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Old 08-05-2010, 03:41 PM   #1
spriolo
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Default Stepping up your volumes

I've brewed 10 batches or so and most of them are all grain. My cooler, kettle, and fermentation buckets / carboys have proved to me that about 5.5 gallons is about what I can produce in a single brew day (5 or 6 hours of work).

How do you step up your volume without breaking the bank? I see others comment that they produce 10 and 12 gallons regularly. Does this require a mash tun, kettle, ferment bucket upgrade? all new equipment? or am I missing something with the technique that can save money but still produce 10 and 12 gallon volumes?

What about two turkey fryers, two mash tuns, etc... Is that how you step it up? Same work, just double the steps within the 6 hour brew day?

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Old 08-05-2010, 04:00 PM   #2
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What equipment do you currenty have as far as a MLT and boil kettle?

I normally do 5 gallon batches, but my MLT and kettle are big enough that I can pull off a 10 gallon batch if I want to.

(edit: my MLT is a 10 gallon insulated cooler and my kettle is a 15.5 gallon converted keg.)

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Old 08-05-2010, 04:35 PM   #3
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My MLT is an old Coleman camp cooler (square). It probably could hold 10 gallons (if poured to the very tippy top edge). I have an aluminum turkey fryer pot that can probably hold 7 gallons... any more than that and I think there would be safety issues during the boil.

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Old 08-05-2010, 04:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spriolo View Post
I've brewed 10 batches or so and most of them are all grain. My cooler, kettle, and fermentation buckets / carboys have proved to me that about 5.5 gallons is about what I can produce in a single brew day (5 or 6 hours of work).

How do you step up your volume without breaking the bank? I see others comment that they produce 10 and 12 gallons regularly. Does this require a mash tun, kettle, ferment bucket upgrade? all new equipment? or am I missing something with the technique that can save money but still produce 10 and 12 gallon volumes?

What about two turkey fryers, two mash tuns, etc... Is that how you step it up? Same work, just double the steps within the 6 hour brew day?

Well, here is what I would caution. If you are going to step to 10 gallons, you might want to "future proof" yourself a little in case you want to do 15 gallon batches, and so on. Where will you realistically draw the line? That's probably the first question you should ask yourself. I do 10-15 gallon batches and have my equipment such that I can do high gravity 15 gallon batches. This was not by accident. Incremental costs now or full replacement costs later?

The biggest issues & costs are as follows, IMO:

- Brew Kettle (sure, you can brew in a 15.5 gal Sanke but you will top off at about a 12.5-13 gallon batch size with that.) & HLT. I have a 15 gal HLT and a 20 gal brew kettle. This is where you can't easily reuse HLT for kettle, IMO. You could capture wort in several secondary buckets/vessels and then recombine into your HLT/kettle, I suppose.
- MT - even for 15 gal batches you can use a big rectangular cooler. I have a copper manifold and sparge arm but you could certainly do something simpler.
- I use a single Turkey Fryer burner and need only 1. If I had a semi-automated system and everything was pump driven (a goal of mine at some point), then I would probably need 2 burners, but for now it's not needed.


Biggest cost CAN be the fermentation vessels. You can piece things together here and there for the other stuff, but really, with the sanitary requirements of the ferm vessel, this is where some people go crazy. I have a 14.5 gal conical, a whole gaggle of carboys/kegs. I think the sanke keg as a ferm vessel is about as easy as it gets and can be done relatively cheaply with a craigslist score and tri-clover style mod kit.

Temp control is important for all size batches, but obviously as you do larger batches, you need larger "temp controlled spaces"...



Yes, it is a rat hole of expenses and projects and DIY, but for many of us that go down the path, that's 90% of the fun!
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Old 08-05-2010, 05:53 PM   #5
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I see your point. I guess it starts out with "I wish I could boil 10 gallons"...

+1 Randar, I need to evaluate my goals before I go down the rabbit hole.

Walker, why do you stop at 5 Gal when you can go more (maybe I can look at the inverse while I contemplate the how deep the hole goes)?

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Old 08-05-2010, 06:06 PM   #6
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I stepped up from 5 to 10 , after thinking that I would never brew more than 5 gallons. Basically wasted a lot of money on the 5 gallon set-up. However now that I do 10-11 gallon batches I wish I had stuck with 5 gallon as I like the diversity of brewing different beers more frequently. My set-up works best with 10 gallons so going through all the extra clean up effort for doing 5 gallons in my set up is a pain.

Eventually I will sell off my stand & equipment and go back to smaller batches.

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Old 08-05-2010, 06:15 PM   #7
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I once did the jump from 5 to a 12-13.5 gallon system. The biggest issue is that if something goes wrong you have 10 gallons of bad beer instead of 5. While a rarity its much easier to take a bad 5 gal batch over a 10. Additionally there is extra work. Double the amount of starter volume. Double weight in grain and water.

I was considering bumping up, but I think I am going to stick with 5 gallon batches and brew more frequently if needed.

m.

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Old 08-05-2010, 06:26 PM   #8
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Walker, why do you stop at 5 Gal when you can go more (maybe I can look at the inverse while I contemplate the how deep the hole goes)?
Two reasons... I like variety and I enjoy the process of brewing. Making 5 gallon batches gives me more of both of those things.
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:40 PM   #9
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I've got a 20 gal. aluminum pot for my HLT, a 60 qt cooler with copper manifold for mash and lauter tun and a 15.5 gal keggle. I went with this setup for the same purpose as you. I probably do half and half 5 and 10 gallon batches. 5 gallons when I'm experimenting or doing high gravity beers and 10 when I'm brewing a tried and true favorite that I know will go fast.
I've considered getting another cooler (I already have another keggle) so I can have a 15 to 20 gallon brew day doing two different recipes.

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Old 08-05-2010, 07:59 PM   #10
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Haha, I'd love to be able to contradict Walker and say "20 gallon batches?!?" but I seem to remember standing in Morebeer's store in Concord, looking at a 15 gallon kettle on sale, and thinking "There's no way I'll be doing 10 gallon batches."

One question I think it's worth asking yourself is what you brew for. Do you enjoy the brew day process, or are you seeing it as a means to an end in order to just get your beer? If you enjoy the process, as I do, I REALLY can't think going higher than 10 gallon batches. It's plenty for me, even at the rate I drink (fat Irish git). That's over 100 beers, and by the time the second keg's kicked, I'm usually ready for something different. (Plus, a lot of beers like IPAs, I find tend to get a bit stale if they're sitting around for too long.)

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