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Minimum needed to brew?

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1Minimum needed to brew? Empty Minimum needed to brew? on Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:32 pm

I want to start home-brewing, but I am a cheep bastard. I drink a lot of beer, so I know that I will need to stagger two 5 gallon batches at a time. What I want to know is if I can get away with just two 6.5 gal brew buckets that will double as bottling buckets, two airlocks, a pile of growlers and one 3 gal pot.

I've been reading a lot of how-to stuff and watching a lot of youtube in the last few days, from what I can tell that is all I will need to buy.

I plan on brewing stouts, porters, IPAs and browns.

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2Minimum needed to brew? Empty Re: Minimum needed to brew? on Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:03 pm

Bare bones, you could probably do it. I've never heard of anyone carbonating in growlers, but it can certainly be done in any vessel that can hold pressure.

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3Minimum needed to brew? Empty Re: Minimum needed to brew? on Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:09 pm

I'd pick up another bucket so you could rack the beer off the trub before you bottle. The less 'gunk' you end up bottling will be less gunk you possibly drink.

Growlers WILL NOT hold carbonation pressure. You're gonna have to bottle or keg. PS, kegging is easier and you can force carb beer in a few days.

IF you're hating the idea of washing/sanitizing/filling/capping 50 or so bottles per batch, look into a simple keg system. To me it's worth the time. I only bottled one batch, and decided the hours spent cleaning bottles was not worth my time.


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4Minimum needed to brew? Empty stagger at a time on Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:50 pm

not sure if "stagger 2 at a time" means both fermenting at the same time or one is always empty.

if they are both full then when one is ready to bottle you don't have an empty bottling bucket to work with. If one is always empty for bottling then you might as well use a carboy and a bottling bucket.

Instead of kegging you could use the tap a draft system (I'll sell you mine cheap) to fill up to 3 six liter PET bottles, bottle carbonating them, then serving from your fridge like a keg with disposable C02 cartridges.

A 3 gallon pot is small, but I guess there is an extract technique for partial boil and then adding cooled water. I have not tried that.

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5Minimum needed to brew? Empty Re: Minimum needed to brew? on Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:07 pm

I think you can get away with what you have - but only if you are going to do one batch at a time, and only if you are going to do all extract OR a partial mash with a tiny amount of grain added in. If you find you like brewing trust me, you'll want to get more equipment, starting with a much larger brew pot (minimum 5 gallons/20 quarts).

Also you may not want to tap both buckets as bottling buckets - I've got a problem letting yeast site in a spigot/grommeted piece for too long, afraid you may devolop a situation with that bucket.

So in closing:
3 gallon stock pot (SS hopefully) - extract brewing or minimal PM
6.5 gallon bucket - fermentation vessel
6.5 gallon bucket - bottling bucket
Growlers (enough to "bottle" 5 gallons of beer

If you do it this way, you'll be able to stagger your brews and have 5 gallons of beer initially in six weeks then every four weeks following (assuming you made a basic ale).

The brewing schedule would go something like this.

1.) make beer, put in primary for four weeks
2.) transfer beer to bottling bucket, add priming sugar, bottle in growlers. Simultaneously start new batch of beer.
3.) let beer in growlers sit for two weeks, then begin consumption.
4.) two weeks after you start consuming beer, bottle second batch, and brew third batch.
etc. etc.

I've just brewed 11 gallons of a blonde ale two weeks ago (5gal and 6 gal), those are getting transferred to secondary tonight so I can start a 5 gallon batch of a Heffe and a 6 gallon batch of pinot gris wine.

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6Minimum needed to brew? Empty Re: Minimum needed to brew? on Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:05 pm

Sounds sensible to me. Although I think you can tighten up the schedule some. Primary for an ale can finish in as little as 2 days, and rarely goes over 7. I've done some cream ales and basic wheat beers in a bottling bucket with a 3 week primary and no secondary, then bottled without racking and gotten really nice results.

But if you want you can primary in bucket #1, then rack to #2 for secondary (leaving #1 free for the next batch), and then bottle straight out of #2 when it's ready. You'll want to make sure you keep the exterior spigot sanitized. A sanitizes sandwich bag and a rubber band should do the trick nicely. You will get a little bit of yeast settling in the interior of the spigot, but that will purge as soon as you crack the valve (just toss out that first 1/2 cup of beer). Any yeast or trub that gets pulled off into your bottles will fall out after 2 days in the fridge, and it sounds like you'll be drinking it quickly enough that you don't have to worry about any long-term flavor stability.

Carbonating in growlers will be tough. Growler caps do a sorry job of holding pressure. If you want to bottle in bulk on the cheap, you could re-use some 2-liter seltzer bottles. At some point the seals on the caps will fail, and they're clear, so you have to keep them in the dark or the UV will skunk your beer. But they're only costing you $0.89/ea, so who really cares, right?

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