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2012-12-04 7:49 PM

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Champion
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Alabama
Subject: Home brew beer
I've spoken with Mrs Clause (and have seen our debit card charges) and know I will be betting a nice home beer brewing kit for Christmas. I've noted that the kit o es with 60 bottle caps but no bottles so my mission right now is to 'produce' 60 bottles (not the twist-off type) so have enjoyed making empty bottles!

So I've been reading on-line and educating myself on home brewing. I am looking for any and all tips, suggestions, web stes, forums, etc. I have lots of questions and would like to meet other brewers who can answer questions as they arise. E.g. Do you label you beer? Is so, how? Can I order custom labels? Where do you store your beers? How many bottles do you make at at time?

~ Mike


2012-12-04 8:43 PM
in reply to: #4522133

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Champion
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Evergreen, Colorado
Subject: RE: Home brew beer

Rogillio - 2012-12-04 7:49 PM I've spoken with Mrs Clause (and have seen our debit card charges) and know I will be betting a nice home beer brewing kit for Christmas. I've noted that the kit o es with 60 bottle caps but no bottles so my mission right now is to 'produce' 60 bottles (not the twist-off type) so have enjoyed making empty bottles! So I've been reading on-line and educating myself on home brewing. I am looking for any and all tips, suggestions, web stes, forums, etc. I have lots of questions and would like to meet other brewers who can answer questions as they arise. E.g. Do you label you beer? Is so, how? Can I order custom labels? Where do you store your beers? How many bottles do you make at at time? ~ Mike

Not all commercial pop top bottles fit the homebrew caps well.  I had to cull my bottle collection when I left Texas.  I had accumulated 616 empty bottles.

I cut it down to just over 200 or so.  I even decided to check and see which ones fit best and eliminated the bottles that didn't.  Unfortunately I had taken all the labels off my bottles so I have no idea what brand names didn't fit well.  But sometimes it's worth sacrificing a cap to check...better to check when the bottles are empty then after they are already full.

General tips...
SANITIZE SANITIZE SANITIZE.  Nothing turns beer faster than bacteria.  Bleach is your friend.  I use the sanitize cycle of my dishwasher to sanitize my bottles before I fill them.  Soak anything else you plan to use (syphoning materials, etc.) in bleach.
Depending on what comes in your kit, you might want to invest in at least one extra 5 gallon bucket.  Typical process for beer is to brew on the stove or whatnot, then let it ferment for a bit in a food grade plastic bucket.  Then after a week(ish) you transfer it to a glass carboy (leaving lots of junk in the bottom of the original bucket).  Then you have to mix it back into the 5 gallon bucket with a carbonating agent before you bottle it.  If you have two 5 gallon buckets you can run two batches at once (a week apart).
I highly recommend seeking out a homebrew club.  Sometimes it's nice to watch the whole process once before trying it yourself.

I never bothered labeling my beer.  I would just try to use those case boxes (hit up your local liquor store) to group my like bottles together.  The farthest I ever went was to use a marker to label the caps with one letter...i.e. I for an IPA, S for a stout.  You get the idea.  That took a lot of the guesswork out.  Besides, after you've spent a few years soaking the labels off of hundreds of beer bottles you won't be the least inclined to add a label to your bottles...

If you really get serious you'll want to invest in kegs.  My beer always tasted better out of a keg.  And it avoids the potential for accidentally getting a flat batch.

I used to store my beer in a cool-ish closet.  Though I've seen some impressive walk in kegerators.

I haven't made beer in awhile, but I believe the typical 5 gallon batch makes about 48ish bottles of beer.  It's not an exact science and sometimes depends on how well you can syphon off the sludge at the bottom.

Oh, and you NEVER drink out of a homebrew bottle.  ALWAYS pour it into a glass.

Be EXTREMELY careful when cooking your beer.  You are dealing with super hot sugar water...I can attest from personal experience that it can and will burn your legs REALLY badly.  Watch it like a hawk especially on an electric stove where heat changes aren't instantaneous.

If you list out what the kit comes with I can probably recommend if there is anything else you should pick up to supplement it.

This Raspberry Porter was one of my FAVORITE recipes.

