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Old 01-16-2014, 04:30 PM   #1
mgold1999
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Default First Upgrade from Basic Starter Set, a few questions

Gentlemen,

I just resumed brewing after a 17 year hiatus (read, 2 kids born and raised). I'm still using a 5 gallon basic setup, with a standard stainless steel brew kettle (stockpot), a plastic tub primary fermenter and glass carboy secondary fermenter (and plastic tub bottling bucket). Just bottled an I.P.A. batch.

Now that I can brew with my 2 sons, I'd love to upgrade the equipment a bit without getting too fancy.

For brew kettle, I'm deciding between the Stout Kettle with thermometer but not the tangential inlet, and the Bayou Classic set with the false bottom and outlet strainer (sorry, forgot the name of this piece). With the Stout I'd make a hop spider and use the whirlpool method. With the Bayou the bottom and strainer are already there.

Any preferences? My priorities would be less hop residue in the post-strained wort and ease of cleaning/sanitizing.

The other improvement I'd like to make would be to use either an immersion chiller in the kettle or counterflow chiller out. I hate to worry about possible contamination in my sink during the half-hour ice bath.

Down the road I'll be upgrading the fermenter, but for now I'd appreciate some recommendations for the brew kettle and chiller options.

Thanks and I greatly enjoy the wealth of knowledge and experience in these forums.

Cheers,

Matthew G

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Old 01-17-2014, 01:05 PM   #2
mtnagel
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Welcome and welcome back to the hobby!

Can't really say anything about the pot as I just use a standard aluminum 10 gal stock pot. Works for me.

For the chiller, I've only used an immersion chiller, but it works well. I made mine myself and it was very easy to do. I'd recommend buying a tube bender so you don't kink it. I would recommend a pre-chiller that you either stick in a bucket full of ice or buy a pond pump to push ice water through the chiller. It really helps get you down those last 20 or so degrees when your brewing in the summer and your water is 70F-ish.

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Old 01-17-2014, 01:24 PM   #3
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As with everything, it's a matter of preference. Me, I like the Immersion chiller. I like to whirlpool, I like the idea of cooling the entire batch at once, and I've never been keen on any method that includes sending wort through an orifice I cannot inspect... With an IC, I can insure that whatever my beer touches is clean of physical debris and fully sanitized.

So far as the kettle is concerned, I think it's best to go as big as you can, so you don't out grow it. If you're planning on using hop pellets, and don't want it to transfer, those strainers and false bottoms don't do much. It'll stop some, but nowhere near ALL of the hop debris. It's really only effective against the hop flowers. A hop spider would be better for pellets.

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Old 01-17-2014, 05:00 PM   #4
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Do you already have a method for fermenting at stable temperatures? If not, I think one of the first things I'd look into is some kind of fermentation chamber. I'm scouring Craigslist every day; it's the next thing on my list.

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Old 01-22-2014, 11:29 AM   #5
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Thanks for the helpful replies. I'll be upgrading to a new 9-10g brew kettle and use a hop spider (so far I'm using mostly pellet hops) and the whirlpool method. I'm liking the Stout (conical-fermenter.com) or megapot 1.2 (available at northerbrewer.com).

Going with an immersion chiller for sure.

Next up, a fermenter (unless you go with a Blichmann, it seems you can get a very nice one for $350-$450).

Happy brewing,

Matthew G

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