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[P]
Brewing Beer on Today's Subprime Mortgage Budget

By GhostOfTiber in Meta
Fri May 23, 2008 at 02:17:30 AM EST
Tags: Brewing, Beer, The Spoils of Wort, African Engineering (all tags)

Everything is more expensive nowadays. Beer, grain, bread, beer, food, gas, and beer. The important things in life it seems. How can we rectify this situation?

We should conserve food, water, and grain by combining them into beer. But how do we make the jump cheaply without buying one of those $100 beer brewing kits and a bunch of pots and pans?

Inside, the secrets of cheap beer!


The first thing you need: Throw out any preconceived notions of style or brand. We're going to make the AK47 of beers - cheap, reliable, and works with sand in it. If you say "MAN I LIKE SAM ADAMS SHOW ME HOW TO MAKE THAT FOR $10 'CAUSE I SPENT MY OTHER $5 ON THIS ACCOUNT", this guide isn't for you. This is for someone who wants to get into the hobby on the cheap and see what the homemade beer craft is all about.

The $80 beer kits generally come with a few specialty items you won't be able to bullshit together. Bottle-cappers are almost exclusively a tool of the serious brewer and the kit includes one. Kits also include a small bag of caps, two buckets, a siphon, a hydrometer, and an airlock. That's a lot of stuff for the price of a PS3 game and you will never have to purchase it again. But what about doing it bit by bit? I had originally bought a $80 kit (actually it was $60 locally and included enough materials to make a beer) but wish I had sprung the extra $40 for a glass carboy after ruining a bucket. Lesson learned: Spend a bit more and get the glass if you're buying a kit.

But lets put this idea on hold for a minute and ask ourselves if we really need all of this. What would we need in an absolute, bare bones kit for brewing beer in prison or at the end of the world? You would need:

  • A bucket. Find a seal in Japan and steal one, or follow this handy guide.
  • A lid for the bucket.
  • Something to poke a hole with.
  • A tube to poke into the hole.
  • A cup of water.
  • Some plastic soda bottles which add up to 5 gallons including caps.

"THIS WILL MAKE BEER?" you ask! You dare question!?

You also need a beer kit. The rule of thumb is that you need at minimum 1lbs malt for 1 gallon of water. To make a half batch (2.5 gallons), use 3lbs of malt extract. For a full batch, which is five gallons and how most kits are sold, use 6 lbs. What's the difference between 3.3lbs of liquid malt extract and 3lbs of dry malt extract? Nothing. They are 1:1 substitutable! The extra third of a pound is what little water is left in there.

Buckets
Buy a 6 gallon bucket even if you're making half batches. Why? You can make full buckets later! Various brewing stores will try to steal your money by selling you "food grade" buckets. This is a myth - "food grade" simply means #2 or better grade plastic and contains no harmful dyes. Go to your local hardware store, ask for the bucket aisle, and find a six gallon bucket. The number inside the recycling triangle tells you roughly what it's made out of, and #1 ("soda bottle" plastic), #2 and #5 ("baby bottle" plastic) are acceptable. #3, #4, #6 and #7 are not. Pewter is not. The bucket should be white - bleached but otherwise undyed. Make sure it has a lid and doesn't say anything crazy like "Not for storing food". It is not acceptable to recycle buckets that held things other than food.

Tubes
You need a tube. It should be long enough you can siphon with it. Again, regular old vinyl plumbing tube works great.

Lid
Take the plumbing tube, hold it against the lid like you were going to pass it through, and trace around it. Now cut a hole ever so slightly smaller in the lid. This is your blow off tube, since we're going for the Ultimate Israeli Beer Experience and not spending $3 on an airlock. That crap gets expensive!

The 5 Gallon Mark and Cleaning
Fill a two liter soda bottle eight times and dump the water into the bucket. Now fill it once again halfway and dump that in. Make a mark on the outside of the bucket where the water level is. PROTIP: It helps to shine a light into the bucket so you can see the water line on the outside of the bucket. Now make a second mark exactly between the this mark and the bottom of the bucket. You now have 2.5 gallon and 5 gallon marks. Sweet! But you don't want to die, right? Lots of undesirables shop at Home Depot and your bucket might have AIDS! How do we cure AIDS? Put 5 tablespoons of really cheap bleach into your bucket and let stand for 10 minutes. Your bucket is now sterile, but covered in bleach! Wash down the sides after you dump this mess out in your tub. Your wife will approve of this project because it cleans the tub! Put on a skirt and continue cleaning. Use this mixture to clean those soda bottles you want to put beer in some day. You have enough solution made up to clean exactly the amount of bottles (and caps) you will need to bottle your beer. Isn't this amazing?

