Tuesday, April 14, 2015

All you really need to make great beer.

Today, I will attempt to make a list of the things you really need to make great beer.  Not just OK beer.  Great Beer.  These are the things you need to make partial mash beer.  UPDATE: I HAVE 19 PARTIAL MASH RECIPES POSTED AT BREWTOAD.  JUST TYPE IN " ( REAL PARTIAL MASH ) "

  • A willingness to learn coupled with a willingness to try and fail
  • A desire to help others
  • 2 Large pots 4-5 gallons each
  • Some paint strainer bags
  • A 6.5 Gallon Fermenter or two...
    • or like most of us 6-11 fermenters
  • A colander or sieve
  • A wort chiller
    • I realize I don't always use one.  I'm not the best example to follow in that way.   But I'm a dinosaur who has been brewing since the 1st Bush Administration.
  • Some air locks
  • A hydrometer.
    • Refractometers are cool, but for my money use a hydrometer, the reading is what the reading is... no conversions, no calculations. 
  • A thermometer
  • A bottling bucket and some tubing
  • A couple of large 30 gallon buckets (think laundry tub)
    • For controlling fermentation temperatures
    • I found mine at garage sales for $1.00 each. 
You can get all of this for under $250.00.   And with it you can make great beer.  Dare I say competition quality beer.   That's it.   You don't need a $10 K  eHERMs system.   You don't need a 3 tier gravity fed  brew sculpture.  Now those things are cool.  And they make brewing easier, and in some cases more fun.   And I will admit... I may have some of those things.  But I (fingers crossed) kinda promised SWMBO that I wouldn't keep getting too much more... (sorry honey, yes I do need a sliding door refrigerator/fermentation chamber in the garage from the used Restaurant supply place if you want your whirlpool tub back)  I digress, where was I... oh yeah these things are cool...But you don't really need them.

Here are some things that are nice to have.  
  • A 5 gallon beverage cooler 
  • A ball valve for the cooler
  • A bottling wand
  • An aeration stone and an aquarium pump
  • A cheap turkey fryer with a large pot with a valve.  
    • you can do full volume boils with 2 pots on the stove, but one big pot is nice to have. 
      • I use and recommend the Cajun Injector Electric Turkey fryer.  it was about $100.00 and yes naysayers it can boil 6.5 gallons of wort.
All of these extra things cost you about $200.00.  So for $500 total you are truly set up to brew.  If you are industrious and if you are willing to go to garage sales, you can probably be set up with everything you could ever need to brew for less than $200.00 total.
This is my firm suggestion to you.   Give partial mash a try before you spend a bunch of money on a wort production system, try partial mash for a year or so.  You may find you never want to brew any other way.  Chris Colby editor of BYO and Beer and Wind Journal has written lots of great articles on partial mash, look them up.   http://byo.com/grains/item/2543-converting-to-partial-mash

If you're just itching to spend money on brewing, your first priority should be a temperature controlled fermentation system.   The guys at NC home brew have a great tutorial on this.  http://www.nchomebrewing.com/diy-mini-fridge-beer-fermentation-chamber-build/

So there you go.  This hobby doesn't have to be expensive, it does have to be fun and delicious.

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