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Old 02-02-2011, 03:42 PM   #1
slater
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Default Equipment upgrade dilemma

So now that I am out of college, making money, and have the time I am going to try starting strong again at the beloved hobby of homebrewing. Never really stopped but while in school there was a lack of time and money, but I also got 4 of my friends to start so I was brewing with them on and off as well. Now with people leaving so I don't have access to some stuff I am upgrading, kinda.

Here is my situation:

I was given a $250 budget to upgrade equipment and get supplies for a brew (that has not been decided on yet) that will be happening late feb or early march. I would like way more than that $250 can encase so I have come up with priority list.

1. Wort Chiller (bought plate chiller already I am now down to $175)

2. A new pot. The one I got for my birthday when I turned 21 back when I started brewing was a very flimsy stainless steel pot that has seen better days and feels like it will fall apart next time I lift it with a lot of anything in it, so it's gone.

Now I come to the big problems. Stainless steel or Aluminum? 30, 32, or 40 Quart? Let me start by saying I will probably only be doing 5 gallon batches for the next (atleast) couple of years. I plan on eventually going all-grain but am not at that point yet and wont be for a while. I would love to have the great (Expensive) SS ones like the 30 or 32 quart at http://www.homebrewstuff.com/servlet/the-Brewing-Kettles/Categories.

Then I saw the one on another thread that is a 40 Quart pot for $32 and the top for $7 from sam's club.

Quote:
Originally Posted by redm18 View Post
Check out these from sam's club new 10 gallon for like 32 bucks and you can get a matching lid for like 7.
http://www.samsclub.com/sams/shop/product.jsp?productId=102996&selectedTab=allProduc ts
I am now torn between the two. I've always used stainless steel so I am not sure what to do.

I need to buy ingredients, caps, a scale (I can pawn that one of as kitchen stuff with the lady I think) and a couple of smaller things as well. My budget just got torn to pieces with a couple of items.

Can anyone give me some input on the size dilemma for the pot? The SS vs. Aluminum I can find all over the place, I just dont know if I want to stray from the SS yet.

Thanks for all your help and sorry for this novel I just wrote.


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Old 02-02-2011, 04:08 PM   #2
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40 qt (ten gallon) is a nice size for five gallon batches. An aluminum pot should serve you well if you are seeking value or on a $$$$ budget.



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Old 02-02-2011, 04:18 PM   #3
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Does that Plate Chiller work well without a pump?

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Old 02-02-2011, 04:25 PM   #4
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Buy a 40qt Aluminum pot, better yet a 60qt aluminum pot, and do BIAB.

I have the Update International APT-40, while it works fine, I wish I had a little more room when doing a higher gravity BIAB Beer.

http://www.instawares.com/aluminum-stock-pot-o-apt-60.upi-apt60.0.7.htm

Get a inexpensive steamer rack to place the bag on top of so you don't burn it. If funds permit (or when additional funds become available) get a streamer basket to place bag in.

Buy an auto siphon to drain wort out of kettle, until you can spend money on a weld-less ball valve.

My $.02 anyway......

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Old 02-02-2011, 05:08 PM   #5
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Goybar has the ticket, I have used my 40 qt pot with a strainer basket lined with a 5 gallon paint strainer bag from Home Depot. Mash in that, lift the basket out and let it drain a few minutes and then dunk it in again. Do that 2 or 3 times to boost efficiency then let it drain for over the pot while you heat the wort to boil. You will get a bit of a haze from BIAB.... but it doesn`t effect the flavor at all so.....DRINK UP!!!!

P.S. I use a 16 foot ladder over my pot with a pulley, makes holding the strainer a lot easier.

VB

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Old 02-02-2011, 08:18 PM   #6
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Or get a weldless kit for your SS pot so you don't have to lift it with anything in it and can better utilize your plate chiller. What was your methodology for getting the wort through the plate chiller if you were planning on lifting it? Then, when you move AG (and you likely will), this can become your HLT. Just my thoughts.

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Old 02-05-2011, 07:37 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the responses everyone! Sorry for the delay of my response as well. So now to try to answer the questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BendBrewer View Post
Does that Plate Chiller work well without a pump?
When using the same one with a friend there has been no issues while not using a pump so I would say that it works well without a pump.


Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteOwlBrewing View Post
Or get a weldless kit for your SS pot so you don't have to lift it with anything in it and can better utilize your plate chiller. What was your methodology for getting the wort through the plate chiller if you were planning on lifting it? Then, when you move AG (and you likely will), this can become your HLT. Just my thoughts.
I would love to go AG, kinda hard when my g/f won't let me buy a propane burner so I HAVE to *shivers at idea* use an electric range like I have in the past, which I would think would make AG kinda hard.



Quote:
Originally Posted by goybar View Post
Buy a 40qt Aluminum pot, better yet a 60qt aluminum pot, and do BIAB.

I have the Update International APT-40, while it works fine, I wish I had a little more room when doing a higher gravity BIAB Beer.

http://www.instawares.com/aluminum-stock-pot-o-apt-60.upi-apt60.0.7.htm

Get a inexpensive steamer rack to place the bag on top of so you don't burn it. If funds permit (or when additional funds become available) get a streamer basket to place bag in.

Buy an auto siphon to drain wort out of kettle, until you can spend money on a weld-less ball valve.

My $.02 anyway......
I actually already have an auto siphon, but it looks like I will be getting a 32-quart SS with thermometer and a spigot on it. And I have been looking into how hard it would be to do BIAB on an electric stove. I saw a post from another member in a similar situation with a tutorial on that so I am looking for into it, but am not sure if it is the method for me at this time.

My g/f is brewing with me for the first time and we set a brew date of the 27th of this month. Now I need to figure what way I want to brew and what we will be brewing relatively shortly.

Once again thanks for suggestions and help! If you have any other comments or suggestions by all means please let me know!
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:55 PM   #8
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If you are doing BIAB on an electric stove it may be tuff to get that much wort to a boil. If you are going to go that way you can BIAB and when you lift the grain out, put an oven rack over the pot and then a large SS colander on the rack and the grain bag back in the colander to let it drain. It can be done with about 10 lb of grain depending on how sturdy your cook top is, I know some places I have rented before had pretty low quality stoves and the burners were unstable. To get around the BIAB, I bought a 5 gallon round cooler for $19 spent 4 or 5 bucks on some pvc pipe and caps for the manifold and got a bottling bucket spigot from my LHBS. Total cost for a mash ton was under $30. I am going to post some pics today or tomorrow if you want to look at em.

VB

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Old 02-06-2011, 09:45 PM   #9
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The best thing you could spend money on you already did: the wort chiller.

Speaking from the perspective of someone who was worried about cost when they first got into the hobby, you want to make sure that anything you buy can be used when/if you do switch AG. I am in the middle of switching to AG and my wife has asked more than once 'why do you need a new [insert toy here], you already have one!'. Trust me, it is a lot easier to say 'if I buy this [insert toy here], I won't have to buy one ever again. Sure I will go over budget a couple of bucks, but won't have to buy another one in two years.'

When you size your kettles, you want to bear in mind you need to add a couple of gallons, if not 5, to the size of wort you want to boil. The reason, as you probably know, if because of boil over. If you plan on upgrading to 10 gallon batches one day, you need to plan on a 15 gal. pot or do like the earlier poster suggested and plan on making your 7 gal. kettle the HLT one day (you can heat up another 7 gallons while you are mashing). Keep that in mind when drilling holes and adding fittings.

As for BIAB, I have done that for years. What I usually would do is once the grains had 'mashed' in half a pot of water I would run hot water from the kitchen faucet to rinse the grains and top off my boil water. However, I was using D/LME as my main sugar source so I didn't worry about effeciency, I was mainly just worried about getting the color from the grain (I do a lot of stouts and porters). Best tip I (and the other posters) can give you is you want to be very careful about letting the bag come in contact with the bottom of the kettle. Melted plastic or burnt thread does not a good beer make.

As for the stove I have used electric stove tops for all my previous brews. Luckily my last two houses had fairly decent flat top stoves so I could take 3-4 gal. water to a boil in about 20-30 minutes. If you are using DME or LME and not boiling 5 gallon batches you should be ok at first. It would be better to put the money towards a better kettle than buying a gas burner. Naturally, once you switch to AG you will want to rethink the stove but its not necessary when doing extract or partial mashes.



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