Malt
Malt is what makes beer. There's two kinds: Hopped-malt-extract and unhopped-malt-extract. Since we're being lazy here and going for no-boil, you want hopped-malt-extract. This pretty much means Mr Beer cans. Each one of those cans makes about one case (2.5 gallons) of beer. Want to make two cases? That's why you have a 5 gallon bucket! Just buy two cans and use them both! You can also use Cooper's Cans for this, I find they're a little more high quality than Mr Beer. But what if these have insufficient alcohol by volume for the man's man such as yourself? Either reduce the water by 10% or add some table sugar. For darker malts, you won't notice the table sugar anyway, so just do it. 1 lbs of sugar is worth about 4% alcohol by volume (ABV) in a 5 gallon batch, so make sure you put in the whole bag. OK that won't actually work since most yeast can only tolerate about 10% ABV for the most mutated yeast from the Three Mile Brewery, so add 1 lbs at most of table sugar for fortification.

Brewing

  1. Acquire malt kit.
  2. Take off lid. You will find instructions and a yeast packet. Put the yeast packet somewhere safe. Discard instructions because you're a man.
  3. Open the can and pour malt into sterile bucket.
  4. Use hot water to wash out the cans into the bucket.
  5. Use cool water (regular tap water is OK if you like the taste) to raise the level of wort (unfermented beer) to 2.5 gallons if you only used one can or 5 gallons if you used two cans.
  6. Stir like crazy. Add your pound of sugar now so you can get blind drunk on the cheap.
  7. Toss in the yeast. I would suggest both packets for the 5 gallon batch since the freeze dried stuff is usually on the low side of the standard pitching rate.
  8. Put on the lid. Shove the tube through it but not into the wort. You're extracting gas, not beer at this point. The other end of the tube goes into a glass of water. It should bubble after a day.
  9. After two weeks, add between 3/4 and 1 cup of table sugar to the bucket and stir again until dissolved. Don't worry about that crap you kick up, this is getting drunked up on the cheap! Besides, it's high in B vitamins. Now pour the beer into the bottles and cap. Forget about them for two weeks, then they are ready to drink.

Cost for this project
  • 1 paint bucket - $5
  • 1 10ft tube - $2
  • 9 soda bottles - Free if stolen from the dump (Substitute beer bottles here, bottle caps are $10 for 150ct and you can press them on with a 32mm socket).
  • Ale kit - 2 cans will run you about $16
Total Cost: $23 for your own ghetto beer kit and the cheapest swill we could assemble!

Happy brewing!

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Poll
I am going to...
o ...brew beer after reading this. 30%
o ...buy a proper beer kit after reading this. 20%
o ...take out a second mortgage for a case of commercial beer. 50%

Votes: 10
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Mr Beer cans
o Cooper's Cans
o Also by GhostOfTiber


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Brewing Beer on Today's Subprime Mortgage Budget | 58 comments (43 topical, 15 editorial, 1 hidden)
Food grade notes - better, cheaper buckets (3.00 / 6) (#14)
by xC0000005 on Thu May 22, 2008 at 05:43:07 PM EST

While you are correct that #2 plastic buckets are pretty much all food grade, there are many levels to food grade.

Let's start with the highest - Food grade for Resale. I have a set of these in my basement. The buckets are plain #2 plastic but they've been cleaned, disinfected and then stored in a wrap that in theory means that as long as they are kept that way they are good for food. Same deal with the lids.

Medium: #2 plastic bucket, lid of unknown origin, questionable rubber seal nature. You can buy a plastic bucket at Home depot with a lid to go with it. Beware! All lids are not created equal. Some lids contain a soft rubber seal ring (and usually locking tabs for the bucket seal). Some do not. The ones that do not will leak air out (and in) under pressure. I assume that for brewing allowing oxygen to enter would be a bad thing.

