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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Newbie setting up AG equipment
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Old 09-18-2012, 03:40 AM   #1
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Default Newbie setting up AG equipment

Hey guys,

First off, thanks to everyone who has helped get me this far into home brewing! Between following this community and some local brewers, I'm totally hooked and have started piecing together my equipment. I say piecing because I've been buying things as I see them on Craigslist, so here's what I have, and what I expect I still need. Keep in mind I'm jumping straight to all-grain.


Have:
(2) 6-gallon glass carboys
Hydrometer
Floating thermometer
Capper
Bottle caps
Some tubing
5-gallon mash tun
Wort chiller
Some C-Brite cleaner packets? (got for free)
Propane burner stand
(2) Carboy bungs with airlocks
Bottle filler
Keg shell - just have to convert it to a brew kettle


Need:
Hop bag
More tubing
Bucket for sanitizing
Carboy brush
Sanitizer
Long metal spoon
Garden hose adapters
Bottles/growlers
Propane
Grain grinder (can borrow one until a deal comes up)

From my best judgment, what's left isn't going to cost me a whole lot. (note, I've only spent $120 to acquire this much).

So from here, what other equipment, supplies, etc. am I going to need to knock out my first brew?

Thanks in advance for all your help.

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Old 09-18-2012, 04:23 AM   #2
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barley, hops, water and yeast.

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Old 09-18-2012, 07:28 PM   #3
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Default Need a way to Mash

You are off to a great start. Here are a few suggestions of things that you WILL need if you are going to jump right in to All Grain.
You will need a way to mash your grain. Building a cooler mash tun is one option. I would recommend at least a 10 gallon cooler. I have the 10 Gallon Rubbermade. These can be purchased from Home Depot for about $50. I also purchased a weldless ball valve for the mash tun, and installed a Stainless Steel cover for a hot water supply. I found the instructions for doing this in John Palmer's Book "How to Brew" (if you don't have this book, it is a great resource and well worth the cost). You could also make a mash tun from a rectangular picnic cooler. These are less expensive than the beverage coolers and can be fitted with a steel braid or an inexpensive manifold. I would also use a ball valve on this if I went this route. (The only major difference between the picnic cooler and the beverage cooler is that the picnic cooler might have a more shallow grain bed. The depth of the grain bed is important for your mash. Having said this, both work well).
A second option is to buy or make a large voile bag and do BIAB (Brew In A Bag). There are videos on the forum on doing BIAB and they do a prettty good job of explaining the process. You can buy the bag from some vendors here on the forum, or you could make your own. I purchased the voile material from Wal Mart in their Curtain Department.
Finally, I would purchase an accurate Digital Thermometer that can be used to measure your grain temperature, and the mash temperture when you dough in. You will want to mash between 148 and 156 (or thereabouts). Having a good thermometer will help you to do this more consistently. You can purchase a good CDN Digital Thermometer from Bobby M at Brewhardware.com. This will cost you about $20.
Finally, I would recommend having some software to help with the brewing process. I use Beersmith for the PC. It also runs on the Mac, but I do not have any experience with that. There are also software programs that will run on your Android or Apple phone or table.
Given these items, you would be able to brew all grain. From there, you can make decisions on what to add next.

Good Luck! Mark

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Old 09-18-2012, 10:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
You will need a way to mash your grain. Building a cooler mash tun is one option. I would recommend at least a 10 gallon cooler. I have the 10 Gallon Rubbermade. These can be purchased from Home Depot for about $50. I also purchased a weldless ball valve for the mash tun, and installed a Stainless Steel cover for a hot water supply. I found the instructions for doing this in John Palmer's Book "How to Brew" (if you don't have this book, it is a great resource and well worth the cost). You could also make a mash tun from a rectangular picnic cooler. These are less expensive than the beverage coolers and can be fitted with a steel braid or an inexpensive manifold. I would also use a ball valve on this if I went this route. (The only major difference between the picnic cooler and the beverage cooler is that the picnic cooler might have a more shallow grain bed. The depth of the grain bed is important for your mash. Having said this, both work well).
@LuiInIdaho: I have a 5-gallon cooler that was converted to a mash tun by a brewer who upgraded to a larger one. It already has the ball valve installed too. Is this going to be sufficient to get me off the ground, or do I have to have the 10-gal size?

