Brewer’s Best® Equipment Kit contains:
-6.5 Gallon “Ale Pail” Primary Fermenter with Lid
-6.5 Gallon “Ale Pail” Bottling Bucket with Spigot
-Easy Clean No-Rinse Cleanser
-Siphon and Bottling Setup
-“Home Beermaking” Book
-Liquid Crystal Thermometer
-Twin Lever Capper
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6/30/2012 -- Would this kit work fine for ciders? Or should I buy the wine cider kit? I figured if this would be fine for ciders, I wouldn't have to buy kit for beer and wine!
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: This kit works fine for ciders. Traditionally, hard ciders being of lwer alcohol than wines or (most) meads, they will be in the primary fermenter for a very short time, and the plastic bucket works great for that. The only caveat I would make is that if you also make beers, you should not use the same bucket for beer as you do for cider, since the plastic is porous and can cause off-falvors going back and forth between the two.
6/16/2006 -- I bought a Vintners Reserve wine kit, and in the primary fermentation it says to "cover the primary fermenter and place...". It dosen't say to use an airlock or anything. I was thinking that just covering it with a lid would lead to a lot of gas build up. Is just a lid what I am supposed to use?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: The lid should have a drilled hole in the top for an airlock, and you should use the airlock half-filled with water to prevent ambient air from getting in. I'll also forward your comment back to the manufacturer to see if they had another intention, or if the wording in the instructions is just mis-stated. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
6/5/2006 -- I am interested in home brewing, but really don't know where to begin. I really enjoy dark beers such as Newcastle, Trois Pistoles, Guinness and several others. Occasionally I drink Heineken, Becks and Sam Adams. Any ideas and suggestions would be very helpful. Also what is "refermented on yeast base" referring to?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Beginning homebrewing is actually a fairly simple process. There are some basic equipment items that you would need to get started, and the actual brewing is much like cooking a soup or stew.
Basic equipment includes a stainless steel stockpot for boiling. I can sell you an expensive one, but perfectly acceptable cheaper ones are available at Big Lots, Walmart, and other stores. 16 to 20 quarts works for extract brewing.
Other items include a bucket or carboy (large glass jug) for fermenting in, a bucket with spigot to bottle from, siphoning tools, a bottle capper, and some sort of stopper with an airlock. Some other items that are nice to have are a hydrometer (for checking specific gravities at various times in the process), a thermometer, and cleaning equipment. The True Brew, Brewers Best, or Home Brew Select beginner equipment kits all have these items, and are a great investment. Most homebrewing kits are packaged with a 5-gallon batch size as the industry standard. You will find some 2-1/2 gallon kits (like Mr. Beer), but support for the smaller sized kits is limited.
For beginners, I recommend starting out with kit beers. These are boxed or canned extract recipes that are already formulated for a particular style of beer. By following the instructions, you can brew your first batch in about an hour and a half, and be drinking it within two to three weeks. I heartily recommend the Home Brew Select line, as these are recipes that my partner and I have developed over time with much trial and error, and are quite proud of the results. Other brands that produce good beers are True Brew, Brewers Best, Muntons, and Edme, although any of the kits we list are good. We have brewed at least one of every kit we sell, and don't carry them if they don't turn out well. In addition, I can recommend a couple very good books on the subject, and our info email and toll-free number are always available for assistance.
Some recommedations for the commercial beers you've listed are:
Newcastle Brown = HBS American Presidents Brown or Munton's Connoisseur Nut Brown
Trois Pistoles - I've never had it, so I can't say
Guinness = HBS Show Me Stout or True Brew Irish Stout
Heineken = HBS Mid-continental lager
Becks = Brewmart Czech Pilsner
Sam Adams = HBS Patron Saint of Vienna Lager
Refermented on yeast base is a term used when brewers reuse the yeast from one batch to start another, rather than starting with a fresh packet of yeast each time. With careful sanitation, yeast can be cultured from batch to batch over time, eventually resulting in a mutated strain that takes on the charactersitics of the beers it has been used for. Several breweries in Belgium and Holland use this method to produce Abbey dubbels and triples.
