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Old 05-06-2009, 04:24 PM   #1
mancavebrew
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Default Critique my beer brewing setup

Apart from posting in the "Introductions" section, this is my first post about my actual plans on getting involved with beer brewing. Below are the items I'm thinking about purchasing to complete my setup. Any tips, comments, and advice is very much welcome. If you think I'm doing something wrong say something!

I'm going all SS right off the bat. First thing is the Blichmann fermenter looks the best deal for a semi-serious brewer. I'm thinking about putting a bid on this:

7-Gallon SS fermenter:
Â*Blichmann 7gal Stainless Steel Conical Beer Fermenter - eBay (item 160331812213 end time May-09-09 07:30:03 PDT)

Then I was thinking about this pot:
BREWER'S EDGE 40 QUART BREWKETTLE @ Williams Brewing

This burner to heat the pot:
HURRICANE STOVE @ Williams Brewing

And this wort chiller:
WORT CHILLER @ Williams Brewing

So that's the basic of my setup. I'll get the necessary extras like thermometor, sanitizers, bottles, etc. What do you guys think?

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Old 05-06-2009, 04:46 PM   #2
Bowtiebrewery
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I'm not 100% in love with your choice in chiller... I'd go with something a little longer like a 50 ft just in case you plan to expand... But all in all I like your set up...
But you could save some cash and not get a Conical Fermenter...

I have one... and to be honest... I don't use it all that much...

I would say instead of dropping coin on that I would buy a March Pump instead or get a larger Boil Kettle so that you have the option of doing 10 gallon batches...

Really its up to you but If i could do it all over again I wouldn't have bought my Conical.

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Old 05-06-2009, 05:00 PM   #3
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Looks great! Good choice on the kettle and the burner, and that conical is beautiful. Like bowtiebrewery said, the chiller is just "ok". Something a bit larger would be great, and a 50' would still work for you if/when you move to brewing larger batches. You might want to look at doing some DIY for a chiller, it's pretty easy and copper tubing is cheap right now. You'd end up spending the same amount of money and getting a MUCH better chiller.

50' 3/8" Copper Tubing: $28.32 (CopperTubingSales.com :: ICS Indsutries ::)
8' 3/8" Vinyl Tubing: $0.45/ft. = $3.60
2 Hose Clamps: < $1
Hose Repair Kit: < $5

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/immersion-chiller-tutorial-video-60522/

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Old 05-06-2009, 05:55 PM   #4
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I assume that you are starting with extract brewing? If that is true, everything looks good except for maybe a longer chiller. The longer chiller will cool your wort down much quicker. It's a great hobby and lots of fun. Best of luck to you.

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Last edited by Sawdustguy; 05-06-2009 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 05-06-2009, 07:43 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies so far....

I'm looking into the longer chiller (coil) as some of you mentioned. Might try and make my own since after reading some instructions it doesn't seem too difficult.

In terms of the SS conical, I haven't seen too many disadvantages so I'm wondering why Bowtiebrewery didn't like it. I figured it would make it easy to drain the contents in the different stages. Also wouldn't it double as the conditioning tank as well?

I was also curious to know how dangerous it is to pour the hot and heavy pot into the conical? I'm thinking it might be a good idea to keep the pot elevated, then run a tube into the conical when I'm ready to transfer the wort.

And I assume that I will begin with extract brewing, then maybe down the road get a little more involved with the grains and steeping bags.

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Old 05-06-2009, 08:03 PM   #6
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I would buy bigger, everything but the Hurricane. If you fall in love with brewing you will want to do 10 gallon batches at some point. SS fermenter would not be big enough in that case. The boil pot is rather thin and limiting @ 10 gallons if you do go bigger. If you are at all handy, go with a weldless fitting and check out Update Intl SS pots at waresdirect or instawares.com . They are more heavy duty pots and if you decide to lift a full pot you will appreciate the difference in construction.

With the fermenter keep in mind you might need a way to temperature control it at some point. Fermentation chamber, spare fridge or freezer - so size matters. You might be better off with smaller HDPE plastic pails or containers. I would go plastic to start so you can see what makes sense without dropping a lot of cash on SS conical. I am using a 15+ gallon inductor tank conical on wheels and while it works well it is a challenge to keep it at constant temps!

I have a collection of mini, small, medium & large size pots, etc. - wish someone had told me to buy big! Of course I did not ask because I know everything (LOL).

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Old 05-06-2009, 08:49 PM   #7
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I would pass on the Blichmann conical fermenter. It's a very nice unit, but you can only ferment a single beer at a time. I prefer to primary in buckets and secondary in carboys. As samc suggested, a pump might be a better option at this point. That's some serious change for a fermenter.

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Old 05-07-2009, 11:41 AM   #8
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The advantage of a conical fermenter is that there is no need to have a secondary fermenter. At almost $400 on at this time on ebay, I think it would be wiser to spend your money on other items that would optimize your setup (ie: pump, larger vessel, better chiller etc).

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Old 05-07-2009, 12:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mancavebrew View Post
In terms of the SS conical, I haven't seen too many disadvantages so I'm wondering why Bowtiebrewery didn't like it. I figured it would make it easy to drain the contents in the different stages. Also wouldn't it double as the conditioning tank as well?

First: Its not that I don't like that particular conical... Its freaking beautiful...

However... I can name a few disadvantages:
I have had trub clog my drain ports with a conical
You can't see the fermentation... (I love to watch beer ferment)
Much more to clean when its all said and done
SS Can become really dirty and pit and you have to really maintain it to keep it looking nice...

When its all said and done... I love my conical but to be honest I hardly ever use it because I can't stick it in my chest freezer... (Too Tall, although I could chop the legs down a bit...) and its a bitch to clean have to disassemble the parts and valves and clean it...

With my Carboy's or buckets I just rinse them out let them sit in some oxyclean I rinse and I'm good to go.

I think almost everyone will agree with me on the fact that you could easily spend your money much better than on that piece of Bling... A March Pump or a really nice chiller set up is worth its weight in Gold and you really need to make sure you get down to pitching temps quickly... The faster you accomplish this, the better your beer will be.

I think the advantages of a conical are far outweighed by the advantages of the many supplies you could buy if you didnt purchase one...

JMO
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Old 05-07-2009, 04:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowtiebrewery View Post
First: Its not that I don't like that particular conical... Its freaking beautiful...

However... I can name a few disadvantages:
I have had trub clog my drain ports with a conical
You can't see the fermentation... (I love to watch beer ferment)
Much more to clean when its all said and done
SS Can become really dirty and pit and you have to really maintain it to keep it looking nice...

When its all said and done... I love my conical but to be honest I hardly ever use it because I can't stick it in my chest freezer... (Too Tall, although I could chop the legs down a bit...) and its a bitch to clean have to disassemble the parts and valves and clean it...

With my Carboy's or buckets I just rinse them out let them sit in some oxyclean I rinse and I'm good to go.

I think almost everyone will agree with me on the fact that you could easily spend your money much better than on that piece of Bling... A March Pump or a really nice chiller set up is worth its weight in Gold and you really need to make sure you get down to pitching temps quickly... The faster you accomplish this, the better your beer will be.

I think the advantages of a conical are far outweighed by the advantages of the many supplies you could buy if you didnt purchase one...

JMO
I disagree about your thoughts on the conical fermenter. They are very easy to clean, at least easier to clean than a carboy. Trub should be filtered before you put your wort in the fermenter. Stainless steel if properly taken care of, will not pit, especially the 316 grade stainless used in that conical. You are correct that it is difficult to fit in a fermentation chamber. I do however agree that his money would be better spent improving his setup.
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