Take the 2-minute tour ×
Homebrewing Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for dedicated home brewers and serious enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm wondering if someone could give some guidance on how I could go about starting up my own home brew. I have very little experience with brewing (I've only ever drunk beer), and I'd like to know the ins and outs of doing it at home.

So these are basically my main questions:

  • What guides/tutorials would best suit a complete beginner?
  • How much do I need to invest in equipment in order to make a decent yield (assuming that's a good thing)?
  • Leading on from the last one, would I start off brewing a small amount?
  • How long does it take to brew a 'typical' home-brew style beer?
  • I've heard that it can be quite dangerous - what do I have to watch out for?
  • And of course any other useful advice to set me off would be greatly appreciated!

I'm also interested in any of your own experiences or interesting stories that others might also find useful.

share|improve this question
    
I've noticed that there are no other real places that describe how to go about starting brewing for yourself at home. Maybe this Q&A could be turned into a Homebrewing forum guide? –  RedShift Apr 28 at 7:38
    
Something like this: meta.homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/375/… –  RedShift Apr 28 at 7:52
add comment

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The best way to get started is to find out if you have a friend, co-worker, or other acquaintance who brews and is willing to brew a batch or two with you. This is ideal as you don't need to buy anything to get started -- your friend will have it all. Of course, bringing a six-pack or buying the batch's ingredients is always a good gesture :). If you find you like brewing your new best buddy can also be an excellent resource.

If you don't know anyone who brews, your next best bet is to get a book or two. I got started when I receieved The Complete Joy of Homebrewing as a birthday gift one year. This book has everything you'll need to get you on your way. Another book option is How to Brew (the first edition is available for free).

I'm not sure which of these books I'd recommend over the other as they are both high quality resources. Check them out at your local bookstore (or sometimes Amazon has a preview of the first chapter or so) and see which you like more. You really can't go wrong with either, or both.

How much do I need to invest in equipment in order to make a decent yield (assuming that's a good thing)?

Most homebrew stores will sell you a starter kit that has all the equipment you need to get rolling plus the raw materials for your first batch. I'd say $200 is ballpark on what you could expect to spend for a decent setup to start.

Leading on from the last one, would I start of brewing a small amount?

Typical homebrew recipes are for a 5 gallon (19L) batch. You can brew larger batches but it requires more costly equipment.

How long does it take to brew a 'typical' home-brew style beer?

There isn't a "homebrew style" of beer. You can homebrew any style of beer you want: pale ales, ambers, stouts and so on. Some of these take months others turn around in weeks. I believe the first recipe on The Complete Joy of Homebrewing takes a total of around two weeks. So I guess the answer is the always helpful: it depends.

I've heard that it can be quite dangerous - what do I have to watch out for?

There's nothing particularly dangerous in homebrewing. You might get some over-carbonated bottles that explode. Aside from that quite a few different cleaning and santizing agents are commonly used in brewing which if misused could be harmful. Read the labels, follow instructions, you'll be fine. If you're unsure ask questions.

And of course any other useful advice to set me off would be greatly appreciated!

Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew.

share|improve this answer
1  
I'de also like to point out that while $200 can get you started, there is perhaps no limit to the amount of money you will spend on equipment over the future :) –  Matthew Moisen Apr 27 at 22:03
    
@MatthewMoisen So true! I was hesitant to put an actual dollar figure out there since you could probably spend less by being a bit creative. –  NoobsArePeople2 Apr 27 at 22:25
2  
This response is excellent. Thanks NoobsArePeople2. –  RedShift Apr 27 at 22:50
    
@RedShift Glad it's working for ya! –  NoobsArePeople2 Apr 27 at 23:09
    
@NoobsArePeople2 Should other threads be linked to this one. eg. the thread about the minimum amount of equipment? –  RedShift Apr 28 at 1:45
show 2 more comments

A great place to start is by reading the info from the American Homebrewers Association. It covers everything from equipment to ingredients to process.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/lets-brew/beginner/

share|improve this answer
    
Do you know of any other similar useful sites? –  RedShift Apr 28 at 7:35
    
There are probably others if you look around, but that's the best. –  Denny Conn Apr 28 at 15:42
add comment

I started about 5 months ago with a Mr. Beer kit that I received as a gift. Took less than an hour to get it to the fermenter and probably under two hours of total work and it makes ~2.5 gallons. I got the sanitizing and basic process down before moving onto a bigger kit.

A few weeks ago I spent $170 on a 5 gallon setup and another $50 on a beer recipe kit. I've been reading How to Brew, which begins with a very helpful crash course and step-by-step guide before going into brewing in much greater detail. Most Google searches have lead me to homebrewtalk.com, which has been a great resource.

I spent 4-5 hours getting the first five gallon batch to the fermenter (but could definitely be more efficient), another 30-45 minutes racking to the secondary a couple weeks later, then I assume another hour or so bottling... so, I'll probably end up spending less than 10 hours on it over 4-6 weeks.

My advice would be pretty simple -- dive in and get started. The books mentioned are good and the few home brew shops I've been to have been extremely helpful as well. You can find equipment kits as well as beer kits that come with pretty detailed instructions, which removes a lot of the guesswork on what to buy and what to do. Oh, and don't drink the last 1/2 inch of the bottle unless you really like yeast...

share|improve this answer
add comment

What guides/tutorials would best suit a complete beginner?

I personally learned most of what I know from the internet. The information on Northern Brewer's site in particular was useful.

After that I learned quite a bit from my LHBS and from various internet forums.

How much do I need to invest in equipment in order to make a decent yield (assuming that's a good thing)?

As has been said, a few hundred dollars to start. Keep in mind homebrewing is a hobby. Taste/quality aside, you will never be able to brew beer as cheaply (per unit) as the big commercial breweries. They have massive economies of scale. So don't think about "saving money" by homebrewing.

Leading on from the last one, would I start off brewing a small amount?

Typical homebrew batch size is 5 US gallons. You can brew in smaller batches (like one gallon) but since the labor is nearly the same you're usually better off doing larger batches.

How long does it take to brew a 'typical' home-brew style beer?

For me 5-6 weeks from brew day to finished beer in a glass. Keep in mind that some styles need to be aged longer (sometimes much longer). High gravity barleywine for example benefits from aging at least a year.

I've heard that it can be quite dangerous - what do I have to watch out for?

I'm not aware of any significant dangers, other than possibly burning yourself on the stove or dropping a full carboy on your foot. :)

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.