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Beer Making FAQs

How hard is it to make good beer?

How long does it take?

What equipment do I need to get started?

What’s the difference between a glass carboy and food grade bucket primary fermentor?

Do I need a secondary fermentor?

What is the most important step in making beer?

Ok – what’s the second most important step?

Can I reuse my bottles and caps?

Should I get oxygen scavenger caps or just regular caps?

What type of bottle should I get?

What about screw top bottles or EZ Cap bottles?

Can I sterilize my bottles by heating them in the oven?

How much beer do I get from a batch?

How much does it cost to make my own beer?

Is this legal?

Can I sell the beer I make?

What is a good choice for a first beer?


How hard is it to make good beer?

It is very easy to make great beer your very first time. The kits we sell provide quality ingredients and very good instructions.

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How long does it take?

The duration depends on the type of beer. Ales typically take 1 or 2 months. Lagers can take up a 1 year. Often the higher alcohol content beers need a little longer in the bottle for the flavors to balance out.

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What equipment do I need to get started?

As a minimum you will require:

  • A primary fermentor (typically food grade bucket with a lid or glass carboy)
  • An air lock with bungs to fit your fermentors as required
  • Tubing (to bottle your beer)
  • A hydrometer (tells you if your beer is done fermenting)
  • Bottles for your beer
  • Caps and a capper (unless you are using EZ Cap bottles)
  • A brew pot (3 to 5 gallon enamel or stainless steel pot)
  • A thermometer

The following equipment is not essential, but is highly recommended to get right from the start

  • A bottling container for priming your beer all at once instead of one bottle at a time (typically food grade bucket)
  • A bottling wand (You push down – it starts to fill the bottle, you pull up it stops. Makes bottling much, much easier.)
  • A racking cane (This is a stiff tube that makes it easier to siphon and keeps you from siphoning off the sediment when you transfer your beer) or
  • An Autosiphon is a racking cane that starts your siphon effortlessly!
  • A funnel to add ingredients into your carboy
  • A carboy brush to help clean your carboy and get it ready for the next batch!

There are a few other pieces that if you use them once, you will never want to do without:

  • A wine thief makes taking samples a breeze.

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What’s the difference between a glass carboy and food grade bucket primary fermentor?

The first thing that springs to mind is that one is a bottle and the other is a bucket, but our guess is that’s really not the question. The glass carboy is easier to reliably clean and sanitize. The downside is that it is heavier and more fragile. The food grade bucket is easier to pour materials into and is sturdier. Plastic can be harder to sanitize especially if the interior surfaces get scratched. Note that many people have used both of these devices for a primary fermentor for many years and have been satisfied with the results. Use a plastic spoon to stir in your bucket and do not scrub with harsh materials. Always wash your carboy or bucket as soon as you are finished using them.  

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Do I need a secondary fermentor?

The longer the beer will be fermenting, the more benefit you will see from racking (transferring) your beer to a secondary fermentor. Once the heavy fermentation has ceased, a large amount of sediment accumulates on the bottom of the fermentor. The sediment can contribute to harsh flavors if it is contact with your beer for long (3 or 4 weeks) periods of time. If you rack to a secondary container, take care not to siphon every last drop because you will siphon up the sediment and it will defeat the purpose. If you are making a lager, you probably will not get satisfactory results unless you rack to a secondary.

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What is the most important step in making beer?

We think the most important step is to have fun. One of the great things about beer making (as well as wine and cheese making) is that you can take it to as complex a level as you enjoy. If you love everything about the art/science of beer making; you can take this hobby all the way to growing your own hops and starting with all grains. The key is don’t feel like you must make it more difficult or complex. Enjoy your hobby and your beer!

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Ok – what’s the second most important step?

Sanitize your equipment and bottles. Nine times out of 10 off flavors and smells are due to something getting into your beer that you did not intend.

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Can I reuse my bottles and caps?

Bottles – yes, caps – never. The exception is EZ caps, (which aren’t really caps). EZ caps are designed for reuse.

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Should I get oxygen scavenger caps or just regular caps?

Oxygen scavenger caps are that last step (other than purging you bottles with CO2) to keep the oxygen away from your beer. You need oxygen in your wort (unfermented beer) to get the fermentation process to start. Other than that, oxygen is not your friend. They aren’t a necessity but do make a difference, particularly if you are going to be a long time in the bottle. Remember not to sanitize these caps in boiling water – it ruins their scavenger capability.

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What type of bottle should I get?

The bottle color is the important factor to consider. Exposing your beer to light will "skunk" your beer in less time than you would think. (Smell of a skunk and a flavor to match.) Dark amber bottles are the most effective at blocking out light. If you want to use clear bottles, store them in the dark.

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What about screw top bottles or EZ Cap bottles?

Most homebrewers avoid screw top bottles although a few do use them with success. EZ Cap bottles work great.

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Can I sanitize my bottles by heating them in the oven?

This is not a good idea. While the oven may sanitize the bottles, it also tends to weaken them.

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How much beer do I get from a batch?

Most of the kits and recipes are geared towards 5 gallons, which is 50 or so 12oz bottles of finished beer.

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How much does it cost to make my own beer?

How much money do you have? (OK, that’s probably funnier to me than it is to you.) Once you have the equipment and bottles, a batch is the price of the caps and ingredients. Ingredients for extract style kits run between $33 to $60. Equipment kits start at $78.95 to $139.95.

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Is this legal?

Yep – It is legal in most states to make wine and brew beer for your personal use. (The states typically put a limit of 200 gallons/year)

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Can I sell the beer I make?

Nope – it is against the law to sell home made wine and beer in all states.

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What is a good choice for a first beer?

We recommend you start with an ale that will be ready sooner (about a month) as opposed to a lager that will be ready later (as long as 1 year) for your first batch. Nobody wants to wait a year on their first batch!

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