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February 18, 2010 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Show of hands: how many MeFites make their own beer? Would you be interested in doing a homebrew swap similar to the CD swaps?

This is just an initial poll for interest, although if you post in here saying you would want to do it you might get a followup MeMail if there's enough homebrewers to do it.

It would probably something like a Secret Santa exchange, although suggestions are appreciated. I also figure we'd have a couple months lead time in case someone needs enough time to brew something up.
posted by revgeorge to MetaFilter-Related at 12:47 PM (155 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

I'm in. Been brewing since may, 24 or so batches so far; I can spare some.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2010


times like this I wish I had a basement.
posted by The Whelk at 1:04 PM on February 18, 2010


I have a CD I could swap for some beer.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how this would legally work crossing borders, but if Canada is okay then so am I.
posted by Hiker at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2010


Feh, you don't need a basement. I ferment in my basement (victorian house split into apartments) in the summer, but in the winter I use my closet.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2010


Hiker, call 'em "yeast samples."
posted by craven_morhead at 1:07 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sadly, you cannot ship beer to PA. Stupid Quakers.
posted by moviehawk at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2010


My closets are full of clothes! And are tiny like dogs of fashionable ladies. Maybe I need to accost some outer borough friends with promises of Internet Beer.
posted by The Whelk at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2010


I have several homebrew cases in my basement, and two more in the fermenters.
posted by sanka at 1:09 PM on February 18, 2010


I make wine--can I play, too?
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:09 PM on February 18, 2010


I don't see why not. I have some homebrewed hard cider around too, if anyone is interested in that.

The Whelk, if you have homebrewing friends, it may be possible to do a consignment batch. I've done a couple for friends of mine; they buy the ingredients, I'll help 'em brew the beer, and I hang onto some of the bottles for my troubles. Works quite well.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:17 PM on February 18, 2010


I was thinking about wine/mead/cider/cyser/braggot/... makers. I imagine some people would prefer to get a beer or a wine and others would be happy with whatever. Maybe we could set up the sign-up system to record what people are sending and what they prefer to receive, then do a best-match?

[NOT FERMENTATIONIST]
posted by revgeorge at 1:18 PM on February 18, 2010


I brew, but have to admit I've never bottled anything before (kegged only). Seems like a good excuse to try.

Didn't they do something in the cookie exchange where you sent a batch to three people, and got a batch from three people in return? Seems like that would be more fun, though more difficult to organize.

And yeah, we'd have to kind of geographically organize as well, since cross-border stuff can be tricky. My homebrew club just did a presentation on how to successfully ship beer to competitions in other states, so I can provide some advice there if this gets off the ground.
posted by team lowkey at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am not sure I want to drink or eat anything that comes from a stranger on the intertubes. Especially mefites. What if there are beans in it?
posted by desjardins at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2010


For starters, if you are allergic to beans, YOU COULD DIE.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:23 PM on February 18, 2010


Not beer, but I do small-batch weird wines like ginger, lemon, coffee, etc. Got a few bottles left of the Blueberry Smash! that is pretty popular with the kids around here.

I'm in Canada, though.
posted by Shepherd at 1:26 PM on February 18, 2010


AskMe, I just got this beer in the mail. Should I drink it?
posted by Babblesort at 1:26 PM on February 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


I could be in.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 1:27 PM on February 18, 2010


Anyone have a good starter guide for homebrew? Maybe I'll join next year, because it sounds like something I'd like.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:27 PM on February 18, 2010


Along those lines, desjardins, I should warn you that I just started using those new stroboscopic corks.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:29 PM on February 18, 2010


You guys okay with a cyanide-buttsweat hybrid?
posted by The Whelk at 1:31 PM on February 18, 2010


The Whelk, you might be interested to know that Goat Scrotum Ale is a well-known, often-made recipe.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:34 PM on February 18, 2010


mccarty.tim, this is a very good start. Plenty of information to be had if you're willing to wade around the forums here. I started brewing with knowledge from those two sources.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:36 PM on February 18, 2010


Anyone have a good starter guide for homebrew?

How To Brew is an excellent free ebook. Your local library probably has the classic "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing". And I spend a lot of time lurking at HomeBrewTalk.com
posted by revgeorge at 1:37 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


20 yrs. and counting. make it happen and i'm in. mmmmmm homebrew.......
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:37 PM on February 18, 2010


This sounds like fun, but I only keg and have no plans of bottling in the near future. I'd exchange a growler if I knew I'd be getting one in exchange. Or set up something locally.
posted by slogger at 1:45 PM on February 18, 2010


Um, not to throw a wrench in or anything, but I'm pretty sure that mailing alcohol through the USPS is illegal. UPS with with a licensed and authorized user, and FedEx will also accept shipments from an approved, licensed entity.

Related AskMe: How to mail wine in the US.
posted by rhapsodie at 1:50 PM on February 18, 2010


How To Brew is great. There's a physical version, too, which is what I learned from originally.

I've just gotten into doing one-gallon batches of mead; it's a shite-ton easier to brew in the kitchen than a five-gallon batch of _anything_, and goes well with the lack of a brewing supply store anywhere near me. All ingredients from friends or the store, plus a packet of champaign yeast, which has now been ranched into three separate brews so far... My plan is to make at least a gallon a month, so that a year from now we'll have a gallon to drink every month. Which seems like a reasonable quantity of mead to consume...

I don't know about participating in an exchange, though. I'd be a bit worried about bottles surviving transit, and I don't have a surplus at the moment. MAybe next year, though.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:55 PM on February 18, 2010


I am not sure I want to drink or eat anything that comes from a stranger on the intertubes. Especially mefites. What if there are beans in it?

