44
votes
4answers
3k 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?
38
votes
3answers
7k 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? ...
32
votes
16answers
3k 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 ...
30
votes
24answers
13k 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 ...
29
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
28
votes
26answers
14k 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 ...
26
votes
22answers
21k 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.
25
votes
16answers
10k 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 ...
24
votes
2answers
767 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 ...
23
votes
8answers
2k 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?
22
votes
14answers
7k views

Good home brewing blogs

Any suggestions for good blogs aimed at home brewers?
22
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 ...
21
votes
12answers
23k 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, ...
21
votes
12answers
36k 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?
21
votes
4answers
661 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
9answers
9k 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 ...
20
votes
12answers
16k views

[WIKI] 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 ...
19
votes
7answers
36k 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
15k 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 ...
19
votes
7answers
7k 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
6answers
7k 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?
18
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.
18
votes
8answers
28k 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 ...
18
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. ...
17
votes
7answers
11k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
10k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
11k 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. ...
17
votes
8answers
426 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, ...
16
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
11k views

What is the difference between Clean, Sanitized and Sterilized?

What is the difference between Clean, Sanitized and Sterilized?
16
votes
1answer
9k views

[WIKI] How Do You Calculate Original Gravity?

This is a community wiki post. Anybody with more than 100 reputation can edit it. You may also post your own answer. I get no reputation if you vote the question up or down, however, please vote up if ...
16
votes
6answers
15k views

What happens when beer freezes?

After a bit of trouble with a thermostat on a 2nd hand fridge, I discovered that my latest batch of bottled, ready-to-drink brew had frozen. What happens to beer when it freezes? Will the taste be ...
16
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 ...
15
votes
13answers
9k 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.
15
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 ...
15
votes
4answers
65k 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.
15
votes
6answers
9k views

What's the difference between primary & secondary fermentation?

Over here PJ asked "How do you differentiate primary to secondary if you keep it in the same bucket?"
15
votes
12answers
3k views

Is an immersion chiller really necessary?

I have been reading here about immersion, counterflow and plate chillers and they don't seem to chill the wort much faster than my current method; ice. Many people have stated that their chillers ...
15
votes
3answers
752 views

Is it possible to make a beer worthy of a competition with malt extract?

I was wondering if it's possible to make a beer worthy of entering a competition that stands a chance of doing well. I'm still pretty new to brewing but wanted to know if I need to make the jump to ...
15
votes
9answers
7k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
13k views

What is cold crashing?

What is cold crashing? When is it done? How long does it take? Best temperature to make it happen?
15
votes
6answers
4k views

How much water does a wort chiller use?

I am thinking on buying an immersion chiller and from other threads I've thought of using the post-chiller hot water for cleanup, and I've also heard of using the water (after it starts to cool down) ...
15
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
10k views

What is the secondary fermentation debate?

This question mentions a debate about secondary fermentation. Sort of like the existence of dark matter, everything I have read about homebrewing points to there being some disagreement about ...
14
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
783 views

First Time Homebrewer Setup

There was a request for difficult questions, but having never brewed, this is all I've got: Can you describe the most basic setup (preferably one with a reasonably low difficulty and high success ...
14
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
14
votes
8answers
2k views

How would one go about growing their own hops?

Ignoring the downsides (Hops: buy vs. grow), how would one grow hops in their backyard? I know that it grows 30 feet tall and that you cut it to the ground in the winter, but how do you get started ...
14
votes
4answers
105k views

How long do I have to finish a keg once it's been tapped?

I have a kegerator setup with CO2 and a tap. Once a keg has been put into the kegerator, how long will it stay good? What can I do to ensure that I get the longest life possible out of a keg once ...

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