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Old 08-08-2012, 09:28 PM   #1
rokfizix
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Default what to get, what to get . . .

Hey everyone,

I am looking for suggestions on what to buy to upgrade my brewing setup. I am looking to spend around $300 and am looking to get the most bang for my buck. I would hopefully like to take my brewing to a new level.

I currently have an 8 gallon brew kettle with spigot, immersion chiller, several carboys and all the basics to do extract brewing. I have also done a minimash (and sparge) using using a large filter bag in my bottling bucket.

I would like to get deeper into all grain brewing. I also like the idea of being able to do 10 gallon batches. Any suggestions on what to get. Also what are your thoughts on grain mills, oxygenation/aeration systems, refractometers this point.

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Old 08-08-2012, 09:35 PM   #2
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Your 8g. pot will work as a HLT for 5g. batches but will start to get small for 10g. batches of any good-sized grain bill.

Get a large kettle, preferrably 15+gallons. Scoring a keg and doing weldless fittings would be the cheapest way to go, but there are great deals on kettles of that size, too. (ie. http://spikebrewing.com/collections/15-gallon-stainless-kettles/products/15-gallon-home-brew-kettle-1-coupler )

Make a mash-tun. Personally I'd get the ice-cube cooler or the Xtreme cooler. Both cheap and very large. I have the Coleman 70qt. extreme. I paid $40 I think. A SS supply line is cheap and the bulkhead kit is, too. Probably $70 for a mash-tun of significant size that can handle just about anything you want to throw at it.

Propane or electric? I like brewing inside with heating elements, but your situation may vary. It's also more difficult to install elements than it is to throw a kettle on a burner...but cheaper to buy elements and cheaper energy costs. You need the available dedicated circuits in order to do this, though.

My point is, get a burner or electric heat setup with the rest of the money.

That should total around $300 unless you score a keg and convert it. Then you'll have more money and should invest in good thermometers and a fermentation chamber (craiglist fridge+STC-100 temp controller=under $100). A stirplate is a nice thing to have (and ehrlenmyer flasks for starters)

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Open log Fermenting and gas-can secondary?? I am planning my next brew right now!!
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:45 PM   #3
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Some may argue but I feel my plate chiller has made a huge difference in my beers. DMS has been virtually eliminated which is nice for German, Belgian, and French beers that use pilsner base malts (that's what I brew). Plus my brew days are about 30 minutes shorter. Other than that, I agree with the keggle. I also really like my 240 volt heat stick, it really decreases my boil times and make HLT heating very fast. Good luck!!!

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Old 08-08-2012, 10:24 PM   #4
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+1 on the comments above. A grain mill is nice, but it's not critical and your LBHS can mill for you. Mash Tun/new kettle before o2, but if you see a good deal for a used setup (tank, reg, wand for $20?) it may be worth considering. A refractometer would be high on my list, but do a search on the forums and you'll see there are good ones and bad ones.

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Old 08-11-2012, 11:38 PM   #5
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Thanks tre9er,

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Originally Posted by tre9er View Post

Get a large kettle, preferrably 15+gallons. Scoring a keg and doing weldless fittings would be the cheapest way to go, but there are great deals on kettles of that size, too. (ie. http://spikebrewing.com/collections/15-gallon-stainless-kettles/products/15-gallon-home-brew-kettle-1-coupler )
Have you used/seen one of these kettles. I current kettle is the MoreBeer heavy duty one. It is really solid, heavy (in my mind that's a good thing ), and has a nice brushed finish that does not scratch. Are the spikebrewing kettles of similar quality?

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Make a mash-tun. Personally I'd get the ice-cube cooler or the Xtreme cooler. Both cheap and very large. I have the Coleman 70qt. extreme. I paid $40 I think. A SS supply line is cheap and the bulkhead kit is, too. Probably $70 for a mash-tun of significant size that can handle just about anything you want to throw at it.
How do the cooler style mash tuns compare to the kettle style? Does one gain much advantage from the extra expense of a third stainless pot?


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Propane or electric? I like brewing inside with heating elements, but your situation may vary. It's also more difficult to install elements than it is to throw a kettle on a burner...but cheaper to buy elements and cheaper energy costs. You need the available dedicated circuits in order to do this, though.

My point is, get a burner or electric heat setup with the rest of the money.
I have though a lot about both possibilities. I like to brew year round here (north of Boston). That seems to make indoor operations a must. I would have to get an electrician to run a dedicated line for a heating element. I like the idea of an electric setup for future temp control options. I currently use my stove top natural gas "Power Burner". Does anybody do 10 gallon batches like this or is there just not enough heat?
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Old 08-12-2012, 10:29 PM   #6
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I don't use that kettle. I use a 12.x gallon European keg for my BK and do 9 gallon batches. I have two 120v elements in it, same thing with my HLT except its a 8g aluminum pot from instawares.com.

The stainless mash tun is desirable if you want to recirculate or direct fire your mash tun. Coolers are "set and forget". I use a 70qt coleman extreme. Did an overnight mash Friday night and lost 10 degrees in 8 hours. In the past I rarely lose even a degree in a 60m mash. Workd for me.

Electric is great...except cleaning is more difficult unless you set up a carboy cleaner type setup like a water jet that shoots up into the kettle, preferrably on a stand. I just rinse a few times, fill with oxy clean free, and soak. Then I lightly scrub with sponge and drain, rinse, dump out. Works well enough.

I have two switched outlets for my elements. I just turn them on, cut one if its too intense, etc. Works very well, no fuss.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by davekippen View Post
Open log Fermenting and gas-can secondary?? I am planning my next brew right now!!
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Old 08-13-2012, 12:13 AM   #7
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My thoughts as a noob -
15 gallon blichman and BIAB setup. Not asset heavy like typical AG (MT, HLT, sculpture, etc) and you have flexibility to use your existing gear for smaller batches.
Then you can focus on KISS and kegging etc.

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