I nominate Bohnenbräu ('beans brew') for the name of the official Metafilter beer. Has a nice ring to it. Plus, it's a ready-made pun for a coffee stout.
posted by jedicus at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't do beer, but I've got some fermented berries in my back yard, which, if the birds and squirrels are to be believed will fuck you up hard.
posted by quin at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


*puts hand up*

I also make mead, or at least I used to. Aiming to start that up again soon, just as soon as I can find a new source of bulk honey varieties - Orange blossom & Tasmanian leatherwood makes a nice mix. Honey Champagne is the next thing I'd like to try making, and - if it weren't illegal to have a still at home - honey brandy would be the next cab off the rank.

Not in much of a position for swapping, though - freight costs would be prohibitive, unless swapping within Sydney.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:06 PM on February 18, 2010


I'm just getting started homebrewing, but I'd probably be in.
posted by box at 2:09 PM on February 18, 2010


Holy shit! I just went out and bought the stuff to start home brewing yesterday!

I'll join the swap when I'm good at it.
posted by Science! at 2:11 PM on February 18, 2010


yes! i'd love to! been brewing for about 5 years now - just have to remember how to bottle again (switch to kegs three years ago and haven't looked back).
posted by casconed at 2:25 PM on February 18, 2010


Switching from extract to all grain on Sunday - good timing! Not sure about the logistics of a swap, though. Put me down as a definite "maybe".
posted by pkphy39 at 2:28 PM on February 18, 2010


rhapsodie, here's a discussion about shipping beer by people who do it quite often. Basically, it's illegal through USPS, and against the policies of the other shippers, but violating their policies has no repercussions.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:31 PM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'M IN
posted by Greg Nog at 2:44 PM on February 18, 2010


UbuRoivas: Sounds like you have some interesting honey options. I might be interested in a swap of that if there's any varietals you want from the states.
posted by slogger at 2:47 PM on February 18, 2010


Slogger - yeah, there used to be a health food supermarket near me that had around two dozen big barrels of different kinds of honey (clover, orange blossom, bush gum, wattle, leatherwood etc) but it got taken over by a chain that specialised more in vitamin supplements, instead of, you know, actual food & the honey was taken off the shelves. Then the store closed through lack of business.

Australian customs & quarantine are very strict about how foodstuffs are imported (just in case there are any cane toad stowaways) so I'd need to look into that, but you really want leatherwood, trust me. If it were a scotch, it'd be a 30yo single malt, as opposed to generic Bagpipey McGerrunt swill.

I know there'll be other places around with bulk honey varietals, I've just gotta find them.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:04 PM on February 18, 2010


Count me in.
posted by peeedro at 3:38 PM on February 18, 2010


So, just hypothetically, of course, what happens if I sign up to participate and my beer to another fine MeFite gets "lost in the mail?"
posted by theora55 at 3:44 PM on February 18, 2010


We take the beer back. With syringes to the gut, if necessary.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:46 PM on February 18, 2010


Beer Wraiths.
posted by The Whelk at 3:51 PM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Let's solve the shipping problem altogether and host a drinkathon at my place.

I'll even make my famous black bean-avocado-corn-lime salsa.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:59 PM on February 18, 2010


About the shipping, you just have to make sure the packaging is bullet-proof. No one is looking to bust a person sending a couple of bottles of beer to another person, so you just need to make sure you don't give them any reason to care. Individually pad each bottle, then pad and tape the group of bottles, then tie the whole bundle in a garbage bag so if anything does break it won't leak, then put the bag in a box padded all the way around with no wiggle room.

As said, don't use USPS (because that's actually a crime) and no one will care. You don't have to tell them what's inside, unless it's international. With that, the go-to is usually "yeast samples", but really, no one wants to bust you. As long as you take care to make sure there won't be any problems during shipping, they just want to deliver your package.
posted by team lowkey at 4:05 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh wow. Have to consider this so this is a definite maybe. I sorely miss Vancouver (for many reasons), and it's brew facilities/storage-for-hire. I don't think there's anything like that out here.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:14 PM on February 18, 2010


Potentially in! Just started conditioning batch #30 this past weekend.

Maybe we could start by having a few beer-swap meetups in the cities with larger concentrations of brewing mefites? Which hopefully includes the bay area...?
posted by rkent at 4:25 PM on February 18, 2010


Holy shit! I just went out and bought the stuff to start home brewing yesterday!

Yeah I just started last month and since then this is the 4th time I've seen it mentioned on MetaFilter. Also, I can't remember ever being brought up before that, but perhaps this is the kind of thing where I just wasn't paying attention until it became a hobby.

About the swap, I'm tentatively in but my upcoming schedule is hard to predict. Plus I still have my mefi mix cd swap sitting around here waiting to be mailed, so perhaps I should finish that up before making another commitment.
posted by mannequito at 4:25 PM on February 18, 2010


I've been threatening to get back to brewing for four years now, so this could be just the nudge that I need. Call me a definite maybe as well.
posted by usonian at 4:26 PM on February 18, 2010


its, its. Please don't exclude me for this. I promise to brew a Grammar Ale.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:27 PM on February 18, 2010


Maybe we could start by having a few beer-swap meetups in the cities with larger concentrations of brewing mefites? Which hopefully includes the bay area...?