5/3/2006 -- The wording is vague - do I need the wine yeast and the citric acid or does it come with it?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: The citric acid and wine yeast are sold separately. However, as you are not the first person to raise the question of a bundled "starter set", we've put together a complete kit. Look under "Starter Kits".
2/20/2006 -- I got one of your Brewer's Best starter kits for Christmas and I'm currently browsing available beer kits for my first batch. I prefer lighter beers -- darker than amber = not interested. My commercial favorites include Carlsberg, Oranjeboom, Kronenburg, Heineken and most hefeweizen-style beers. Based on this, what kits would you recommend?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: You mentioned a wide variety of lager style beers, and I will try to match them with kits we have available. First, there are two levels of difficulty for beginning brewers - the "all malt" kits and the partial-grain kits.
For all-malt kits, my first recommendation would be the True Brew line. These are complete kits, requiring no additional sugar, malt, hops, etc. they are completely self contained. I would recommend the American Wheat (stock #K12), Continental Lager (stock #K20) or the pilsner (stock #K26) to start with. These are all fairly light beers with a short fermentation cycle, and good recipes to get started on.
In the partial grain arena, I would recommend the Home Brew Select line. These recipes are ones that my partners and I have developed over time, and "play tested" on our friends and relatives. Again, the Wagon Wheel Wheat (HBS010) would be a good one to start with, as would the Mid-continental Pilsner (HBS011) or the Missouri Steamboat (California common-HBS002). Each of these includes some grains that need to be steeped, and hops pellets that need to be infused/boiled. Full instructions come with each kit.
If you have any more detailed questions, feel free to use our toll-free number (800) 285-4695. You will be talking to Robin, who knows just about everything about every kit in the store. You can also email her directly at Robin@homebrewsupply.com
2/19/2006 -- Does your True Beginners Break kit include an auto syphon?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: The True Brew kit includes a racking cane, bottle filler, and several feet of siphon hose, but no auto-siphon. We do have the autosiphon available at an additional cost.
8/30/2005 -- I was wondering the differences in the Brewers Best and True Brew starter kits. Also if I opt for the Beginners Break, what will I need to buy the next time I brew? If you could give me a run down from extracts to whole grains, hops and yeasts. Thank you so much for getting me that much closer to my first batch!
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: The short answer is that there is no real difference between the BB and TB kits - different manufacturers of the buckets, and a different booklet in each kit. The bits-n-pieces are pretty much the same. I can get you an item-by-item comparison if you're interested in that level of detail.
The Beginners Break is designed to get the first batch into your hands. The kit that comes with each "break" includes a complete set of basic ingredients to make an average 5-gallon batch. The BB version is a pre-hopped can of liquid malt with 3 pounds of corn sugar. This makes a good tasting basic beer. The TB version includes a True Brew kit, which has liquid malt (dry malt in some cases), hop oil, etc. It is a more "high-end" kit, but still basic.
Follow on ingredients can be as simple as replacing the kit that comes with the "break" - both the boxed kits and the canned kits make very good beers with minimal effort and minimal time. The best boxed kits we carry are the Home Brew Select line, which are recipes that my partner and I have developed and play-tested over the years before releasing to the public. Most of those are partial-grain recipes, but all come complete.
If you wish to start developing your own recipes, typical profiles will have between 4 and 7 pounds of malt extract (dry or liquid), a half-pound to a pound or so of grain (adjunct), 1 to 3 ounces of hops, a dry yeast (ale or lager), and occasionally an adjunct flavoring such as fruit extract or licorice root for example. All grain recipes will run 7 to 12 pounds of grains in place of the malt extracts, and include a mashing schedule to convert the starch in the grains to fermentable sugars.
