Episode-675- Building the Home Brewers Kit and Understanding Beer

I haven’t gone into home brewing for a long time and thought I might do a couple shows on it this week.  Today we start out not so much with how to brew (though we will cover it a bit) but the “hard items” you need to brew great beer at home.

Then tomorrow in part two we will go into tips and tricks for better brewing, some recipes I have developed and discovered over the years and more.

My hope is that more of the audience will take the time and effort to develop brewing and vinting as self sufficiency skill sets.

History has show that beer and wine are both usable as currency and to quote one of the father of our country, Benjamin Franklin, “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”.

Join me today as we discuss…

  • Basic Beer Knowledge
    • Mash, Partial Mash and Extract
    • What is the purpose of hops anyway
    • Ale vs. Lager
    • No you won’t go blind
    • Yep totally legal
    • No it doesn’t take forever
    • The goal is not more alcohol
    • It does save money, not over swill though
  • The Basic Home Brewers Kit (must haves)
    • The “kettle”
    • Fermenters (glass vs. plastic)
    • Overflow hose and plug
    • Airlocks
    • Racking Tube
    • Siphon Tubing
    • Filling Wand
    • Bottling Bucket
    • Capper and Caps
    • Sanitizer
    • Grain/Hop Bags – Muslin vs. Nylon
    • Bottle & Carboy Brushes
    • Stirring Spoon
    • Stove
    • Charlie’s Books
  • Completing the Kit (nice to haves)
    • Hydrometer
    • Floating Thermometer
    • Wort Chillers
    • Propane Cooker
    • Jet Washer
    • Bottle Rinser
    • Bottle Tree
  • The Basic Mash Extract Brewing Process
    • Clean, clean and clean
    • Add specialty grains (if called for)
    • Start heating up your water
    • Remove specialty grains prior boil
    • Add in extract and turn down/off heat, stir heavily
    • Now add bittering hops
    • Near end add flavor and or aroma hops
    • Chill wort
    • Rack to fermenter
    • Pitch Yeast
    • Ferment
    • Rack to secondary
    • Bottle
    • Drink

Additional Resources for Today’s Show


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29 Responses to Episode-675- Building the Home Brewers Kit and Understanding Beer

  1. Ah! I’ve been waiting for a show like this. Thanks Jack.

  2. FYI Jack, Broken link on the Midwest Brewing Supply link in the Resources list.

  3. johnnyboy41

    Ahh.. so a few weeks time and how to make Alka-Seltzer with a hangover.

  4. ComputerGuy

    Excellent tutorial. I have been brewing for 4 months now. Love making Ales, especially Bass Ale

  5. I wanted to add some info on the Better Bottle ( better-bottle.com) I like glass and not plastic buckets but these are great! I have not had any problems with these and they are handy for Brew days with the local brew clubs. Lugging around glass carboys with 5 gallons of beers is kinda lame. Just wanted to add that =)

  6. Great explenation of the “must haves” and the “nice to haves.” Everyone should know that brewing equipment is a multitasker. It can be used for wine and hard cider too 🙂
    great way to use all that extra fruit at harvest!

  7. matthew n gooseneck

    I have been waiting for a show like this to. now I need the How to make wine show.

  8. I’ve been brewing for a couple years now, and I wanted to weight in on extract vs all-grain: I usually do extract since it takes about half the time and costs about the same, unless there are livestock about, such as chickens.

    When we had chickens, I would dry the spent grains on a tarp and store them in a feed bag. When I fed it to them them, I would pour warm water on a bowl of dried spent malt – I called it “chicken oatmeal.” They LOVED it!

  9. Another comment about saving money doing home brew: In Canada, all alcohol is outrageously expensive, meaning that making your own beer at home will be far cheaper even than the “swill” you describe.

    You mention stainless steel pots. I use an enamel canning pot as a brew kettle, and I’ve been happy with it. It costs about one fiftieth of a stainless steel pot!

    -I love the term “buttwiper” for budweiser!

  10. Modern Survival

    @Trevor yep enamel is fine as well.

    @Brian COOL! Going to have to try those!

    @Oatmeal – Fixed it brother!

  11. Jack, I’ve heard you say many times how it amazes you that we (TSPers) often follow the same train of thought, but this time it amazed ME! I’ve just spent a good part of the morning looking for Cascade Rhizomes (no luck so far) and IMing a friend that’s a master brewer researching in hopes of getting my own hop vines going, and then you do this show today! Sweet!

  12. Modern Survival

    @Ross, just wait till tomorrow’s part two!

  13. Brent Eamer

    I concur with Trevor, Canadians pay very high taxes on liquor. I’ve been brewing for about 24 years. I use the canned kits, coopers, muntons etc. But cider and mead are now of interest. Have not listened to the show yet, but look forward to hearing anything about ‘all grain’

  14. Now I need to dig out my home brewing kit…

    And Jack you kill me when you say Al Gore invented the internet, it’s hard not to laugh out loud at work…

  15. Loving this show so far!

    I gave up brewing in favor of winemaking about 5 years ago but the equipment is somewhat universal. You’ve got me hyped up again. Now I just need to go drop some money for some ingredients. The wife will not be happy but I’m telling her the voice in my ipod made me do it. HAHAHA


  16. hey jack,
    how would using an old style wooden barrel as a fermenter work?? the one im looking at has a bung that could fit and airlock im including a link of an example:…….(…… http://www.crazycrow.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=CCTP&Product_Code=5101-110-005&Category_Code=820-150-000….)

    and why not make 10 gallon batches?? is there some technical hurdle to conquered with larger batches?

