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Old 11-20-2012, 05:30 PM   #11
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Getting back to OP's question (about equipment), it really becomes more about the style of brewing that you prefer and the level of sophistication that you want the setup to have. Do you like to do things by hand? Does your pickup have crank windows or power windows? Do you want to stand in front of a big panel, throwing switches like a mad scientist, or do you want to keep lighting the burner by hand? It gets to be about preference more than anything else.

I tend to fall on the simpler-is-better end of the spectrum, so my setup is pretty simple, if more complex than an extract setup. I have a two-tier sculpture with an HLT and MLT (I use a cooler, although you could get a SS MLT if you prefer it). My BK sits on the floor and after I've drained the wort I put it on the burner, which is easy enough for me since I usually only do 5 gal batches. I'm working on building out a third tier, at which point it'll be much easier to do 10 gal batches.

Others build out a flat rack with march pumps to move liquid from one vessel to another, I'm just not much of an electrician and prefer to minimize my equipment wherever possible. And of course there are the HERMS and RIMS which have several benefits but which require a much more complex (and costly) setup than the traditional three-level AG setup. Again, it's really much more about what kind of brewer you want to be than what is the "best" AG setup. Start with these links if you like:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/ind...ure#Three_Tier
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/HERMS

Cheers!
I agree. But if his reason is because he's not happy with the beer he's making, addressing that first is more helpful than showing him where to spend money.

Making great beer isn't necessarily something that you can throw money at to improve if the fundamentals aren't right.

I think figuring out why he's not happy with his beers is the best first step, see if any issues can be corrected, then explore what changes to go to all grain.
Spending more money and not improving the beer can be enough to turn a person off of the whole process.

As for the new gear, I also believe that you can learn a lot by reading what people on here do, how it works out for them, but seeing video of the process can help to understand what's actually involved in the various mashing processes and therefore what type of gear he wants to buy.

I know that I watched quite a few videos and that helped me to feel more comfortable about going all grain and choosing what methods I was going to use.
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:53 PM   #12
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You already have an 8 gallon pot, immersion chiller and carboys. I did my first AG with the exact setup plus a 10 gallon Home Depot cooler with a stainless steel braid. You can find instructions and details on this site. It's really easy. I made extract also for a while and I know you can make good beer. I just like the "hands on" you get with the AG. You can mess up more easily but once you do it a few times you get the hang of it. Also, try 5 gallon batches first before you go to 10 gal batches. Get your process down and then expand.
Couldnt agree more. It is a lot easier to drink 5 gallons of a batch that did not come out right than 10 gallons.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:37 PM   #13
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I agree. But if his reason is because he's not happy with the beer he's making, addressing that first is more helpful than showing him where to spend money.

Making great beer isn't necessarily something that you can throw money at to improve if the fundamentals aren't right.

I think figuring out why he's not happy with his beers is the best first step, see if any issues can be corrected, then explore what changes to go to all grain.
Spending more money and not improving the beer can be enough to turn a person off of the whole process.

As for the new gear, I also believe that you can learn a lot by reading what people on here do, how it works out for them, but seeing video of the process can help to understand what's actually involved in the various mashing processes and therefore what type of gear he wants to buy.

I know that I watched quite a few videos and that helped me to feel more comfortable about going all grain and choosing what methods I was going to use.
Excellent points all, and I happen to agree--going AG is not a solution to poor technique in brewing extract; in fact, it's more likely to result in even worse beer if the problem is that you haven't disciplined your process enough yet. Do the simpler stuff (i.e. extract brewing) better first, then expand in complexity, scale, etc. once you've gotten comfortable with it.

That said, this "AG vs. extract" argument can get stale pretty quickly, but for those brewers who are thinking about moving from extract to AG for whatever reason, the question about equipment is pertinent since most of us don't have unlimited money to constantly switch from one brew setup to another as our interests/abilities/ambitions change. Like I said in my previous post, when it comes to equipment I think the big determinant is what kind of brewer you want to be, rather than what is the "best" brewing setup.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:42 PM   #14
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I did this exact transition about 8 months ago!

I went from 5G extract kits to making 11 gallon AG every batch!

1. 20 gallon stainless steel brew pot ($150 off Amazon)

2. 185K BTU Bayou Burner ($50 on Amazon)

3. Two 20 lb propane cylinders ($30 off craigslist)

4. Wal-Mart 52Qt cooler for mash tun ($25 on sale)

5. Homemade CPVC laudering manifold with ball valve and custom outlet ($20)

6. 50' Copper wort chiller ($80)

Total spent: $355

That is pretty much all I needed to progress from extract to A/G and this setup is more than adequate, I have no complaints or regrets.