Questional: #2 bucket that once held something of a nondeterminate nature. Might have been latex, might have been dishwashing soap. Lid is from the same. I'm not sure I'd eat anything from this bucket.

But...Why pay at all? Find a local bakery. They buy frosting premixed in most cases in 90lb lots, in wonderful white food grade buckets. They usually go through 2-3 of these a day, and with a little talking can easily be persuaded to retain them for you. Food grade. Clean. Complete with a sealing ring. Free.



Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't

Well, oxygen yes (none / 1) (#15)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu May 22, 2008 at 05:52:05 PM EST

But the yeast produces significant amounts of CO2, which is what pushes bubbles along the tube and other goodies. Brewing is a positive pressure operation, and so long as you're able to vent the CO2 you're OK. A leaky bucket lid would do well as an airlock, which is actually how Mr Beer works.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

In that case one could probably use (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by xC0000005 on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:03:41 PM EST

a bucket and cut the ring in about a 1 inch segment. I recently built a honey straw filling machine that ran by presurising the bucket. The lid will swell upward and then begin to vent from the gap in the ring. (I didn't mean for it to vent - it takes a fair amount of pressure to drive warmed honey).

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
+1FP I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF BEER BEFORE (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by lostincali on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:13:35 PM EST


"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."

HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT GOLDEN SHOWERS? (none / 1) (#19)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:26:27 PM EST

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE?

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

OH MY GOD CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO BREW BEER AGAIN? (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by lostincali on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:35:27 PM EST

I NEVER EVER GET TIRED OF IT!!!!!

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

FIRST YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH (none / 1) (#21)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:36:37 PM EST

THEN MY FROTHY PISS GOES IN IT. YOU ARE MY TOILET AND YOU LOVE BUDWEISER.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

THAT IS SOOO INTERESTING! (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by lostincali on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:37:31 PM EST

TELL ME MORE ABOUT ___BREWING BEER_!

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

READ MY DIARY (nt) (none / 0) (#23)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu May 22, 2008 at 07:23:08 PM EST


[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

please send help (3.00 / 4) (#24)
by j1mmy on Thu May 22, 2008 at 08:14:13 PM EST

this man has me locked in his rape dungeon and forces me to brew beer for him to drink and then he urinates on me and i so badly want to leave

so locking you up in a dungeon (none / 0) (#25)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu May 22, 2008 at 08:17:13 PM EST

and forcing you to brew, you kinda liked? It was only the piss that turned you off?

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

you eat too much garlic (none / 1) (#40)
by j1mmy on Fri May 23, 2008 at 11:18:25 AM EST

seriously, lay off the stuff

[ Parent ]
+1FP IN MEMORY OF MINAZO (none / 1) (#26)
by it certainly is on Thu May 22, 2008 at 08:18:43 PM EST



kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

who? (nt) (none / 0) (#27)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu May 22, 2008 at 08:21:12 PM EST


[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

You already know. (none / 0) (#30)
by it certainly is on Thu May 22, 2008 at 09:47:07 PM EST

バケツ。私のだ。

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

CITIZENS FOR BETTER GHETTO HOOCH (none / 1) (#28)
by LilDebbie on Thu May 22, 2008 at 08:38:28 PM EST

+1fP

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

-1 Alcohol destroys families (3.00 / 9) (#31)
by givemegmail111 on Thu May 22, 2008 at 10:54:53 PM EST



--
McDonalds: i'm lovin' it
Start your day tastefully with a
I better have my wife drink more (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by GhostOfTiber on Fri May 23, 2008 at 08:32:42 AM EST

I wouldn't want her getting knocked up!

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

The best thing about homebrew (3.00 / 6) (#39)
by rusty on Fri May 23, 2008 at 11:07:56 AM EST

If you resolve to only drink homebrew, you cannot be an alcoholic. It simply takes too much time and effort. You could manage a one-night bender once every two months, but that's about it. To brew in sufficient volume to keep yourself permanently drunk, you'd have to not be so drunk in the first place. It's self-limiting.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
That's beautiful. (none / 0) (#51)
by regeya on Sat May 31, 2008 at 12:16:33 AM EST

Beautiful, and so true. I've never met a highly-motivated drunk.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

I disagree... (none / 1) (#54)
by lawngnomehitman on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 09:15:01 PM EST

This case study you explain just means that you're not setting the bar high enough...  If you want to homebrew and be an alcoholic, you just need to scale up the production of your hooch!  I've discussed this with GhostOfTiber, Wouldn't a metal 55 gallon drum make an AMAZING mash tun?  Get two, that way you can boil, and mash, and do all of that, WITH 55 GALLONS AT A TIME, RATHER THAN 5!  *11 WIN!  Between raging alcoholic benders you'd have to brew more beer, but christ, you could go for weeks at a time without being sober! I'm considering buying a few and starting my own brewpub! BREWMASTER: FOUND DRUNK AGAIN: JOB WELL DONE SIR!

