash.  You get 144 bottles of beer out of it, all included in the original $160.  I figure $1.11 a beer + guidance + test to see if I like it before purchasing a single thing for gear = worth it.

Did anyone on here do anything like this when they started out?

Sooo pumped.

grantmeaname

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2013, 05:15:42 PM »
I didn't, but the price is decent except that you'd have to drink 15 gallons of one recipe. I don't know if I could do that...

little stache

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2013, 02:48:22 PM »
I am getting ready for batch number two. Now its decisions decisions regarding -- I heard that an Anchor Steam clone was really easy.   Plan is one more small batch to get my "system" down and then I will do a big 5 gallon run bottle run. My space is pretty small relative to most frugal folks on the boards so that will be the maximum size at this point (he says now).

While my case price from Costco is not that much more than my make at home price at this point, i will never have to drink icky fruit beers from a Samuel Adams mix case again! And the DIY fun value should not be underestimated :)


Cromacster

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2013, 06:45:26 AM »
Just a heads up that I'll hopefully be jumping on the home-brew-train this fall as well.  I heard someone recommend this book starting out:

Charlie Pappazian. The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.

There is also a local brewery/establishment that for around $160 they walk you through everything.  You just come on a Saturday and they help you cook up your batch.  You can bring in your own recipe or they have a bunch on hand you can use.  They keep everything on site so you come back, when appropriate to finish up and bottle your stash.  You get 144 bottles of beer out of it, all included in the original $160.  I figure $1.11 a beer + guidance + test to see if I like it before purchasing a single thing for gear = worth it.

Did anyone on here do anything like this when they started out?

Sooo pumped.

The Joy of Homebrewing is a good place to start, although all of the information is available for free on the internet with some searching.  The book just has it neatly packaged in one place.  Try www.homebrewtalk.com a good forum with an active community.

What is your local home brew store?
A good starter kit:
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/brewing/beer-equipment-starter-kits/deluxe-beer-brewing-starter-kit/deluxe-brewing-starter-kit.html.  I purchased this kit a few years back and it does not inlcude non-essential items.

6 Gallon Primary Fermentor, Fermometer, Bung, Airlock, Blowoff Assembly
5 Gallon Secondary Fermentor, Fermometer, Bung, Airlock
6.5 Gallon Bottling Bucket, Bottling Spigot, Bottle Filler, Bottling Tubing
Auto-Siphon, Siphon Tubing
Beer Bottle Brush, Bottle Capper, 60 Caps
Instructional DVD, PBW Cleaner, Star-San Sanitizer, Carboy Brush (Glass Only)

The kits can be a good way to start, especially if you don't know all of the equipment that you need.  You might be able to find it cheaper on craigslist, there always seems to be someone selling the basic equipment, but you might only save 50$.

My one tip for starters would be to get a propane burner stand, 10 gal boil kettle, and do full volume boils if you plan on using extracts.  Doing large volumes on kitchen stoves takes forever.

Samsam

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2013, 07:11:14 AM »
My one tip for starters would be to get a propane burner stand, 10 gal boil kettle, and do full volume boils if you plan on using extracts.  Doing large volumes on kitchen stoves takes forever.

Best thing yet, wish I would have known that when starting out lol...

davisgang90

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2013, 08:48:20 AM »
My one tip for starters would be to get a propane burner stand, 10 gal boil kettle, and do full volume boils if you plan on using extracts.  Doing large volumes on kitchen stoves takes forever.

