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Old 11-14-2012, 12:39 AM   #1
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Default First all grain attempt. What all do I need?

Is there anything that's crucial to have to start my first all grain? I've got the basic gear for extract brewing, but want to make that next step. I don't want to put in an order, to later find I forgot to add something. Things I have now are:

10 gallon kettle (w/ steam basket for BIAB)
5 gallon paint strainer bags


I'm debating on buying a 10 gallon cooler this weekend. That's $45 I could probably put towards grains, but the more I read here, the more I like the idea of a cooler maintaining stable mash temps, especially with the weather getting cooler.

I also don't have a mash paddle or refractometer but do have a stainless spoon and hydrometer. Can I get by without those? Anything else I'm missing?

I initially planned on waiting until I got my brew stand completed, but I'm growing impatient as I haven't brewed anything in about a month. Suggestions or ideas? Thanks everyone.

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Old 11-14-2012, 12:45 AM   #2
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A hydrometer will work fine as well. You'll also want an extra kettle to boil water in, I'm assuming you're planning batch sparging, so you'll need somewhere to store your hot sparge water while you collect your runnings in your boil kettle. Coolers are definitely nice additions for AG brewing. If you dont go with a separate mashing kettle that has some sort false bottom and i drain/bulkhead. Also a good thermometer to monitor your mash temps. As for a good paddle, I'm sure the spoon would work or you can diy a wooden paddle if you're handy. My lhbs had a $5 plastic paddle that I grabbed one day.

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Old 11-14-2012, 12:54 AM   #3
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You'll defintely need a false bottom for your cooler. You have two inexpensive options if you don't want to buy one right away.

First, you can wiggle down a small sieve into the grain before you sparge. Then lauter a bit until your wort cleans out. While I've made some good beers this way, it's tough to get the wort super clean, so I like the following idea better.

I recently found a great inexpensive way to create a false bottom that results in SUPERIOR results regarding stuck sparges and clean wort. I had some aluminum screen left over from some house work (you can buy a oll or simply remove some from an unused window screen and run through the dish washer). I folded/molded it into a false bottom in the bottom of my 5 gallon cooler. I will try to remember to take a photo soon and post it. It takes a few minutes to clean the screening after each mash, but its worth it. Again, lautering is necessary, but it works like a charm.

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Old 11-14-2012, 01:35 AM   #4
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^^ That's a great idea.

I'm probably, since I already have the bags and steaming basket, will do BIAB. Another idea I thought about was using the strainer bags for the cooler (a "mash in a bag"?) since I don't have a false bottom. That's if I decide to get the cooler. I still have my 5 gallon kettle for HLT duties if you all think that's big enough.

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Old 11-14-2012, 02:23 AM   #5
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Definitely a thermometer. Also, not necessary but I would either buy or make a wort chiller. When doing full boils, it's hard to cool the wort fast. This is where a wort chiller will come in handy.

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Old 11-14-2012, 02:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yesfan View Post
^^ That's a great idea.

I'm probably, since I already have the bags and steaming basket, will do BIAB. Another idea I thought about was using the strainer bags for the cooler (a "mash in a bag"?) since I don't have a false bottom. That's if I decide to get the cooler. I still have my 5 gallon kettle for HLT duties if you all think that's big enough.
I use my 7 gallon kettle for HLT.. 5 gallon should be good as well. I usually need betwen 3.5-4.5 gallons of water at a time. I usually use identical volumes for strike/sparge, Since the mash takes an hour, I just throw the sparge water on while I'm mashing. I've found with brewing, if it works, go with it. It make not be ideal, but at the end of the day if you can make it work, that's all that matters.
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gcdowd View Post
Definitely a thermometer. Also, not necessary but I would either buy or make a wort chiller. When doing full boils, it's hard to cool the wort fast. This is where a wort chiller will come in handy.
Got that covered. I bought a wort chiller and 5 gallon kettle the same time I bought my starter kit from NB.



I've been looking around on YouTube, and saw a guy who used a digital thermometer that had a wired probe on it. It showed the target and current temps and beeped when he got to the desired temp. I think he got it at Bath and Beyond (can't remember). I think that's what I might add when I order my grains.
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