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Old 07-12-2007, 03:06 AM   #1
cheezydemon
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Default Extract Brewer interested in AG

Damn Squirrels gave a really good answer at the end of another thread pertaining to this, but I thought it just might deserve a new thread.

For a "bare bones" AG set up, cheap being a key factor, He suggested that 2 5-7 gallons buckets, one that could fit in the other, the inner one drilled with holes, would do the trick. Fill the buckets with hot water and grain, after enough time lift out the inner bucket and PRESTO! Wort!(assuming the correct temps and time)

That being sound advice, I understand chillers, but why is there a lot of other equipment needed? Is it mainly for sparging?

People (mostly at the local brew shop) say that the equipment is really expensive, but that that it is a cheaper in the long run. What is so expensive? I know this has been studied on this site and I could research it on other sites, but I would like some practical advice. I know I have made this too wordy and asked several questions, so take your pick. Thanks.

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Old 07-12-2007, 03:11 AM   #2
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What I suggested would work fine. But from there, it's a matter of making subtle improvements...

First, the buckets don't hold a very steady mash temp. They'll lose 5-7 degrees over the course of an hour. Now, bearing in mind that mashing really ONLY occurs between 146 and 158 degrees, you can see you've got a very narrow window to work with to begin with. Coolers allow for much better control. They don't have to be a superduper $50 cooler. Anything 5-10 gallons in size will work (depending on your level of ambition) for a 5 gallon batch and will keep your mash temps within a degree or two over the course of an hour.

Second, my bucket system doesn't allow you to vorlauf. Vorlauf is where you take the first couple of quarts and pour them back to the top of the mashtun. This makes sure that your wort has as few particles as possible. Those particles, if boiled, will leach tannins into you beer. Most people over react to that, but it's a legitimate issue. Vorlaufing will result in clearer beer as well.

Third, the bucket system doesn't really let you control the outflow speed. This is important when you are sparging something sticky, such as wheat or oats.

So something with a spigot is, in my mind, almost a necessity. And since coolers can be had for under $20, it's hard not to see the reasoning behind picking one of those up as well.


Then there's RIMS, SIMS, HERMS, etc... yowza!!!!

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Old 07-12-2007, 03:17 AM   #3
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So filtering of some sort is almost a necessity to reduce tannins and floaties.

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Old 07-12-2007, 03:27 AM   #4
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Yes.. and not just like a strainer as a filter. I'm talking about using the grain bed as its own filter. As you drain your wort, the bed compacts and becomes tighter. So long as it doesn't stop the flow (a legitimate concern with some sticky grists), the tighter the better.

And the more you vorlauf, the tighter the grain bed will be for the first few quarts.

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Old 07-12-2007, 03:38 AM   #5
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I built one of these last night using a 5 gal cooler, but I will probably just stick with partial mash/extract for the time being until I can get a wort chiller and a bigger brew kettle.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthre...ght=mini+braid

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Old 07-12-2007, 01:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheezydemon

That being sound advice, I understand chillers, but why is there a lot of other equipment needed? Is it mainly for sparging?
What other equipment are you talking about??


Like just about everything in the world, there are many ways to get the job done and different pros/cons with each. By the time I went AG, I really only needed a couple items to get the job done so there wasn't much cost involved.
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Old 07-12-2007, 01:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheezydemon
He suggested that 2 5-7 gallons buckets, one that could fit in the other, the inner one drilled with holes, would do the trick.
Add a spigot near he bottom of the outside bucket, and this is essentially the "Zapap" lauter tun described in Papazian's CJOH. This would enable you to vorlauf, but you'd still have the temp control issues noted by DS. Of course you could mash in your kettle (adding heat as needed to control temp) and use the bucket just as a lauter tun. I used this setup for a few PMs; it works OK. For full AG batches, though, a cooler setup would be easier to use and not that much more of an ivestment.
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Old 07-12-2007, 02:15 PM   #8
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The cheapest way to get into it (assuming that you have a 8-10 gal pot and an outdoor burner) is to make a cooler mash tun (made mine for under 50 total) and just batch sparge. That way you do not need a constant supply of hot water, or a sparge arm setup. When I was starting out, I would heat my sparge water to about 175f and pour it into my bottling bucket so I could drain the Mash Tun into the kettle. Then it is as easy as pouring the hot water into the cooler, stirring like hell and letting it sit another 10 min. Drain again into kettle, and proceed as normal.

Good thread for MLT

And remember, you can use a square or rectangular cooler that you pick up for 20 bucks instead of the more expensive round 'Gott' Style

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Old 07-12-2007, 02:18 PM   #9
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So maybe a cooler with a bucket inside, or this:

http://ablekitchen.com/productdetail...tcode=AF-12076

(not exactly cheap, but maybe a used one on e-bay)

It might not sit exactly tight, but if most of the grain were caught in it(after sitting for the appropriate time) and then you vorlauf plenty of times, maybe making a well in the grains and pouring into the middle. Does that sound plausable?

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Old 07-12-2007, 02:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheezydemon
Damn Squirrels gave a really good answer at the end of another thread pertaining to this, but I thought it just might deserve a new thread.

For a "bare bones" AG set up, cheap being a key factor, He suggested that 2 5-7 gallons buckets, one that could fit in the other, the inner one drilled with holes, would do the trick. Fill the buckets with hot water and grain, after enough time lift out the inner bucket and PRESTO! Wort!(assuming the correct temps and time)

That being sound advice, I understand chillers, but why is there a lot of other equipment needed? Is it mainly for sparging?

People (mostly at the local brew shop) say that the equipment is really expensive, but that that it is a cheaper in the long run. What is so expensive? I know this has been studied on this site and I could research it on other sites, but I would like some practical advice. I know I have made this too wordy and asked several questions, so take your pick. Thanks.
My only investments that I needed when I went to AG were a bigger brewpot (you start with around 6.5 gallons and boil down to 5 gallons), the MLT (cooler) and the wort chiller. You could go whole hog and get a big 3 tier setup, or go the cheapie route and use buckets and two pots. There is also a whole range of everything in between. For an easy picture of an easy kitchen set up, see here: http://howtobrew.com/section3/chapter18.html
That's kind of the way mine is done.
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