52
votes
6answers
5k views

What equipment do I need to buy to start making beer?

What is the minimum equipment to start brewing some good beer at home?
46
votes
3answers
12k views

What's the point of secondary fermentation?

I've always bottled directly after the primary fermentation has finished. What's the point of the secondary fermentation? Can I use a bucket or is it something that really necessitates a glass carboy?
36
votes
18answers
4k views

Improving Your Brewing Significantly

I made this wiki to allow folks to post what upgrades in process or equipement really take one's beer brewing to the next level. The bottle-necks to better and better brewing if you will. (This was ...
35
votes
25answers
36k views

How do you label your bottles?

How do you mark, label, or otherwise identify the contents of your bottles? I'm currently using masking tape and a marker, but I'm curious what most other people use.
34
votes
28answers
30k views

What software do most brewers use?

Just curious what most brewers are using these days as far as software goes. We are going to have to make a decision in the near future about this. BeerSmith? ProMash? BeerTools? Any others I haven'...
34
votes
6answers
12k views

How likely is contamination in an average batch?

I sanitize everything; carboy, bottles, bottle caps, tubing, funnels, etc; because I was essentially told that my beer would turn to deadly poison without it. I accept sterilizing the lot once ...
34
votes
24answers
17k views

What are the easiest and hardest commercial beer bottles to re-use for homebrew? [closed]

One of the great perks of homebrewing is the ability to reuse, rather than just recycle the bottles that come into your house. You just soak off the labels and re-use! All bottles are not created ...
30
votes
8answers
54k views

If/When to move to secondary fermentation

Digression from What's the point of secondary fermentation? What are the good rules of thumb for determining a. whether to use secondary fermentation at all and b. when to move from primary to ...
29
votes
21answers
20k views

Are there any tricks for removing labels from bottles?

Some labels can be a pain to remove. I've tried soaking bottles in water with a little bit of dish soap but it doesn't really do much to break down the adhesive. What methods do you have for easily ...
29
votes
2answers
858 views

How to clean yeast

I like reusing yeast to save money, and I like having my own "house" yeast. However sooner or later my yeast eventually dies and becomes unusable. I have a feeling that each time I repitch, I'm ...
28
votes
8answers
3k views

What's the point of going all-grain?

My extract beers are good, I think better than most commercial beers that I buy. Extract takes less time, less equipment and seems to produce great quality beers. Why do people do full grain?
28
votes
13answers
64k views

Too long in Primary Fermentation?

What's the maximum amount of time for primary fermentation, assuming the beer is going straight to bottles next? Will it over ferment and then fail to carbonate, if left too long in a carboy?
26
votes
12answers
23k views

How to add fruit to beer

What is the best way to add fruit to a beer? I'm afraid boiling it will break down the fruit too much (a muslin bag could fix this I guess), but I'm not sure how to add it to the fermenter without ...
26
votes
4answers
30k views

How do you sparge?

One of the biggest hurdles I came across when switching to all-grain was learning how to sparge. I honestly still don't think I do it 100% correctly. There are very detailed descriptions online, but ...
25
votes
14answers
42k views

What can I do with my spent grain after mashing?

After brewing a batch of beer, I always end up with ~14 lbs of spent grain that I usually just toss in a pile in the corner of the yard. Are there better things to do with it (i.e. cooking, baking, ...
25
votes
10answers
18k views

Brewing Solid Things: Can Leftover Yeast Be Used for Bread?

I find myself baking a couple loaves of bread just about every weekend. Has anyone tried reusing their yeast from brewing for baking bread? I've heard that using some of the spent grain in bread ...
24
votes
14answers
12k views

Good home brewing blogs

Any suggestions for good blogs aimed at home brewers?
23
votes
6answers
15k views

What are some alternatives to hops?

I have a friend that is allergic to hops and can not drink our beer (or just about any others for that matter). What alternatives do I have if I want to make a beer for him? What could I substitute ...
23
votes
9answers
58k views

What are the benefits of using brewing sugar over types of sugar?

In many kits I've used, the instructions recommend using brewing sugar. Of course it's okay to use other sources of sugar, but I was wondering whether there are any benefits of using brewing sugar ...
23
votes
7answers
2k views

Temperature Control for Fermentation

I am curious how everyone controls the temperature of their primary, especially those that live in the warmer climates. In Florida, where the temperatures can soar and remain in the 90's and above ...
22
votes
7answers
148k views

What are the various ways to remove chlorine/chloramine from tap water?

OK, I actually know how to remove chlorine, but I'd like to have the pros and cons of each method spelled out. I will post an answer and mark it as a community wiki. Please edit it with your input.
22
votes
1answer
1k views

Partial vs. Full Voume Wort Boil

The starting postion for most new extract brewers is to use a partial boil set up. Defined as using a pot smaller than the intended batch size, all the ingredients are boiled in a smaller volume. ...
21
votes
14answers
22k views

Fermentation Temperature Control Methods

What different methods do people use to maintain or control fermentation temps? This includes maintaining temps for both Ales and Lagers. For most climates, active control is necessary for doing ...
21
votes
4answers
718 views

Open-Fermented or Native Yeast Beers

I've always been very careful about control and sanitation with beer. But with my wine I do some native yeast Pinots, and some friends of mine are into the same with beers- they like funky, ...
20
votes
6answers
13k views

Is there anyway to tell if a glass bottle of beer is carbonated without opening it?

It would be great if I didn't have to ruin a bottle of beer by opening it to test to see if it carbonated. Is there any way to tell?
20
votes
2answers
17k views

What's the difference between 2-row and 6-row malt?

