Brewing Lagers generally requires the use of some type of temp controlled Fermentation Chamber. You are not going to be able to get your apartment. down to 48 F. Which is the ending temp for most lagers to achieve diacetyl rest. Then cold crash down to 40 F for clarity.
Most people don't start brewing with Lagers due to the temp control complexities. My advice start with some type of Ale. It is much easier to keep your apartment around 64-68F.
I live in South Florida where it commonly hits 80 degrees outside in winter and over 90 in the summer, with our house A/C at 75 degrees. I see a few references to colder temperatures in this thread. Should I even attempt to make beer given my conditions? I do have a full-size top/bottom garage fridge that is usually mostly empty. Would I need that to hold some of the pots/buckets to a lower temp?
What kind of temperatures do I need? My basement is open air with all the vents in there, so it's DEFINITELY not controller.... bummer.
Are there "temp control fridges" or anything like that available?
Also, how is the smell from these things?
As the previous poster noted, the temp range is pretty forgiving for ales, anywhere between 64-74 or so should be fine. As long as the basement isn't unusually cold or warm you should be fine.
I also have never done lagers. I have done 50 + kits, all ales, and there is PLENTY of variety without having to dive into the little bit more complicated lager brewing.
as far as the smell question - on brew day you WILL smell the hops and malt throughout the house after boiling it for an hour or so. It can be kind of strong. BUT it goes away within 1/2 day, and it isn't a terrible smell, just strong. Once you begin to ferment it in the basement it is in a air tight sealed container, so there is NO smell from there forward.
Moderately easy. For best results, you'll probably want to make a yeast starter and use 2 stage fermentation.
agree with everything mfdoc said. Techinically you can brew the stout like an ale (versus the lower temp lager) but due to the extra malts and sugars I would recommend the 2 stage and yeast starter.
honestly, sounds like you are into some of the bigger beers, and if so you would love this hobby. what I MIGHT suggest is you start with 1-2 of the slightly easier recipes, the irish red, maybe a wheat beer, then move onto the stout after youhave done 2-3 batches.
Thinking about pulling the trigger, what is the level of difficulty in brewing the stout? I see Lagers are tough and Ales are easier, but nothing on the stout?
Stout is a type of ale. My first homebrewed beer was the Midwest stout kit and it could not be easier. The key is to try to keep your fermentation temps within the specified range (typically 65-70 degrees for ales) and this can easily be accomplished. If you don't have a suitable cool place in your home, just fill a large rubbermaid storage tote halfway with water, put your fermenting bucket in there and swap in a couple frozen 2-liter bottles once a day. This will keep your fermentation temps approx. 10 degrees below room temp.
While the other responder's suggestion of a yeast starter and two-stage fermentation is not incorrect, you don't to do either of those things to make a low-gravity kit like the Midwest irish stout. Yeast starters are required for higher gravity (that is, more alcohol) beers and two-stage fermentation is recommended when you are introducing something else to the beer (fruit, coffee, chocolate, etc.) after fermentation is substantially complete. However, as a beginner, you don't need to worry about either of these things for your first few kit-based batches.
As an aside, for those concerned about having enough space, I live in a tiny one-bedroom high-rise apartment and I have no problem making great beer. I do full boils on a basic GE gas range and my beer happily ferments away in a closet.
one more thing, I see in the living social descrption it says you should get abut 56 12 oz. bottles. that is WAY off. while youa re brewing about a 5 gallon batch, by the time you are done botling etc you will get closer to about 45-48 bottles. still almost 2 cases of great brew, just don't be surprised when you don't end up with 56 or so bottles.
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