I homebrew with my fiance and we are in the bay area, well he's there and I'll be heading out at the end of March. Looking forward to future meetups in the area! We brew stouts, porters, reds, pales and IPAs, the latter being my favorite. We avoid hefeweizens because of personal preference. We also have a ton of mead already made. With all that, I am up for a homebrew swap meetup.
posted by collocation at 4:46 PM on February 18, 2010


I am up for this, although I am not exactly a skilled brewer so I would be nervous about the recipient of my brew not actually liking it. Also it would be fun to get a variety of different beers but I'm not sure how that would work logistically. The button swap method of sending everything to a central organizer who spreads them out evenly among the participants would be awesome, but I don't think that would scale up very well to beer-sized packages.
posted by burnmp3s at 4:47 PM on February 18, 2010


I'd be in, but I keg my beer. Washing bottles is just too painful. If anyone has advice on bottling beer from a Cornelius keg, I'll share out my nice Pilsner. Perfect 45º basement this winter, yum.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:50 PM on February 18, 2010


Beer Question: My housemate primes his beer with granulated sugar to raise the alcohol content and lets it finish brewing in coke bottles (half-screwed tops) by the baseboard heater. It hasn't exploded, but is this a bad idea?
posted by dunkadunc at 5:08 PM on February 18, 2010


For those who keg - take a picnic tap, a racking cane and a #2 stopper, then combine them into this cheapo beer gun replacement. You'll be able to fill bottles from your keg, keeping the carbonation.

People on the site have entered bottles using that contraption into competitions, and gotten favorable remarks on the carbonation.
posted by revgeorge at 5:37 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


kuujjuarapik: "If anyone has advice on bottling beer from a Cornelius keg, I'll share out my nice Pilsner."

I bought a beer gun that I haven't tried out yet, but this guy has a cheaper method.
posted by team lowkey at 5:40 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Basement? Shee-it, I did my first all-grain batches in a NYC studio apartment.

My housemate primes his beer with granulated sugar to raise the alcohol content and lets it finish brewing in coke bottles (half-screwed tops) by the baseboard heater. It hasn't exploded, but is this a bad idea?

Plastic soda bottles can normally stand more pressure than glass, but that methodology strikes me as likely to lead to uneven carbonation: seems like it'd be hard to know when to close down the tops to let the fizz build up. The standard way to carbonate homebrew with sugar is to let the stuff finish in a fermenter, and at bottling add a consistent small amount of sugar to each bottle, or mix a calculated amount of sugar in the entire batch of beer just before bottling.
posted by exogenous at 5:55 PM on February 18, 2010


I don't brew beer, but I'm happy to turn any of your beer into urine.
posted by klangklangston at 6:16 PM on February 18, 2010


I'm in, although I've been working mostly on hard liquor infusions since all my bottles are full of a potent oak-aged barleywine.
posted by mkb at 6:18 PM on February 18, 2010


This is terrible. Home brewing was supposed to be my winter project this winter, but for a variety of reasons, it still hasn't been.

Soon, hopefully.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:19 PM on February 18, 2010


Ok. I'm in. Thanks revgeorge & team lowkey.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 6:38 PM on February 18, 2010


I home brew. I have some chocolate raspberry stout in bottles at the moment.
posted by djduckie at 6:59 PM on February 18, 2010


I'm not a homebrewer but I'd gladly buy a case of delicious local Philly beer that might not have distribution where you live. Or since I sort of threatened to do this before, Philly area MeFites could drive, walk, cycle or take the R8 to my house whwere we could swap in person and eat food, too.
posted by fixedgear at 7:09 PM on February 18, 2010


Actually, now that I think about it, I have some beers bottled in the basement. If they're any good I'll join in. (But, with that said, it's been a while since I've tried one of them...)
posted by slogger at 7:13 PM on February 18, 2010


I am in. I'd prefer to do it in a local/regional party, though, as if I get treacherously poisoned by someone in that setting, the rest of the mefites present can get some kung fu revenge.

My track record is kinda meh, but the two times I went Belgian they ended up good. I'm currently drinking a fairly decent all-grain Witbier.

And I brew all grain and keg in a tiny 1bed downtown apartment (granted, beer stuff takes up a sizeable part of that). Anyway, lack of space isn't an excuse - if you're doing extract you only need some place to put a bucket for a couple weeks, how hard is that?
posted by qvantamon at 9:14 PM on February 18, 2010


I'm in.
posted by jclovebrew at 11:21 PM on February 18, 2010


I'm too far away to take part being in the UK.

But I too am about to restart brewing after 10 years away. I brewed all grain in a 2nd floor one bedroom apartment previously but now I have a garage so I'm increasing the brew length. I bought a 10 gallon setup from 2 friends, so here we go.

I have an electrician coming tomorrow to wire in the 10 gallon 6kw electric boiler and then we're going to Hop and Grape to purchase the rest of the kit (and pick up the domed false bottom for the boiler).

djduckie, care to share your chocolate raspberry stout recipe?
posted by hardcode at 12:28 AM on February 19, 2010


Sure! Any excuse to make more beer. If this is happening sometime in the near future I'll save some bottles of the Chipotle Ale that I just finished (ad copy - "Betcha can't have more than one!"). It's pretty spicy.

