making beer : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

Well after hauling water for 8 months we are finally getting a deep well in may,Now I have 5- 55 gallon drums that we have been hauling water in. I would like to try brewing beer in them. Any one ever try that? They are all food grade plastic-had coke in them. Any ideas? Daryll

-- Daryll (, April 29, 2001


Did you try doing a search on for beer brewing? They have a lot of sources for moonshine. Just a thought. The only beer anyone around here makes is persimmon beer, and it's still a long time until persimmon season again.

-- Green (, April 29, 2001.

Hey Green, Thanks for the information. The problem is I would like to make 50 gallons at a time, all the ones I found are for 5 gallons or less. If I'm going to make beer I want to make enough for a year at a time.Somebody out there must make it in 50 gallon batches,I'll keep looking. Daryll

-- Daryll (, April 30, 2001.

Beer is a living thing.You wouldn't want to eat year old bread why would you want to drink year old beer?(beer is basicaly liquid bread) Beer is best made in smaller batches.Smaller batches equal smaller losses in the event it gets contaminated.If you want to brew something in large batches try hard cider.It keeps better.It was the national drink until the big german influx of the mid 1800s.Beer was traditionaly made about every two weeks by housewives for the table.If you still want beer in large quantities call a local micro brewery.Folks that are crafting beer rather than making factory swill are usually the type that love to talk shop and will help you out in buying ingredients in bulk.Call around.

-- greg (, April 30, 2001.

I've been brewing beer for around 6 years or so and I did brew a 20 gal batch before. Don't use the coke containers! It will taint the beer for sure. Unless you don't mind beer that has a coke taste mingled in with it. If you are going to brew in a 50 gal batch, get a new barrel. I got mine for about 30 dollars each from a local container company, but make sure they are food grade. The other thing is, you cannot store the beer in the 50 gal drums. The old barrels that were tapped in years of old, were drank in a day or just a couple days, otherwise the beer will spoil and definately lose it's carbonation. The best bet for you if you want large batches is to brew in new 50 gal drums and just up the recipes from the 5 gal batches, then after fermentation is complete, bottle the whole batch in whatever bottle sizes you like. I've finally moved to the self capping bottles, and will never go back to regular caps. You may find you need less hops in a large batch, I would imagine (but I love hops, so I don't worry about it). The other thing, sorry for the rambling, is that when you brew beer, to make better quality (I am a connoisseur), you should be boiling at least 50 percent of the water used for the beer. 80% is better. These kits that say boil 1 or 2 gallons and make up the rest w/ tap water when you move it to the primary fermenter, will give you beer, but it wont be much better than regular commercial beer. If your tastebuds can't tell or don't care, then don't worry about it. But with a little knowledge and care, you can brew beer that far supercedes high dollar imports, at a fraction of the cost. One of my favorite beers is Guinness, and I have no trouble brewing a home equivalent. There are tons of good brew books and recipe books out there, but a good starter is charlie papazian, New Complete Joy of Homebrewing. The 20 gal batch I brewed I did in drums from Italy that had green chile's in them. (don't laugh!) I bleached and washed them thoroughly so that there was no smell at all, just clean. But the beer still tasted like chile's because of the plastic absorbing whatever was in it. I drank most of it anyways...I may be a connoissuer, but I won't waste beer =)...and used some left over to jump start a compost pile. The idea of "old" beer doesn't really fly, depending on the recipe. I've brewed great strawberry beers that didn't reach their aged prime until after 7 months from the time of bottling. We started drinking it after 2 months and it was good, but it just kept getting better. I'm fairly impatient, so you have to get into a rhythm of brewing so that you always have something good to drink and something good ageing. I made my first mead last year (which should age 9 months to a year), it was a good experiment and I can't wait to fool with it made from my own honey from my own bee's (soon....) Last tip.....Be extra careful about keeping everything clean and sanitary, it's one thing to ruin a 5 gal batch, but 50 gals would be very disappointing. Even after all this time, I still use malt extract, but will move to brewing from grain only in the near future. Not only will the beer quality be even better, but you should be able to produce the beer even cheaper, especially if you grew the grain. But you have to have a good heat source (gas burner) and very large vessels to boil in. Needless to say the boiling would have to be done outside and I just don't have the means to be doing all grain yet. Hope this was informative and didn't just tell you stuff you already know.

-- JC (, May 01, 2001.

Well, Thank you all for the information. I think I'll stick with the 5 gallon batches and find another use for my 55 gallon drums. Any ideas for them? I love this forum, there is just so much to know about homesteading and and so little time to find things out, thanks for all the help. Daryll

-- Daryll (, May 01, 2001.

Keep the tanks for emergency water or rain barrels.Don't be afraid to cut the tops off and use them for big mixing drums.Run a piece of pipe through one end to end cut a hole in the center and use it for a composter.(i like piles myself)They make good feed troughs if you cut them in half end to end.Cut a dog size hole in one end and you have a dog house.(goat size holes make goat houses)Just use them! I always wanted to conserve my special plastic barrels and finally realized that with a little looking I could always find more.A saber saw works great for cutting can use a chain saw if you are really artfull.

-- greg (, May 01, 2001.

Well, Daryll, you could always research those moonshine recipes. Those usually take 50 gallon drums......LOL

-- Green (, May 03, 2001.

Hey Green,Good idea, but my better half says I'd never get anything done around here. Daryll

-- Daryll (, May 03, 2001.

Well, in that case you can still use the barrels to store dry foods such as beans, rice, etc. Also for animal feeds. You can bury them into the ground with the opening exposed and use them for root cellars. You can also pack down out of season clothes in them. I used to know folks that did because the clothes were protected from mice and dirt daubers (mud wasps) and they could store them under the shed instead of inside their tiny house. Also use them for water if it looks like there will be a drought in your area. Looks like we may be in for another year of that. If you have little children they like to use them for caves or play houses, especially if you put them in a shady spot. I still think the moonshine idea was best though! LOL

-- Green (, May 04, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