So I am purchasing my brew kit this weekend and have a few questions before I do so. I watched a ton of YouTube videos yesterday and came to one glaring conclusion.... this really is an art. I don't think I saw one single brewer do the same exact thing nor use the same exact equipment.
On to my questions:
1. Glass or Better Bottle Carboy? I've read the forum here and it seems like there are mixed feeling on this.
2. If I wish to do a full boil to start out with am I going to have to invest in a Wort chiller? Do you even recommend full boils for my first brew?
3. I am looking at two stage fermentation for two reasons; I want a clearer final product and I want to have more than two cases of beer ready for the 4th of July. From what I have read two stage doesn't look much more involved than one stage fermentation. Again, first brew though, would you recommend it?
4. I am looking at the Brewing Starter Kit from Midwest Supplies
. Reading the reviews of this kit it looks like they left a few things out. So far I have added a brew spoon, a dial thermometer, and a strainer. What else, if anything, would you recommend for my first brew?
5. I wish to do my brewing outside. I have a stainless steel burner that came from an outdoor kitchen. It ran on NG. Does anyone know of an easy way to convert this to P.L.? Or should I just get a burner?
6. Still deciding on the Brew pot. This one depends on answers to above question I guess. Full or partial boil? Spigot or not?
Final question: One of the reasons I am brewing outside is that my indoor range is electric. Anyone had any problems brewing on electric range? It seems to me, never having brewed before, that it might be more difficult to control the heat. Should I just go ahead and invest in an outdoor burner and plan on doing all my brews outside?
Thanks in advance for any and all help.
1. I don't trust glass. I got my two carboys from a water distributor and they came with a plastic carrier like a milk crate and I still don't trust them. I've heard too many horror stories. In general, I only use glass for long secondary fermentations. I use Williams Brewing's platic buckets with spigots, and have for almost 20 years. YMMV.
2. Yes, you'll need a chiller. If you have the space for it, You can put ice water in a bucket with a spigot (Get two when you order) and let gravity draw it through the immersion chiller. If you must, you could put you kettle in a bath tub full of ice. What ever you can afford
3. After twenty years of brewing, I don't use secondary fermentation unless I'm adding fruit, or I want a strong beer to age without me getting my grubby mitts on it. Racking to secondary can cause oxidation. But if you must, most home brew shops sell CO2 rigs for kegging. I use them to purge the begs and carboys. For clearer beer, use finings like isinglass and gelatin. Tasty recommends filtering. I don't do it very often.
4. A notebook. Write stuff down.
5. No clue. Seek professional help. i use a burner outside.
6. At the risk of raising the Wrath of Mufasa, you can start out with partial boils, and chill your wort in an ice bath in the sink. To answer your last question now, I brewed on an electric range at first, too. But it takes too long to bring six gallons of liquid to a boil. In other words, partial boils only. Eventually, though you'll want to do a full wort boil anyway. Get the best kettle you can afford with a ball valve and a good chiller. If you want more than two cases of bottles, get at least a 15 gallon kettle. Twenty gallon would be better. Get those expenses out of the way now. When you add a pump you won't have to upgrade the kettle, too.
Final question: I brew outside all the time, unless it rains or gets above 95F for a significant portion of the day.
Free advice, which is probably what it's worth: Have fun doing it. You will make bad beer from time to time. I still screw things up. Don't give up. Ask questions here in the forum. We'll give a metric shit ton of answers, and one of them will work with your process. Also, watch someone brew in person. Especially when you decide to go all grain.