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BenAgee 11-29-2012 08:47 PM

advice upgrading equipment
 
i've only brewed two batches of beer so far, but i've got an "investor" interested in upgrading my equipment. we'd (obviously) like to go all-grain, so i know i need a mill, but my question is which equipment is most immediately crucial for consistent, quality output. right now we're working with a turkey fryer and buckets and carboys for fermenters. we've got a budget of 2-3k. i'm thinking a 14 gallon conical fermenter, but should i worry more about a boiling system first? it'd be great to have everything integrated, so is a packaged deal the way to go? would the money be more wisely spent scouring for good deals and piecing everything together? i've looked on craigslist and dealers' websites, and so far the prices seem to be consistently similar. even the used stuff on craigslist isn't much cheaper than new stuff seems to be.

so which equipment is immediately vital, and where are the best places to look? thanks!

chickypad 11-29-2012 09:37 PM

I'd first decide what kind of all grain you want to do and what batch size you want to accomodate. Depending on your current pot size BIAB may mean minimal new equipment. If you don't want to do BIAB then you will need a mash tun and some other vessel for holding hot water. Either way the pot needs to be big enough for full boil, you need a good burner for it, and you need to be able to chill the wort. Also consider how you're going to move the wort (gravity, pump, etc.) or for BIAB how you will lift the bag. Temperature control for fermentation would be not specific to all grain but is probably one of the most crucial things for consistent quality beer.

Once you decide these things you can look at whether you want to piece things together or go with an already integrated system. I'd say a 14 gallon conical would be pretty far down the list though.

HopsMan 11-29-2012 09:55 PM

Yeah, don't blow your wad on a conical yet.

My main question is how much do you know about all-grain brewing? There are a number of ways you can set this up, and each requires a very specific set of pieces to make work. I would encourage you to grab a book and read up on it, and make sure you know the core principals of all-grain before buying equipment, or you'll most likely end up regretting your purchases.

WileECoyote 11-29-2012 10:50 PM

A Big Fermentation Chamber First, if you plan on doing lots of batches.

Cheers :)

05m50dan 11-29-2012 11:14 PM

+1 to Fermentation Chamber

fall-line 11-29-2012 11:18 PM

The first big investment I made (when still doing extract brewing) was to build a fermentation chamber with heat and cool (converted a fridge). This is still one of the biggest things I did to improve my beer.

After that, start focusing on the core pieces of all grain equipment such as your MLT and Boil kettle (or combine them with BIAB as earlier suggested). I wouldn't suggest going out and spending your $2k yet.. Spend a few hundred and learn to use your new equipment to it's fullest before deciding how to proceed.

I went from extract brewing (stovetop), to BIAB with an 44qt Stainless pot, and then to a 10 gallon cooler MLT before finally building the rig you see in my signature below. It was a great learning experience and allowed me to build exactly the rig I wanted or my style of brewing.

Have fun!!

Begin2Brew 11-29-2012 11:24 PM

Here is my opinion:

Invest in items that make you brew day more easier such as pumps and hoses or a gravity system.

Then cleaning and sanitation. A tile floor and nice big sink would be great.

Also look to fermentation control. I have two freezers, one as the kegerator one as the fermentation chamber.

Then go for some of the little things, like a good thermometer, mash paddle and mill.
The last is a big boil kettle. For 5gal I would look for a 10gal pot.

When I set my system up I always asked myself "does this make my brew session easier, more enjoyable or more consistent".

BrewerBear 11-30-2012 12:19 AM

how much does your "investor" want you to brew?

ajf 11-30-2012 12:38 AM

Expensive equipment doesn't make good beer. Good procedures and quality ingredients does.
I've been brewing for 38 years, and still haven't spent anything like $2k on my equipment, but as has already been said, fermentation chambers are very much worth while.

-a.

duboman 11-30-2012 01:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ajf
Expensive equipment doesn't make good beer. Good procedures and quality ingredients does.
I've been brewing for 38 years, and still haven't spent anything like $2k on my equipment, but as has already been said, fermentation chambers are very much worth while.

-a.

This^^,
Best practice makes the best beer, not best equipment!

Fermentation control should be the first expense and will reward you more than its cost in the improved quality of your beer!

Learn about all grain and evaluate how you want to set up and then design the system. Gravity, pumps, electric, BIAB, plate chillers or IC? Lots of options and if its not how you brew it's a waste of $$$$


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