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Old 11-04-2007, 07:27 PM   #1
Green Tarp
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Default AG on a budget

Ive been doing partial mash kits for a couple years now and its time to start trying AG brewing but Id like to try it small time at first without making a big upgrade in my gear. I have the standard noob setup.. glass carboy, 7.5 gal bucket with spigot, 7.5 gal bucket no spigot (usually use this for soaking my small items in sanitizer), turkey cooker, big cookpot, autosiphon and all the other small stuff.

My local brew supply showed me a setup where you just put a sort of mesh liner in the bucket with spigot. Anybody ever use or hear of this method?

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Old 11-04-2007, 07:50 PM   #2
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Yes, I've done that when I was doing PM. The only problem I had was keeping the temperature stable when mashing. I used my bottling bucket and lined it with a big mesh bag that I use for wine. I wrapped it with a sleeping bag, but still lost about 14-15 degrees in an hour. It didn't really matter because I was doing PM, but that wouldn't work for me in AG. If you could figure out a way to keep the heat in (maybe a hot water tank insulation blanket?), it would work.

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Old 11-04-2007, 08:12 PM   #3
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You can preheat an oven to 150 degrees and stick the mashing vessel in there (make sure to turn the oven off after preheating). I've done this in a five-gallon pot and only lost about a half a degree F after sixty minutes. It helps to let the oven preheat for at least half an hour so that all the metal parts inside have a chance to absorb the heat.

I think a bucket with a toilet-hose braid would work best for a lauter tun (just a braid, tubing, and stopper). The braids hardly ever get stuck sparges and clear very quickly. Conceivably, you could mash in the oven using the bucket as a mash and lauter tun; I think the bucket should be able to stand 150 degrees F. If you mash in a five-gallon pot like I did, you could do step mashes really easily, but you don't really need 'em for most beers. The only reason I don't do this anymore is because I managed to get a cooler (48qt ice cube) for free.

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Old 11-04-2007, 08:46 PM   #4
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Using a good ol' sparge bag in the bottling bucket? Sure, it'll work. But, yeah, heat retention in the plastic bucket....

What about putting one of those weldless spigots in your brewpot and mash in that? Mash it directly on the burner--you'll have to check it dutifully--but it'll give you flexibility in temp control in case you want to do different rests/steps, decoction, easy mash-out, etc.

Then sparge/drain the wort into one of your buckets. Let it sit for a minute or two while you empty the tun/pot of grist, then pour your wort back into that. Brew as normal.

Another advantage is that you won't have to siphon your wort out of the pot after you chill it. Just put some tubing on the spigot and drain into your primary.

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Old 11-05-2007, 12:14 AM   #5
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You can build an MLT for about $35. That is not a big monetary commitment for ease of use, if you ask me.

48 qt Igloo Ice Cube cooler for $14 at Wal-Mart and about $16-20 worth of conversion parts from Home Depot.

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Old 11-05-2007, 02:39 AM   #6
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Go to Wal-mart, buy a plastic colander, cut the lip off, and stuff it down into your bottling bucket just above your spigot. Mash in that. Wrap it in an old blanket to hold temp. Certainly a cooler will hold temp better, but this ghetto-rig will only cost you about 3 or 4 dollars, and it will work well enough until you decide how you want to build your "real" setup. I got this idea at my local LHBS, and brewed AG that way for the first year. Good luck.

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Old 11-05-2007, 02:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Tarp
7.5 gal bucket no spigot (usually use this for soaking my small items in sanitizer)
I'm assuming you use Star-San. This may not apply if you're NOT using Star San...

Buy a spray bottle. Home Depot has them for $1.89. Fill it up and use that to spray your equipment rather than submerge it. As cheapskate like as this is going to sound, I've saved a nice amount of money doing that rather than dumping 5 gallons of sanitizer every other batch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Tarp
My local brew supply showed me a setup where you just put a sort of mesh liner in the bucket with spigot. Anybody ever use or hear of this method?
Yes. I've even heard people recommend buying paint strainers rather than "grain bags" from the LHBS since they're cheaper. I was prepared to go that route this weekend but I managed to fix my cooler MLT. I've heard they get horrible effeciency and those kind of systems are harder to hold the proper mash temps.

Personally, I'd rather build a Rubbermaid MLT part-by-part than buy a system now that "sorta" works and that I'll still think about replacing; then again, I know how tight budgets can be so don't assume I'm going all EAC.
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Old 11-05-2007, 10:52 AM   #8
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www.thebrewingnetwork.com has a podcast on frugal brewing. It's one of their Sunday Shows, should be in their archives, and seems to be exactly what you're looking for.
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Old 11-05-2007, 04:40 PM   #9
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The mesh bag thing will work. it'll give you an idea of how AG brewing works.

that said, I love my rubbermaid MLT's ( have a 5gal and a 10gal).

If you already have big brew pots (7+ gallons) and a propane burner, you've got what you need to go AG.

Oh, and a chiller. cooling 5+ gallons of hot wort is a huge pain without a chiller.

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Old 11-05-2007, 04:51 PM   #10
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I used a kiddie pool as a chiller. I just bungied the lid on my brew pot really tight and let a hose run right at the side of the pot. The convection from the hose and the pool overflowing cooled it down in about 45 minutes when it was 97 out. With cooler temps now I could probably cool it in 30 minutes that way.
Just be sure to put a towel down on the bottom of the pool so it doesn't melt.

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