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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > If you had $2,000 to upgrade your brewery, what would you do? (help me upgrade mine)




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Old 01-23-2014, 08:16 PM   #1
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Default If you had $2,000 to upgrade your brewery, what would you do? (help me upgrade mine)

It's been a long time since I've posted here. Mostly I've been happily brewing away and have made a lot of beer I'm happy with. But I'm starting to get the itch to improve my system. It just feels inefficient and kludgy.

My brother (with whom I brew) wondered what we could do if we each ponied up $1,000 to improve our setup. I'm curious what you guys think. My priorities (basically in order) are improved automation (e.g. simplifying the brew process and saving time), cleanliness / sanitation, beer quality, and possibly ability to do new things (like decoction mashing), saving money on ingredients.

Currently we are brewing 10 gallon batches and kegging. We heat water indoors on the stove in a large aluminum pot (and a bunch of other thrown together pots for additional sparge water) and carry it outdoors to mash in. We mash in a Gatorade cooler. We batch sparge. Boil is in a converted keg with an attached ball valve using propane on a turkey fryer. Fermentation is in 6.5g glass or plastic carboys. I have a temperature-controlled chest freezer. I have a stir plate for yeast and a 2L flask for making starters. I usually buy 2 things of yeast to add to the starter.

Problems encountered: not enough room in the mash tun to do 10 gallons of bigger beers. We cool with an immersion chiller that takes a long time and doesn't get the beer all that cold. Various pieces of equipment seem like they could be more sanitary (everything from the boil kettle to the carboys, tubes, airlocks, plugs etc. feel like they are not as easy to clean as they could be, especially the carboys and related equipment). Slow and inefficient heating and transfer of water for mashing and sparging.

Limitations: I rent, so I can't do any radical changes to the space. I will still be brewing in a small backyard with propane. There is access to electricity outside. When I start looking at gear, $2,000 doesn't seem like it necessarily buys that much. But I can't really imagine spending more unless I was going to try to legitimately start a nano-brewery somehow.

In any event, I'd love to hear thoughts on how you'd upgrade a brewery like this.



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Old 01-23-2014, 10:16 PM   #2
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Aside from a rims tube I'm not sure how much automation you can get from your current setup. Bigger mash tun? If it were me I would get at least one more burner and maybe a pump which will eliminate the cumbersome and unsafe task of walking with very hot water. How big is your ferm freezer? If your anything like me I need space for fermenting at least 3 10 gallon batches at a time. Do you brew lager beers? Perhaps one ferm freezer for ales and one for lagers/ cold crashing. I'm thinking burner, pump, another ferm chamber/ carboys or buckets and more kegs. Cfc or plate chiller keep your immersion and use it as a prechiller. Do you have a beer gun of some sort? If not buy a blichmann beer gun. How about water chemistry? Ph meter and an ro setup would be nice.



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Old 01-23-2014, 10:27 PM   #3
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I jumped from a 10 gallon igloo cooler to a 62 qt. walmart cooler with a basic copper manifold in the bottom. Cooler was 30 bucks. Also if you buy a pump you can heat all your mash and sparge water in the keggle, pump to the cooler and drain your first running to a bucket while you pump your sparge water from the keggle to the cooler. That would be a lot more effecient than carrying pots of water out and you could blow the rest of the two grand on accessories...

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Old 01-23-2014, 10:32 PM   #4
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I am about to get two of this, I will add the thermo. I use a 70 Extreme Coleman already, if you get one, just mind the hinges.

http://www.nextwarehouse.com/item/?1355840_g10e

and make one of these. The only thing I plan on doing different is on two pipes in place of the four. With those upgrades you should have plenty of funds left over to spend on pumps, hoses, etc etc



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Old 01-23-2014, 10:44 PM   #5
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New Burner and New HLT $300-$400
March or Chugger (with QD's and tubing) $200
New Mash Tun Lots of Options here....$300
New Brew Stand (again Lots of options here) $200
Counterflow Chiller $200

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Old 01-23-2014, 11:10 PM   #6
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HLT, burner and temperature controller
Grain Mill (If you don't have one, You can save money buying bulk grain)
Pump (only about $100 but huge saver on the effort and lifting)

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Old 01-24-2014, 04:22 AM   #7
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Speidel Braumeister 2000 dollars. Done.

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Old 01-24-2014, 04:27 AM   #8
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With $2,000 I'd go electric. Actually, I haven't priced this out. I'm assuming I could go fully electric with $2,000 if I build everything myself... But I also know it's supposed to be fairly expensive to get started. Well, I'd at least get myself started as far as I could with that money.

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Old 01-24-2014, 04:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jette View Post
Speidel Braumeister 2000 dollars. Done.
I'd hold out and see what blichmann brings out with their Brew easy first.. and to be honest I'd also look into what max384 is suggesting as far as researching on going electric. I know there are a lot of users on here that are happy with their braumiester' s but personally they don't impress me. Seems like an expensive way to do Biab... and it's not cause I'm cheap I brew on my brew magic.
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:39 AM   #10
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Thanks guys. Some good ideas to look into. I haven't priced out a RIMS system or electric (and need to do some research on these to see what's available and what the current thinking is). It definitely sounds like pump(s) will make a big difference. A larger mash tun is clearly needed. Now to go down the rabbit hole of learning about these new options. Counterflow chiller and a grain mill also seem like good no brainers (tho storage for bulk grain could be an issue).

@doctor m: My chest freezer is only big enough for basically two carboys and a blow off. I wish I had more or could have one fridge for lagering, but there isn't the space (I live in the middle of Los Angeles and my place is not huge and I don't have access to a garage to store things in). Another burner and large pot could be a good idea, or a decent brew stand (whatever that might be).



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