Thanks for the tip about the digital thermometer - i'll take a look at that one when I get off work!

I've seen some different brewing software used along the way, is there a thread that compares/rates them that I've missed and can look over? I imagine this is a topic that is repeatedly brought up.

I guess my real question is after I convert my brew kettle, can I order up some ingredients and get started with what I have? Or what from my "Need" list is required before I can get started.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:51 AM   #5
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A 5 gallon tun will handle 5 gallon batches of average gravity beer. If you branch out into higher gravity beers or use the full size of that keggle, you would need a bigger tun. You can likely reuse the hardware from the current cooler if you need to upgrade eventually.

Other than that - bottling bucket, bottle brush, oxyclean, a growler or flask for making starters, spray bottle for sanitizer, blowoff tube with small bucket, a second small pot for boiling water to adjust temps at mash in or to mash out.

From your "need" list, you don't "need" a hop bag, but they can be useful. You can get paint straining bags from HomeDepot super cheap and they work just as well. You definitely need to be able to clean and sanitize. You don't "need" to grind your own grain. Pretty much every shop will mill your grains for little or no cost.

You also need someplace to ferment. If you have a basement, you might be golden. If not, you probably should look at a big tub to use as a swamp cooler. It's a really cheap way to dramatically improve your beer.

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Old 10-02-2012, 10:33 PM   #6
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Sorry it's been so long for me to get back - we're in the process of moving and i've been swamped with work. On the plus side, I have a few updates to share:

I have acquired another keg shell, and have purchased a chest freezer for $80, bringing my new total spent to just $200. In the next few weeks I am getting a kegging system (as a gift! WHOO!! ), and am converting the first shell to a brew kettle.

Would it be worth my time to convert the second shell to a mash tun, or is it still best to go the cooler route? I suppose the other option is a hot liquor tank? Can someone point me to the pros/cons of having one over the other? Or is a keg-turned-mash-thun even possible?

As far as fermentation, I forgot to mention I have two tubs I plan on using until I'm able to either a) purchase that nifty swamp cooler thing mentioned at http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f41/new-...cooler-296052/, or b) build a fermentation chamber in our new detached garage. I also have a friend's chamber that I can use when it isn't full, but I'd rather have my own space and not intrude.

Other than that, I'm purchasing two buckets, brushes, cleaners/sanitizers, spray bottle and propane this week, and am purchasing ingredients as soon as I get my kettle ready. Any suggestions for a brew to break in my equipment?

Thanks again for all your help guys.

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Old 10-02-2012, 10:51 PM   #7
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convert the second shell until your HLT (hot liquor tank)...and then wait for the next one to show up on CL and convert that one to a mash tun..that is what I did

You will need to think about how you are going to transfer from mash to kettle to fermenter...starting off probably with a gravity fed system so look at DIY three tier systems...I think you are pretty much ready to go....make a hop spyder for a hop bag...easy $10 project....I think you are pretty much ready to go

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Old 10-05-2012, 08:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
convert the second shell until your HLT (hot liquor tank)...and then wait for the next one to show up on CL and convert that one to a mash tun..that is what I did

You will need to think about how you are going to transfer from mash to kettle to fermenter...starting off probably with a gravity fed system so look at DIY three tier systems...I think you are pretty much ready to go....make a hop spyder for a hop bag...easy $10 project....I think you are pretty much ready to go
Thanks for the reply, Schumed. I'm planning to convert both shells this weekend, and I'll be taking your advice for having a HLT first. I'm probably going to do one or two quick batches to stock up my supply before I do anything that heavy that would require a larger mash tun, so this decision makes the most sense right now.
I've got to tackle a fence project in our new place first, but once that's done I'll look into a DIY tier system. My burner should be tall enough that I can get by with a two-tier system and fill the carboy on the ground, but I've been reading this guy's comprehensive process (http://www.xb-70.com/beer/3_tier/) and may change my decision before I actually start building anything.

In other news, I just put in an order for the remaining small equipment items I need, so I hope others who are looking to jump right into all-grain brewing find this thread useful!
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