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Old 09-22-2012, 05:53 PM   #1
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Default Moving to all grain

Hey guys, I have been home brewing for 2 years now and have been a site lurker for a while. I have done extract, mini-mashes, and even mashes in very basic home brew and kitchen equipment. I usually do partial boils when doing 5 gallon batches. I want to upgrade my brewing equipment to add versatility and complexity to my brews. I want to make sure that I spend my money wisely and have a few things I needed some help on. A few things to keep in mind, I live in Manhattan so space is somewhat of an issue. I tend to do 5 gallon batches in plastic because glass breaks and I am doing this indoors. I have a separate 32 inch refrigerator that wifey said I can turn into a kegerator or leave as a lagering fridge(leaning in this direction). I have a kick ass GE stove with a 17K power boiler (currently being installed).

I want to get the basic 5 gallon cooler set from northern brewer (mash tun and HLT) or any site that has it fairly priced. It looks like the way to go based on everyone's feedback here and on their site. Questions related to temperature control: Has anyone used the same set of equipment to do mashes for 1-2 gallon test batches? I would imagine that holding the temperature for an hour with so much head room would be difficult. Ideally I don't want separate equipment(space issue) for 1-2 gallon batches versus 5 gallon batches(aside from carboys) I love brewing and want to get better and the only way to do so in my opinion is to take notes and compare results of batches. By doing smaller batches I can do it more often and fine tune recipes before brewing 5 gallons. Another added benefit of the smaller batch size is the ability to lager in the aforementioned beer fridge. I'd love to have some Marzen being chilled year round! Any thoughts on getting a smaller mash tun and hlt and mashing twice for larger batches? Are there any issues with waiting before boiling the wort after a first mash?

Wort chiller: Necessary with full boils, and leads to better results in any brew setting. I was thinking about this one: http://amzn.com/B004D4NM9K
It seems that everyone agrees that the extra money for the 50' over the 25' is worth it. This one has good reviews and I haven't seen one cheaper. I can't tell by the description if the fittings are for a garden hose or a sink. I would assume hose. The fittings shouldn't be hard to change or adjust to attach to a sink. Any help/thoughts/experience on this would be great.

Boil Kettle: this one seems pretty good: http://amzn.com/B003EW8HWY
I don't see any downsides here.

and some 1-2 gallon carboys.

Thanks for the help in advance.

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Old 09-22-2012, 06:01 PM   #2
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That's a good chiller, at a decent price.

With the 5 gallon coolers, you will be limited to beers of about 1.060-1.065 in 5 gallon batches. If you have room, you may want to consider a 10 gallon cooler for a MLT, as it could give you more flexibility.

I didn't use my 5 gallon cooler HLT, ever. I still have it, but never used it. If space is at a premium, you could consider batch sparging not not using the HLT at all and leaving out that one cooler.

Make sure whatever pot you have to brew in will hold at least 30 quarts. That's at a minimum. I used a 30 quart part inside for years, on my stove. Here's a picture:


Ugly, but effective! The tall pot is the boil kettle, and the smaller pot was what I used to heat up sparge water. The tubing is missing from the ball valve, and the ball valve is turned funny- I don't remember why.

I've never seen a 2 gallon carboy. They make 1 gallon, and 3 gallon, but not 2 gallons. A good source for 1 gallons is "Carlo Rossi wine". Oh, it's not a very good wine, but it's like $10 for the jug with wine in it, and the Burgundy is good in spaghetti sauce. A #6 sized stopper fits in it perfectly. The three gallon Better Bottle carboys are square, so those are kind of nice if space is a concern, and they are very light.

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Old 09-22-2012, 06:51 PM   #3
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I recommend you use a rectangular cooler. They're easier to stir becasue ofe thew larger opening and cheaper than round coolers. Unless you really have your heart set on fly sparging, I really can't see any advantage to a round cooler. For info on building a mash tun and batch sparging, see www.dennybrew.com

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Old 09-22-2012, 06:57 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help! I guess I can forget about the HLT. I guess the only issue remains as to whether a 5 or 10 gallon cooler will be able to hold a proper mash temperature for small batches? A 10 gallon cooler with 2 lbs of grain might be a stretch no? What are the dimensions of a 10 gallon cooler?

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Old 09-22-2012, 07:01 PM   #5
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My heart is only set on making awesome beer! Thanks for the tip. I will look into the rectangular cooler.

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Old 09-22-2012, 09:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeBrewLou View Post
My heart is only set on making awesome beer! Thanks for the tip. I will look into the rectangular cooler.
I've used my rectangular cooler and batch sparged over 400 batches. If it didn't work great I would have switched a long time ago!
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:00 PM   #7
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Have you heard of Brooklyn Brew Shop?

They sell 1 gallon kits and they have some decent videos of how to brew 1 gallon all-grain batches.

Glass doesn't break unless you drop it. Brew hauler

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Old 09-23-2012, 12:52 PM   #8
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Since your apartment space is limited, check out BIAB (aka brew in a bag). You can eliminate some of the extra equipment that way and save some space while still getting the advantages of all grain brewing. I've used a 20 qt pot on my kitchen stove for 2 1/2 gallon batches and a 7 1/2 gallon turkey fryer pot on that same stove to do 5 gallon batches. If you have a large enough pot (7 1/2 or larger) you can just use that one pot and a bag for the whole setup. I've been using 5 gallon paint strainer bags in my pots and the stretch top works good on both of them.

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Old 09-24-2012, 12:53 PM   #9
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thanks for the help guys. I appreciate it. Lots of good idea here.

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Old 09-24-2012, 10:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeBrewLou View Post
My heart is only set on making awesome beer! Thanks for the tip. I will look into the rectangular cooler.
Make sure you get one that has a some good reviews here on HBT on it..a lot of rectangular coolers are really shoddy, and their ability to hold temperature can vary drastically. Which is one reason why the cylinder Igloo/Gatorade coolers are so popular, because if you follow the build every one will perform identically.
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