I know the difference has to do with how the grains grow on the stock, but I'm not completely sure what that difference is. It also seems like 2-row is more commonly used as a base malt, but I've seen ...
20
votes
7answers
1k views

About going all-grain

I have made 7 or 8 extract brews over the past year and am interested in moving up to all-grain. What equipment is needed, and what steps are added to the process.
20
votes
6answers
23k views

What is the difference between Clean, Sanitized and Sterilized?

What is the difference between Clean, Sanitized and Sterilized?
19
votes
6answers
16k views

[WIKI] Bottle Sanitizing Techniques - Pros & Cons

What are the pros and cons of each bottle sanitizing method? Let's look at time, equipment, quality of sanitation, and other factors. Post one answer for each method. Edit the answers if you have ...
19
votes
2answers
17k views

What is cold crashing?

What is cold crashing? When is it done? How long does it take? Best temperature to make it happen?
19
votes
3answers
20k views

What does gypsum do?

I'm brewing from an Austin Homebrew extract kit, and it came with some gypsum. I thought gypsum was only for modifying water chemistry, but there seems to be some other schools of thought around. So:...
19
votes
7answers
11k views

Can I condition in growlers?

I read up a decent amount on conditioning in growlers before attempting it. I wanted to share my experience and see if others had had similar experiences. The thinking, of course, is to minimize ...
18
votes
19answers
19k views

What do you get if you distill mead?

This is just out of curiosity... I mean if you distill beer, you get whiskey... if you distill wine, you get cognac/brandy... if you distill fermented molasses, you get rum... if you distill ...
18
votes
14answers
20k views

What are the most citrusy hops?

Which hops do you guys find are the most citrusy? I'm looking to create a super-citrusy IPA, and have limited experience with most hops.
18
votes
4answers
9k views

How to Properly Oxygenate Wort

How much oxygen do I need to put into my wort? I've heard that homebrewers need to aerate with an oxygen stone and either aquarium pumps or oxygen. Is this true, or is shaking my carboy enough to ...
18
votes
3answers
5k views

How Does a Hydrometer Work?

I know how to use my hydrometer, and I know what numbers to look at and write down on my brewing sheets, but I'm not sure what those numbers actually represent, or even what units I should use to ...
18
votes
1answer
539 views

Always making a starter vs. following package description

I have noticed that the smackpacks say on the package that the package is meant for a 5 gal. batch and that you should pour the pack directly into the wort. On the otherhand - nearly everyone tells ...
18
votes
9answers
9k views

How to add coffee/chicory to beer?

We have made a few coffee beers. Once we used a cheap coffee by brewing a strong pot and adding to the boil. It turned out very acidic. The next beer we brewer we went with a little higher OG 1.070 ...
17
votes
4answers
48k views

Carbonation Drops vs. Sugar?

I'm brewing my very first batch with an actual kit (I've used Mr. Beer before with decent results and wanted to do it right). I bought a recipe kit from Northern Brewer and I opted for the Cooper's ...
17
votes
6answers
9k views

No-rinse acid sanitizer - is there a risk?

My homebrewer friends recommend the StarSan acid sanitizer, hands-down. I tried it once and it foamed everywhere and left a bunch of rings in the carboy and the bottles. It made me paranoid that it ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Reusing yeast at home

Reusing yeast at home is something I'm incredibly interested in, but haven't found the time to learn enough about it just yet. What are the basic steps for harvesting, cultivating, or whatever other ...
17
votes
5answers
8k views

Alternatives to a hydrometer?

I can't seem to keep a hydrometer for more than a few brewing sessions. They either break from dropping them, going from hot to cold, or I've had the wax holding all of the lead pellets to the bottom ...
17
votes
4answers
28k views

How to grow yeast?

I have read that it is possible to grow your own yeast, but I have not been able to find exact instructions. I would like to grow my own yeast so that I don't have to spend money on those small ...
17
votes
4answers
4k views

How to store beer

When you buy beer that you plan to keep for a while (a while being more than a month or so), what's the best way to store it? Specifically, what are the rules for storing it cold or warm, on it's ...
17
votes
5answers
24k views

How long can I leave beer in the secondary fermenter?

My first home brew beer is ready to be bottled but I've been busy and haven't gotten around to it yet. The beer was in a primary fermenter for 2 weeks, then I racked it into a secondary fermenter (...
17
votes
4answers
10k views

What Type and Power of Microscope For Observing Yeast Cells

I'm interested in buying a microscope that I can use to observe yeast cells. Ideally, I'd like to use this to count cells in region and do calculations to get estimated populations (though I don't ...
17
votes
8answers
504 views

Brewing with a deadline

Occasionally I need to brew beer for an event, and I procrastinate. One time, I brewed a pretty hefty IPA, and went from boil to bottle (keg, actually) in about 10 days. It was pretty malty, ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

What happens in the bottle?

I often drink a bottle 2 or 3 days after bottling, and then often every day or 2 after that, and it's sometimes quite amazing to see those "rough edges" getting smoothed out. Can someone explain what ...
16
votes
7answers
9k views

Are beer kits any good?

I started my first homebrew a few days ago. I used a John Bull India Pale Ale beer kit made by Young's (West Midlands, UK). The airlock is bubbling away merrily and I've taken the lid off the ...
16
votes
9answers
17k views

Is it OK to starting fermentation while wort is still warm?

I'm just getting started, so in my first couple batches I realized I had a problem cooling the wort all the way down to 60°F/16°C recommended by my instructions. I boil all of my water, but I don't ...

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