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Old 09-26-2013, 05:48 AM   #1
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Default AG equipment advice for an extract brewer

Want to go AG. I've been brewing extract for almost a year now, average about one 5gal kit a month. I need advice on what equipment I need to get started. I am on a budget and only have room to store minimal equipment. I currently own a 5gal kettle so I already know I need at least a 10 gal kettle. Thanks!



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Old 09-26-2013, 06:43 AM   #2
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You can get a bag and do brew in a bag (BIAB).

Or you can make a mash/lauter tun. This is usually done by converting a water cooler. Or you can convert a fermenting bucket by either adding a spigot with a braided hose filter inside, or by making a zapap (a bucket with 1000 tiny holes drilled in the base sitting inside another bucket with a spigot in it.)



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Old 09-26-2013, 07:01 AM   #3
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Bigger kettle, mash tun with false bottom or stainless braid, HLT (with sparge arm depending on how you will sparge), propane burner to name a few

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Old 09-26-2013, 11:52 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by BansheeRider View Post
Want to go AG. I've been brewing extract for almost a year now, average about one 5gal kit a month. I need advice on what equipment I need to get started. I am on a budget and only have room to store minimal equipment. I currently own a 5gal kettle so I already know I need at least a 10 gal kettle. Thanks!
I find it interesting that you already know you need a 10 gallon kettle without having brewed a single batch.

You're on a budget. So start small. Really small. Buy a 2 pack of paint strainer bags and brew a 2 1/2 gallon batch all grain BIAB right in your 5 gallon kettle. You'll soon know if all grain is something you want to continue with. You can do this batch right on your kitchen stove which is probably where you have been doing your extract kits.

If you decide you don't want to continue with all grain, you are out the investment in the paint strainer bags. If you do want to continue but don't want to put much money into it, buy a bigger kettle and continue with BIAB with the bags you already have purchased. You can reuse the bags until you wear holes in them so if you are careful you might get 10 batches from each bag.

As more money becomes available, the next purchase should probably be your own mill. It doesn't have to be fancy, good beer can be made with something as cheap as this one. http://www.amazon.com/Premium-Cast-Iron-Corn-Grinder/dp/B000U5NZ4I/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1380196201&sr=8-4&keywords=grain+mill

By the time you have done a couple dozen batches, you will know much better whether to spend more money on a conventional mash tun or to stick with what you have that works. I may never buy a mash tun because I'd hate to spent twice as much time to get less brewhouse efficiency without any improvement in the quality of the beer.
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Old 09-26-2013, 01:18 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I currently do partial extract boils, which is why I said I needed a bigger pot if I want to stick with 5 gal batches. I forgot to mention that I already have a propane burner. So I will get better effenciency with the BIAB method?

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Old 09-26-2013, 02:01 PM   #6
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Thanks guys. I currently do partial extract boils, which is why I said I needed a bigger pot if I want to stick with 5 gal batches. I forgot to mention that I already have a propane burner. So I will get better effenciency with the BIAB method?
You might, you might not. It depends mostly on the crush. Finer crush that is possible with BIAB should do that plus you collect all the wort and don't lose any to dead space in the mash tun. That is one of the reasons I suggested the Corona style grain mill. Besides the cheap cost, it can grind your grain quite fine which works well with BIAB. I tend to get about 80% brewhouse efficiency with no sparge BIAB or 85% or more if I sparge a little.
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Old 09-26-2013, 02:16 PM   #7
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I really like these kettles. May be out of your budget, but the 15 gallon ones with the heavy bottom work great. Add a bazooka tube with stainless braid stuffed inside and filter out a lot before you even ferment.

About $250 shipped to you with the bazooka tube.

http://www.homebrewstuff.com/15-gallon-kettle-w-valve-thermometer.html

You can literally get a boil going in these, and pretty much walk away once you get the heat right. The wider base, the fat thick bottoms, really spreads the heat well and keeps boil over to an absolute minimum.

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Old 09-26-2013, 07:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by BansheeRider View Post
Want to go AG. I've been brewing extract for almost a year now, average about one 5gal kit a month. I need advice on what equipment I need to get started. I am on a budget and only have room to store minimal equipment. I currently own a 5gal kettle so I already know I need at least a 10 gal kettle. Thanks!
See www.dennybrew.com
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Old 09-27-2013, 02:49 AM   #9
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I am assuming you already use filtered water and can quickly chill 5G batches (if not, that's more important than moving up to AG). Then, if you haven't already, invest in equipment to improve fermentations- make starters, oxygen injection, temp control. That may be the biggest "step up" in brew quality (if you're handy, you can make many of these things fairly cheaply). BIAB/ PM is a cheap step up, but opens the doors to recipe formulation. Get a good thermometer, I really like the Thermoworks (cheaper ones, around $25). If you enjoy BIAB, a cooler mash tun can be added to go to "real" AG.

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Old 09-27-2013, 03:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
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[...]If you enjoy BIAB, a cooler mash tun can be added to go to "real" AG.

(waiting for it)

Cheers!


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