Best thing yet, wish I would have known that when starting out lol...
This and late addition of entire extract are the two easiest things you can do to dramatically improve your beer.

mgreczyn

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2013, 10:48:15 AM »
Brewing is something that I've wanted to do for a while, but I'm not too sure that it's a great money saver.  I'll defer to the actual brewers on the forum, but I have a friend who brews and in his case he goes out of pocket for about as much money on homebrewing as he would for a comparable amount of store-bought beer. One way to get around this is maybe to grow your own hops, which apparently accounts for a large part of the variable expenses.

zarfus

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2013, 11:19:02 AM »
There is also a local brewery/establishment that for around $160 they walk you through everything.  You just come on a Saturday and they help you cook up your batch.  You can bring in your own recipe or they have a bunch on hand you can use.  They keep everything on site so you come back, when appropriate to finish up and bottle your stash.  You get 144 bottles of beer out of it, all included in the original $160.  I figure $1.11 a beer + guidance + test to see if I like it before purchasing a single thing for gear = worth it.

Did anyone on here do anything like this when they started out?

Sooo pumped.

This is my brew book:
http://www.amazon.com/How-Brew-Everything-Right-First/dp/0937381888/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378228340&sr=8-1&keywords=homebrew

Good ole John Palmer.  Touches on everything you need to know (literally a chapter called crash-course in brewing. Read the chapter and you can make beer).  I brewed my first batch with my dad, so I didn't pay for help, but if you want I could take a video of everything you need to do to brew an extract kit...assuming youtube doesn't have something like this already.

Brewing is something that I've wanted to do for a while, but I'm not too sure that it's a great money saver.  I'll defer to the actual brewers on the forum, but I have a friend who brews and in his case he goes out of pocket for about as much money on homebrewing as he would for a comparable amount of store-bought beer. One way to get around this is maybe to grow your own hops, which apparently accounts for a large part of the variable expenses.

There's no way it saves money. Period.  It's a fun hobby, and beer is good.

grantmeaname

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2013, 11:59:53 AM »
I save a lot of money. Most of our beers are around $.40-.60 per bottle, when a comparable store-bought beer is usually $1.50-$2. We have perhaps $250 of equipment at this point, so even if we're conservative we've paid for our fixed costs at least twice. And for wine, the numbers look even better.

Samsam

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2013, 12:05:55 PM »
I save money as long as the recipe doesn't get too complex (thus making me buy many ingredients). 

Cromacster

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2013, 12:39:31 PM »
I save a lot of money. Most of our beers are around $.40-.60 per bottle, when a comparable store-bought beer is usually $1.50-$2. We have perhaps $250 of equipment at this point, so even if we're conservative we've paid for our fixed costs at least twice. And for wine, the numbers look even better.

Yea, if you stick to the basics you can keep your costs down.

Once I got into All grain and kegging, my equipment costs went way up.  It will be worth it when I finish my basement and have built in beer taps in the bar :).

Samsam

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #23 on: September 03, 2013, 12:41:02 PM »
I save a lot of money. Most of our beers are around $.40-.60 per bottle, when a comparable store-bought beer is usually $1.50-$2. We have perhaps $250 of equipment at this point, so even if we're conservative we've paid for our fixed costs at least twice. And for wine, the numbers look even better.

Yea, if you stick to the basics you can keep your costs down.

Once I got into All grain and kegging, my equipment costs went way up.  It will be worth it when I finish my basement and have built in beer taps in the bar :).

Aww sweet, pics when that happens!

markstache

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #24 on: September 03, 2013, 12:48:51 PM »
Once I got into All grain and kegging, my equipment costs went way up.  It will be worth it when I finish my basement and have built in beer taps in the bar :).

Kegging is certainly a step up in equipment (that I have yet to make). I think all grain pays for itself very quickly, especially if you can buy bulk grains. Provided you a have a large enough kettle (say 7.5 or 10 gallons for a 5g batch), you could do Brew-In-A-Bag and  the only additional thing you would have to buy would be a grain mill (and that could possibly be borrowed). I recently wrote up my own experiences.

« Last Edit: September 03, 2013, 07:17:51 PM by markstache »

Cromacster

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2013, 06:19:18 AM »
I save a lot of money. Most of our beers are around $.40-.60 per bottle, when a comparable store-bought beer is usually $1.50-$2. We have perhaps $250 of equipment at this point, so even if we're conservative we've paid for our fixed costs at least twice. And for wine, the numbers look even better.