I've been bringing beer back from Germany in my luggage specifically for the brown swing-top bottles, since I can't seem to find any in America.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:51 AM on February 19, 2010


I've made a few batches of beer (with Mandanza), and would be interested. We'll be starting a small batch of prickly pear mead soon, but that probably won't be ready in time.
posted by JiBB at 1:14 AM on February 19, 2010


I don't know about availability on the east coast, but I've been hoarding opaque/brown swing-tops from Rogue, Fischer, Sterkens, and Grand Teton (1 quart bottles of Weizenbock!). I think these have all come from Whole Foods or BevMo. Well, maybe not the Rogue. They're the 2008 Imperial Stout in an all black bottle, and it is the cooolest.
posted by team lowkey at 1:17 AM on February 19, 2010


As a beer lover (and homebrew lover, and former homebrewer), I hate to be the one to come in and skunk the thread. This would probably be a legal nightmare for many of the people involved. Participants would have to check with their state/territorial/regional departments of revenue or similar. Some US states, for example, forbid moving homemade beer and/or wine from the location where they were brewed. Others, as has been mentioned up thread, forbid shipping those same products from another state/territory. (Another note of caution, you might find you've been breaking the law by brewing more than your state allows.) These are just some of the reasons other Internet homebrewing groups have settled for recipe exchanges.
posted by crataegus at 3:40 AM on February 19, 2010


It sounds like we have enough people to go ahead with this. I see the process as sign up with some web form, brew (if needed), wait a couple months, then ship them all out (beginning of May?). For shipping costs I think we should limit this to North America for the this go-around.

How does this sound for quantities: minimum 22 oz (two 12 oz bottles or one 22 oz bomber) to 3 different people? That way you send out a six pack of homebrew and get a mixed six pack.
posted by revgeorge at 5:03 AM on February 19, 2010


Yeah, MA is kind of jerky about shipping beer. I'm looking to get back into brewing and am hoping to start kegging, so if anyone has any recipes for a good Sierra Nevada-ish extract (I'm a beginner again!) brew, I'd love to hear it.

Also, tips on kegging are welcome!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:34 AM on February 19, 2010


My pipeline is a bit depleted at the moment (nothing ready to drink except a few stragglers from summertime, one batch conditioning, one in primary), but I'm planning on using what's left of winter and spring to crank out a few more batches (hopefully), so sure, I'd be interested. I'll have to work hard at emptying out commercial bottles to reuse.

I promise I won't send anybody a bottle from the batch I (unknowingly) made with recalled yeast. I'm saving it in case it improves... but I've got very, very low expectations. I weep for the many ounces of delicious hops.

And 22oz sounds fine by me. I'd rather have the two 12oz than a single bomber, but I understand that plenty of people don't bottle in 12oz.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:43 AM on February 19, 2010


Just curious...who here is BJCP?
posted by slogger at 6:06 AM on February 19, 2010


The 22 oz. specification suits me, as I'll be sending out standard-sized wine bottles. I suppose I should figure out who wants wine in return for beer, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:54 AM on February 19, 2010


I would like to not go to jail for sending people beer, so... how exactly will this work? Offer not valid in MA/NJ/PBX/BBQ?

I can share my chipotle beer recipe instead, if interested:
1) Go to the spice store for something that is not beer-related
2) Think to yourself, "Boy, do they have a lot of chilis here... and they're cheap, too!"
3) ?
4) Beer!
posted by backseatpilot at 7:15 AM on February 19, 2010


I think having 3 Beer Buddies™ will solve the wine/mead/cider/cyser/pyment/braggot/... issue, since that way even if you get a bottle of something you're not a fan of, you'll still get some other stuff you like.
posted by revgeorge at 7:18 AM on February 19, 2010


Well, after reading up, I think I'll go ahead and try fermenting some cider since it's relatively simple. If the send date is more than two weeks away, and I'm lucky enough to have a drinkable first brew, I might have something ready to ship.

Being a big fan of stouts, I probably will do beer homebrew over the summer break.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:22 AM on February 19, 2010


try fermenting some cider since it's relatively simple

I don't generally make cider, but I would think champagne yeast would make a very, very dry cider (which is fine, but is probably not what you are thinking of when you think "cider"). Might be better off with ale yeast, which ought to leave some residual sugar (and is still cheap and available dry).
posted by uncleozzy at 7:58 AM on February 19, 2010


I make cider (or "apfelwein" (GOOGLE "MAN I LOVE APFELWEIN" SHEEPLE)) using champagne yeast, and you're right, it's very dry, very tart and crisp. It's amazing as a warm-weather drink! The last batch I made, I also used some honey, and then dry-hopped it as it fermented. The result was this fresh, slightly floral delight!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:11 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've got a batch with some brown and white sugars fermented with champagne yeast, and ... well, it needs some time to condition, let's say.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:13 AM on February 19, 2010


I've made ciders with a few different yeasts. Wine yeast (red star's montrachet) gives you a pretty highly-attenuated cider. It's actually closer to a german apfelwein, especially if you boost it with a little corn sugar. Nice, but a far cry from Strongbow, if that's what you're looking for. Ale yeast (US-05) gives an appley-er product, though still pretty dry. My favorite yeast so far was a dry wheat beer yeast. The fruitiness of the wheat beer yeasts play very nicely with the apple flavor.

Also, I don't think shipping deserves much hand-wringing. Homebrewtalk has been doing web-based competitions with shipped bottles for years and hasn't had any problems.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:15 AM on February 19, 2010


As an aside, if there are other HomeBrewTalk members, here's my HBT profile page.
posted by revgeorge at 8:15 AM on February 19, 2010


The fruitiness of the wheat beer yeasts play very nicely with the apple flavor.

OHHHHH SHIT

I was actually thinking of brewing some apfelwein this weekend, but I had an extra packet of wheatbeer yeast in my fridge that didn't have any particular destination; maybe I'll try using that in the apple-juice! Thanks, craven!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:21 AM on February 19, 2010


I'm over here at HBT.