Fredericksberg Porter, Raspberry Option

5 Gallons, Extract with Grains

OG= 1.054 FG=1.012 IBU’s =14-16 ABV=5.5%

6.6 lbs. Amber Malt Extract

10 oz. Caramunic Malt

10 oz. Munich Malt

7 oz. Chocolate Malt

5 oz. Crystal 120 Malt

1 oz. Roasted Black Barley

Steep Grains for 30 minutes @ 150

3AAU Northern Brewer Hops, (0.33 oz. of 9% Alpha Acid) Bittering, 60
minutes with 1 tsp. Irish Moss

2.5AAU Willamette Hops, (0.5 oz. of 5% Alpha Acid) Flavor, last 20 minutes

2.4 AAU Kent Goldings Hops, (0.5 oz. of 4.8% Alpha Acid) Aroma, last 2
minutes

White Labs WLP001, California Ale or Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Ferment for 7 to 10 days and bottle when all signs of fermentation cease.

¾ cup Corn Sugar for priming if bottling.

All Grain Option, Replace the 6.6lbs malt extract with 8.25 lbs pale malt
ant mash @ 155 for 45 minutes.

Raspberry Option, Transfer to secondary fermenter after 5 to 6 days and add
4lb of unsweetened frozen raspberries. Bottle or keg after another 5 to 6
days. Add 1-1/3 oz (1/3 4 oz. bottle) of raspberry flavoring to keg or
priming bucket.

 

2012-12-04 8:52 PM
in reply to: #4522195

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Champion
10154
500050001002525
Alabama
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
Thanks!! Great stuff you posted, I'll post the kit contents tomorrow as it is on different computer.
2012-12-04 8:54 PM
in reply to: #4522133

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Pro
4277
20002000100100252525
Parker, CO
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
Sometime home brewer here. Started brewing my own back in the late 90s. Though the last decade or so I am lucky to brew one batch per year. It takes time...but is really pretty easy if you can boil water and keep things sanitized. I recommend The Complete Guide to Home Brewing. I believe it's in it's 4th edition by now but still very relevant. Not much has changed in beer making over time. I have never used a kit but most of my recipes are some variation from Charlie's book. I brew 5-gallon batches, about 48 bottles. I have mostly bottles with ceramic caps and just replace the washer each time, but also have a bottle capper. I have only labeled my beer a handful of times. I still have a bottle full with beer, labeled from our wedding, 15-years ago! I gave all the groomsmen a 6-pack and a custom beer stein. I owned a printing company back then and did the label printing myself.Most every year for Christmas I will do a batch but unfortunately, I just have not had time this year. The other day my son asked me if I was going to brew for this Christmas. Thellast couple times I have brewed he has helped me with the bottling. Maybe I'll have a batch bottled by the time the Superbowl comes around.Anyway, enjoy brewing. I know I do when I have the time.
2012-12-04 8:58 PM
in reply to: #4522133

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Champion
10154
500050001002525
Alabama
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
I recovered a couple of old beer bottles I found while scuba diving in Kwajalien atoll. They are Afro. 1943...WWII vintage. Do you think the caps will fit/seal on them? My wife said I should not use them as they are special bottles but I thought it would be cool to drink a brewski from a beer bottle drunk my a WWII serviceman in the South Pacific.
2012-12-04 9:02 PM
in reply to: #4522210

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Champion
10154
500050001002525
Alabama
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
rayd - 2012-12-04 8:54 PM

Sometime home brewer here. Started brewing my own back in the late 90s. Though the last decade or so I am lucky to brew one batch per year. It takes time...but is really pretty easy if you can boil water and keep things sanitized. I recommend The Complete Guide to Home Brewing. I believe it's in it's 4th edition by now but still very relevant. Not much has changed in beer making over time. I have never used a kit but most of my recipes are some variation from Charlie's book. I brew 5-gallon batches, about 48 bottles. I have mostly bottles with ceramic caps and just replace the washer each time, but also have a bottle capper. I have only labeled my beer a handful of times. I still have a bottle full with beer, labeled from our wedding, 15-years ago! I gave all the groomsmen a 6-pack and a custom beer stein. I owned a printing company back then and did the label printing myself.Most every year for Christmas I will do a batch but unfortunately, I just have not had time this year. The other day my son asked me if I was going to brew for this Christmas. Thellast couple times I have brewed he has helped me with the bottling. Maybe I'll have a batch bottled by the time the Superbowl comes around.Anyway, enjoy brewing. I know I do when I have the time.


Very cool! Thanks.


2012-12-05 5:27 AM
in reply to: #4522133

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Champion
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Checkin' out the podium girls
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
The large 22oz Heineken, Stella Artois or Belgian beers are great bottles. With those, you essentially cut your cleaning task in half.

