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Old 02-09-2013, 09:47 PM   #1
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Default Help assemble a brewery...on a budget!

Hey all,

I am a new brewer, however I wanna start assembling an all grain set up. I am an auto tech so the importance of buying quality the first time is more appealing then constantly upgrading. I would also like to go all grain as soon as possible.

Would you guys suggest buying a cooler set up so I can go all grain ASAP? Then start slowly collecting the stainless pieces and other things that make it easier like pumps, stir plates etc. Or just stick to partial mash until I collect lots of high end equipment. I am going to be investing a few hundred bucks in equipment very soon.

I currently have just a basic set up for extract brewing.
6.9 Gal fermenter
6.5 Bottling bucket
5.5 Stainless boil kettle
Auto siphon
Capper
And other odds and ends

Can you guys help me prioritize what to get next? And also help me with the equipment needed to build a really nice rig. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Old 02-09-2013, 10:10 PM   #2
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Build a wort chiller. Mine is only 20' of 3/8th o.d. copper ($25) but it works pretty well. i used hose clamps to attach the tubing then a hose clamp to attach a garden hose adapter to the tubing for input.
Buy a 40qt+ stock pot. I found an aluminum one for $1/qt, shipped. Restaurant supply sites are good.
Use any old 5 gal+ cooler with a spigot for a mash tun. Just squeeze some hi-temp tubing through the spigot and hose clamp on a stainless braid diy filter. Tubing clamps are cheap. Valves are not. I wish I had gone this route and saved money. I had a cooler in the garage.
I made a stir plate from a computer fan and some magnets. Old coffee pot instead of flask. Cost: $0.00
I'm researching and collecting materials now for a heatstick. I brew on my ceramic stovetop. It sucks. I've done one 6 gallon batch with the new pot so far and never got to a great rolling boil. Going to build a 1500watt 120volt heat stick. Estimated cost: $50
Use your extra cash to buy bulk grain and hops for major savings. Look up how to store it properly and you'll be set.

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Old 02-09-2013, 10:14 PM   #3
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Wth what you have you can go all-grain with just the addition of a grain bag. Brewing in a bag is quite cheap to get into with a $4 mesh bag being the only equipment you lack.
If BIAB isn't quite your style like you said a cooler MLT would probably be the next investment. Another option is getting another kettle or keggle to insulate and use as your mash tun. I myself see pumps (at least for the hobby level ie; <20G batches) as a needless expense. If you've got the room for it, a 3-tier system can be pieced together rather economically since you won't have hundreds of dollars tied up in march pumps.
The next question is do you want to brew inside or outside. Put another way: do you want to heat with electricity or gas.
+1 on the wort chiller

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Old 02-09-2013, 10:20 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies...excellent advice so far.

I am thinking about brewing outside as I have a Man cave that opens directly to a patio.

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Old 02-09-2013, 10:23 PM   #5
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I would love to have a nice kettle-mounted heat element and brew outside. No dealing with propane. Electricity is always just an outlet away.

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Old 02-09-2013, 10:50 PM   #6
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The trouble with electricity is. Electricity and water are jealous lovers that will destroy anyone/thing that gets between them. It's not hard to get GFCI and wiring done correctly though.
The other consideration is not everyone has access to 220 50A service to get water heated in a reasonable timespan. You can do 5G batches on 30A service but you can only run one element at a time and it takes considerably longer.
Inital investment for electricty is higher since 220 GFCI breakers or copier cords are expensive, in the long run you'll save money though. A single 5500W element is roughly 18.7kBTU. While a Bayou classic burner puts out ~55kBTU. So if you think you'll be moving a lot or brewing at a friends house you might want to lean towards a propane setup, at least for the boil kettle.

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Old 02-09-2013, 11:00 PM   #7
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I think I will start out doing propane. Keep the advice coming. I am open to all advice regarding getting the best equipment for least money!

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Old 02-10-2013, 03:36 AM   #8
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use homebrewfinds.com they have awesome deals listed daily.

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Old 02-10-2013, 11:21 AM   #9
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cheap & easy
http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/

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Old 02-10-2013, 09:44 PM   #10
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If you're planning five gallon batches, you'll need a bigger brew kettle.
I've been cooling wort in my kitchen sink with ice for a year, and today I used my new wort chiller. You will definitely want one, and as already mentioned, you can make your own and use your money elsewhere.
I just got this burner but haven't set it up yet. The price has gone up since I ordered. I like the elevated burner, since I plan to use it for wok cooking and other stuff as well.

Edit Check out homebrewfinds. There's a good price on 10 gallon kettles. Wish I'd seen that deal a couple weeks ago.

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