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Old Philosopher

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Finally made it to the beer section, but I didn't find a thread quite as basic as my question.
Momma wants beer. She's had her eye on those kits you can get from every place from Wal-Mart to Cabelas. Most of them have this cutesy little "keg", some chemistry, and a bunch of plastic bottles.
I've looked at other "starter kits" that have a lot of hardware I already own, are very expensive, and look like the beginnings of a full-blown microbrewery operation. Getting into the wine/cider scene, I have some appliances already: buckets, 3 to 5 gallon carboys, siphoning equipment, etc.
So my question is very basic:
Do I surprise her with one of these package store set ups under the Christmas tree, or can we get started with the mere addition of a wort kit, and use the hardware we already have?
(Rats! Now I have to learn a whole new jargon, just to get a bottle of suds.)
 

St Allie

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Those supermarket 'wort' kits are great.. just don't drink them at the stated 4 weeks bottled mark..Leave them an extra 4 to 6 weeks.. they do improve a lot.

Allie
 

cpfan

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OP

I see three types in your post.

1. Mister Beer kit (I think thats what you meant). NO NO NO. Some people get them to work but most don't. They'll explode in your fridge.

2. A wort kit like I mentioned in the other thread. My preference. You can use your existing wine equipment. I use a separate primary, and one of my glass carboys. A friend has a plastic carboy that he uses for beer only. OOPS the kits I know make 6 US gallons (23 litres). You only mentioned 5 USG.

3. Some version of "from scratch". Real brewers do it this way. Infinitely customizable, but more work to get the beer started. And as you said more equipment.

4. Cans of malt extract. Coopers is the commonest brand in Canada. A little more work than a wort kit. Cheaper, but not as good.

Steve
 

St Allie

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oops.. meant a malt extract kit.. I thought a wort kit was the same as what you buy in the supermarket.

Coopers and brewtec.. are common brands in NZ too.

Allie
 

Old Philosopher

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Thanks, Steve. I don't want to spent $50-$80 on a bomb I could make with baking soda and vinegar! :)
 

Wade E

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The wort in the bag does a decnt job with little to no work. The next step up is the extract kit which I believe make very good beers, better to me then the bag of wort but more involved. the all grain method produces beer that is awesome but you really need to do some seriuos reading or be there with a guy to watch it done at least 2 times to get the feel and there is quite the equipment investment involved to do it right. I dont think I would try that Walamrt keg thingy myself.
 

Old Philosopher

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OP

I see three types in your post.

1. Mister Beer kit (I think thats what you meant). NO NO NO. Some people get them to work but most don't. They'll explode in your fridge.

2. A wort kit like I mentioned in the other thread. My preference. You can use your existing wine equipment. I use a separate primary, and one of my glass carboys. A friend has a plastic carboy that he uses for beer only. OOPS the kits I know make 6 US gallons (23 litres). You only mentioned 5 USG.

3. Some version of "from scratch". Real brewers do it this way. Infinitely customizable, but more work to get the beer started. And as you said more equipment.

4. Cans of malt extract. Coopers is the commonest brand in Canada. A little more work than a wort kit. Cheaper, but not as good.

Steve
It sounds like the wort kit is my best choice at this point. Any recommendations, or things to look out for?
 

Malkore

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I'd get a pre-made recipe for a beer style she likes. Don't get the pre-made wort. Just get an extract kit that uses UN-hopped malt extract, and comes with pellet hops and probably some steeping grains.

Brewer's Best is a commercial 'kit maker' that makes their kits along these lines. hopped extracts just don't taste right...and are kind of limiting.

I"m big on all grain brewing but I've done my share of extract kits in my earlier days. I'd avoid the Mr. Beer type kits too. They are spendy for what you get.
 

cpfan

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oops.. meant a malt extract kit.. I thought a wort kit was the same as what you buy in the supermarket.
Allie:

A wort kit looks a lot like a wine kit. When you open the box there is a large bag (varies from 7.5 to 23 litres) and some additives (at minimum yeast).

Steve
 

cpfan

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It sounds like the wort kit is my best choice at this point. Any recommendations, or things to look out for?
OP: As I said in the other thread, the Brewhouse Pale Ale might be a good choice for your friend.

My wife likes Corona, so we make Brewhouse Mexican Cerveza or Brewers Spring Mexican Lager (which comes with ale yeast). The Barons brand is also good. I'm going to pick up a Baron's Dutch Lager this winter. Made it a few years ago, and enjoyed it.

Steve
 

Old Philosopher

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OP: As I said in the other thread, the Brewhouse Pale Ale might be a good choice for your friend.