[ Parent ]
I covered this in my last sentence (none / 0) (#56)
by rusty on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 03:25:54 PM EST

To brew in sufficient volume to keep yourself permanently drunk, you'd have to not be so drunk in the first place. It's self-limiting.

You show me a serious alcoholic with the energy to accomplish this.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

You are correct sir (none / 0) (#57)
by lawngnomehitman on Tue Sep 09, 2008 at 09:19:06 PM EST

While you couldn't technically be permanently drunk, you could go for LONG stretches of insobriety without coming up to brew more.  If you figure that you have to be at least half sober to go to work, and you can devote a day a month on the weekend, you can still be thick in the beer for quite a while. If you can find suckers who are willing to spend your money for supplies, and take your abuse in the name of "learning to brew", then you can go on in this manner until you run out of money, or suckers.  By then you could have children, who you could make brew for you after school.  Who the hell needs buk lernin when you can brew beer!  

[ Parent ]
OLD THREAD IS OLD (none / 0) (#58)
by rusty on Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 09:20:51 AM EST

But I am intrigued by your ideas, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter on how to stay drunk permanently.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
As usual... (2.00 / 3) (#32)
by mybostinks on Fri May 23, 2008 at 12:51:25 AM EST

this is excellent. I always enjoy what you write...

YUO FUCKTARD

+1 FP

-1, proves GhostOfTiber is a Skrull (2.00 / 3) (#33)
by Peahippo on Fri May 23, 2008 at 01:51:18 AM EST

Brewing beer as a cover won't help you. Stark prefers whiskey anyhow. Beer doesn't bribe.


You Can Do It Even Cheaper Than That (3.00 / 7) (#35)
by jhhayesii on Fri May 23, 2008 at 08:41:52 AM EST

In years gone by I brewed beer using a plastic
trash can (only used for this purpose). Make sure the plastic is food grade. For a 5 gallon batch of beer it needs to hold at least 7
gallons, 10 would be better.

When the wort starts to ferment the sudsing action of the carbon dioxde released will create a big head that needs the space.

Forget the lid and the tube through it. Instead get a plastic garbage bag and and elastic band large enough to go around the trash pail.

After you do all the prep work for the wort (as described in the original post), lay the garbage bag across the pail, stretch it tight and use the elastic band to hold it down and tight on the pail.

As the wort ferments it creates carbon dioxide. The trash bag fastened the way it is provides a positive pressure seal that permits the CO2 to exit but keeps fresh air out (you don't need  the release tube).

Everything else proceeds as described in the original article.

if you want to improve the quality of your product, buy a second plastic trash can. After waiting the 2 weeks, do not add in the sugar yet. Don't stir the in the second pound of sugar yet.

Make sure you have cleaned pail 2 as described in the original article. Elevate pail one so that you can siphon out the beer but do not stir the beer or agitate it in any way.

What you need to do is gently get your siphon tube down into the beer but rig it so that the end of the tube is not sucking the sediment from the bottom, but is sucking up instead. You can buy a racking tube that will fasten to your siphon tube to accomplish this (they would be sold where you buy the brewing kits).

Siphon the beer into the second pail.

If you do this, you will have a little beer (wort) in the bottom of the pail with all the sludge.

Now you add that second pound of sugar, stir like crazy and then pour it into bottles.

You will still have a layer of sediment on the bottom of the bottles when you are done, but it will not be as heavy and with careful pouring and not pouring the last .25 inch into you glass you should be able to drink a clear beer. Something you would not mind serving to a guest.

