Looking for and opinion on equipment. I'm halfway through my Science of Brewing class at the local college. Pretty extensive with hour long lectures three days a week and a 5hr lab every week. Brewed a few batches already and got to try 7 different batches of the same recipe. The batch my lab partner and I turned out was pretty good but there were some that had some pretty harsh characteristics like one had a real bad sulphide or seltzer taste as the dimethyl sulfide (DMS) must have been found it's way into a batch due to bacterial infection (Sanitation). Others you could tell the difference because of ability to maintain mash temps, rate of cooling, strike temps etc. This is what makes the classroom environment really cool as we share lab notes as we are tasting so we can see what differences in preparation, and temps make in a single beer recipe.
With what I have learned so far I'm confident I can turn out a tasty brew pretty easily and repeat to get the same taste and characteristics later. I know you can always RDWHAHB, but I really don't want to get some of the tastes of those other beers. While most were not awful and they were interesting to taste, I would cry if I had to drink five gallons of the swill before I could make another batch.
I really don't have the storage for 4 large brewing containers so I'm minimizing to 2 large and 1 small container that may or may not fit in to one of the others. My batch sizes will typically be 5-8gallons and the brew kettle is the only piece I have not purchased yet. Here is the way I plan on liquid transfer on a single level shelf.
Boil kettle used to boil water for mash on high output burner.
Transfer water to 10gal mash tun http://www.homebrewing.org/10-Gallon-Converted-Igloo-Cooler-Mash-Tun-With-False-Bottom_p_1006.html
Heat up water for HLT and place in 5 gal HLT just before sparging (cooler with Valve and 3/4 tubing)
Place stainless strainer on top of tun to begin sparging and open both valves equally on tun and HLT using the boil kettle to catch wort. HLT is on shelf, Tun is on chair and Boil kettle is on the floor. Boil kettle is then moved to burner. (The Blichmann top tier modular shelf would be nice but I can't swallow the price)
I have been eyeballing the Blinchmann 15 gal brew kettle and slap it on a Bayou Classic sp15 tall burner. From my understanding they build a quality product. I would move the thermometer down a bit to work from smaller batches. I have heard Blinchmann carries a one year warranty and does states the handles are intended to bear the weight of the kettle itself and not with it loaded. I was thinking it's kind of nuts to think that someone will never carry the thing around empty all the time. It got me looking at Bayou Classic 16gal brew pot as it appears they just came out recently with a home brew line.
Not sure if they may be built a bit better at the handles to allow being carried by the handles while loaded. I really don't know much about them on their quality however. I would be pissed if I bought either one and had the handles fall off trying to transfer 5-8 gallons of hot wort from the floor to the burner etc. Or is there a cheaper modular stand out there so I need not worry. Any thoughts?