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Suggestions for newbie

For Christmas I received a Brewing Starter Kit (won’t name the brand). I was given a fermentation bucket, lid, airlock, bottling bucket, autosiphon, capper, racking cane, sanitizer, soft tubing, hydrometer, 24- 22 oz bottles, and a True Brew Belgian Ale ingredient kit. I just bottled my brew last night, and while I’m waiting I figured I should pick up a few things to help my next batch. I’ve read secondary fermentation is a great thing to do, So I wanted to get a carboy, bung, airlock and handle. Any suggestions? 7 gal? My true Brew kit came with priming sugar. I wanted to brew up some of this Caribou Slobber everyone raves about, so I wasn’t sure which priming option and yeast I would be best off with. I’m very new, so any help would be greatly appreciated. I realize as I get further along brewing, I’ll learn more and get better, just like anything else. I was just hoping to shorten the learning curve a little. Thanks in advance!

For secondaries, there is nothing wrong with the cheap ale pail.

I also suggest buckets for cleaning ability. Search buckets vs. carboys on this forum and youll see a huge thread of pros and cons for both. Most people will probably say the best thing you can do is control the temp as best you can(just keep it in a cool room) and then give it plenty of time on the yeast. I suggest three weeks on the yeast cake. IT gives the yeast enough time to clean up after itself.

Great point! Buckets were super easy to clean. Also, being so green, I followed the instructions that came with the ingredient kit, and waited just over a week from start of fermentation to bottling. What is the preferred priming method?

I’m also still fairly green, but a couple of things I’ve discovered-- Buckets may be slightly easier to clean, but carboys are not that difficult to clean. Fill them to the brim with water, dump in 2 oz of PBW Cleaner, soak it over night, and it’s nearly spotless. Plus, buckets allow oxygen to pass through, so they are less desirable for secondaries. Glass does not allow oxygen to pass through. Also, you can watch what’s happening in glass. As for size, you might eventually want both a 5 gallon and a 6 gallon. With a 5 gallon as a secondary, you have less oxygen space at the top of the beer, which is less exposure to oxygen for your beer. I hear that’s a good thing.

Fermentors, fermentors, fermentors! Figure out which you like best (Buckets, better bottles, carboys) and buy a few. You can never have enough fermentors. I have a few of each and like fermenting in a Better Bottle because you can see what’s going on. But if I was forced to choose and live with only one, it would be the bucket. They’re easy to move, store, clean, etc… They’re great to have around for so many purposes. Carboys and Better Bottles have only 1 use.

A few other tips, Oxyclean Free works just as well as PBW and is much cheaper. If and when you get into partial mashing or all grain brewing, try to find bulk group buys for grain and hops. It’s MUCH cheaper than buying retail. You can get hops for well under $1/oz and grain for as low as 50¢/lb if you buy in bulk and with a group of other brewers. The best way to do that is to find and join a brewing club.

Congrats on the new hobby! Good luck with your brewing and welcome to the obsession :twisted:

I suggest don’t buy anything yet and just get a few more kits under your belt and get some more bottles as you will need them. :slight_smile:

Also, try Moose Drool before trying the Caribou to see if you like it. I have it in bottles right now and I’m hoping it’s a bit different than the real thing as I was not a fan of MD.

GarretD makes an excellent point. Make what you like to drink. I am not a fan of Brown Ales so a Caribou Slobber would not be a beer I would make.

It is more pricy, but if you have a liquor store that does mix-n-match 6pks, try different styles from different breweries.

And there is no need for a secondary. Leave the beer in your primary (buckets are fine) for 2-3 weeks. Then bottle.

And bottle 1 soda bottle. Squeeze the air out and screw the cap on. You can see/feel the carbonation forming. No need to wonder what is happening in the glass.

Secondary’s are not all that necessary especially for low gravity brews. I’d suggest picking up another fermenter (6, 6.5gal) so you can ferment two brews. Also, if you decide to secondary, a 6.5 gallon carboy works as well as a 5gallon one. It won’t be long before you decide you’ll need a 3rd, and then 4th and then…

and then you have 10-12 cases of beer in a closet but are worried you may need more bottles… a minifridge sitting at 35F lagering your first Oktoberfest… a double tap kegerator hooked up to 2 fresh kegs, but all you can think about is kicking one so you can get your next beer kegged… 6 or 7 five gallon home buckets full of Pils, 2Row, Wheat, Vienna malts… the entire door of your freezer has been taken over by vacuum sealed bags of many different varieties of hops…

I started doing this a few batches back… but not for the reason stated. I ran out of bottles and needed another vessel to fill :slight_smile: As the conditioning went on, I found that it was a good indicator of what was happening in the bottle.

Good stuff guys! I like just about any kind of beer. I’ve been drinking everything under the sun for a while now, and rarely come across something I can’t drink. The more to a beer, the better in my book. I’ll keep you posted as to how this Belgian Ale comes out.

I agree with the “Brew what you drink” thinking. I also would recommend buckets because they are easier to clean and store and won’t break into a thousand shards. Another bit of advice, I did a secondary on all my beers for a few years, then got lazy and skipped the secondary and I have to tell you I can’t see any difference in my beers. I only brew modest gravity beers and any sediment goes to the bottom of the bottle anyway. Now I’m kegging and my beers are still super clean. There may be some sediment in the last few beers but not enough to warrant me doing a secondary again. JMO. Do what pleases you and you can’t go wrong. And yes, acquire more bottles.

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