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Old 12-14-2012, 03:52 PM   #1
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Default Upgrading my equipment. Recommendations?

I'm looking to upgrade my equipment. Right now I have some shelves I use for my HLT, 10gal stainless, on a cheap turkey fryer burner. But it works well. That gravity feeds into my converted 48qt cooler and that gravity feeds into my 15gal aluminum boil kettle. I use a blichmann burner with legs for that.
I also have a aeration kit, stir plate, chest freezer with temp controller for lagers, 6 tap kegerator, refractometer, immersion chiller, several carboys and one plastic conical fermenter and other miscellaneous items.

My wife is very supportive of my hobby and said I could spend as much as $3500 upgrading my equipment. We've talked about potentially turning this into a business someday and have several resources available to help with that but if that were to ever happen it's a long ways off.

I brew 5 gallon batches as I like variety. Now that I have 6 taps on my kegerator I may also start brewing some 10 gallon batches.

So what i'm thinking about doing is keeping my HLT kettle and burner and still gravity feeding that into a mash tun and adding a 15gal blichmann boilermaker w/false bottom and auto sparge.

15gal blickmann boilermaker for my boil pot.
Another blichmann burner with legs for mash tun.
Blichmann tower of power with one controller(I like the automation and control, I'd also get the computer connection cable and software for this)
Blichmann hop rocket, plate chiller and pump to move wort through that.
I'm thinking about a grain mill so I can get the exact milling I want and for consistancy.
Bunch of tubing and fittings.

Overall i'm looking for easier brew days, better results and repeatability. Also a better ability to do stepped mashes. I'd like to be able to get closer to what the pros do at their facilities.

I'm open to suggestions. Thanks in advance!

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Old 12-14-2012, 04:07 PM   #2
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Sounds like you've got it all figured out already!

I don't really know what to add to that pretty thorough list except to suggest considering going electric, or at least partially electric? My HLT with HERMS is electric (boil is a blichmann burner) and I freaking love being able to set a temp and walk away during heat-up or recirculating during the mash or whatnot. Never had a problem with my propane setup....but I also don't really let it out of my sight.

Good luck with the upgrades, sounds sweet!

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Old 12-14-2012, 04:10 PM   #3
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My suggestion would be to convert to electric heating source. It gives you the option of moving your brewery inside, no burner fumes to deal with. You do need an exhaust system to evacuate steam.

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Old 12-19-2012, 06:02 PM   #4
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Any additional feedback/recommendations?

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Old 12-19-2012, 07:36 PM   #5
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Once I made the jump to 10 gallon batches a pump became very handy. I think a 20 gallon brew pot would be a good idea. 15 gallon would be a good size for the HLT and MT.

I use an immersion chiller with whirlpool to chill but that's more of a personal preference.

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Old 12-19-2012, 07:38 PM   #6
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I did look into 20 gallon brew pot and mash tun but most people said it's just too big for 5 gallon batches. Something to do with the depth of the grain bed. Is that true?

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Old 12-19-2012, 08:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archer75 View Post
I did look into 20 gallon brew pot and mash tun but most people said it's just too big for 5 gallon batches. Something to do with the depth of the grain bed. Is that true?

even for 10 gallon batches a 15 gallon mash tun should give you plenty of room for even high gravity brews. But I'd recomend a 20 gallon brew pot.

If your doing 5 gallon batches a 10 gallon brew pot, 10 gallon mlt and 10 gallon hlt would be plenty.

If you plan on doing both you will need to compromise somewhere. Bed depth is important for fly sparging. Not so important if you batch sparge.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:15 PM   #8
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I do 5 gallon now and my 48qt(12 gal) cooler can't do high gravity brews. I had to use less water when making a 5 gallon strong scotch than I would have liked as it was at the very top. I can't imagine getting away with twice the batch size and only 3 gallons more space for that.

I like to do mostly 5 but still have the option for a 10 gallon barleywine.

I do prefer to fly sparge.

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Old 12-19-2012, 08:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archer75 View Post
I do 5 gallon now and my 48qt(12 gal) cooler can't do high gravity brews. I had to use less water when making a 5 gallon strong scotch than I would have liked as it was at the very top. I can't imagine getting away with twice the batch size and only 3 gallons more space for that.

I like to do mostly 5 but still have the option for a 10 gallon barleywine.

I do prefer to fly sparge.
you must be getting terrible efficiency. mash thicker, boil longer and when in doubt add some sugar or dme to boost your gravity.

but in terms of sizing your system to both 5 and 10 gallon batches of whatever gravity you desire.... You may need 2 mash tuns. one for big beer and one for tiny beers.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:28 PM   #10
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this is a good thread for figuring out your mash tun size

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