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Old 07-25-2013, 04:52 PM   #1
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Default Next Step in Evolution? Kegs? 10 Gal? All Grain?

I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of 5-gallon, partial match brewing, and my wife has actually suggested that I step it up a notch. Right now I boil my wort on my stove in a kettle that I can barely boil 3 gallons in (due to boil-over). And my stove is challenged getting this volume up to a boil. So to do larger boils, even for a 5 gallon batch, I would need a fryer and a kettle. Kegging would require the kegging equipment and another fridge.

What's my next logical step to better beer and more of it? Equipment to handle a 5 gallon all-grain batch? Kegging equipment to facilitate more frequent brewing? I'm thinking a burner and new kettle is the right way to go.



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Old 07-25-2013, 04:58 PM   #2
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If you want to do 5 gallon batches, then yes, upgrade your kettle and get a burner. Make sure your kettle is at least 8 - 10+ gallons, so that you can handle boiling 6 - 7 gallons at the start easily. And if you want to go all grain, then convert a xtreme or igloo cooler for a mash tun.



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Old 07-25-2013, 04:59 PM   #3
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I would focus on all grain before kegging. Build a mash tun, wort chiller and buy the burner and kettle like you mentioned.

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Old 07-25-2013, 05:04 PM   #4
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i did extract 5gal and then bought kegging gear. best move i made. i was able to brew lots (almost weekly), keg the beer, and drink it 2 weeks or so later.

but since i've been doing all grain, my quality of beer is better. you could always do BIAB for AG beer with all the extract gear.

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Old 07-25-2013, 05:06 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ThreeRatBastards View Post
I would focus on all grain before kegging. Build a mash tun, wort chiller and buy the burner and kettle like you mentioned.
Good advice here. Kegging is an expensive dive, unless you've already got an extra fridge and some taps sitting around. Not that a good kettle and burner are cheap, but at this point, I think you'd get a lot more bang for your buck in improving your beer with the kettle/burner purchase. You can always get into kegging by slowly purchasing the parts over time.
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Old 07-25-2013, 05:10 PM   #6
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Definitely get that burner, and start cooking outdoors. Your going to have a better and stronger boil, then the kitchen stove. Make sure you can cool your bigger batches down quickly, with something like an immersion chiller. Maybe even get a small, inexpensive, pump to recirculate ice water through the immersion chiller.
You don't mention any financial restraint, but I will tell you this stuff adds up.

I too want to take the next step, unfortunately for me it's not that easy financially. It's starting a chain reaction because I want a bigger kettle(keg), but would need a bigger fermenter(spiedel 60L), a bigger wort chiller, a bigger yeast starter(5l flask). Im sure there are other items I'm forgetting too. Keep an eye out for deals on this stuff, I like to check out homebrewfinds.com. Im slowly piecing together 10 gallon all grain equipment. But, it's difficult when all the items are $50-$100 dollars.

Kegging is great too, but also expensive. I've bought kits from kegconnection.com, and just waited until they had a sale, which is often.

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Old 07-25-2013, 06:51 PM   #7
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I would go wort chiller first, then keggle and propane burner (maybe skip to the blingman/hurricane style unless you can find a good deal). Then start cruising Craigslist for fermentation and beer fridges or mini fridges or chest freezers, kegs to turn into keggles and find a deal or two.

I went 5 gallon extract full boil with stainless immersion wort chiller, then fermentation chamber, then kegging equipment, then to all grain 10 gallon batches Dennybrew style.

Truth be told I only did two extract batches before going all grain.

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Old 07-25-2013, 06:57 PM   #8
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Oh man.. whichever route you go, be careful you don't end up doing what I did this year..

I started PM on the stove (2004 couple hundred bucks in equipment), then went AG on the stove (2008 couple hundred bucks in equipment), then bought four kegs, a regulator, lines etc. to handle three kegs on pressure and serving (2011 again, a couple hundred bucks) but never kegged anything due to my transient nature (moved from VT->NYC->CT in a short period).

Well this year I decided I wanted to actually keg (since I have a secondary fridge), and be able to handle commercial kegs; so I bought a bunch of crap, and my wife freaked out about me taking over the second fridge, so now I'm buying a chest freezer, while I'm doing that I'm increasing my on tap offering ability to 6, even though I only have four kegs right now (since I'll have the room in the keezer anyways right?) and picking up a larger CO2 tank.

in 2014 I'm going to begin my 10 gallon E-HERMS build in the basement (Arguably RIMS in this stage), which let me tell you, isn't going to be cheap - one 80qt pot, 70 qt cooler, one pump, counterflow chiller, PID controller, not to mention the added breaker and wiring & element. On top of that pick up more kegs.

either in late 2014 or early 2015 I'll finish the E-HERMS build by adding in another 80qt pot and another pump, another element, probably pick up more kegs, not to have more on tap but to have more in backlog.

This year alone I've spent $750 so far between equipment and ingredients and I'm a cheap SOB; I'm still not done yet.

I think my words of advice are; think out where you want to be then buy stuff.

Are you going to jump from 5 gal outside batches to 10 gal outdoor batches in the future? are you going to want to go from outside brewing to inside brewing? <-- that is the exact reason I'm sticking with my AG stovetop setup and building my 10 gal E-HERMS setup in the basement.

The arguments against kegging aren't as strong - you will essentially use that equipment until you stop brewing, where as stock pots are only good as long as you are brewing that size batch.

I can currently do 6 gal AG on the stove or 12 gal PM on the stove, although I'm thinking of picking up an 1800 watt induction cooktop to make AG on the stove easier, and possibly jump me to 12gal AG on the stove; see there I go again...

Just some food for thought; hope that helps a bit...

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Old 07-25-2013, 07:10 PM   #9
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Alot of wisdom here.

I guess I should fill in a few of the blanks.

I already built and use an immersion chiller - capable of cooling around 2.75 gallons of boiling wort in 10 minutes or less.

I'm already using a 5 gallon cooler as a mash lauter tun.

My wife can't stand the smell of boiling hops.

So it sounds like, with this added information, that going the burner/kettle route is my best bet.

Regarding budget - as little money as possible.

So for a kettle - sounds like a 10 gallon is the way to go? I can then do up to 6 gallons AG, and maybe up to 12 gallons PM.

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Old 07-26-2013, 10:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wintermute2 View Post
Alot of wisdom here.

I guess I should fill in a few of the blanks.

I already built and use an immersion chiller - capable of cooling around 2.75 gallons of boiling wort in 10 minutes or less.

I'm already using a 5 gallon cooler as a mash lauter tun.

My wife can't stand the smell of boiling hops.

So it sounds like, with this added information, that going the burner/kettle route is my best bet.

Regarding budget - as little money as possible.

So for a kettle - sounds like a 10 gallon is the way to go? I can then do up to 6 gallons AG, and maybe up to 12 gallons PM.
Before you buy any equipment ask yourself a very important question. Do I ever want to do 10 gallon batches? If Yes then save yourself money and buy all your future equipment with that in mind, so a 15 gallon kettle. If No then enjoy the 10 gallon kettle... until you change your mind and want to brew 10 with a friend. We've all done it

Also if you think you will ever upgrade to using a pump then get 1/2 fittings not 3/8.

Learn from my costly mistakes.


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