Yea, if you stick to the basics you can keep your costs down.

Once I got into All grain and kegging, my equipment costs went way up.  It will be worth it when I finish my basement and have built in beer taps in the bar :).

Aww sweet, pics when that happens!

K, I'll update this in 5 years :)

little stache

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2013, 08:53:03 PM »
Update --  Doing a home brew factory this weekend. Took advantage of sales for Christmas Holiday :) By no means a pro, but starting to get a brewing rhythm going. I have 3 more batches to go until I break even on all my start up costs and start to save a bit (while having fun). And the last batch of anchor steam clone was decent 00 yum.

lithy

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Re: Opened My First Batch of Brew and It Was Good
« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2013, 01:42:16 PM »
The initial equipment expense is usually greater and like many hobbies it will take some mental effort to stay away from the endlessly increasing cost of 'better' toys, but all grain brewing is the way to go to try to get costs down.

Let's go by ingredient

Water, Malt, Hops, Yeast

Water, some places have access to free cold springs, I did when I lived in Tennessee, collect a bunch of water however you can, let it settle for a few days before brewing, decant off any of the sediment.  Avoid buying distilled or packaged spring water.  The only thing you truly need to be concerned about is chlorine which will come out with a simple carbon filter.  Alternatively, it will simply dissipate if you collect the water and let it sit for at least a day, or you can bring your mash water to a boil first, then let it cool back down to your strike water temp and that should remove enough of the chlorine.  If your local water uses chloramine you're just sorta shit out of luck and might need a spring or have to resort to bottled water.

Malt, bulk, bulk, bulk.  Look for a local homebrew group, they may do group buys of full bags of malt rather than buying by the pound at a local shop.  Ask local brewers if you could possibly buy a couple bags of grain for their cost.  Unless you get really good advice or other help from a local homebrew shop, all but a few shops around the country are pretty expensive, provide little selection, and have generally old stock.  Mail order can be a great option, buy uncrushed malt for long term storage (easily good for a year).  Stick to simple malt bills.  Most beers can be made with 3 malts or fewer.  Simple American 2-row malt is a great base malt for many English styles, plus it is cheap.

Hops, are expensive.  Avoid thinking that you will save money homebrewing yourself Double IPAs.  You probably can't, even buying pounds of hops at a time.  Most of the time, hops will be sold to homebrewers by the ounce, they will be a few dollars an ounce.  There are many beautiful styles of beer that are drinkable, refreshing or comforting (appropriate for changing seasons, and use very little hops.  Learn about how hops are used and how they are useful.  Your beginning boil charge should be high alpha, it isn't for flavor, just for balancing the sweet malt.  Flavor hops go in at 10 or 15 minutes from the end of boil.  Aroma hops go in at flameout or after primary fermentation, but like I said, probably avoid styles that need this if you're trying to save money. 

Yeast, with some good sanitizer you can easily reuse yeast.  For the initial cost You can opt for liquid yeast if you would like, they are expensive, dry yeasts are constantly improving, but most importantly, pick a versatile yeast.  If you are going to be brewing a lot of Belgian table beers, wits, etc.  Pick a lightly estery Belgian strain.  If you are going to be doing the English lineup of browns, milds, pales, etc.  Chico is the most widely used but there are other suitable options.  Plan your brewing, every two weeks or so, you don't want yeast sitting too long unless you get into more serious yeast storage.  Don't use the whole yeast cake, you will be overpitching.  make a 500mL starter with some dry malt extract and water, collect some yeast with a sanitized utensil (depends a lot on what you are fermenting in) and put it into the starter a day or two before brewing.  Smell the starter before starting the brew, if it smells ok it is clean and you can use it again.  After 10 or so uses, beer will be a little more cloudy after fermentation but will still taste fine, you can restart a new yeast strain sometime after this point.

Find a couple recipes you like, preferably something malty with not too many hops and you should be able to do 5 gallon batches of beer for under 15 dollars utility costs included.