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Old 08-08-2012, 11:59 PM   #1
dover157
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Default Jumping into AG, am I crazy?

Ok, I have not been on or doing any brewing in over a year due to life / address changes (not going to go into detail is not a "feel sorry for me" thread) logged in last week to ask a question about starsan and responded to and ended up hijacking a thread about water systems (to the OP of that thread sorry). Anyway I began reading and getting caught up on the threads and the brew bug has hit again in full force. I was planning on switching to AG anyway so I figured now was a good time so I have a few questions before I start. Setup as planned, 15.5 gal "kegle" for boiling, cooler for MLT, and 30QT pot for heating strike / sparge water. I have a line on the keg to modify and plan on putting in weldless bulkhead, stainless ball valve with dip tube and sight glass / thermometer combo. Planning on getting a cooler in the 70QT range for the MLT since the round ones cost more plus I figure it can double as storage when not brewing. Im leaning towards using a manifold over the stainless braided but not sure if I should go with CPVC or spend a little more and just do copper . As for the small pot, I was able to get a new turkey fryer kit last winter for cheap and will be using that pot. Would it be a good idea to put a ball valve and sightglass in that one too, or would I just be wasting money at that point? Will most likely be doing batch sparging, but may get bored and mess with a fly sparge at some point. Sadly as I dont have a dedicated place to put a three tiered system and this will all be gravity fed I forsee a lot of lifting on brew days, but with help and common sense it should be ok. Im sure I will have many more questions by the time I have screwed up one batch and want to try again, but will take any advice before hand to help make that not happen.

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Old 08-09-2012, 12:17 AM   #2
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That setup is even more advanced than my AG setup and I actually started AG. Never done extract. I have a 30 qt turkey fryer as well and use it for my boil w/ fermcap and have no problems w/ boil over. No Ports or anything, just a old fashioned marked dowel and a regular thermometer. I really want a keggle though so I can do larger batches.

I use a 10 gal igloo cooler (cylinder) w/ braided false bottom. Works great

All I do for my water is run it through a cheap purifier to remove chlorine, but we have pretty good water where I live (Redmond, OR).

The one thing that affected me pretty big my first brew was grain crush. I had terrible efficiency and learned I needed to do a double crush @ that particular brewshop. Since my efficiency has been ~75%. That and make sure you stir well.

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Old 08-09-2012, 02:53 AM   #3
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I have also been AG from the start. I only keg so I primarily do 5 gallon batches. I use a 5 gallon SS pot for strike/sparge water, a 5 gallon rubbermaid cooler for my MT (I will be upgrading to a 10 MT gallon soon), an 8 gallon Bayou Classic SS pot and SQ-14 burner to boil with. I can only get a max of 14 lbs of grain in my MT so if the recipe has a bigger grainbill I shorten up the base gain and sub in some DME. I don't use or have a need for sightglasses or ball valves in my boil kettle or HLT - I simply dump directly into a bucket fermenter through a SS strainer. I know exactly where my water levels need to be and managing temps is a breeze if you have a decent thermometer.

From my perspective you are right on track and if you really want to spend the extra $$$ on sightglasses and built in thermometers, then got for it!

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Old 08-09-2012, 01:43 PM   #4
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The 70 qt cooler is overkill unless you want to do 10 gallon batches of HUGE beers. See below:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/how-...-needs-123585/

Obviously, going bigger will work, but if you go too big, you lose a lot more heat in the headspace and a lot more wort to inefficient draining.

Edit: I forgot my usual plug for Bobby M's all grain primer. Really helps you figure it out the first time around:

http://www.suebob.com/brew/Bobby_Mallgrainprimer.pdf

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Old 08-09-2012, 02:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardyexfor
All I do for my water is run it through a cheap purifier to remove chlorine, but we have pretty good water where I live (Redmond, OR).
Hey, a local! I'm in Bend.
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Old 08-09-2012, 03:44 PM   #6
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A ball valve on your strike/sparge water kettle will make for easier and safer transfer of hot water. You might need to raise your burner so the valve is higher than you mash tun. Doing this made my brew days much easier and safer.

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Old 08-09-2012, 05:34 PM   #7
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I'd skip the thermometer, sight glass and ball valve on the kettle and put it on the hlt. Strike and sparge temps and volumes are more critical IMHO. I use a cpvc manifold in a 40quart rectangular cooler with great results. It's good to about 19lbs of grain at 1pound per quart ratio. While I originally intended on fly sparging after achieving 75% eff. with a single batch sparge I really couldn't justify the extra time and work for a handful of eff points. I wouldn't sweat the lifting as its easier to lift 5 gallons to waist height than it is to climb a ladder with five gallons to the top tier of a brew tree.

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Old 08-10-2012, 12:20 AM   #8
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Wow, thanks for the support and info. Im sure I could get by without any fancy valves but I have this sever alergic reaction to pain that causes my eyes to water, nose to run and breathing to become erratic and gasping, so trying to pour hot liquid out of large pots just does not seem wise. Valve, and sight glass make sense on the HLT, and that pot has thermometer port in the lid. I still think I will put a valve on the boil kettle just to make it easier to drain into either bucket or carboy depending on what is empty that day lol. Im also thinking that a sightglass on the boil kettle will help figure out volumes...... Will just depend on price I guess. As for the MLT I aggree that 70 QT is over kill, but around here they are around the same price if not less than a 40QT round cooler, and all the 50 QT range rectangle ones I can find have those stupid wheels on the side with the drain between them and I dont like that setup. Will Just have to keep my eyes open for a good sale and grab some parts. On thing I forgot to mention in the original post is I am thinking about just getting some copper tubing and making an immersion chiller, unless I find a good sale at the LHBS.

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Old 08-10-2012, 04:28 PM   #9
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I made my own IC, you just need the copper, some plastic hose, hose clamps, and a female garden hose adapter.

And to answer the question in the title of your post: no, you're not crazy. But I recommend that you don't get too fancy with your first couple recipes, try a blonde or standard bitter and concentrate more on your process, volumes, temps, etc. And don't neglect your yeast or fermentation temps!

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Old 08-10-2012, 04:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hogwash View Post
A ball valve on your strike/sparge water kettle will make for easier and safer transfer of hot water. You might need to raise your burner so the valve is higher than you mash tun. Doing this made my brew days much easier and safer.
Agreed... it makes life so much easier "knowing" how much water you have.

I have a tier-system and would have to get up on a ladder all the time. andPutting water in it was tough until I built a Water-Delivery-System it.

All PVC...
I connect the hose to a hose connector on the bottom
It has a "T" about half way up with a regular brass faucet
Above that a valve
Above that a straight piece that connects to a 90 degree turn -Straight piece –90 degree turn
And finally a straight piece down in to the Hot Water kettle


Using the valve I can look at the sightglass and start filling by turning it on..
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