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Old 02-21-2012, 03:58 PM   #1
NHhomebrewer
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Default Upgrades for beginning brewer

I was just looking for some general insight into what upgrades people made off of a beginners brewing kit. I have recently purchased a 30 qt stockpot and outdoor propane burner for the boil. I also made a wort chiller ( which I'm afraid to use as I fear it will leave a metallic taste). I have one primary and one better bottle for secondary. I've been looking at adding a mashtun to do partial mash kits. Ive only brewed two kits, and think I might be getting ahead of myself. Any suggestions on equipment such as extra carboys or primary fermenters for increased volume?

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Old 02-21-2012, 04:09 PM   #2
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It depends on if you want to start doing all grain or not, or even doing full boil extract batches. It also depends on how much space/money/ambition you have.

I immediately added 2 extra carboys to my initial 2. This will allow you to brew 1 batch every weekend if your fermentation times are under 2 weeks.

Look into methods on fermentation temperature control. Swamp coolers, or chest freezers, etc

After 4 batches I jumped to all grain. Added 3 10 gallon SS pots, burners, and more carboys.

In the works for me are a single tier stand and a keezer.

I've only been brewing for 6 or 7 months.

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Old 02-21-2012, 04:11 PM   #3
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Do you have adequate ferm temp conrol? If not, that's your best next project. Whatever it takes it will be the most significant improvement in your beer. Doesn't have to be expensive. Then look at pitching rates and choose the method you will use to make sure you're pitching enough healthy yeast. Learn yeast propagation (starters) and equip yourself to do it. If your ferm temp control and pitching rates are well under control, then look at everything else. Until they are under control nothing else much matters.

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Old 02-21-2012, 04:15 PM   #4
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I've been brewing for a little over three years now and still doing extract. I recently purchased an 8 gallon pot to do full boils and a propane burner. I've been using a homemade wort chiller for a couple years now and haven't noticed any metallic taste.

As for carboys, I guess that depends on how much beer you plan on brewing.

If you plan on doing partial mash brews I think the only additional item you need is a two gallon capacity pot to steep the grains in.

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Old 02-22-2012, 03:25 AM   #5
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Seconding fermentation temp control and yeast health (stir plate, starter; oxygenation) as probably the most important initial upgrades.

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Old 02-22-2012, 10:36 AM   #6
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Go to Craigslist and find a $50 refrigerator, then buy a two stage temperature controller.

This will allow you to brew ales and lagers all year round.

Build a stir plate for starters. Get an Oxygenation system. Boiling drives all the O2 out of the wort.

60-62 qt brew kettle. This will allow you to do full wort boils. Then if you decide down the road to jump into All-Grain you can use the BIAB method. A 40 qt kettle will work as well, but it can be difficult to do higher gravity BIAB beers with it.

Good luck,

Chris

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Old 02-22-2012, 12:55 PM   #7
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My first thought was ferm temp cntl, too. After that, I think getting transfer hoses and connections to vessels improved can be another change that leads to improved/easier sanitation and less time. Mashing improvements can be fueled by adding a pump. Having a fermenter that enables easier racking and yeast harvesting is a nice improvement, too. Stir plate use is a low cost adder. And, a cheap aeration system is also an easy and effective improvement.

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Old 02-22-2012, 01:02 PM   #8
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My path as I remember it

Stove top mr beer kits with the plastic bottles and a swamp cooler with ice buckets

6mos later upgraded to 5 gallon pot and partial boils on a burner with better bottles and a chest freezer with Johnson controller and 20 foot immersion chiller
Was bottling in real bottles at this post

2 mos later invested in second freezer for 3 tap keg system with 4 kegs (one spare)

3mos after that upgraded to 15.5 kettle and full volume extract boils.
During this time I started washing yeast and using a stir plate for starters. And built a 50' immersion chiller with recirculating pump.

1 week later. Switched to all grain BIAB and started buying hops and grain in bulk.

That was all in about 1 year if my math is right.
I wish I just invested in the larger kettle at first and the larger immersion chiller

The kegs are handy with my 2 kids and little free time.

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Old 02-22-2012, 01:11 PM   #9
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Agree to the temp control mentioned above. Nothing improved my consistency of good beer brewed more than temp control. It is really the most important part, and you will see noticeable results immediately. Yeast propagation and making starters is a little cheaper though so you may go that route.

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Old 03-16-2012, 03:50 PM   #10
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I really appreciate all of the help. I'd like to try better temp control but I'm not sure what I have space for. I have a small fridge that I keep 1 corny keg and co2 in for draught. Unfortunately I live in a small apartment and don't have room for a chest freezer. Any ideas what I can do with limited space? I check the temp of my brew everyday and your right it does fluctuate. I have radiant heat and keep it at 67 during initial fermentation but it will range from 64 to 70 sometimes depending on the crazy new England weather. Any suggestions?

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