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Old 12-23-2008, 09:34 PM   #1
amishland
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Default Help me upgrade my equipment (5+10 gal. all grain)

After making a small step forward using death's counter top partial mash techniques, I am looking for some advice on how to spend my money.

Current Equipment

7.5 gallon alum pot
50 ft DIY immersion chiller (3/8")
2 @ 10 gallon Rubbermaid cooler (got two for $44 on clearance)
1@ ss false bottom w/ ss ball valve rig will use as MLT (coming from santa)
Keezer w. 3 taps JC temp control
4 @ cornies
2 @ 6 gal BB
2 @ 5 gal BB
a bunch of other stuff not needed for this list

Known Wants
15 gallon ss brew pot (what should I look for)
grain mill (could let LHBS mill for me)
storage for bulk grains (could buy a few batches at a time from LHBS)
scale for weighing out grains and hops
hop stopper or equivalent DIY hop strainer bag
vacuum sealer

Any advice for where I should spend some cash now, and if possible upgrade as I go...

As for the brew kettle I understand ball valve is almost a must but what about temp gauge and sight glass. I have been obsessing over keggle or simple kettle, or even boilermaker.

Should I mount a sight glass, ball valve, and thermometer on my old 7.5 gal alum pot and use it as my HLT or just work on making my second Rubbermaid the HLT?

I have $400 to play with thanks to a fantasy football championship, and kind of approval from my supportive SWMBO. She thinks I should spend less on my kettle and more other "things" she knows I will want to buy in this upgrade anyhow.

Thanks for any helpful advice, I am off for the holidays and am ready to overthink and research every aspect of this upgrade.

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Old 12-23-2008, 10:27 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amishland View Post
Known Wants
grain mill
storage for bulk grains
scale for weighing out grains and hops
I vote for these. I got a small (for salts and hops) scale and a large (for grain) scale for less than $100. I use vittle vaults for grain storage, about $40 for a big one. I don't have a mill yet, but I've almost bought a barley crusher about 100 times now.
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Old 12-23-2008, 10:43 PM   #3
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You can't go wrong investing in a good pot. Buy a good one and cry once. The question is, do you want a pot, or do you want a keg? Are you dead set on SS? Aluminum has better conductive properties and is much easier to modify. You can find some really nice pots for some great prices if you take your time and do the research. I think you can probably get all the stuff on your list if you choose wisely. The barley crusher is a fantastic mill right out of the box for $120 or so. That leaves a lot of other money to play with.

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Old 12-23-2008, 11:08 PM   #4
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15 gallon ss brew pot (what should I look for)

I'd go with a 15.5 gallon SS Keg and add a ball valve. You can always add a thermometer now or later as with the sight glass, depending on your funds.


grain mill (could let LHBS mill for me)

Can't help you there. Looks to be around $100+ for one, unless you do one of those DIY paste maker ones.


storage for bulk grains (could buy a few batches at a time from LHBS)

Large sealable tupperware containers. Something like this: Walmart.com: Iris Airtight 30-Qt. Container: Storage & Organization


scale for weighing out grains and hops

Check out eBay. Plenty of decent / yet cheap scales. Get a smaller sized one, not a 75lber.


hop stopper or equivalent DIY hop strainer bag

There are a lot of DIY hot bags made with PVC pipe and a paint strainer bag.


vacuum sealer

A FoodSaver?



Remember that you'll have to spend some money on grains and hops, so don't spend it all on equipment.
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:32 AM   #5
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Watch Amazon for aluminum pots. Do you have a burner? If not, plan on $30-50 for a Bayou Classic Sp10 with the 20psi regulator. To go along with this, do you have a tank? I have two regular BBQ tanks, plus a buddy gave me a 40 lb. tank that really works well with my big burner. For a scale, I just use an old two lb. postal scale I bought at a yard sale for $0.25. I measured out my grain, pound by pound, tamped it, then marked the increments on my homemade hopper for the Crankandstein. No more measuring my base malt! Just add the desired amount, tamp, adjust as necessary, and off I go.

My 15 gallon kettle is from Amazon, shipped $80, one could possibly do better, but it is the thick walled type. I added my own spigot, from a SS kettle that was part of an electric turkey fryer, and I made my own gauge float.

For grain storage, you could go to a restaurant or bakery and grab some 5-6 gallon buckets with the gasketed lid. You fill with grain, then press the lid on tight, you will hear a click, and it is air/water tight; they are free to boot!! My neighbors own a restaurant and will give me more than I need.


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Old 12-24-2008, 01:05 AM   #6
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Hmm, $400 bucks eh? Here's how I'd spend it -

1. Big 15g+ pot ($200 for a pot w/ fittings, about $120 if you DIY a keg)
If you're a DIY type, then buy a Sanke keg and modify it. Otherwise, purchase one from an online store. AHS has a good sale going on for these quality SS pots - Austin Homebrew Supply. Add on a SS ball valve and you have yourself a great boil kettle.

2. Barley Crusher ($125)
Without a doubt, a great tool to have so you can brew whenever you want without having to run to the LHBS beforehand. Also, if you buy grain in bulk this is a must.

3. Bulk Grain ($75)
You should be able to get a couple 50# bags of grain with the rest of your $$$ and put that crusher to work!

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Old 12-24-2008, 03:48 PM   #7
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thanks for the comments, a few more details. I like what you are saying.

I do have propane and turkey fryer burner Eastman Outdoors I think w/ regulator

Interesting no one has recommended the Boilermaker, or a Polarware kettle, sounds like everyone would buy a mill and bulk grain and a $200ish pot or keg.

I dont know if santa is bringing anything besides the false bottom for my cooler, so I will have to wait before I move forward. I talked myself out of a keggle, but now seem to think it is the most reasonable way to go.

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Old 12-24-2008, 03:53 PM   #8
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Additional question does anyone know the thickness of a keg for the base and the sidewalls? How does it compare to the known pots out there? So many folks use the keggles I am sure it is not a concern

Interesting recommendation on the aluminum pot
pros are price, heat transfer, and modification ease
cons are keeping the oxidation layer

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