Temp control, sanitation and yeast handling are the main things that need to be mastered to consistently produce good beer....just takes time, experience and lots of reading on places like HBT!

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Old 11-20-2012, 06:52 PM   #15
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Like I said in my previous post, when it comes to equipment I think the big determinant is what kind of brewer you want to be, rather than what is the "best" brewing setup.
I couldn't agree more.
You can make great beer many ways. It comes down to what method you want to take on.
Think it out before investing because like you said, it costs too much money to keep changing direction.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:01 PM   #16
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You can do a simple brew in a bag with what you have now. That is how I started AG and shortly moved to a 3 vessel system.

You have far more than most people start with.

Stick to the recipes you see here that have lots of positive reviews before trying to make up your own.

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Old 11-20-2012, 07:41 PM   #17
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I don't see it as the dead horse thing...at least not yet.
I'm sorry, I did not mean that the way it came out. There used to be rather large discussions that went on for ages about the pros and cons. It was more of a gleeful poke at that subject, not said in spite at all. It was more of a who's grass is greener and it never really was resolved only agreed open that we all have opinions.
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:36 PM   #18
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For all the replies, thank you.

First, I must apologize. I started this thread then got busy with "life" and have not been able to respond until now. To clarify I am happy with extract. In fact I just unveiled my latest/greatest batch over thanksgiving. It was so yummy that if I never go AG I will be a fat happy man.

My comment about wanting to improve my batches was not because they are currently sub-par. Its more a reflection on my personality. I'm a blue collar DIY kinda guy. Every time I finish a project I will ponder how I could have done it cheaper, quicker, stronger, etc.

I keep a beer journal. While I write in it I think about what could have gone smoother, easier, or what could boost quality. This analytical side has got me thinking..... and posting. I had always assumed that extract would eventually evolve into AG. This just seemed to be a natural progression. So, I was day dreaming about what is coming in the future and wasn't too sure about which direction to focus my research. A friend borrowed my books so I was a bit lost on what the possibilities were....3 tier, herms, biab, other?? So, I asked a fairly broad, clear as mud question. "how do you transition..."

I guess one of my questions would be do I need to get a 3rd keg for AG, or will my 2 kegs + my 8G pot work (most of the time) ?

I'm not really sure what I'm getting into, so any advice, thoughts, ideas, whatever will be appreciated.

FYI these FNG questions will hopefully thin out when I get my books back.

Thanks, Fellas

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Old 11-26-2012, 01:04 AM   #19
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For all the replies, thank you.

First, I must apologize. I started this thread then got busy with "life" and have not been able to respond until now. To clarify I am happy with extract. In fact I just unveiled my latest/greatest batch over thanksgiving. It was so yummy that if I never go AG I will be a fat happy man.

My comment about wanting to improve my batches was not because they are currently sub-par. Its more a reflection on my personality. I'm a blue collar DIY kinda guy. Every time I finish a project I will ponder how I could have done it cheaper, quicker, stronger, etc.

I keep a beer journal. While I write in it I think about what could have gone smoother, easier, or what could boost quality. This analytical side has got me thinking..... and posting. I had always assumed that extract would eventually evolve into AG. This just seemed to be a natural progression. So, I was day dreaming about what is coming in the future and wasn't too sure about which direction to focus my research. A friend borrowed my books so I was a bit lost on what the possibilities were....3 tier, herms, biab, other?? So, I asked a fairly broad, clear as mud question. "how do you transition..."

I guess one of my questions would be do I need to get a 3rd keg for AG, or will my 2 kegs + my 8G pot work (most of the time) ?

I'm not really sure what I'm getting into, so any advice, thoughts, ideas, whatever will be appreciated.

FYI these FNG questions will hopefully thin out when I get my books back.

Thanks, Fellas
You remind me of myself. I went BIAB since I already had the right equipment and wanted more control. This is just my opinion but the tried and true, three tier setup mimics commercial breweries and that's why home brewers tend to go that direction. If you have lots of cash, that seems like a good way to go. However, we're talking 5 gallons, not 20 barrels. By going BIAB, you get the control of all grain, you can use your existing equipment, save a fortune on ingredients (extract is pricey), build recipes even a commercial brewer would understand and you'll get a better understanding of the all grain process.

Eventually when the kids are older and I have a little money, I will make an ultimate brew shed with a 3 tier setup, but for now, to be able to make 10 gallons of fantastic beer by going the BIAB route is wonderful! I just made 10 gallons of an original pale ale tonight that (with bulk grains and hops), cost me around $30 to make. 4 1/2 cases for $30... come on!

If I can help in any way, let me know.
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:23 AM   #20
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If I can help in any way, let me know.
The advice and generosity of the members here still dumbfounds me.

Thank you sir. I will take you up on that.
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