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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Breaking into all grain. What's really necessary?
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Old 05-02-2014, 08:42 PM   #1
Marc77
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Default Breaking into all grain. What's really necessary?

Ok all grainers! Sound off like you have a pair! Because HBT is the Mecca of beer knowledge and some people search from time to time I thought I'd finally write down my year and a half long process of changing from extract to all grain. It's been a year and a half because we just had our first kid (boy) and I've been having to do things on the cheap.

Anyway! When it comes to all grain setup you have to ask yourself LOTS of questions. The first and most important is have you done partial grain or know for sure if you'll like all grain? There are several camps out there that will say if you're going to want to brew 5 gallon all grain batches buy enough for 10 gallon batches or you'll regret it. I fall into that camp which is why I've moved from extract to partial grain to damnit I'm doin 10 gallon batches!

The next are just questions that I've asked myself and everyone else please add to this list:
1) Will you want to stay at 5 gallon batches or is this just the next tier and eventually you'll be doing 10+ gallon batches?
2) How will you crush your grain?
3) Do you want to do BIAB (Brewing In A Bag)?
4) Do you want to batch or fly sparge?
5) Do you want to use a propane or electric brewing system?
6) What kind of beers will you be making? Imperials vs...well everything else.
7) How are you going to transfer everything? Gravity fed? Chugger pumps? March pumps? Begging Bobby_M to help you (insert plug for anything Bobby_M for a discount..did it work Bobby)?
8) Will you be buying bulk grain? If so how will you store it? 5 gallon buckets, airtight dog food storage from PetSmart or your local dog store? etc.
9) Do you have enough room to store all this stuff?
10) How much money (budget) do you have?
11) How are you going to ferment your wort? Do you have a fermentation chamber?
12) Are you tired of asking and answering questions?

Now that I've asked you all these questions and hopefully others that you've thought about what equipment will you need?!? Here is a list of equipment that I think you can do all grain with the least amount of equipment.

1) Vessel for your boil kettle - can be a keggle, kettle, turkey fryer, whatever.
2) If you're not doing BIAB...MLT vessel - can be a keggle, kettle, cooler, yet another turkey fryer, etc.
3) How are you going to empty your MLT? Braid, manifold, false bottom, etc?
4) If you're doing mulitple step mashes - HLT...see 1 & 2, you get the idea.
5) Grain crusher
6) Mash paddle
7) If you crush your own grain are you going to painfully hand crank it? If not then some sort of motor to power it.
8) Something to hold the grain if you aren't going directly into your MLT.
9) A way to get water to your boil kettle or are you going to painfully count cups of water from the tap until you get to the right amount like me?
10) A way to transfer water inbetween keggles/kettles/turkey fryers/cooler and into eventually your preferred fermentation vessel.
11) A way to connect all those hoses you'll be needing if needed.
12) Buckets to hold grain if you're buying in bulk.
13) Thermometer to measure your boil kettle temp (I just got a candy thermometer and plunk it in there because I'm cheap and easy like that!).
14) A way to heat your water (burner, etc).
15) Propane tank if you go that route.
16) A way to chill your wort, ice, snow, immersion chiller, counterflow chiller or a plate chiller (listed from least effective to most).
17) A way to store your wort to ferment
18) A way to tell the temperature of your choice of fermentation method.

Tip: Don't buy buckets! Go to your local grocery store or Walmart bakery and ask for their frosting buckets or any food grade bucket from the deli! Walmart charges a buck a bucket but that's still cheaper then almost anything else. My local Hy-Vee (grocery store) bakery gave me fifteen 5 gallon buckets which will hold my 200 lbs of bulk grain I bought.

I'm doing a single mash design for now using a gravity fed model for a 10/12 gallon setup. I've got an 70 quart Colemann xtreme cooler for my mash tun and am making a manifold like this site shows. http://smokedprojects.blogspot.com/2...-mash-tun.html When asking what size MLT you need I've always referenced this thread (this plays into question #6). http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/how-...-needs-123585/ From here this will go into a 82 quart Bayou Classic kettle. Eventually this will be pushed through a 30 plate duda diesel heat exchange and into my better bottles for oh so sweet fermentation. Finally I'm making a fermentation chamber to control my temps based off one of the many builds here at HBT.

Clearly I have some stuff left to get which why I'm creating this thread. Before I get to my needs list my plate chiller has two 1/2" hose barbs for moving the wort with a garden hose attachment for water in with a 1/2" male attachemnt for water out. With that said, here's my list of what I think I still need:

1) Something to crush my grains
2) Something to ice my arm when I'm done crushing my grain
3) I'll be crushing directly into my MLT for now (is this bad?) so I'll need to lift that back to add the water.
4) A way to raise and lower my MLT and boil kettles because I'll be transferring from my boil kettle to mash in and then will need a way to transfer the running back to my boil kettle.
5) Mash paddle
6) A weldless kit for my kettle with ball valve and dip tube for my kettle
7) If I can't use gravity to raise and lower my MLT/boil kettle I'll need a chugger pump from Bobby (yet another shameless plug) with kit to make this transfer painless.
8) Some way to measure the temp of the wort coming out of the kettle and into the better bottle. Currently I'm thinking Blichmann thrumometer because of the way my plate chiller is set up.

Can anyone think of any base stuff I'll need, questions I haven't asked, etc? I'm planning on updating this as I fill out my brewing "stuff" as I go along to see what's truly "necessary" and what I bought that I thought was necessary but wasn't really needed.

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Old 05-02-2014, 11:12 PM   #2
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Most of what you listed isn't necessary. Chugger pumps don't make good beer. I make great all grain on the stove.

