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Old 12-19-2010, 06:27 PM   #1
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Default A Couple Questions on Switching to AG

I'm thinking about making the jump to AG. I can't afford to buy a fancy setup and I'm really not handy enough to build anything terribly complicated. I'm thinking that I would put something together that is gravity fed.

How do the igloo coolers work for HLT and MLT? Do they hold temps well or do you need to do a lot of tinkering to get your temps right? Would it be worth it to use a stainless pot for your HLT so that you can have a burner under it and keep the temp more constant?

How much water would you plan on using throughout the day for a 5 gallon batch?

Fly sparge or batch sparge?

My knowledge of AG is so limited atm that I'm not sure what other questions need to be asked. But I am learning.

The only things that are keeping me from REALLY pursuing this are the extended time involved, it's kind of tought when you have two 6 year olds running around, and the cost of upgrading.

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Old 12-19-2010, 07:06 PM   #2
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The Igloo coolers work great. Here's an old picture of my "sculpture":



You can't see it, but on the island to the right of the photo frame is my kitchen island. There was a 5 gallon Igloo cooler ontop of a milk crate. I would put the boil kettle on the floor (it's on the stove on the right), and use the ugly pot on the left to heat sparge water. I did both fly sparging and batch sparging with that system! You don't need a HLT if you'r batch sparging, you can just pour the water from the pot into the MLT for batch sparging.

The total water volume for the brew was about 8 gallons or so. Usually, 1.5 quarts per pound of grain for the mash water and then sparge water of whatever it takes to get to the boil volume of 6.25 gallons on that stove.

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Old 12-19-2010, 07:09 PM   #3
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Tons of folks use coolers with good results. They hold their temps well, but it really depends on the ambient temp. In the summer I might loose a degree, in the winter maybe around 3 degrees. I use a calculator to figure my temp and add 3 degrees for thermal loss...some folks pre-heat their cooler with hot water so they do not need to account for thermal loss, I think that is a waste of time and water personally, adding 3 is much easier.

Water usage depends how much grain you use...1 - 1.5 qts water per lb of grain. You can roughly double that to determine how much you need for sparging...a little less if you go with a thinner mash, more if you go with a thin mash.

Fly or batch doesn't matter, both have their pro/con, whatever works for you, I would try both to see what you like.

Read, read, read, and then read some more, its always easier to have knowledge before an endeavor than have an emergency post saying "what do I do, I'm in the middle of brewing and I think I screwed up."

I hear you about time; however, I think the benefit of AG is worth it. Also, if time is pressed think about setting up for 10 gallons, twice the beer for about an hours more work.

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Old 12-19-2010, 07:12 PM   #4
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The coolers work just fine for AG. They hold temps well. In colder months you may want to wrap an old blanket around them for extra insulation, but they are great. And fly and batch sparging is really a horse apiece- I still do whatever the mood hits me that day. I brewed an oatmeal stout today, used 9 gallons of water for a 5 gallon batch.

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Old 12-19-2010, 07:32 PM   #5
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Thanks so much for the replies. They were VERY helpful. I just feel like I'm ready for the next step. I don't mean that I'm making the best beer in the world, I just want to try something new.

SWMBO and myself decided that we aren't going to get each other much for xmas this year and she said she isn't going to buy me a gift certificate to the HBS. She said, "you can just buy yourself what you want." She may regret that comment.

I'm getting her a coule of things anyway just to lay on the guilt

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