My wife likes Corona, so we make Brewhouse Mexican Cerveza or Brewers Spring Mexican Lager (which comes with ale yeast). The Barons brand is also good. I'm going to pick up a Baron's Dutch Lager this winter. Made it a few years ago, and enjoyed it.

Steve
Most helpful, Steve! Can you give me a reliable site to deal with? If you did already, chalk it up to me having a senior moment. :D
 

Wade E

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http://finevinewines.com/
This site sells both the Brewers best which is the extract kit which needs to be boiled and the RJS BrewHouse.

Edit: Okay I dont see the Brewhose kits there anymore and have pmed the owner cause they just switched forum companies and wonder if that didnt make the change or if he stopped selling it.
 

Old Philosopher

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http://finevinewines.com/
This site sells both the Brewers best which is the extract kit which needs to be boiled and the RJS BrewHouse.

Edit: Okay I dont see the Brewhose kits there anymore and have pmed the owner cause they just switched forum companies and wonder if that didnt make the change or if he stopped selling it.
That was the first place I checked, and didn't see ANY brewing kits. Got the link to the right page?
 

Old Philosopher

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http://finevinewines.com/
This site sells both the Brewers best which is the extract kit which needs to be boiled and the RJS BrewHouse.

Edit: Okay I dont see the Brewhose kits there anymore and have pmed the owner cause they just switched forum companies and wonder if that didnt make the change or if he stopped selling it.
Okay, another senior moment. I found the area at FVW, and I also checked the brewery's web site. What I'm aiming at is a double-hopped, Irish-style pale ale. Whew...
So FVW offers:
American Lite Ale
American Amber Ale
Classic English Pale Ale

I'm thinking the English....
 

Wade E

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He stopped selling the Brewhouse due to the price he had to sell them at and the shipping to people just didnt justify the price which most of the time worked out to about $60 so he stopped selling them. Looks like this might be watch your sort of looking for http://www.finevinewines.com/ProdDetBB.asp?PartNumber=11013 or even the English Ale http://www.finevinewines.com/ProdDetBB.asp?PartNumber=11006 like you said. Check around though as there are plenty of places and these are boil kits which are easy but you will need a decent pot to do so and a sink full of ice to cool it down.
 

Wade E

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He is going to be switching Brands again to True Brew kits and they have 1 even closer to what you really want. here is a link and look down a little to the Belgian Ale.
http://crosby-baker.com/products.php?cat=106&nav=105

Give him a call or send him a pm and I bet he'll grab one up for you earlier. tell him I sent ya!
 

Old Philosopher

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He stopped selling the Brewhouse due to the price he had to sell them at and the shipping to people just didnt justify the price which most of the time worked out to about $60 so he stopped selling them. Looks like this might be watch your sort of looking for http://www.finevinewines.com/ProdDetBB.asp?PartNumber=11013 or even the English Ale http://www.finevinewines.com/ProdDetBB.asp?PartNumber=11006 like you said. Check around though as there are plenty of places and these are boil kits which are easy but you will need a decent pot to do so and a sink full of ice to cool it down.
Don't know if I'm ready to jump in with both feet that far, but cooling down is not a problem. I'll just set it outside in a snow bank. :D

Okay, just to be sure: I have 5 gallon buckets, I can get a 5 gallon carboy in about 15 minutes. I have racking siphons, hydrometer, airlocks, etc., etc. It sounds to me like all I need to round out a "kit" like I've seen is a "French spigot" to put in one of the buckets.

I got on another brewing site, and they have a thread about Mr. Beer kits. That's what SWMBO has her eye on, but everything I read said the beer was usually a failure, and it was only a good place to start for someone who had no equipment at all. Does that just about sum it up? I don't want to spend $50 and find, after 6 weeks, that I have 2 1/2 gallons of panther pee...
 

TheTooth

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Just say no to Mr. Beer...

You are hearing correctly. Mr. Beer is terrible. I have never heard of anyone being happy, although many have started with that and moved on to make beer they were willing to drink afterwards.

Honestly, you'll make the best beer when you can actually boil your wort. Barring that, you already have what you need from wine-making.

You can use a carboy or bucket to ferment in. You don't need a spigot at all... you can transfer and bottle using the same equipment you currently use for wine.
 

TheTooth

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Oh... one thing...

I almost forgot about the 5 gallon bucket/carboy statement in your last post.

Almost all beer ingredient kits are designed to make 5 gallons. A 5 gallon bucket/carboy won't be big enough to deal with the fermentation process and the krausen (foamy head) that it will produce. You'll want a bigger bucket or carboy (6.5 gallon is typical for this) for your primary fermentation.
 

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