Here is what's necessary;

1. Good water. Know your water and what's in it, how it will impact the mash, etc. Make it work for you.
2. Fresh ingredients
3. Your own mill. I use an adjustable JSP. Control your crush, crush fresh, buy grains in bulk.
4. A good thermometer. I use a thermoworks a food industry standard.
5. Beersmith. No debate. At the least a very methodical system of tracking EVERYTHING about brew day.
6. A refractometer. How one brews all grain without one is beyond me.
7. A MLT or bag and big enough kettle if doing BIAB
8. A way to measure/troubleshoot mash pH.
9. A flask and stir plate. It's time to make starters and rehydrate yeast.
10. Food grade buckets and gamma lids.

Of course there are other things that you may already have. Before wondering about 10 gallon batches you might focus on small batches. Why brew 10 gallons of garbage? Dip a toe and build up.

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Old 05-03-2014, 12:01 AM   #3
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It depends if you're starting from scratch or moving over from extract. I was extract for a year before deciding to go all-grain. I bought an extra kettle for full boil and built a mash tun out of a Coleman cooler. That's it, combined with the equipment and knowledge I had built up from extract brewing.

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Old 05-03-2014, 05:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Upthewazzu View Post
It depends if you're starting from scratch or moving over from extract. I was extract for a year before deciding to go all-grain. I bought an extra kettle for full boil and built a mash tun out of a Coleman cooler. That's it, combined with the equipment and knowledge I had built up from extract brewing.
I wanted to go bigger batches which is why I'm essentially starting from scratch.
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Old 05-03-2014, 06:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Croyzen View Post
Most of what you listed isn't necessary. Chugger pumps don't make good beer. I make great all grain on the stove.

Here is what's necessary;

1. Good water. Know your water and what's in it, how it will impact the mash, etc. Make it work for you.
2. Fresh ingredients
3. Your own mill. I use an adjustable JSP. Control your crush, crush fresh, buy grains in bulk.
4. A good thermometer. I use a thermoworks a food industry standard.
5. Beersmith. No debate. At the least a very methodical system of tracking EVERYTHING about brew day.
6. A refractometer. How one brews all grain without one is beyond me.
7. A MLT or bag and big enough kettle if doing BIAB
8. A way to measure/troubleshoot mash pH.
9. A flask and stir plate. It's time to make starters and rehydrate yeast.
10. Food grade buckets and gamma lids.

Of course there are other things that you may already have. Before wondering about 10 gallon batches you might focus on small batches. Why brew 10 gallons of garbage? Dip a toe and build up.
Chugger pumps don't make good beer but neither does spilling 12 gallons of hot wort. You brew on your stove top which is fine but once you get past 5 gallons it's almost impossible to move with just one person. Living that much wort with two people on welded handles probably isn't a good idea either which is why I listed a chugger pump.

1) I found my water report on a recent post here and it's good enough that I don't need to add anything to it to make it work for me. So I'm good there.
2) Got that by buying in bulk which addresses a part of 3.
3) Yeah, I need to buy a grain mill and it's on my list.
4) Why do you need a good thermometer for the boil and such? I get having a good one for moving to the fermentation bottles/buckets/whatever. But a boil is a boil and once you get your mash temp right all you want to do is hold the temp there.
5) Actually have Beersmith and I'd agree with you, need to add that to the list.
6) A refractometer is also on the list.
7) Check and got that.
8) Mash temp is something I need to look into more now that I'm moving to all grain.
9) Yeah, forgot about the stir plate. I think the more important point is knowing how much yeast you need and then making sure that's there. Stir plates are nice but not absolutely necessary.
10) I had a tip on that and gamma lids are a waste of money when you can get food grade buckets from a grocery store that are airtight, for free.

I've dipped my toe and am wanting to brew bigger batches. I know there will be a few modifications to all grain but I've done enough with partial mash and then have done a 5 gallon all grain batch that I'm wanting to move up to 10.

That wasn't really the point of this thread. It was to help someone wanting to move to all grain find the necessary amount of equipment to get them going. Also to see if there were any holes in my thoughts on what I still needed. So stir plate is now on the list, thanks!
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Old 05-04-2014, 12:23 AM   #6
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Keep it simple. As simple as possible.

I make extremely good beer with two coolers, a 5 gallon pot for heating water, an 8 gallon pot for the boil, a strainer, a spray bottle, a long plastic spoon, a weight watchers oz scale for hops, a few buckets, and a big mason jar I use to drain off the first wort and recirculate.

I'm more about the art than the science, so someone surely can be wayyyy more scientific than me, but like most things, don't overthink it, just do it.

Happy brewing!

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Old 05-04-2014, 12:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc77 View Post
Here is a list of equipment that I think you can do all grain with the least amount of equipment.
Here's my list:
Boil kettle
Large Spoon
Strainer Bag
Thermometer
Hydrometer
Scale
Fermentor
Bottling or Kegging crap.
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Old 05-04-2014, 12:42 AM   #8
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I'm just going to chime in on the thermometer part. I would agree you do need a good thermometer. I bought a therma pen during an open box sale. It's an instant read and is great for getting your mash temps spot on.

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Old 05-04-2014, 01:34 AM   #9
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holy over-complicating things batman!

I moved from extract to all grain by buying a cooler, false bottom and a second pot to do a full 5 gallon boil on the stove.

my only regret is getting a 5 gallon cooler instead of larger - anything over 12 lbs of grains and I do a partial steep in the spaghetti pot.

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Old 05-04-2014, 01:35 AM   #10
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and the wife got a good thermometer for christmas - I got lucky! You need a good thermometer.

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