Word of advice: Give your beer at least a month after bottling to allow sediment to harden and settle.
2012-12-05 7:53 AM
in reply to: #4522133

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Maine
Subject: RE: Home brew beer

Listen to jldicarlo, she covered the details great!  And that porter recipe looks fantastic.

Cleanliness is the first order of business, that will really help make sure you get a successful batch.  Clean everything.  The more care you take racking from bucket to carboy and back and bottling will reduce the amount of sediment in the bottles.

It's been a while since I brewed, but the best bottles were the returnables.  Heavier glass.  The larger bottles were good as well since it did cut down on the amount of cleaning and capping that was needed.  I never got into kegs, but that also looks like a nice route to go.

Most of all, enjoy!

2012-12-05 7:56 AM
in reply to: #4522133

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Home brew beer

Regarding bottle labels: I've found the easiest way to remove the labels is to let them soak in a sink of hot/warm water with a scoop of OxiClean....after about 15 minutes, the labels practically fall off.

That said, I would never put new labels on my home brew bottles....that would mean you'd have to go through the process of removing the labels again!  I also write some kind of code on the bottle cap in Sharpie (e.g. RA = red ale, FT = fat tire clone, etc). 

We typically like to let the beer ferment 1-2 weeks longer than called for, and let them condition in the bottles for at least a month before trying the first beer of a batch.  We store the bottles in a dark, cool closet.

We actually just bought a kegging system (it was delivered Monday night), so we'll see how our foray into kegging goes!  Have a Red Ale and a Black IPA in secondary right now....just about ready to go into the kegs

2012-12-05 8:00 AM
in reply to: #4522133

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Champion
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Checkin' out the podium girls
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
The flip-cap Grolsch bottles are also nice, but you need to buy and use brand new food-grade washers each time you seal them.

You can also use champagne bottles if you can get your capper to pinch down the top. The stand cappers are perfect for this, but the double-lever style is tricky. The champagne bottles are great since the sediment goes to the edges of the dimple and stays there.

I used to brew a ginger ale which, essentially, is a simple light ale made with light malt, saaz hops and 3oz fresh grated ginger in the secondary. An easy, delicious, refreshing beer.

Another tip: I would always buy liquid yeasts rather than the packet stuff. You can get a yeast which will accomodate the specific gravity of your wort and will add the flavor you're after. That citrusy, banana like flavor of a Wit beer (like Blue Moon) results from the yeast used, not the malt or hops. Be very picky about your yeast.

Edited by pitt83 2012-12-05 8:02 AM
2012-12-05 8:18 AM
in reply to: #4522133

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Master
2504
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Southwest Iowa
Subject: RE: Home brew beer

I would love to do this if I had the time.  I would love to have my own bourbon stout.  I will keep following this thread as I am interested in it, but don't have the time.

 



2012-12-05 9:26 AM
in reply to: #4522529

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Champion
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Evergreen, Colorado
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
ligersandtions - 2012-12-05 7:56 AM

Regarding bottle labels: I've found the easiest way to remove the labels is to let them soak in a sink of hot/warm water with a scoop of OxiClean....after about 15 minutes, the labels practically fall off.

That's my general method too...minus the oxiclean.  I just soaked them in the sink with any old dish soap.  The ones that are going to fall off easily will just fall off...then there will be the ones that make you scream and curse.  And when you're low on bottles you do scream and curse and use every one...once you get to over 600 bottles collected like I had you start to get picky and if a label is the least bit difficult the bottle ends up in recycling instead. :D  I've started doing the wine bottles in that way...I have more than enough wine bottles so if the labels don't come off easily it's the recycle bin for them!!!!

2012-12-05 9:28 AM
in reply to: #4522133

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over a barrier
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
My dad and I were home brewing from a few years and just bought the soda kegs and co2 and finally stopped bottling. Made life simpler.
2012-12-05 9:41 AM
in reply to: #4522133

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Elite
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Austin, TX
Gold member
Subject: RE: Home brew beer

For labels, just use regular paper on a home printer.  Attach using milk.  You read that right.  Get a small brush, wet the label with light coat of milk, and slap it on.  Once it dries, it makes an excellent adhesive.  The benefit and the caveat is that it washes off easily.  Don't expect to be able to throw the bottles in a cooler of ice.  In a fridge, though, it works great.  I keg all my beer, but still bottle some up on occasion for transport.

For a forum, I like Hombrew Talk.  Lots of good info on pretty much every topic: recipes, equipment, kegging.  They have an entire section for displaying and discussing labels.

