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Old 10-10-2012, 12:51 PM   #1
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Default Pros/Cons of going Full Electric??

Hey guys,
Searched the forum and couldn't find a specific thread that covered this topic in its entirety, so I wanted to start one. I have recently been tossing around the idea of going electric, but wanted to get a few opinions from those who use electric first. I spoke with a few people last night at my new brew club and found out there are several people looking to build a set-up too. While we were talking, others chimed in and said they heard you won't be able to get the complete carmelization as you would in a gas system. Although, last night while doing some research I came across a post of someone saying they get OVER-carmelization from the heating elements. Who to believe?!?! Secondly, I read a separate post that stated they get a metallic "burned" flavor and another post that states the person gets a tonic-like flavor profile in their brewing. So with the research I have performed so far it is looking like such:

Pros:
- Cheaper Brewing Cost vs Propane
- More efficient and better temp control
- More of an automated process

Cons:
- Possible off flavors?
- Over Carmelization?
- Expensive Start Up costs

Does anyone know if there is a life expectancy of these heating elements the way they are used for brewing? Does anyone do just electric HLT and MLT and gas BK? I currently do BIAB in a 44qt Bayou Classic on gas, so I am looking to re-vamp my entire brewing set-up! Move to something that can help me get better consistency and I feel electric is the way. Please provide any feedback and/or experiences that you feel would help me make the right decision.

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Old 10-10-2012, 03:17 PM   #2
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Here's my .02.

Pros:
Cheaper vs. Propane
Temp control
Recipe repeatability
Really cool looking and impressive
Professional brew day

Cons:
Automating takes some of the fun of improvising out of the brew day
Expensive start up costs

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Old 10-10-2012, 03:22 PM   #3
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Pros:
cheaper
no noxious gasses
brew inside year-round
WAY less fire hazard (assuming you wire properly)
never run out of fuel

Cons:
harder to clean kettle (can be, there are ways to make easier though)
need to have sufficient power source(s) nearby

I haven't noticed any difference in flavor, nor have fellow homebrewers. I don't do automated because I was just shooting for the pros above. I just flip switches on (two 120v elements in HLT and BK) and keep an eye on things if need be. I still mash in a cooler and do a gravity setup as well. I like the hands-on brewing approach.

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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 10-10-2012, 03:25 PM   #4
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For me:

Pros: Indoor brewing, all year round.

Cons: Not portable

The beer tastes about the same, to be honest. I haven't had caramelization issues or anything else.

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Old 10-10-2012, 03:55 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies so far guys. I haven't have a chance to check out someones set-up in person yet, only online. Definitely agree with you, Yooper, about the portability. I was talkin to fellow brewers last night about not being able to participate in brew days at off-site locations.

What is everyones HLT, MLT, and BK set-up? I am debating between keggles or Bayou Classic 20-25gallon kettles for now. Was thinking 25gallon so I could possibly produce 15 gallons at a time, if need be. So I could be prepared for any upcoming competitions, chartiy events, or house parties at any given time!

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:08 PM   #6
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I'd say there are many advantages, and they've been stated already.

For the caramelization, I've heard that before, but I know a LOT of people who are using electric and don't have an issue.

As far as portability, I am keeping my propane burner and in the event that I want to brew elsewhere, I would be able to use my old turkey fryer or even fire my electric BK with gas. (The HLT is covered in rubber and will be built with the drain on the bottom instead of the sides so it would not be possible to heat with gas flame.)

There isn't any reason I can't brew elsewhere, but I'll have to change my equipment a small bit. No big deal.

If you really wanted to keep your large batch capabilities and still be able to brew offsite with gas, then build the system to be heated on gas as an alternative.

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris7687 View Post
Thanks for the replies so far guys. I haven't have a chance to check out someones set-up in person yet, only online. Definitely agree with you, Yooper, about the portability. I was talkin to fellow brewers last night about not being able to participate in brew days at off-site locations.
This is ONLY true if you have a stand with mounted pumps etc. I have a eHLT and eBK plus a cooler MLT. I can take all three somewhere and brew, so long as they have two 15-20A 120v circuits (kitchen and bathroom, extension cord, done). Now, if you're 240, the person probably has a dryer hookup or stove hookup. If you use a spa-panel as your GFCI, you're good-to-go.
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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 10-10-2012, 06:03 PM   #8
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For those of you brewing inside, do you have exhaust fans for this? Or are you just letting the steam collect in the house?

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Old 10-10-2012, 06:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris7687 View Post
For those of you brewing inside, do you have exhaust fans for this? Or are you just letting the steam collect in the house?
I brew near a window and open one on the opposite side of the room, then use a fan to encourage air exchange. I have a hood in mind, possibly build myself one and use a vortex or squirrel cage fan.
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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 10-10-2012, 07:25 PM   #10
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Gotcha. I couldn't leave a window open down here in Florida during the summer time! Already have a $200+ summer time energy bill as it is! Don't need to A/C the block!

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