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Old 12-30-2011, 01:25 PM   #1
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Default Best Purchase to Upgrade My Rig

So I've just gotten into brewing and am currently using the standard True Brew kit with the 2 plastic buckets, auto siphon, bottling wand, etc. I'm doing partial boils in a regular 5 gal stainless kitchen pot on the stove top. So far, so good! My question is, what (in your opinion) would be the best purchase I should make to take my brewing (quality, process, enjoyment,etc) to the next level? I really enjoy it and plan on doing it for a long time.

Let's say I've got about $500 to spend. I'm thinking maybe a full boil set up would be the next logical step, right? A burner and kettle? If so, which burner, which kettle? Or is there something else that would give me more bang for my buck? Like I said, I plan on doing this consistently for a long time, so I'm looking for high quality long-term purchases. I know $500 isn't much, and it's not necessarily a limit, but a substantial upgrade in that price range would be best.

Thanks!

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Old 12-30-2011, 01:47 PM   #2
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Full boil yes, IMO I would look at a Mega Pot for the kettle. I just bought a 25 gallon one and it is heavy duty. As far as the burner, it depends on your gas source. I think most people hear like the hurricane burners. I use NG jet burners. You can make a MT out of a cooler and go nice and cheap. Take a look at dennybrew.com and see his set-up. $500 could set you up for a good start. Build a good chiller and you would be set.

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Old 12-30-2011, 01:54 PM   #3
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In my case, I wanted to do all grain asap, but wanted to do the simplified in the bag method for mash and sparge. So, my purchases were:
1. 84 qt stainless steel pot from overstock. (can't remember the price exactly, I think less than $100).
2. Bag (5-7$ at my lhbs)
3. Propane burner (I bought a turkey fryer on sale, but see the sq14 is $45 at amazon).
4. Extra propane tank ($42, filled)

So, for $200 or so I was able to start all-grain.

An alternative, which I did right away as I already had a kegerator which had been used fir sanke style kegs, was to invest in a couple if cornys plus qd's, etc. This is a heck of a lot easier than bottling.

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Old 12-30-2011, 02:44 PM   #4
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You, like myself began the process of building a brewery with thoughtful planning. IMHO that is part of the fun of the hobby.

Two pieces of advice, 1) Do not buy the same type of eguipment twice. Buy it right the first time. If you enjoy the hobby you may eventually want to brew ten gallon batches. Therefore, do not limit yourself to only doing five gallon today.

2) Follow the DIY forum. I have made counterflow chillers, hop bags, natural gas single tier sculpters, two tap kegerators, beer line cleaners etc, etc from learning from this community.

And if you plan in advance, you can begin picking up items on sale or on your best friend, "Craig's List" for future brewery enhancements. BTW - They never stop.

Good luck and enjoy.

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Old 12-30-2011, 07:16 PM   #5
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My suggestions are:
Full boil, I do electric and moved from a cheep turkey fryer the blichman burnners I have seen look awesome but I have never used one

Fermentation temperature control, brewers make wort yeast make beer, controlling your ferment will greatly improve your beer

Kegging, it makes bottling day so much less of a pain, plus it is cool to have your own beer on tap

All grain is a great option if you want to push your money farther. Each all grain brew costs less in ingredients (about half at my lhbs), letting you save up for more gear. But you need a full boil before going all grain.

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Old 12-30-2011, 09:26 PM   #6
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I may be the odd man out here, but I'd suggest a fermentation freezer. All the other equipment can wait, but without absolute and precise temp control during fermentation the best the brewer can hope for is "good beer." (Zainachef 2010)

If you invest in a freezer then at least temp control is done and you can worry about other equipment later.

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Old 12-30-2011, 09:47 PM   #7
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Most invaluable piece of equipment I have found thus far is my beer glass...

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Old 12-31-2011, 12:00 AM   #8
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Temp control before anything else, IMO. If there is money leftover then yeast management with equip for yeast starters. These two items have the biggest impact on quality in the end. If you want more gadgets for process enjoyment prone burners and kettles and chillers and all grain is next. But mastering control over fermentation as soon as possible in your brewing evolution is most important. Again just in my opinion.

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Old 12-31-2011, 01:50 AM   #9
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Turkey fryer, kettle, kegs, cooler mash tun...

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