Yep Greg, it's worth trying the wheat beer yeast. Very tasty.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:26 AM on February 19, 2010


Does anyone have an idea of how much the shipping will cost? I've been playing around with FedEx assuming a 3.0lb package that is 12x12x6 and seeing prices between $10 and $20 per package. Is that high?
posted by revgeorge at 8:38 AM on February 19, 2010


Goddammit I do not have the space stop making this sound attractive people.
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 AM on February 19, 2010


Brewing your own beer makes you taller.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:01 AM on February 19, 2010


I make mead and would love to swap with some folks.
posted by maurice at 9:05 AM on February 19, 2010


I could probably do it.

Here is a short photo essay of the brewing process using partial grain brewing.

As for bottling from a keg? Trivial - clean the bottles, fill them and cap them. There will be some carbonation from your CO2 line and residual yeast will add some more over time. If you want more, put a pinch of corn sugar in each bottle before you fill it.

If I bottle in batches, I bottle in glass and then fill one small plastic soda bottle. Leave them at room temperature and when the soda bottle has a lot of resistance to being squeezed, put them in the fridge. Done.
posted by plinth at 9:06 AM on February 19, 2010


Goddammit I do not have the space stop making this sound attractive people.

Whelk! It doesn't take much space! I just leave my carboy bubblin' in the corner! It's great! It takes only like one square foot of apartment-space!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:12 AM on February 19, 2010


Yeah, I started brewing in a sixth-floor single bedroom apartment WITH NO AIR CONDITIONING and it was regularly 95+ degrees in there during the summer. Fermenter went in the corner in the bedroom. The bubbling helped me fall asleep at night.

Somehow the heat never hurt the beer that badly. But I have a basement now, so that's where the beer goes.

(Seriously tempted to try cider now. With chipotles! Think about it: chipotle. cider. It's like, "my this is a fine and refreshing OH GOD THE BURNING!" Should be ready just in time for April First.)
posted by backseatpilot at 9:20 AM on February 19, 2010


Brewing your own beer makes you taller.

Feel taller anyway.
posted by The Whelk at 9:27 AM on February 19, 2010


I used to have a big walk-in closet. I kept the fermenter in there, in a swamp cooler-type setup (really just a Rubbermaid storage bin filled with water and bottles of ice). Now I do the same thing in the basement (which is really hot all year long). The stairs make it suck way more. Either way, it takes up something like 3 square feet of space.

I'm probably going to build a Son of Fermentation Chiller this spring to get rid of the water issue. You could totally make that into an attractive piece of furniture.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:30 AM on February 19, 2010


GREG NOG YOU ARE A FOUL TEMPTOR!
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 AM on February 19, 2010

Brewing your own beer makes you taller.
It's true. I made my first batch in my dorm room in 1987, and I tower over MetaFilterians (note I was crouching slightly in that shot).
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:45 AM on February 19, 2010


I like the idea of a regional meetup & swap... I would hate to see anyone (especially myself) get into legal trouble because of something I send or receive as part of such an exchange. Reading through some of the linked discussions about shipping makes me a little bit leery.
posted by usonian at 9:49 AM on February 19, 2010


Just bought the stuff to start again. Count me in.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:11 AM on February 19, 2010


I'm late to the party but I'm definitely in!
posted by joechip at 11:01 AM on February 19, 2010


The Whelk - Brooklyn Brewshop has a 1 gallon kit designed specifically for small spaces - it takes up 1 sq. ft.
posted by revgeorge at 11:03 AM on February 19, 2010


If you think you don't have enough room to brew, or need a basement, or can't find a local supplier or whatever, I have one word for you. And that word is OZTOPS

I've been making ciders and fruit wine all winter, in my 2 litre bottles, and soon will go back to meads and more interesting infusions once shit starts to GROW again up here in Canadia.

But, no, I'm not going to ship stuff. Would be happy to bring it to a meet-up though.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:11 AM on February 19, 2010


Can I ask a general homebrew question here, since it seems like as good a place as any?

I know about startup costs for the kits and such, but how much does an actual batch cost to brew, and what does it yield? Assume equipment is already in possession.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:21 PM on February 19, 2010


Friend of mine made their own beer in Bay Ridge and called it 32 cents, cause that's what they figured out it cost them per bottle - no idea how large their operation was but it was very nice beer.
posted by The Whelk at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2010


Yeah, I started brewing in a sixth-floor single bedroom apartment WITH NO AIR CONDITIONING and it was regularly 95+ degrees in there during the summer. Fermenter went in the corner in the bedroom. The bubbling helped me fall asleep at night.

Somehow the heat never hurt the beer that badly. But I have a basement now, so that's where the beer goes.


My apartment is also warm (though not as much, about 70-80 in winter and 80-90 in summer). I found that regular yeast gets really funky above 75 (lots of fruit, phenols, etc).

However, the Belgian strains really shine in that temperature. The best beer I've made to the day was with the Ardennes strain (Achouffe) - it fermented at 85, and finished quite clean. On the same note, I had made a hefe with (dry) weizen yeast at ~80F, and it sucked ass. Then I made the Witbier (Belgian yeast) that I'm currently drinking, and it's delicious.
posted by qvantamon at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2010


usonian: "I would hate to see anyone (especially myself) get into legal trouble because of something I send or receive as part of such an exchange. Reading through some of the linked discussions about shipping makes me a little bit leery"

I understand being leery, but it really isn't as scary as some people make it out to be. My club has been running a fairly large competition (I think I heard there are around 600 entries this year) for 16 years, and we've never had a single incident of someone getting in trouble with shipping. If it doesn't break or leak, there's no reason for a shipping employee to care what's in the package. If it does leak, it's more work for them to report it to the authorities than to just put it in plastic and send it on its way.