You will inflate the cost of you brewing kit by a few bucks but the improvement in quality may be worth in.


lol (3.00 / 5) (#38)
by rusty on Fri May 23, 2008 at 11:05:32 AM EST

So what were you in prison for?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Roughneck/Rubbermade (none / 1) (#44)
by xC0000005 on Sun May 25, 2008 at 05:24:49 PM EST

Gray and White are both labeled "for food contact". Yellow and red are not.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Won't cleaning the bucket with bleach (3.00 / 2) (#36)
by Booger on Fri May 23, 2008 at 09:33:42 AM EST

permanently fuck up the taste?  In my experience, once you get bleach on plastic, the taint stays 4evah, like AIDS.

Also, what size vinyl tube do you need to use?  You mentioned length, but not thickness.

And are hops like sprouts on malt?  And what the hell is malt, anyway?

-
If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.

Rinse thoroughly (none / 1) (#37)
by rusty on Fri May 23, 2008 at 11:04:37 AM EST

If you rinse it out a few times, and you didn't make your bleach mix too crazy strong to begin with, it'll be fine. It's not like you're making good beer here anyway. :-)

Actually, it should be fine beer. It'd be slightly better if you pulled it off the trub instead of mixing it back in, but whatever. I can say from experience that Tiber likes chunky beer.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I use bleach for sanitization (none / 1) (#41)
by Altus on Fri May 23, 2008 at 01:22:40 PM EST


your talking about very small quantity of bleach in a very large quantity of water, most of which you dispose of.

What little bleach water is left in the bucket should be rinsed out and if there was any left it would be dissolved in 5 gallons of beer.  Not a big deal.  If you just used straight bleach on your plastic bucket you might have trouble.

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

If there was enough bleach to taste... (none / 0) (#43)
by Pentashagon on Sun May 25, 2008 at 01:15:33 PM EST

...the yeast would be dead anyway. No beer.

[ Parent ]
mods plz add apostrophe to title (none / 0) (#42)
by LilDebbie on Sun May 25, 2008 at 10:05:56 AM EST

standards, ppl!

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

who the fuck are you talking to (none / 0) (#45)
by ray eckson on Mon May 26, 2008 at 12:15:48 AM EST

baddoggie?

rusty?!?!

lol @ the noob


wampsy: hey ray why don't you start up a site. you could call it ray5.
rusty: I gotta fix that stupid cancel bug.
booger: How's that for daring to get ray eckson all sniffy, you cow?
poopy: Not that I'm gay or anything, but for you I might make an exception.
[ Parent ]

it's happened before (none / 0) (#46)
by LilDebbie on Mon May 26, 2008 at 01:17:10 AM EST

i have teh emali logs 2 pruf it

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Uh, yeah n00b. Me. (none / 1) (#47)
by BadDoggie on Mon May 26, 2008 at 12:39:35 PM EST

Or were you thinking of some other pedant with an Edit button?

woof.

"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."
[ Parent ]

you realise you're holding this place together (none / 0) (#48)
by ray eckson on Mon May 26, 2008 at 04:26:14 PM EST

with duct tape and bailing wire


wampsy: hey ray why don't you start up a site. you could call it ray5.
rusty: I gotta fix that stupid cancel bug.
booger: How's that for daring to get ray eckson all sniffy, you cow?
poopy: Not that I'm gay or anything, but for you I might make an exception.
[ Parent ]
Apollo XIII didn't have bailing wire (none / 0) (#49)
by BadDoggie on Mon May 26, 2008 at 06:49:49 PM EST

And not only did Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise make it back home alive, a dozen more guys went up and came back, including Harrison Schmitt. Call me DogQuixote. You'll have to call me that because I'm not shelling out $5 for that account name to actually post under that nick.

woof.

"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."
[ Parent ]

you can't even spot yourself an account? (none / 1) (#50)
by ray eckson on Mon May 26, 2008 at 08:19:22 PM EST

jesus, being an editor is wack.


wampsy: hey ray why don't you start up a site. you could call it ray5.
rusty: I gotta fix that stupid cancel bug.
booger: How's that for daring to get ray eckson all sniffy, you cow?
poopy: Not that I'm gay or anything, but for you I might make an exception.
[ Parent ]
Baling wire (none / 0) (#55)
by rusty on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 03:24:19 PM EST

Pedant, check thyself!

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Brewing Beer on Today's Subprime Mortgage Budget | 58 comments (43 topical, 15 editorial, 1 hidden)
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