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Old 08-15-2012, 12:09 AM   #21
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Ok All, thanks for some really great suggestions. After being informed by the CINC-House that there was no way in hell I was gonna spend that much anyhow, you all managed to get me out of hot water by basically recommending from $600-$1,000 max to get a kit I could "grow into," and managed to convince the CO that it would save us a ton in the long run. Here's the list you recommended, let me know if you think it's out of order. I'll buy basically down the list as I'm able:

1. Temperature control system (with the most responses being buy:
1a. A Johnson temp/power controller for about $55
1b. A Haier $199 chest freezer from Home Depot
2. Better Brew pot (this one may wait, the 5-Gal stainless I have is in pretty good shape)
3. CO2 set-up. My LHBS priced this at $477 with everything.
4. Yeast starter system. About $50 unless I get the plate too, then just over $100
5. Another chill system (another Haier Freezer, $199)
6. You all recommended the mash tun. Full set up seems for lautering seems to be about $89-$250. I'm gonna wait a bit on this. I'm not sure I'm experienced enough to do lautering or all grain yet. Unless you all think it's likely I'll be wanting to get into it sooner.

This really amounts to a month to month shopping list (if I just buy it by saving up for the items each month).

Did I miss anything? Thanks for the recommendations

Oh, and a conical fermenter in 5-years if I can save the money... seems like everyone agrees those are just for show.

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Old 08-15-2012, 12:55 AM   #22
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IMO the CO2 keezer/kegerator set-up should be at the very top of your list, because kegs are incredibly convenient and having your own beer on tap is awesome

Temperature control is super important, but I find it easy to keep my temperature in check using a $5 rubbermaid with water and a frozen 2L every 12 hours. A digital controller and freezer is definitely the way to go eventually but I think you will enjoy your new hobby even more with the co2.

I'd also consider bumping a new pot up on your list, a 5 gal pot for 5 gal batches must be messy, but if it's working for you then


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Originally Posted by RipUSMC View Post
Ok All, thanks for some really great suggestions. After being informed by the CINC-House that there was no way in hell I was gonna spend that much anyhow, you all managed to get me out of hot water by basically recommending from $600-$1,000 max to get a kit I could "grow into," and managed to convince the CO that it would save us a ton in the long run. Here's the list you recommended, let me know if you think it's out of order. I'll buy basically down the list as I'm able:

1. Temperature control system (with the most responses being buy:
1a. A Johnson temp/power controller for about $55
1b. A Haier $199 chest freezer from Home Depot
2. Better Brew pot (this one may wait, the 5-Gal stainless I have is in pretty good shape)
3. CO2 set-up. My LHBS priced this at $477 with everything.
4. Yeast starter system. About $50 unless I get the plate too, then just over $100
5. Another chill system (another Haier Freezer, $199)
6. You all recommended the mash tun. Full set up seems for lautering seems to be about $89-$250. I'm gonna wait a bit on this. I'm not sure I'm experienced enough to do lautering or all grain yet. Unless you all think it's likely I'll be wanting to get into it sooner.

This really amounts to a month to month shopping list (if I just buy it by saving up for the items each month).

Did I miss anything? Thanks for the recommendations

Oh, and a conical fermenter in 5-years if I can save the money... seems like everyone agrees those are just for show.
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Old 08-15-2012, 01:42 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RipUSMC View Post
1. Temperature control system (with the most responses being buy:
1a. A Johnson temp/power controller for about $55
1b. A Haier $199 chest freezer from Home Depot
2. Better Brew pot (this one may wait, the 5-Gal stainless I have is in pretty good shape)
3. CO2 set-up. My LHBS priced this at $477 with everything.
4. Yeast starter system. About $50 unless I get the plate too, then just over $100
5. Another chill system (another Haier Freezer, $199)
6. You all recommended the mash tun. Full set up seems for lautering seems to be about $89-$250. I'm gonna wait a bit on this. I'm not sure I'm experienced enough to do lautering or all grain yet. Unless you all think it's likely I'll be wanting to get into it sooner.
1. YES. IMHO a temperature controlled fermentation chamber is one of the biggest improvement. BIG ++++ for this.
2. MAYBE. If your happy with the 5gallon pot you have now, then stick with it. A larger pot will allow you to do full boils and expand into larger brews. Also a larger pot will allow you to grow into All Grain (AG). I would move this to #4.
3. YES. Being able to get the exact amount of CO2 into a brew will push you into the next level from great beer to amazing beer. I think this should be #2.
4. BIG YES. Starters are a must. I just recently started using a stirplate and my starters are stronger and also ready faster.
5. MAYBE. I would pass on this until you feel it is needed. I just increased to my 2nd refrigeration unit to keep all my hops, yeast bank, and to cold crash my starters. It makes my life a lot easier not having to make room in my normal fridge.
6. NOT NOW. You can get your feet wet with AG by doing brew in a bag. Look up BIAB and you will see how easy AG can be.
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Old 08-15-2012, 01:27 PM   #24
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I think you are on the right track with your list, all of those things are great places to start. In regard to a conical..... I have brewed for 15 years or so. I have used buckets, carboys, better bottles, V-vessel conical fermenters...... almost everything under the sun. I really thought about getting a SS conical a couple years ago. But, I did the math and figured I could just go with using buckets and replace them periodically forever, and never spend the same amt. of money. Buckets are super easy to use. By far the easiest to clean (the #1 requirement of a fermenter). Easy to move, store and transport. They work great. The only down side to a bucket is you can't "see" your beer fermenting. But, after a few years, that is not such a big deal. So, after using all kinds of fermenters, I am back to buckets. Personally, I would put a conical a long way down my list - unless I just had money I did not know what to do with.

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Old 08-15-2012, 02:00 PM   #25
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The one thing I'd change on your updated list it to make it a priority to get a bigger brewpot, and maybe a bigger burner.

Temperature control is still #1, but I'd make a full boil #2 along with a way to chill it (an immersion chiller is fine). There is no point kegging beer if it's not excellent beer.

For a yeast starter, right now you can use a growler or 1 gallon glass jug and cover it with sanitized foil for $0. You don't need a $50 yeast starter set up.

Kegging can be started for about $250 (Your LHBS saying $477 seems outrageously high), and you can surf Craigslist for freezers and fridges as they come up everyday for $50.

I'd consider starting to work toward some back saving techniques as you build your system. If you buy a pot and burner, for example, make sure it's something than can work with a brewstand later, with some pumps. You may not mind pouring boiling water right now, but it does get a bit hard after a few years. Eventually having everything set up on a brewstand is a nice goal.

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Old 08-15-2012, 02:02 PM   #26
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Personally, I would put a conical a long way down my list - unless I just had money I did not know what to do with.
Another thing to think about- a conical may not fit in your typical fermentation chamber. Temperature control is critical, so if you don't have a place to hold a conical and keep it at 65 degrees, it would be useless. Also, I usually have more than one beer in fermenters at any given time, so unless you're buying a couple and then having a walk-in cooler to store them in, it may not be as functional as regular carboys/buckets.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:13 PM   #27
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Yup, temp control and kegging. You can make awesome beer in caboys and buckets - as long as you can control temp.

Other important bits and pieces - good, big kettle, good burner.

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