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Old 10-17-2011, 10:52 PM   #1
dankev
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Default Next Item of equipment?

I just did my first batch of all grain, and it went well enough that I see myself doing a lot of it. Now I feel like I'm lacking some equipment, but I'm on a budget, so I have to prioritize what I need.

What I have:
7.5 gal SS pot
Electric stove (in my kitchen)
10 gal cooler with SS braid for mash tun
Buckets, fermenters, siphons, funnels, etc
Big sink for ice bath
Currently (but slowly) building a stir plate

What I want:
Bigger pot (something like the bayou classic 44qt for $85)
Propane burner (ie BC SQ14)
Wort chiller
I feel like I'm forgetting 1 more thing...

My stove was able to get 6.5 gal up to a boil, but it moves at about 1 degF per minute, so it takes a while. My pot felt too full, for sure. It took forever to get 5 gallons of wort down to 70 degrees with the ice bath. I also had to drain the mash into a bucket while I heated my sparge water in the pot. It was all doable, but I felt like the process would be easier with more things.

If I were to get just 1 of those things right now, which would you recommend? Is there something I'm overlooking? I don't plan on doing anything bigger than 5 gal batches, so I'm not overly concerned with buying big to account for 10 gal batches.

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Old 10-17-2011, 11:17 PM   #2
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If I had to choose just one thing... probably would be a chiller. Also, you may want to add a grain mill to your "want" list (the sooner you get it... the sooner you can start saving on grain ).

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Old 10-17-2011, 11:22 PM   #3
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I agree, a chiller is next.
I wouldn't get a mill myself, since you can buy grain milled from Rebel pretty cheaply.
If you want to heat water faster, you can make a heatstick very cheaply.

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Old 10-17-2011, 11:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slykwilli View Post
If I had to choose just one thing... probably would be a chiller. Also, you may want to add a grain mill to your "want" list (the sooner you get it... the sooner you can start saving on grain ).
I thought about a mill, but there's a fairly close shop to me that sells 2 row for $.072/lb. Unless I'm brewing a lot, it seems like it would take me quite a while to make up the cost of the mill.
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Old 10-17-2011, 11:28 PM   #5
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Chiller and burner would be good, so you can get a good boil and chill faster. Those are 2 hugely time consuming parts of the brew day, other than setup and cleanup.

A pump would be great too, so you don't have to lift up any hot/full vessels.

Grain mill is a good suggestion.

Fermentation temp and yeast health is vital. While the stir plate isn't necessary, some kind of swamp cooler or temp controlled fridge would be something to consider. Also getting an airstone and an o2 tank so you can aerate the wort before pitching is a good idea.

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Old 10-17-2011, 11:29 PM   #6
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How about a stir-plate and a nice 2L Erlenmeyer flask from stirstarters.com ?

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Old 10-17-2011, 11:50 PM   #7
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Some sort of wort chiller can be made rather cheap, which I agree should be the next thing for you to get.

I have a cheap frier burner (about $65 at HD with a 7.5gal al pot). I've been using the pot on the stove top a lot, but tried the burner for the first time about a week ago. Brewing outdoors is quite different. I like it in many ways, but it's a big change you should consider.

A frem chamber would also be a really good thing to have. I don't have one yet, but it's top of my list. This is one of those things you might want to put off until you find a cheap A/C or mini fridge.

A grain mill would always be nice, but I'm doing okay with out one, and it sounds like you are too.

If I were you I'd hold off on the pot. You've got a pretty good one, might as well get some use out of it.

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Old 10-17-2011, 11:56 PM   #8
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oh, and a bottle tree would be really nice. I need one of those, or I need to start kegging, haven't decided which way I should go.

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Old 10-17-2011, 11:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJerryrigger View Post
Some sort of wort chiller can be made rather cheap, which I agree should be the next thing for you to get.

I have a cheap frier burner (about $65 at HD with a 7.5gal al pot). I've been using the pot on the stove top a lot, but tried the burner for the first time about a week ago. Brewing outdoors is quite different. I like it in many ways, but it's a big change you should consider.

A frem chamber would also be a really good thing to have. I don't have one yet, but it's top of my list. This is one of those things you might want to put off until you find a cheap A/C or mini fridge.

A grain mill would always be nice, but I'm doing okay with out one, and it sounds like you are too.

If I were you I'd hold off on the pot. You've got a pretty good one, might as well get some use out of it.
I'd love a fermentation chamber, but I think it has to come later. I've been doing an ok job keeping my temps where I want them for now, so it's not my highest priority.

I may make the wort chiller, but right now it looks like you can buy one pre-made for about what it would cost to buy the materials. Copper is just so expensive. I can't figure out why the pre-made ones aren't more expensive, honestly.

As far as the pot goes, I'd still be putting the old one to use for heating the sparge water. I'd much rather be able to drain the mash right into a pot, rather than have it sit in a bucket while I have sparge water in my only pot.
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Old 10-18-2011, 12:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJerryrigger View Post
oh, and a bottle tree would be really nice. I need one of those, or I need to start kegging, haven't decided which way I should go.
I've been doing my bottle sanitizing in the dishwasher (clean bottles, and no dish soap, of course), so they just sit on the rack until I fill the bottles. As an added precaution, I've been running the last load before the bottles with PBW instead of dish soap.
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