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Old 02-11-2013, 01:37 AM   #1
jphalabuk
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Default Need some advice about what's next

Hi All,
I have found this to be a very generous and helpful group.
I have been brewing for 8 or 9 months now. My first couple brews were okay, but I have done 5 or 6 really good ones (not just my opinion: my BIL is a certified beer judge and had some good things to say about my latest 4 or 5 beers). I no longer use kits, but use extract recipes I find or come up with on my own. Anyway, that is just to set this up:
I have saved up a bit of cash, and I am at a crossroads. I am trying to decide whether to invest my cash in an all-grain setup or to go ahead and invest in a kegging setup. Here are the facts:
I have been brewing extract with specialty grains. I like that I can do the whole thing in a couple hours, but as I am interested in seeing how good I can make them, all-grain appeals to me. It probably requires a double-cooler setup and a larger brew pot, as well as perhaps a gas burner (I presently use my electric cooktop, but I am not 100% sure I can get 7 gallons of wort to boil).
My favorite beers tend to be ones that would be good on nitro. So a kegging setup would likely involve a tap or two on nitro and another tap or two on CO2. So, say, four kegs to start, and nitro and CO2 systems, as well as a fridge for my beer.
So you have probably heard this question 100 times, but what would you recommend as my next step, kegging or all-grain? I have two friends who are veterans of the home brew thing, and they are split. One says my money is better spent getting set up with kegs so I can enjoy my beers on draft and so I don't have to bottle any more. The other says my presently good beers will be great once I get used to doing it all myself, and that kegging can wait until next year.
Thanks for the help, folks, I know this is the place to go for info.

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Old 02-11-2013, 01:23 PM   #2
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I guess that depends if you'd rather keg your beer or start brewing all-grain. I went to all-grain first and then to kegging. A basic all-grain system for me was a lot cheaper than the kegerator I'm building, so the cost of the two choices may not be comparable. My transition to all-grain involved a cooler mash tun and a burner (I already had a wort chiller and large enough pot).

I really enjoyed the transition to all-grain, it gives you a lot more control over your beer and I find it to be a lot more enjoyable and rewarding than brewing with extracts. In your case, you'll most likely need a propane burner (or electric elements if you want to go electric). I highly doubt your electric stove can boil 7 gallons, I know my gas cooktop cannot boil that much liquid. You may also be able to use a single cooler setup, that's what I do; my boil kettle doubles as my HLT.

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Old 02-11-2013, 01:42 PM   #3
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This is just me, but ... if I had a chunk o' money, I would go kegging. It's easier to transition into all-grain with incremental purchases (which is how I did it); I think that with kegging it's pretty tough to use half a system, you need the whole shebang.

The good news is, whichever way you decide to go, you'll have fun with it so it can't be bad!

Cheers,

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Old 02-11-2013, 01:49 PM   #4
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I agree that kegs would be more costly than going all grain, but having never considered going to kegs I am not sure exactly what they cost to set up. I can tell you my all grain set up simply was not that much money including the burners I would say $300 maybe $350 if you include the fermenting buckets.

I would ask myself this question:

How much do I hate bottling compared to how much I want control over the beer?

For me it was a control thing (being a control freak) so I went to all grain after 1 extract batch.

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Old 02-11-2013, 02:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewerinBR View Post
I would ask myself this question:

How much do I hate bottling compared to how much I want control over the beer?
This. After one batch of bottling with an auto-siphon, I was ready for something better. I went the keg route, then all grain.

I find myself getting back to some bottling, but only to give some away to friends and family. If you decide to go AG first, make sure you get a bottle tree and ported bucket to hold you over.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:33 PM   #6
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I guess I do not see the cost of going all grain that others see. Granted I went all grain from the first batch and was able to do so with mostly stuff I already had. The only bits I had to buy were a nipple and a valve for the cooler that I used for a mash tun.

But I just upgraded to a ten gallon mash tun and was well under 50 bucks with it. And the difference I think between a all grain kit and a extract kit will pay that 50 bucks off in ten batches I guess.

No for me I would think it would be a time thing. A couple weeks ago I did my first extract batch and was blown away by how fast it went. If time is a issue then extract is the way to go for sure

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Old 02-11-2013, 02:37 PM   #7
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No for me I would think it would be a time thing. A couple weeks ago I did my first extract batch and was blown away by how fast it went. If time is a issue then extract is the way to go for sure
I see this a lot.

Just did my first AG. It added maybe an hour or hour and a half. I figured it would add more, but I was heating the strike water while conditioning and milling, heating the sparge water while mashing, and that means the 13 gallons into the kettle went in above 160F. It certainly shortened my lag time on the way to boiling, and I did the pre-heating on the stove, where I was able to use more of my cheaper Natural Gas and less of the my more expensive Propane outdoors.

To balance out the extra time commitment a bit, I doubled my batch size. One 10g AG batch is still way faster than two 5g extract batches.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:51 PM   #8
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I don't see the conundrum here. Doing AG doesn't require a full boil or expensive equipment. You can do either do smaller batches and full boil, or prepare a higher gravity wort and dilute going into the fermenter. And BIAB AG brewing only requires a Nylon Paint Strainer bag in addition to whatever you are currently using.

It's pretty easy to give AG a try and see how you like it. If you think it's something you want to continue doing, you can then start upgrading your equipment to include a large kettle and burner, or Cooler Mash Tun, etc. No need to spend the $$ now just to find out that the extra time and effort isn't worth it to you.

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