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Old 12-03-2011, 07:32 PM   #1
Malty_MacHops
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Default Equipment for Small Batch All Grain Brew

Hello beer people. I'm pretty new to brewing and over the last couple of years I've been getting deeper and deeper into the craft beer/food scene. So, I guess its time to give homebrewing a try. I made a batch of extract with steeping with a friend once a couple of years ago. Unfortunately even though he is a water treatment tech, his sanitation procedures were not the best and the beer ruined. So I'm going to give it another try on my own. I want to do all grain, but I don't have a lot of space or equipment. I was thinking of using a large dutch oven with a pasta strainer to conduct the mash. If I use a no sparge method, I could lift out the strainer with the grain and use the pot for the boil. Then I could ferment in a 2 gallon wine jug. I think this would give me a taste of the process and recipe, before I invest in equipment (which I will probably do anyway). My question is, do you think using the dutch oven with the built in pasta strainer will work? Or will lifting the grain give HSA issues? I've read a couple of books on brewing and browsed the forums, but couldn't dig up an answer. Any help or tips would be appreciated.

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Old 12-03-2011, 10:23 PM   #2
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Look up 'Brew in a bag' its a no sparge technique that you can do in a large pot for a small 2 to 3 gallon batch. I have done it a few times with my 7.5gal kettle, it works pretty well. Look to buy a paint strainer bag or a bag from your lhbs. With your strike water and grain you will need a large pot, id suggest a 10 gallon pot.

I use my pot over two burners to get a 4 gallons of wort boiling pretty good. All you do is warm up your strike water then add the grains to the pot into the bag. After an hour or 90 minutes for your mash do a mash out at 168. It easy because you just turn on your burners then reach the temp and stir for about 15 minutes. Then drain your bag and start your boil. There are brewing programs that can get the correct volumes and temps, I use brewsmith. Then do your 60 minute boil as normal. Look up the process there are a few good threads about it with pictures to get a better understanding of the process.

I hope that helps and do a search on the forum.

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Old 12-03-2011, 10:42 PM   #3
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Small scale AG batches (1 gallon) can be done with ~$15 worth of equipment, plus an 8 qt pot. If you have a wine jug and a bigger pot, you can do 2 gallons pretty easily, and for cheaper than that. You'll need some sanitizer, some vinyl tubing, a racking cane, and either a grain bag or strainer, at minimum. I started with a 1 gallon AG kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop, but you can piecemeal the parts of their kit for way cheaper than buying them straight from the website.

Oh, and bottles of course. But these can be had for pretty cheap/free if you look hard.

I've moved on to mostly 5 gallon batches, but I still use all the equipment from my kit for these, or for test batches for recipe tweaking

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Old 12-03-2011, 10:51 PM   #4
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BIAB works fine. As an alternative, I do 2.75, etc. AG batches with a small amount of equipment beyond what came with my beginner's brew kit.

Last fall, I got a 5-gal cooler from Lowe's for $8 (after-summer sale) and about $20 worth of plumbing parts, I built a mash tun that I have used for 40+ batches. I use the same 5 gal stockpot I use for partial boils, and, really, that's it.

A 2.75 gal batch leaves about .25 gals of gunk at the bottom of a fermenter and gives you 28 bottles of beer.

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Old 12-03-2011, 11:14 PM   #5
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When I wanted to switch from extract to all-grain I felt intimidated. It was hard to decide what to buy first. I used my original 20qt. kettle and brewed two "Brew in a bag" (BiaB) batches scaled down to 2.5 gallons. I liked only having to bottle 20-24 bottles. Around that time I was also being pushed out of the house. "It stinks!" she said. What does she know! I was able to borrow a propane burner, and that was it; I was in the garage. I bought some 3g Better Bottles and just decided I was going to be a 3-gallon brewer for a while.
I made an mash/lauter tun in a 5g cooler, and I was brewing. Since I started brewing 5-6% ABV batches, I brewed no-sparge. Essentially, it was BiaB, except I used the MLT. Then I built the small brew rig, so I didn't have to set everything up when I wanted to brew. It really worked out well. Without sparging I was able to all-grain brew in just over 3 hours. I brewed 31 batches last year, and the work wasn't that difficult, because brewing and bottling were streamlined.
Since then, I have been brewing bigger beers, and I have had to start sparging, and now I am finally getting a bigger pot, so I can brew some of my favorites in larger batches. I was still able to brew 30 batches this year. Small batches are nice for experimenting. I'm sure kegging is in my future.