I'm lucky to have one of the best homebrew places in the country here in my backyard: Austin Homebrew.  They do a huge mailorder business and have an amazing array of fantastic recipes.  The link goes directly to their recipes page.  All of the kits are available in either extract, mini mash, or all grain versions.  Currently on tap in my garage are the Oak Porter, Texas Kolsch, Aramis Saison, and Harvest Ale.  The Whiskey Barrel Porter and Demeter's Brew are conditioning in the secondary and waiting on an empty keg.  Oh, and AHS has a free label design for every one of their in-house recipes.  I put them on 3M Post It labels and use them for my taps.

 

If you can get Mrs. Claus to buy into an additional up front investment, I definitely recommend a kegging setup.  Cleaning, sterilizing, filling, and capping the bottles is a huge PITA.  Kegging: you sanitize the keg, siphon the beer into it, hook it up to CO2, and wait about 5 days.  For dispensing, find an old fridge or chest freezer.  Mine is a chest freezer that holds four kegs, the CO2 bottle, and a few six packs.  Enough to have plenty of variety on tap and never run out.

2012-12-05 9:52 AM
in reply to: #4522734

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Champion
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Checkin' out the podium girls
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
jldicarlo - 2012-12-05 10:26 AM

ligersandtions - 2012-12-05 7:56 AM

Regarding bottle labels: I've found the easiest way to remove the labels is to let them soak in a sink of hot/warm water with a scoop of OxiClean....after about 15 minutes, the labels practically fall off.

That's my general method too...minus the oxiclean.  I just soaked them in the sink with any old dish soap.  The ones that are going to fall off easily will just fall off...then there will be the ones that make you scream and curse.  And when you're low on bottles you do scream and curse and use every one...once you get to over 600 bottles collected like I had you start to get picky and if a label is the least bit difficult the bottle ends up in recycling instead. :D  I've started doing the wine bottles in that way...I have more than enough wine bottles so if the labels don't come off easily it's the recycle bin for them!!!!



Soap = NO!!!! residues will remain no matter how much rinsing you do. That emulsifies protein and makes things cloudy. Use sanitizers like bleach, sulfites or peroxides only!
2012-12-05 9:55 AM
in reply to: #4522133

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Expert
1111
1000100
Albuquerque, NM
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
Occasional home brewer here..

Every time I forget what a PIA bottling is, I brew a batch of beer. Then, after bottling, I remember how much it sucks and don't brew for a while. As of now, I have vowed no more brewing until I can figure out (corny) kegging.

If you are dead set on bottling.... get one of these:
http://morebeer.com/view_product/15964?gclid=CIqntffPg7QCFQhyQgod0y...


2012-12-05 10:04 AM
in reply to: #4522734

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Veteran
1677
1000500100252525
Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
jldicarlo - 2012-12-05 7:26 AM
ligersandtions - 2012-12-05 7:56 AM

Regarding bottle labels: I've found the easiest way to remove the labels is to let them soak in a sink of hot/warm water with a scoop of OxiClean....after about 15 minutes, the labels practically fall off.

That's my general method too...minus the oxiclean.  I just soaked them in the sink with any old dish soap.  The ones that are going to fall off easily will just fall off...then there will be the ones that make you scream and curse.  And when you're low on bottles you do scream and curse and use every one...once you get to over 600 bottles collected like I had you start to get picky and if a label is the least bit difficult the bottle ends up in recycling instead. :D  I've started doing the wine bottles in that way...I have more than enough wine bottles so if the labels don't come off easily it's the recycle bin for them!!!!

With the OxiClean, there are no labels that will make you scream and curse!  I remember some of the labels we removed trying to use soap....we ended up taking razor blades to eventually peel the labels off.  After we discovered OxiClean, even those labels just fell right off. 

So, to the OP, if you're going to stick with bottling for now (not a bad idea, honestly, until you decide brewing is a worthwhile enough hobby to sink some more money into), I highly recommend some warm water, OxiClean, and about 15 minutes of your time.  I've also never had any issues with residues or anything from the OxiClean (I think it's a detergent, not a soap). 

And then keep and reuse your de-labeled bottles as you work your way through your beer

2012-12-05 10:37 AM
in reply to: #4522840

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Sensei
Sin City
Subject: RE: Home brew beer

I never tried beer, but always wanted to.  I can't tell you how much wine I have made though over the years.  Maybe 100 gallons?

Just ME, but if I was going to make small batch beers often, I would be tempted to get the cool bottle with the wired/hinged lid with gasket.  Grolsch uses them.  I would start buying Grolsch over time and collect/save them.