  17. This is #1 on my list of skills to learn. I was just thinking recently that I needed to search TSP for a past show like this. About to listen to it again


  18. Great subject! Have been doing wine off and on for years. Now how about some good shows on distilling?

  19. Very timely show, as my daughter, son-in-law, and I started brewing our own beer a couple of weeks ago. We live in MN, and my daughter and I went to Midwest Supplies a couple weeks ago to pick up the supplies to get us started. They were very helpful.
    My wife and I used to make wine, so we had a lot of the supplies that can be used for beer.
    Last weekend we started 6 gallons of Chianti, and are looking forward to sampling some of that on my birthday this August.

  20. @Jared – One of the cardinal rules with brewing is good sanitation. Therefore, I would never recommend using a barrel for fermenting beer. Like Jack’s picture, you want to use a glass carboy or a 6-7 gallon pail that is also smooth on the inside. Wood is porous and therefore susceptible to providing a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and other undesirables that would ruin your beer.

    Now, after fermentation is complete, and you want to serve a nice English Pale Ale in that barrel using a gravity feed for pouring, that is another story.

  21. LICountryboy

    Finally, after two years a follow up. And this time no one was banned from the forum and no ice storm.
    I have only heard the first one about 20 or so times.
    So I am sure I’ll listen to this one a lot as well, I definitely enjoyed this one. Gets us away from the doom and gloom.
    By the way, you still owe us a show on wine.
    And how about another show on solid values in fire arms?
    That was another goodie. And I am sure things have changed a bit in the surplus market.
    But I digress. Keep up the good work. I am looking forward to part 2.

  22. It *is* possible to get glass carboys from other sources. I would very strongly recommend against it however. ( this is largely why I’m not stating from where)
    Getting your carboy’s from brewing or winemaking suppliers is a safety thing. This way you know that the carboy you are buying is not contaminated with filler substances and industrial solvents. Just because it formally contained “alcohol” does not mean it’s safe. ( Methanol is an alcohol, as is industrial ethanol )

  23. timfromohio

    There are not words to describe the feeling of satisfaction one gets from pouring a fine beverage of one’s own creation at the end of a hard day’s work on the homestead!!!

  24. My $0.02 I have a handle like the orange one in the top left carboy of the picture. (I make wine not beer) I HATE that thing. I have found the best way to move a full 5-gal carboy is just squat down, grab the neck with one hand and put my other hand underneath and lift and carry.

    That orange thing just doesn’t work for me…I don’t know, its just goofy.

  25. Would a turkey fryer work to boil the wort? There are some on Craigslist for dirt cheap and it seems like the same idea – massive stainless steel pot and a burner, or am I missing something here?

  26. @Kyle – The burners are great but most of those pots for that are aluminum. If you find a steel one great but aluminum and acidic wort do not play nice together in the minds of just about all brewers.

    So big yes on the burner and be sure of the material on the pot.

  27. @Jared – About the Barrel. If you are just starting out then STAY AWAY FROM BARRELS!! Gary was right that sanitation is a major issue, and so is Oxygen!
    You want lots of oxygen in the wort prior to pitching yeast, because it is a yeast nutrient. As the yeast eat up that oxygen and sugar they produce CO2 and push all the oxygen out of the wort and the fermenter.

    Barrels are usable, but only in certain circumstances. First you can only use fresh barrels. They either need to be freshly made or freshly used from either a winery or a distillery. Like you need ascertain the barrel, rinse it thoroughly with 160 to 170 degree water, then be ready to put the beer in almost immediately.
    Next you have to consider the type of beer and size of the barrel. Beer doesn’t ferment well in a barrel, but aging a beer in a barrel there are only a few types that allow for strong oak flavor and high oxidation rates and they are usually sour beers like Gueze, Lambic, Flanders Red, ect…
    Also the typical barrel is 55 gallons, some are smaller, but as you go down in gallon size the surface area of contact for beer on oak increases and so does the speed at which the beer gathers oak flavor from the barrel, which can be bad in a short period of time.

    The best way for an oak character in your beer is Oak chips. The home brew shops sell them. Use a big metal tea strainer and put about an ounce of oak in for the last week of your fermentation/conditioning.
    Prior to putting the oak chips in the beer put a little 170 degree or higher water on them for a minute or microwave them with just enough water to cover them until it bubbles once that will kill anything then put the oak in your sanitized metal tea strainer and put it in the beer. 🙂

  28. Also @ Jared I make 10+ gallon batches all the time, you just have to take the recipe into consideration and it just doesn’t mean doubling the amount of ingredients. I suggest a good beer recipe program.
    These programs are great at letting you create your own recipes and help you figure out everything exactly.

    For more brewing info if you have questions check out http://www.homebrewtalk.com If you have a question its been asked and answered on there. Also if you just want to ask someone will respond fast. Also, has recipes.

    Brewing software

    BrewPal – Iphone/ipod

  29. I always will put my bottles in the dishwasher to sterilize them. Put the high heat drying on it and as long as they are clean you are good to go. Faster for me and never have had a problem.
    For siphon’s dont screw with anything but a Auto-Siphon http://www.midwestsupplies.com/1-2-auto-siphon.html. You can use these to bottle and rack real easy and if you lose your siphon just pump it and you are off and going again.
    Jack you have one of the best homebrewers also in your town. James Spencer had DVD’s out on how to along with a great pod-cast also. Would be great to hear him on an interview.