Corn sugar is used to boost the alcohol content of a batch without adding flavor, body, or color to the finished beer. The BB "break" includes corn sugar as the additional fermentable with the Ironmaster kit. In general, I prefer to use malt extract as the kicker, since I get a fuller-bodied beer with more flavor that way. However, many people prefer corn sugar because it is very inexpensive. Corn sugar runs about $1.25 a pound while malt syrup runs $2 a pound in bulk and just over $3 a pound in cans. Dry malt extract runs $5 a pound. Depending on your personal preferences, ingredients for a 5 gallon batch will run anywhere from $18 (canned kit + corn sugar) to over $30 (high alcohol heavy HBS boxed kit). All-grain batches come in a little cheaper, since you have to mash the grains yourself. I've done an all-grain American light for as little as $11.
7/12/2005 -- Does this kit include a boiling kettle or will I need to provide my own?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: No, the kit does not include a brew kettle, so you will have to provide your own or purchase one separately.
The best brewpots are stainless steel, although enameled pots (like a canning kettle) work nearly as well. I would use copper or aluminum only as a last resort. Although I sell stainless steel brewpots, you can find inexpensive ones that work well for beginners at stores such as Big Lots or K-Mart. I found a 4-pot set (1 each 2-gal, 3-gal, 4-gal, and 5-gal) at Big Lots for under $40 just a few months ago. As you advance in the brewing hobby, or if you try all-grain brewing, you will need a pot that will hold 8 to 12 gallons in order to consistently produce 5-gal batches, but the 4- and 5-gal pots work well for extract and partial grain recipes.
3/8/2005 -- I'd like to see a complete list of the items included in your Home Brew Starter Kit. Is there a link to one, or can you send me the information?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: The complete equipment package contains everything a beginner brewer needs to make beer except boiling pot, bottles, & caps.
Brewer's Best™ Equipment Kit (Item #1000) Contains:
>6.5 Gallon "Ale Pail" (Primary Fermenter with Drilled & Grommeted Lid)
>6.5 Gallon "Ale Pail" (Bottling Bucket, pre-drilled for the spigot, which is included)
>"Easy Clean" No-Rinse Cleanser
>Siphon & Bottling Set-up (bottling wand, racking tube, and 3-feet of siphon tubing)
>"Home Beermaking" Text
>Hydrometer (for measuring specific gravities)
>Liquid Crystal Thermometer (stick-on type for the outside of the fermenting bucket)
>Bucket Clip (for securing the racking tube to the side of the bucket)
The True Brew Equipment Kit is very similar, and includes:
>the True Brew Handbook
>6.5 gallon Primary Fermeting Bucket with drilled and grommetted lid
>6.5 gallon Bottling Bucket with spigot
>True Brew Rack & Fill kit including:
>>True Brew Spring Filler
>>5' flex tubing
>>24" curved racking cane with tip
>Double Lever Capper
>C-Brite Sanitizing Cleanser
>Fermometer (fermenting thermometer)
Also, if you order the beginners break version of either, you get the first set of ingredients at a discount.
12/1/2004 -- I've seen other beer brewing beginner's kits that make smaller amounts of beer in each batch (2.5 gal instead of 5 gal). They seem to require less time to brew and I would think they would be better for beginners who want to perfect their technique without wasting so much beer. Does brewing in smaller batches affect the quality? What are the advantages and disadvantages of brewing a smaller amount. Do you sell any beginners kits for smaller batches?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: I will answer the second concern first. No, there is no negative effect on the beer flavor or quality brewing in smaller batches. I have experiemented with batches as small as 1 gallon and as large as 15 gallons with no significant problems.
For customers who have the 2.5-gallon, there are ways to adapt the 5-gallon standard kits for 2.5 gallon fermenters. See the earlier questions below for a greater explanation.
However, that being said... the half-sized kits which you are probably seeing are either produced by a company called Mr. Beer or one called Real Beer. While the size of the batches are not in question, the quality of the beer produced by these kits is significantly lower than with other kits due to two factors: substandard equipment and incorrect instructions. Among some of the more common problems are air leaks in the fermenter (oxidized (skunky) beer), serving directly from the fermenter (no carbonation, and dead yeast causing off-flavors), incorrect instructions regarding sanitation (producing any number of bad tastes), incorrect amounts and types of additional sugars (cidery aftertaste), and excessive costs associated with additional ingredients (follow-on kits for 2.5-gal systems cost roughly the same as for 5-gal systems... essentially double the cost.)
