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Old 08-18-2010, 01:03 PM   #1
dhoerr
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Default making upgrades to equipment

I came into about 120-150$ to spend on anything I want related to brewing. (did a job and have been forbidden to put the money towards anything in our tight budget by SWMBO... I've got no issues with that! )

What I've got so far is the better basic starter kit from Northern Brewer w/ the 6gal better bottle carboy option. When I bought the kit I went ahead and got the belgian style 750ml bottles w. corks/cages thinking that I could save my chimay and brewer's art bottles and have a nice style to my "product." Little did I know that you couldn't cork the bottles with a rubber mallet, so I ended up getting the colonna corker/capper as recommended in some thread I found here on HBT.

My question is which pieces of my equipment should I be looking to upgrade first?

  • I brew in a 10-15qt pot which I know is WAY too small as it barely holds a 2.5 gallon boil.
  • I have a cellar, but the floor temp is 70 and the ambient temp is probably more like 75. I've been taking readings every day of the waterbath my fermenter is in down there and it seems to hover around 72-75. I have a box fan set up to blow across the surface and aid in evaporation. I feel like building a "son of fermentation cooler" might be a good investment.
  • I'd also like to get another carboy to enable me to get some longer beers going (we love us some tripel) while still being able to continue bolstering my stockpile of homebrew....

there's so much stuff! I know I don't need everything but I just can't decide which direction to go in. thoughts?

also, is a pot like this really worth the 120$?! http://www.amazon.com/30qt-Polarware-Kettle-Valve-Thermometer/dp/B003EWPCSG/ref=pd_sim_ol_16
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:07 PM   #2
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I'd go with the bigger pot first. It's something that will improve your beers without much effort. Next would be a wort chiller if you don't currently have one, and then worry about fermentation temps.

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Old 08-18-2010, 01:55 PM   #3
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That pot is pretty nice looking, but personally I would buy a cheap 5 gal pot for like $20 and spend the rest on building a fermentation chamber.

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Old 08-18-2010, 02:05 PM   #4
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my recommendation would be to get a better pot to work with. you can generally get a turkey frier combo at homedepot for $60ish and you can use that pot for brewing (dependent upon what it's made of) and that way you wont have to use your oven, if thats what you were doing in the first place. With your remaining dollars, get some copper piping, a basic pipe-bender, hose, and make yourself an immersion chiller.

if i had $150, thats what i'd do.

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Old 08-18-2010, 04:15 PM   #5
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thanks guys, a pot it is! I'll definitely check out home depot for that fryer combo. Maybe I'll find a way to make the remainder stretch into an immersion chiller and second carboy or bucket.

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Old 08-18-2010, 04:28 PM   #6
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good luck!

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Old 08-18-2010, 09:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhoerr View Post
thanks guys, a pot it is! I'll definitely check out home depot for that fryer combo. Maybe I'll find a way to make the remainder stretch into an immersion chiller and second carboy or bucket.
Go with a bucket (to save money) unless you're planning on aging something more than a few months. I've left beers in secondary for 3 months in a bucket and had no issues.
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:05 PM   #8
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My two cents, I'd check craigslist for a refrigerator or freezer and buy a thermostat. I think this was the best investment I made for that similar amount of money. Set it and forget it and have control +/- 1 degree.

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Old 08-19-2010, 06:58 PM   #9
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If it were me I'd get the bigger pot first. The turkey fryer type pot that the other guys mentioned probably isn't a bad idea. It depends on if you care what the pot is made out of. A lot of times the pots are aluminum. Some guys don't like brewing with aluminum. A 30qt or so stainless pot is usually in the range of $60-$80.

After that, I would look into temp control. Craigslist is a great resource for refrigerators, and the temp contollers are something like $50-$80 depending on what kind you get.

I'd skip the extra carboy, unless you plan on doing a bunch of lagers, or you are brewing every couple of weeks.

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