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Old 11-17-2006, 09:26 AM   #1
okactuary
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Default All-Grain Equipment Questions from Newbie

Well I am taking the plunge into the all-grain world and would like some advice. Here is what I have bought additionally above my extract stuff:

1. Bigger pot - got a 10 gallon aluminum pot at the restaurant supply shop. That will be the mash tun so I can step mash if I ever want.

2. 10 gallon orange Rubbermaid cooler for my lauter tun in case I someday advance to double batches or use a recipe using lots of grains.

3. A "therminator" chiller, but I have bought no connections yet.

I am thinking of getting a stainless steel false bottom and a kewler kit valve and the connections.

Questions:

I think I can get barbed fittings from the inside of the kewler kit to the false bottom and I think they come 3/8" and 1/2" sizes. Does it matter? Is there any reason to get stainless parts instead of brass? What size false bottom will I need?

To cool the wort I was thinking of dumping it into the cooler then going through the chiller that way. But dumping all that boiling liquid into the cooler may be asking for trouble, and may be too hot for the cooler--I just don't know. So should I add a weldless spigot to my pot and go through the chiller that way?

Also is there any real reason to get a sparge arm?

Your input is greatly appreciated!

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Old 11-17-2006, 11:35 AM   #2
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Personally, I really like a length of stainless steel braid instead of a false bottom. Easy to set uo yourself, and from all accounts much less prone to clogging than a false bottom. Just my preference. I see no reason to pay extra for stainless steel for my ball values and other parts - brass is perfectly fine, it's just paying more $$ for what I believe are mostly vanity purposes.

You don't want to dump the hot wort, you risk hot side aeration big time. Weldless spigot is exactly what you want to do. Remember, unless you're a lot more of clean freak than I am, the cooler is likely to be dirty at the time that you'd be using it (and you probably would melt it).

You only need a sparge arm if you plan to fly sparge; I'd give batch sparging a go before you make that commitment.

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Old 11-17-2006, 08:04 PM   #3
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You can fly spage without the arm if you're careful, although it doesn't work as well.

I'm just using controlled flow out of my HLT onto the top of the grain bed with a small piece of sanitized plastic as a diffuser to keep the grain from getting compacted by the water flow. Works like a charm.

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Old 11-17-2006, 10:39 PM   #4
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Most people with the coolers use them as a mash/lauter tun. For a single infusion mash, you only need to add the right amount of water at the right heat to get the right temperature at the start, and the insulating properties of the cooler will maintain the temperature for the duration of the mash. For step mashes, you could either add hot water, or remove some of the mash, heat it, and then return it. (Or you could mash in the aluminum pot).

I doubt that the size of the fittings makes much difference (providing you have lines that match the fittings). I fly sparge, and 3/8" is more than enough for that. My false bottom determines the size of the fittings, so you may want to get that first. The false bottoms come in various sizes, one of which is tailor made for the 10g cooler.

With a Therminator, I would definitely add a spigot to the kettle, but you will need some way to filter the hops to prevent them clogging up the spigot or chiller. I use a false bottom in the kettle. It works very well for me with whole hops, but I've never tried it with pellets. I've seen other people recommending scouring pads for this purpose, but I have no idea how effective they are.

As for the sparge arm, I think they are great for fly sparging in a round cooler, but a total waste of time if you are batch sparging.

Hope this helps.

-a.

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Old 11-18-2006, 05:16 AM   #5
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You indicated a aluminum brew pot - isn't this a big no-no with beer (or other acidic foods), as it can produce a metallic taste? Or is it anodized / coated?

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Old 11-18-2006, 12:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javedian
You indicated a aluminum brew pot - isn't this a big no-no with beer (or other acidic foods), as it can produce a metallic taste? Or is it anodized / coated?
I hope that's not a problem! I know acidic foods such as tomatoes react with the aluminum, but I never thought about the beer. I would appreciate some input here so I can return the pot if needed.

Thanks.
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Old 11-18-2006, 12:53 PM   #7
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Not a problem for me or anyone else that I have ever heard from.

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Old 11-18-2006, 01:19 PM   #8
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The aluminum vs. stainles debate has raged for decades. Most people think aluminum is ok. RDWHAHB.

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Old 11-18-2006, 02:25 PM   #9
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For the therminator I purchased the 1/2" and 5/16 fittings. I use gravity to feed my therminator. After a few tests, I went with the 1/2" fittings, much better flow rate and less chance of clogging (wich hasn't happend). Also you will need to mount your therminator. I went to home depot and purchased a small roller stand and mounted my therminator to it. The Therminator needs to be situated with the wort in fitting facing up. I have to place my burners on conctete blocks to get the height I need, no biggie though.

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Old 11-18-2006, 02:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javedian
You indicated a aluminum brew pot - isn't this a big no-no with beer (or other acidic foods), as it can produce a metallic taste? Or is it anodized / coated?
Unless your beer has a very low or very high pH (unlikely if you want it to taste good), aluminum really isn't anything to get excited about. An oxide layer forms on bare aluminum almost immediately whenever it's exposed to oxygen (in air or via acidic/basic reactions). Too thin an oxide layer (as in a new pot) may contribute some metallic flavors to your first couple of brews, as your beer will cause a slight reaction until the oxide layer is thick enough to prevent it. To thicken that layer or "pickle" a new kettle, fill it with an acidic sanitizing solution like Star San and let it sit for a few hours.
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