That said, we probably should split into a Canadian swap and a US swap. There's really no predicting what customs will do with any given package, so there is a slight chance of trouble. But state to state shipping really isn't an issue (except maybe in Utah. They've got some kind of weird hang-up about alcohol).
posted by team lowkey at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Excluding capital costs, my batches run around $30 for a 5 gallon (45 bottles or so) batch. That's brewing from malt extract, occasionally reusing yeast colonies, and buying my hops in bulk. The average extract kit, pre-assembled, will run you around $40. If you're brewing all-grain, buying your grain and hops in bulk and washing yeast, you can cut it down to about $12/5 gallon batch, but that method of brewing is going to cost you a fair bit more in capital costs. I've seen the math broken down on homebrew boards; I think you recoup the investment in all-grain brewing after 60-100 batches. It also takes longer and takes up more space, but gives you more control over your final product.

Here are some discussions about a per-bottle cost for different brewers.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2010


qvantamon, you also have ideal temps to ferment a saison, if you want something a little lighter than the complex belgians.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:32 PM on February 19, 2010


pup: a five-gallon batch... preview... uh, what craven_morhead said.
posted by box at 12:36 PM on February 19, 2010


I'm totally in. I've been brewing off and on for a bunch of years now. Totally jealous of the 48 batches since May that craven_morehead's got. I don't have near as much, but mine turn out pretty well (usually).

If it's very soon, I may not be in, as I've got a baby coming. But if it's summertime then totally.

I wouldn't worry too much about shipping. Other sites do this all the time. People ship beer to and from competitions all the time. I don't think it's going to be a big deal. Just don't stamp "WARNING: BEER INSIDE!" on the package.

My housemate primes his beer with granulated sugar to raise the alcohol content and lets it finish brewing in coke bottles (half-screwed tops) by the baseboard heater. It hasn't exploded, but is this a bad idea?

Not sure how much it's going to affect alcohol content at bottling. However, adding granulated sugar in primary fermentation is a great way to increase alcohol and bring down your finishing gravity. Sucrose will be 100% fermented. This is a very common step in belgian beers.

Which, if you guys are lucky, you'll be receiving from me when the time comes. I haven't brewed a beer I've liked as much as a Saison I did a year+ ago. It was SO GOOD. I'll be doing a 10 gallon batch one of those soon, featuring peppercorns and ginger. Who wouldn't want to get that in the mail?
posted by bDiddy at 12:44 PM on February 19, 2010


I know about startup costs for the kits and such, but how much does an actual batch cost to brew, and what does it yield? Assume equipment is already in possession.

Depends on extract versus all-grain. All-Grain is a bit cheaper, but requires extra equipment, space, and time.

If your local homebrew store is cheap (mine isn't), a 5 gallon extract batch should be near the $35 range. All grain is at $25 or so. That's for 40 pints, or about 50 bottles, so it gives you 70c/50c per bottle.
posted by qvantamon at 12:45 PM on February 19, 2010


mudpuppie: "I know about startup costs for the kits and such, but how much does an actual batch cost to brew, and what does it yield? Assume equipment is already in possession"

There are a lot of variables in cost of ingredients and where you get them from, but for a partial mash (some grain, some malt extract), your looking at around $30 for a 5 gallon batch, which comes out to around a $3 six-pack. It can vary from ~$20 to ~$45 per 5 gallons, though, depending on your ingredients.
posted by team lowkey at 12:46 PM on February 19, 2010


Thanks, y'all. Now carry on with making me jealous and such.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:51 PM on February 19, 2010


All-Grain is a bit cheaper, but requires extra equipment, space, and time.

Time, sure, but if you have a 10-gallon pot and a way to boil 6+ gallons of wort, you can do all-grain brew-in-a-bag, which is apparently pretty great. I've gotten 70%+ efficiency a couple times doing partial mashes in a bag... getting even 70% efficiency on a full mash would save a ton of money without any expense beyond a big pot and a propane burner, which, hell, plenty of people already have. (If I had the space to boil outside, I'd be all over that.)
posted by uncleozzy at 12:54 PM on February 19, 2010


Yeah, I've done partial mashes on my stovetop, which has been nice. Haven't shelled out for a propane burner yet, though it's on the list if I move into a place without a gas stove.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:58 PM on February 19, 2010


I do exclusively stove-top partial mashes. A friend of mine posted a pretty easy partial mash method, if anyone's interested in trying it out. I had been sparging in a 3 gallon picnic cooler, but used my friend's method for my last brew, and it turned out great, with a lot less work. Efficiency was about the same, which surprised me.
posted by team lowkey at 1:11 PM on February 19, 2010


Yup, that's how I do it (and where I learned it). Works great, tastes great.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:15 PM on February 19, 2010


Hey now--late to the party, but I am an enthusiastic small-scale all-grain brewer in New Brunswick NJ and would readily support a meetup swap/tasting.
posted by zachxman at 2:36 PM on February 19, 2010


Figures I would go out to the homebrew store and buy the wrong yeast for cider (champagne yeast). Thanks guys.