 



Edited by Kido 2012-12-05 10:38 AM
2012-12-05 10:57 AM
in reply to: #4522133

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Expert
3126
2000100010025
Boise, ID
Subject: RE: Home brew beer

Question for you homebrewers (not to hijack, might be useful to the OP as well). 

A buddy of mine brews his own. The first batch tasted great, but a few of the bottles fizzed like mad when you opened them. Easy enough to get buy as most were fine.

But he just finished an oatmeal stout that tastes amazing but every stinking bottle has turned into a geyser. Like absolutely out of control empties the bottle type of geyser. One last week actually arced from the sink and hit the ground 12 feet away. 

So what causes this and how does he fix it?

2012-12-05 11:02 AM
in reply to: #4522996

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Champion
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Checkin' out the podium girls
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
Aarondb4 - 2012-12-05 11:57 AM

Question for you homebrewers (not to hijack, might be useful to the OP as well). 

A buddy of mine brews his own. The first batch tasted great, but a few of the bottles fizzed like mad when you opened them. Easy enough to get buy as most were fine.

But he just finished an oatmeal stout that tastes amazing but every stinking bottle has turned into a geyser. Like absolutely out of control empties the bottle type of geyser. One last week actually arced from the sink and hit the ground 12 feet away. 

So what causes this and how does he fix it?



Too much bottling sugar to carbonate. Reduce the amount of dextrose. Dissolve it first in a small aliquot ot the beer and reinstroduce it to the entire batch before racking and bottling to insure even distribution. Don't use table sugar sucrose either which is a disaccharide.
2012-12-05 11:03 AM
in reply to: #4522996

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Sensei
Sin City
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
Aarondb4 - 2012-12-05 8:57 AM

Question for you homebrewers (not to hijack, might be useful to the OP as well). 

A buddy of mine brews his own. The first batch tasted great, but a few of the bottles fizzed like mad when you opened them. Easy enough to get buy as most were fine.

But he just finished an oatmeal stout that tastes amazing but every stinking bottle has turned into a geyser. Like absolutely out of control empties the bottle type of geyser. One last week actually arced from the sink and hit the ground 12 feet away. 

So what causes this and how does he fix it?

Capped too soon.  Too much sugar remaining after bottling and too much CO2 from the little yeasties in there!  You want SOME to create the phizz, but not too much or you get that situation (or exploded bottles!).

I know in wine, the alcohol content gets high enough to kill the yeast and the remaining sugars stay as sugars (sweet wines).  I know you can add in stabilizers in wine, not sure about beer.



2012-12-05 11:32 AM
in reply to: #4523012

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Elite
3088
20001000252525
Austin, TX
Gold member
Subject: RE: Home brew beer

pitt83 - 2012-12-05 11:02 AM

Too much bottling sugar to carbonate. Reduce the amount of dextrose. Dissolve it first in a small aliquot ot the beer and reinstroduce it to the entire batch before racking and bottling to insure even distribution. Don't use table sugar sucrose either which is a disaccharide.

Reason #217 to go with kegging: you can precisely control the carbonation level and never end up with under- or over-carbonated beer.

2012-12-05 11:38 AM
in reply to: #4522133

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Master
1970
10005001001001001002525
Somewhere on the Tennessee River
Subject: RE: Home brew beer

Mike,

 I have a shelf full of Grolsch bottles that aren't being used for anything.  They are yours if you want them.   I don't know exactly how many as I'm not at home right now and can't check.   

Let me know.



Edited by MadMathemagician 2012-12-05 11:39 AM
2012-12-05 12:48 PM
in reply to: #4522133

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Expert
4227
2000200010010025
Subject: RE: Home brew beer

I am a huge fan of homebrewing... Here are a few suggestions:

1. Buy the complete joy of homebrewing by papazian - it's the bible.

2. Resist the temptation to brew online... Find a good homebrew store and go there.  Not only will you be supporting a local business but they will be there to help you when you need it most.

3. The more you workout --> the more you you get to drink.

4. Listen to people when they talk about sanitation... it will ruin a beer and there is nothing more depressing than having to throw out an entire batch.

5. Start small and then invest.  Resist the urge to go big when buying a kit.  Instead - invest in the minimum.  Once you get the hang of it - then you will be in a great position to go in your own direction.

2012-12-05 1:19 PM
in reply to: #4522133

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Champion
10154
500050001002525
Alabama
Subject: RE: Home brew beer
Thanks for all the great advice! I'm looking forward to getting the kit and giving it a try.

~Mike
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