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Old 05-10-2012, 02:29 PM   #1
raven77
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Default Advice on some new equipment

I'm looking to upgrade to all grain and wanted to know what everyone thought about the kits and burners i am looking at.

First which cooler kit would be a good fit. I am looking to stay with 5 gallon batches and these are the 3 kits i am looking at.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/d...-5-gallon.html

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/delux...-5-gallon.html

or would a 7 gallon cooler kit be better? i brew a little of everything from Hef's to pale ales to ipa's to stouts. i will not be doing any barely wine kits as i am not a fan of them. This is another option

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/delux...-7-gallon.html

also are the stainless ball valves worth the upgrade cost if i go with a midwest kit?

This will probably be the only all grain cooler kit i will be purchasing as my wife and i are expecting our first child and money will be getting tight in a few months. Just wondering which will be better over the next few years.

Then my next purchase will be a propane burner. These are the 2 I am looking at

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/hurricane-burner.html

or
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/b...and-stand.html

I have a 7.5 gallon polarware stainless economy kettle and will probably use fermcap s to keep me from boiling over.
Just looking for your thoughts before i purchase to ensure i get the best kit to fit my needs for my future brews.
Thanks for your help.

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Old 05-10-2012, 03:13 PM   #2
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The midwest links just take me to their Spring Recipe Kits page.

I'd go with a larger cooler to accomodate stouts and other large grain bills. I have all SS hardware as it wasn't THAT much more expensive and I have peace of mind.

I personally don't use a cooler for HLT. That's up to you. I don't like moving water that much and I don't have a pump setup.

Cooler kits with false bottoms can be tricky to get the hang of over a manifold system. I've read a lot of posts about flow rates and grain getting under them. Sure, if you follow a few simple rules you should avoid that, but a manifold is about as simple as it gets.

In terms of money, buying a cooler at WalMart and the bulkhead kit (from BargainFittings) and DIY is the cheapest by far. You can make a hose-braid for almost nothing (MPT nipple, sink/toilet supply line, hose clamp) for sparging.

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Old 05-10-2012, 03:19 PM   #3
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The links are working for me, weird.
And I know DIY kits can be cheaper but I figure these setups are pretty solid and i'm willing to spend the cash to buy a complete setup.

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Old 05-10-2012, 03:40 PM   #4
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midwest links aren't working either. they all start with www.fyurl.com/rr.php/ and then the URL to midwest page.

1.060 is about the biggest beer you can comfortably fit in a 5 gallon MLT, so the 7gal might be better.

I built my own DIY mash tuns and have both a 5gal and a 10gal for the occasional large grain bill.
I don't use pumps to move my water either, but I don't mind moving a few gallons around the garage.

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Old 05-10-2012, 03:41 PM   #5
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I move some water, but I'm not into moving 5-6 gallons of sparge water from a kettle into a cooler, then lifting the cooler up somewhere, etc. I move a few gallons of wort while sparging usually...at least until I get my HLT built and a gravity system setup.

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Old 05-10-2012, 04:42 PM   #6
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Like tre9er said if money is a concern do some searching around on here in the DIY and build your own stuff. It's really easy since many people have put itemized shopping lists together and step by step directions. You can build the same thing as your northern brewer system for significantly less money.

What kind of beers do you want to make? I use just a 5gallon cooler for 5 gallon grain bills and it's just fine. I do wish it were a little larger only so I could do something higher gravity still in the 5gallon instead of busting out the 12gallon setup. Just remember that if you go bigger cooler but smaller grain bills it'll affect your temperatures, but you'll figure that all out as you go.

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Old 05-10-2012, 05:01 PM   #7
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I got the 7-gallon setup from Midwest, and have been very happy with it. I started pricing out stuff to DIY it, and it wasn't that big of a difference in price - so I just bought the kit. I think 17lbs is about the limit of the 7 gallon setup, but i've used it for 9-10lb grain bills and had plenty of success. It's nice to have the extra room of the 7-gallon, so when you're doing a medium sized beer, you're not running out of room in your mash tun.

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Old 05-10-2012, 05:18 PM   #8
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I'd highly suggest DIY and a 10gal setup (even for 5 gal batches). It's just unscrewing a valve and screwing your s/s one in; pretty much that simple.
Here's an exp of cost breakdown:
2x 10gal coolers - $80 shipped 10 Igloo cooler

2x s/s bulk head with valves - $45 cooler bulkheads
s/s braid for mashtun (screws right in) - $15 (unless you make your own) s/s braid w/barb
add +$5 shipping from bargainfittings
total $145 for a 10gal setup. That would leave you money for a bigger aluminum brew pot like THIS 10gal pot and enough for a new burner (that NB burner is awesome, I have one.. heavy duty and will hold a full keggle no problem).

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Old 05-10-2012, 05:41 PM   #9
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With a 10 gallon setup would it leave to much empty space that I would lose to much temp during sac rest? Also wouldn't I be better with a false bottom rather then the stainless lines in my mash tun?

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Old 05-10-2012, 05:50 PM   #10
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I think I drop about 2 degrees when I use a 8.5-10lb grain bill. I actually swapped from a false bottom to the braid myself. The false bottom worked great for a year, then started giving me stuck sparges. My best guess was the cooler had slightly warped and was letting grain under it clogging everything up. The braid has worked amazing, I rarely even need to vorlauf at all. I would suggest putting a s/s locknut or something on the end to keep it from floating though.

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