But my unpasturized apple cider won't be ready for a few days, so that gives me time to stop back and get some ale yeast. Anything good I can do with champagne yeast? Sorry to treat this thread like my own personal askme. There's just so much brewing knowledge in this thread that I'm hoping to absorb some through osmosis.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:52 PM on February 19, 2010


Anything good I can do with champagne yeast?

Well, as I said earlier, I quite like the dry tart crispness of champagne-yeast apfelwein, but if you want to use it in something else, you could always make a mead with it!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:57 PM on February 19, 2010


Ha zachxman, you like blocks from my Mom.
posted by The Whelk at 4:03 PM on February 19, 2010


Anything good I can do with champagne yeast?

Yeah, I'd still make some apfelwein-type product with it, since you've got the yeast already. It just takes awhile to work, since it eats all the sugars. If you want to make a sweeter cider with your unpasteurized stuff, with the ale yeast, try the champagne yeast with supermarket apple juice. It's not a bad drink, but it's more like a very tart white wine than like cider.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:15 PM on February 19, 2010


Also late to this party, but I'm in.
posted by Hadroed at 5:36 PM on February 19, 2010


Heck yes! I'm in Vancouver, so would definitely be down if we could muster somerthing of a Canadian contingent (agreed that cross border shipping is pushing the tenuous legality a little too far). Have had great success lately getting more experimental, our recent coffee beer turned out beautifully; so, depending on the preferences of whoever turns up in Canadia, could offer something conventional, or less so. Here's hoping this comes together, cheers everyone!
posted by kaspen at 5:41 PM on February 19, 2010


Ditto on the typical cost at about $40 per batch. My local brew shop has kits for $33 at the low end and $55 at the high end. Yield is roughly 5 gallons, or 640 ounces / 12 = roughly 50-52 12 ounce bottles, which is about $0.85 per bottle.

That's not hugely cheaper than middle of the road beer, but homebrew usually tastes closer to high end beer (in my experience) - and that is the intangible that you need to figure out how to factor in. I brew the beer varieties that I like and to me they taste as good as the high end.

It really was homebrewing that made it clear that I like ales and not lagers, and specifically English style ales.

One of the things that made life easier was a helpful local homebrew shop. They had no problem making up a clone of Rogue's Shakespeare Stout (although it appears that Rogue has changed it to an oatmeal stout) and I brought in bottles of mine and Rogue and had the two guys there bickering like gossipy little old ladies to adjust the recipe. The second go-round nailed it.
posted by plinth at 6:13 PM on February 19, 2010


I just started my first batch last week (and more tomorrow). I'll join the party when I'm any good!
posted by mimi at 6:37 PM on February 19, 2010


If there's critical mass for a Bay Area swap meetup, and a need for some impartial tasters, rtha and I are both in.

And not to get all eponysterical or anything, but has anyone made gingerbeer?
posted by gingerbeer at 7:12 PM on February 19, 2010


I used to make a good pale ale to which I added about 3/4 cup of fresh grated hot Asian market ginger in the last 5 of the boil. It was pretty mild, ginger-aley not ginger beery. Wasn't as hazy as you would think. Seemed to go over well but I haven't made it in a few years, as it's hard to find good hot ginger here.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:26 PM on February 19, 2010


Yes! And here I just did my first batch -- on my own, rather than with my ex who did most of the work, and by "on my own" I mean with my boyfriend, but whatever. We'll see in like three weeks how it will turn out. :)
posted by R343L at 9:14 PM on February 19, 2010


Man, this sounds awesome. We just put up a batch of sparkling apple cider mead that should turn out pretty awesome in a few months...
posted by AngerBoy at 9:36 PM on February 19, 2010


Hey kuujjuarapik, that ginger pale ale from sounds great. For the meaders, last summer I made a whole series of braggots, which were awesome. A braggot can be many things, but one variant is a base of half barley and half honey, with fruit (others can have hops or no fruit or different proportions of base). Five pounds of blueberries, 3 pounds of honey and 3 pounds of pale malt with ale yeast, and you have a no-boil fresh sour delicacy that can be drunk within like 10 days (if kegged; bottle conditioning extra). Also made variants with strawberries, raspberries (very sour), cherries,...
posted by zachxman at 8:54 AM on February 20, 2010


I really like the idea of a local meetup to taste and/or swap. I'm in Syracuse NY with a basement full of mead....
posted by maurice at 5:25 PM on February 20, 2010


ARGH. THIRD DIMENSION, YOU ARE NOW MY NEMESIS.

I have given up on ever getting another full half barrel keg for my kegerator, so have opted instead for a combo of pony/corny keg plus bottles. I built a rack for my 'rator that could hold 42 bottles of beer with plenty of space behind for a pony/corny keg to fit.

Except I neglected to account for the height of the kegs, which is such that they would not fit flush to the rear. So now I get to rebuild!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:04 PM on February 20, 2010


Okay, this thread has inspired me to calculate my cost per 5 gallon batch. Here are my costs for a generic American pale...