I know you said you didn't have room for a lot of equipment, but I just thought I might offer a different perspective, and slow easy way to build you brewery.
Good luck!

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Old 12-03-2011, 11:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eanmcnulty View Post
When I wanted to switch from extract to all-grain I felt intimidated. It was hard to decide what to buy first. I used my original 20qt. kettle and brewed two "Brew in a bag" (BiaB) batches scaled down to 2.5 gallons. I liked only having to bottle 20-24 bottles. Around that time I was also being pushed out of the house. "It stinks!" she said. What does she know! I was able to borrow a propane burner, and that was it; I was in the garage. I bought some 3g Better Bottles and just decided I was going to be a 3-gallon brewer for a while.
I made an mash/lauter tun in a 5g cooler, and I was brewing. Since I started brewing 5-6% ABV batches, I brewed no-sparge. Essentially, it was BiaB, except I used the MLT. Then I built the small brew rig, so I didn't have to set everything up when I wanted to brew. It really worked out well. Without sparging I was able to all-grain brew in just over 3 hours. I brewed 31 batches last year, and the work wasn't that difficult, because brewing and bottling were streamlined.
Since then, I have been brewing bigger beers, and I have had to start sparging, and now I am finally getting a bigger pot, so I can brew some of my favorites in larger batches. I was still able to brew 30 batches this year. Small batches are nice for experimenting. I'm sure kegging is in my future.

I know you said you didn't have room for a lot of equipment, but I just thought I might offer a different perspective, and slow easy way to build you brewery.
Good luck!
looks like a nice, simple, effective rig. what sparging method are you using? did you add on to the rig? also, you could do bigger batches with that rig if you partial mash.
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonM View Post
BIAB works fine. As an alternative, I do 2.75, etc. AG batches with a small amount of equipment beyond what came with my beginner's brew kit.

Last fall, I got a 5-gal cooler from Lowe's for $8 (after-summer sale) and about $20 worth of plumbing parts, I built a mash tun that I have used for 40+ batches. I use the same 5 gal stockpot I use for partial boils, and, really, that's it.

A 2.75 gal batch leaves about .25 gals of gunk at the bottom of a fermenter and gives you 28 bottles of beer.
Same as I do!
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:45 PM   #8
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looks like a nice, simple, effective rig. what sparging method are you using? did you add on to the rig? also, you could do bigger batches with that rig if you partial mash.
I have a second 5g cooler for an HLT now, so I batch sparge. I'm getting about 68-73% efficiency.

Actually, my new 8g stainless steel brew kettle from Kurt Bergman at Brewsteel.com is sitting at UPS right now! I should be getting it on Monday. Kurt welded fittings onto the kettle, and he put the thermometer a little lower for the 3g batches. I still plan to brew 3g batches for the most part, but now I can brew my porter and my brown ale in 5g batches, and I don't have to brew them as often.

If you look at the picture of my rig, you can see that the kettle isn't quite high enough to use the CFC, so I have to lift the 3g of hot wort to the top tier. That may be a little more dangerous with 5 gallons, so I may take the rig apart and redesign it.
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Old 12-04-2011, 01:49 AM   #9
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Check out Brooklyn Brew Shop. They are all grain 1 gallon kits.

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Old 12-04-2011, 01:06 PM   #10
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I started with a 1 gallon AG kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop, but you can piecemeal the parts of their kit for way cheaper than buying them straight from the website.
Best way to start with all grain, keep costs down, and learn before you jump into something pricey...highly recommended
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