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Old 03-20-2013, 09:49 PM   #1
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Default So whats the next step?

Hey guys! I was needing some advice. Currently I have a simple setup to do extract brew. I am wanting to make the next step to advance my setup. Eventually I would like to go to all grain. The problem is that I only have limited funds I can allocate to my hobby. So what should I get next. Items for yeast starters? Wort chiller? Cooler Mash tun? Larger Kettle? Kegging items? Grain mill? I have considered them all but don't know which direction would be the best. I have about 150 to spend currently.

Items I own:
Bucket fermenter, better bottle 5g, bottling bucket, 5gallon and 7.5 gallon kettle, auto siphon, bottling wand, turkey fryer.

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Old 03-20-2013, 10:24 PM   #2
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Fermentation is what makes beer, so that's where I'd invest. Stirplate, O2 stone, temp controller and a used deep freeze. You could do all that for $150 and your beer will be better, plus you can now do lagers.

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Old 03-20-2013, 10:52 PM   #3
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I'm all for 10 gallon kettle - minimum 8...

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Old 03-21-2013, 12:21 AM   #4
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I'm in the same position as you. I got a wort chiller a while back and I love it. Cools the wort in 5 minutes or less and it's Way easier than ice bathe Got mine for $40 at the LHBS ready to go.

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Old 03-21-2013, 12:49 AM   #5
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In order:
Large kettle and propane burner (can't really do one without the other).
Chiller
Stir plate, flask, sir bar
Fermentation temp control

I figure you could start out doing BIAB and use 1 kettle for all.
Then as funds become available:
Mash tun
Refractometer
Oxygen wand
Kegging equipment

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Old 03-21-2013, 01:03 AM   #6
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I would get a wort chiller. It looks like you have most everything for all-grain minus the mash tun. For 150 you could get everything you need to make both items and just go all-grain.

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Old 03-21-2013, 01:22 AM   #7
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Fermentation temp control. No question. Single biggest quality improvement in my beer.

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Old 03-21-2013, 01:33 AM   #8
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Having jumped into all-grain a bit quickly myself, there are some things I now regret not doing first, or at least not doing as wholly as I would now have wanted to.

My recommendation is to get the wort chiller out of the way first; it is pretty much a basic sanitation tool, and can be applied to whole-wort extract boils just as well as to all-grain. There's not much point in doing the rest if you can't get the wort cooled quickly enough to avoid significant risk of contamination.

The next step I would recommend is to improve your yeast pitching and culturing, which means a stir plate, at least two stir bars, and a set of at least three flasks in increasing sizes (e.g., 500mL, 1000mL, 2000mL). Fortunately, the stir plate is the only expensive part there, and even then you should be able to get a used one fairly cheap, or even make one yourself.

If you can improve your yeast pitch rate, and learn to handle your yeast correctly, you'll get at least as much of an improvement in your beer as you would going from extract to AG.

Next should be temperature control of the fermenting wort. This too will give you a significant improvement even with extract beers, and if done right will let you ferment lagers year-round. Even something as simple as a swamp cooler will improve your temperature control, though the best solution is a dedicated refrigerator (or a chest freezer with a modified thermostat) if you have room and money for one.

Finally, I would get an oxy wand or some other means of aerating the wort before pitching it. Proper aeration is as important as proper pitch rate for getting your fermentation started cleanly.

Only after getting these out of the way, and you have tested each of these at least once with an extract beer, would I move on to all-grain. Perfect as much of your technique and equipment as you can with extract brewing first, then worry about mashes and sparging later.
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:42 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I believe I will go for the wort chiller next. Looks like an easy enough build and not to expensive. Thanks again!

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Old 03-22-2013, 12:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewinchef_fairfax View Post
I'm all for 10 gallon kettle - minimum 8...
Stick with a 10, the difference in price is negligible and you will eventually want at least that or bigger. Look twice, buy once.
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