Bulk ingredients
I get a sack of Rahr 2-row for $27.60
A pound of cascade pellets from Hops Direct costs $8.75
A satchet of Safale US-05 costs $3.75

So, for a moderately hoppy, medium strength beer I get:
10# malt: $5.52
4oz hops: $2.19
Yeast: $3.75
Total for 5 gallons: $11.46
Or $0.22 per 12oz serving

Granted, none of this takes into account chemicals or equipment costs, which easily reaches into the thousands after many years of brewing. But hey, $0.22 a beer!
posted by slogger at 12:16 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And hey, if you use Nottingham instead of US-05, you can shave that down another few cents a bottle! (Yeah, I got burned by a bad packet... but I pitched one last week, and it's been quick and clean as can be.)
posted by uncleozzy at 6:07 AM on February 22, 2010


I'm down with Nottingham from time to time, but more with English ales where I want that slight mineral flavor in the profile. US-05 is the cheapest and easiest way to get that clean "Chico" profile without growing a starter or heading down to the brew pub for a fresh slurry. And since I do 15-20 gallon batches, starters can be a big pain in the ass.
posted by slogger at 6:19 AM on February 22, 2010


I've found Nottimgham pretty clean (at under 65F, anyway), but honestly, I don't brew often enough to be able to tell the difference (and the only time I used US-05 was with some not-so-fresh extract). I do keep a packet in the fridge, though, so maybe I'll use it next time I brew the blonde I've made a few times with Nottingham to compare.

And since I do 15-20 gallon batches, starters can be a big pain in the ass.

Yikes. Yo dawg, I heard you like starters, so I made a starter for your starter so you can step up while you step up.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:42 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just washed some WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast from my batch of porter. It's pretty damn easy, just a few cycles of "add water, wait, pour" with a healthy dose of good sanitation. Reusing yeast should save a little bit per batch, plus it's yet another thing to tinker with.

Although most of the beers I make don't have a very specific yeast profile, so US-05 or Nottingham are my defaults. Probably more US-05 since the local brewery switched to that and I can get slurry from them.
posted by revgeorge at 7:51 AM on February 22, 2010


If it's a couple of months between brews, how do you keep the yeast alive? I've never wanted to risk a batch with dodgy yeast when I can get new live yeast for $5 or so. But it might be neat to keep some going as an experiment.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:31 PM on February 22, 2010


After you rack the beer off, you pour in some boiled water (that's been cooled to room temp). Swirl it around for a bit, then let it sit for 20 minutes. Pour off the top layer into a big container, then let it sit for 20 minutes. Pour off the top layer into mason jars, then label and refrigerate.

Take a look at this guide to yeast washing, it's fairly straight forward. Keep in mind that you do need to make a starter when you want to re-use the yeast.

For dry yeast it's probably not worth the hassle, but when I see $8 tubes of liquid yeast on a $16 recipe, I start to wonder how I can save a little cash.
posted by revgeorge at 8:04 PM on February 22, 2010


I've had mixed success with yeast washing, but have trended away from it due to the peace of mind that $5 spent on a new sachet of yeast can bring. I do pitch on top of existing yeast cakes quite a lot though.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:19 AM on February 23, 2010


Has anyone tried brewing snow beer?
posted by mudpuppie at 9:09 AM on February 23, 2010


Never done a snow beer, since I don't quite see the point. It's another water source, but one that promises to be more full of crud than your standard source. I've also melted enough snow while camping to know that it takes a boatload of it to get any amount of water going.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:50 AM on February 23, 2010


I'll be making starters with the washed yeast, so I should know before I brew whether the yeast is viable or not. If not, off to the store to grab a vial.
posted by revgeorge at 10:31 AM on February 23, 2010


Yeah, and it's nice to keep a packet of american (US-05) and british (S-04) in the fridge for those sorts of issues.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:37 AM on February 23, 2010


Never did snow beer, but I once brewed a partial mash with maple sap instead of water. It made a rather nice brown ale.
posted by slogger at 11:19 AM on February 24, 2010


Well, I started my fermentation, and I'm going for the MAN I LOVE APFELWINE recipe Greg Nog hinted at.

Thanks for your help and patience with my questions, everyone. Sorry to pollute the thread.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:46 AM on February 24, 2010


Has anyone tried brewing snow beer?

Sorta. My last two brews fortunately coincided with some large snowfalls here, so I got to cool the kettles snow banks instead of messing with the immersion chiller. I also tossed in a bit of snow mostly for ceremony - it didn't do much to the temperature of the wort.
posted by exogenous at 2:29 PM on February 24, 2010


On the subject of snow beer, a homebrewer at the South Pole wrote a couple articles about his experience for BYO (1, 2). Possibly worth an FPP?
posted by revgeorge at 5:43 PM on February 24, 2010


The first thing they tell kids upon moving to New Jersey is to not catch too many snowflakes on their tongues because the NJ precipitation is so toxic. I dunno if that's just an urban legend that gets everyone scared, but when you're in second grade and your mom tells you that, it leaves an impression.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:56 PM on February 24, 2010


I brew — attempting a clone of Dieu du Ciel!'s Péché Mortel (Mortal Sin) right not — but not sure if I will be able to participate in a swap. Include me in the MeMail though, please.

As for homebrew resources, I recently helped my friend/coworker/neighbour/friend, Scott Russell get his website up and running. Hope to post it to Projects soon.
posted by terrapin at 5:15 AM on February 26, 2010


Oh man. I don't generally dig on imperial stouts (I am mostly about session beers, and hop overload when I go bigger), but Péché Mortel was pretty killer. I might have to make a 2.5-gallon batch of that clone.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:44 AM on February 26, 2010


uncleozzy: Did you see the recipe on Scott's site?
posted by terrapin at 8:40 AM on February 26, 2010


Yep--it actually comes up first when you google peche mortel clone.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:38 AM on February 26, 2010


Well, I started my fermentation, and I'm going for the MAN I LOVE APFELWINE recipe Greg Nog hinted at.

Yay! It's easy and it's crisp! I had a bunch of it sitting around when I was hosting Thanksgiving, and a friend-of-a-friend who didn't like beer ended up drinking it all night.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:46 AM on February 26, 2010


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