One final thought - neither Mr. Beer nor Real Beer deals primarily with legitimate homebrew supply stores. Both companies prefer to market their product through supermarket stores such as Venture, Target, Cabellas, K-Mart, and AAFES. These outlets provide a huge market for the quick sale of a starter kit, but do not normally carry replacement ingredients or spare parts to support the product after the initial sale. In addition, none of them have the knowledgable staff available to provide assistance through the brewing process, answer questions regarding technique, procedure, ingredients, etc., or support in the form of books, handouts, and/or classes. These companies do not like to deal with mainstream brewshops partly because of the lack of mass marketing capability.
For an unpaid/unsolicited evaluation of the Mr. Beer system, see the article at http://www.thehomebrewstore.com/hbs4.htm
11/29/2004 -- I'm thinking of purchasing a kit for my father-in-law for Christmas. He is not a home brewer, but I think he'd enjoy it. I don't want to spend a lot of money, in case he doesn't find it fun and rewarding; however, I have no idea where to start.
Do I simply purchase a recipe and bottles or is there more to it than that?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: We have a basic starter kit that is very reasonably priced, and includes all of the basic equipment necessary to get started as a brewer. The True Brew equipment kit, includes a fermenter, bottling bucket, siphon tools, bottle capper, hydrometer and thermometer, and other items. With the exception of the included cleanser, all the equipment is reusable. I started with this kit in 1995, and still use the original bucket and fermenter.
In addition, we have found that many people who receive the equipment kit as a gift never open the box or try it out. After asking the question of a number of new brewers, we came to the conclusion that the additional step of finding their own ingredients actually was what held them back from trying it out. So, the "beginners break" includes an extract beer kit with additional corn sugar, and enough bottle caps to bottle a 5-gallon batch. The ingredients retail for around $25.00 when bought separately, but we reduce the price as part of a "combination discount". In short, the only thing missing is the bottles. (We don't include the bottles, partly because it significantly increases the price, and partly because many people have a source for recycled crown-cap bottles)
Essentially, you can get your father started with equipment and ingredients for his first batch for less than $90 (plus freight.) We also include complete instructions for brewing the first batch, and provide our email help-line and toll free phone number for technical support.
If you'd like to hear more details about getting started in brewing, I encourage you to call the shop between 10 and 4 Central Time on Tues, Thurs, Fri, or Saturday and talk with Robin or Doug about it. The number is (800) 285-4695. You can also email our information line at email@example.com.
Incidentally, we also have a beginners wine making kit for under $100, a 1-gallon beginners mead kit for around $25, and a beginners soda pop kit for under $30 - all of which make excellent gifts.
7/28/2004 -- Do you sell Coopers home brew starter packs with all the essential gear for brewing and bottling etc?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: We carry the True Brew or Brewers Best starter pack for equipment. Both have all the equipment you need to get started (except a brew pot.)
We do carry a complete line of Coopers liquid-malt ingredient kits as well as Coopers unhopped liquid malt extracts. Look in the section labeled 'malts, grains, and extracts', and select "Beer Kits by Brandname" for the Coopers kits. Select "Malt Extracts" to find the unhopped LME.
5/5/2004 -- Out of curiosity, how many gallons does this make?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Both the fermenting bucket and the bottling bucket ar six-and-a-half gallons in size. If you were to allow head-space (room for the foam) during the ferment, you could go up to about 5-1/2 gallons without worry. If you were to use a blow-off tube (a tube that carries the foam into a separate bottle or jar next to the fermenter) then you could go to just over 6 gallons.
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As a side note, most commercial ingredient kits are set up to make 5 gallons. There are a few on the market designed to make 4 or 6 (mostly due to conversion of Imperial pints to American pints), but 5 is a standard. I usually brew in 5 gallon batches, and fill my fermenter to 5-1/2 gallons - allowing for the yeast bed that will build up in the bottom.
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