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Old 02-12-2013, 11:14 PM   #1
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Default Planning ahead, brew pot/mash tun?

Still have not yet bought all of my equipment yet but will likely get started shortly. I am just planning ahead a little and I am wondering if it really is wise to start off with a 5 gallon brew pot for my kitchen gas stove? I am thinking an all grain beer is the ultimate goal and perhaps I am missing something, but couldn't one do an all grain 5 gallon recipe with an 8 gallon brew pot that doubles as a mash tun? Am I missing something, or couldn't one do everything in one larger pot on the stove pot and then drain it into your fermentation pail, pitch your yeast and be done with it?

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Old 02-12-2013, 11:30 PM   #2
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If you are going all grain, you cant really do it all in one pot, you need another to drain the wort into.
Get a cheap cooler and change out the spigot for a ball valve and mesh screen.

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Old 02-13-2013, 12:40 AM   #3
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A lot of new all grain brewers start out with a single larger pot, using the Brew In A Bag (BIAB) method. I myself did this for 15 batches after switching to all grain brewing and it worked great. It's a lower initial investment in money (arguably) and complexity (certainly) than other all grain methods such as the cooler and pot combo, and is pretty simple to get started. You'll definitely want to go bigger though. For a 5 gallon BIAB batch, you'll want at least a 10 gallon pot (I went 11). This 11 gallon pot will also handle your smaller extract partial boils just fine if you want to start that way. It might look a little funny sitting on your kitchen stove, but it'll work fine as long as your boil volume isn't too large for your burner size.

You're doing well to think ahead about how you might repurpose your first generation of equipment into the future. If you started with an 11gal pot for example you could do extract, partial mash, or BIAB full boil all grain batches in it. You could also use it as your HLT and or Boil kettle in conjunction with a cooler MLT as Britinusa suggested above if you wanted to go that route. Even after I built my single tier 3 kettle brewing rig, I was still using my original BIAB pot as my MLT. I only recently retired it.

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Old 02-13-2013, 12:42 AM   #4
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Stupid me! I forgot about the BIAB method.

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Old 02-13-2013, 12:51 AM   #5
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You could do all-grain with a five-gallon pot and a three-gallon MLT if you really wanted to. You would just be limited on the gravity-to-volume that you wanted to do. For example, I have a 7.5g pot and a 5g MLT, but I can't do beers over 1.060 because I can't handle that much volume for a five gallon batch. But if I wanted to do 3g batches, I could pull out beers around 1.100.

Now, I could NOT do a 5g BIAB in my 7.5g pot, because the grain and the water it absorbs is hugemongous. If you're planning on doing BIAB you're going to need a bigger boat. 13lbs of grain takes up almost 5g in volume alone, let alone all the water you need.

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Old 02-13-2013, 01:29 AM   #6
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There are great all SS 10G or larger pots on e-bay, they look very solid for the price. Get on the homebrewfinds e-mail list, they have incredible deals.

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Old 02-13-2013, 01:32 AM   #7
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All right then. So if the cooler-made-mash tun is the way to go, then what size brew pot should I be looking at as an optimal size if I don't plan to do anything more than 5 gallon batches anytime in the near or foreseeable future? Like most, I am obviously on a budget, but I do like to plan ahead, so I don't need to spend the money on a huge brew pot if I am not going to need to volume because I use a rubbermaid cooler for mash.

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Old 02-13-2013, 02:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keqwow View Post
All right then. So if the cooler-made-mash tun is the way to go, then what size brew pot should I be looking at as an optimal size if I don't plan to do anything more than 5 gallon batches anytime in the near or foreseeable future? Like most, I am obviously on a budget, but I do like to plan ahead, so I don't need to spend the money on a huge brew pot if I am not going to need to volume because I use a rubbermaid cooler for mash.
I started doing all grain 5 gallon brews with a cooler mashtun and a 8 gallon brew pot. However, if you go 10 gallons for your brew pot you can do 5 gallon BIAB sessions w/o needing to use the mashtun cooler. This is nice to have in the winter since I brew in my garage and I don't want to carry the mashtun indoors to keep warm. Thus, if you can afford a 10 gallon pot then you will not need to get anything bigger for doing BIAB or for higher gravity brews using the mashtun cooler.

This is the first 10 gallon brew kettle I bought.

http://www.amazon.com/Winware-Profes...luminum+kettle
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Old 02-13-2013, 02:36 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Keqwow View Post
All right then. So if the cooler-made-mash tun is the way to go, then what size brew pot should I be looking at as an optimal size if I don't plan to do anything more than 5 gallon batches anytime in the near or foreseeable future? Like most, I am obviously on a budget, but I do like to plan ahead, so I don't need to spend the money on a huge brew pot if I am not going to need to volume because I use a rubbermaid cooler for mash.
Well, what kind of beer do you like? That's the ultimate decider. Like I said earlier, if I want to be pure grain with my 5g MLT and 7.5g pot, I'm limited to 1.060. For a lot of people that's fine but I love IIPAs so I tend to throw in a pound of DME to up my OG to around 1.08. Which is not a big deal.

So, for MOST beers, a 5g MLT is fine, which you can buy and build for around $45 (or less!). Plus the pot, which is whatever you can find. My 7.5g is great, if not a little bit scary, at a full 6.5-7g boil. Boilovers can occur but if you're quick with a rag you'll have no mess to scare SWMBO.

The biggest problem with a boil that size is heat. Are you doing it on a stove top? If so, is it gas or electric? I use my main burner plus a heat stick I built for around $20 to get my boil vigorous.

So that's ~$65+pot for a full boil, all-grain, 5g batch. After you have all that, you can do 5g of most beers for $25-$35 bucks.

The initial investment is a bummer. But once you get to the point where you don't actually need anything, and can just go to LHBS and buy grains hops and yeast, it is a major plus.
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Old 02-13-2013, 03:12 AM   #10
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I recently made the leap into AG brewing, so the gearing-up part was not so long ago.

I already had an extra chest cooler (50qt) that was up in the attic, so that became my mash tun with the addition of a CPVC manifold and a valve in place of the drain plug. Conversion cost was less than $20. It holds temp very, very well during a 60-minute mash.

I double batch sparge, so I don't need the hot liquor tank (or fly sparge drizzler) I had made, just an extra pot to heat water in preparation for the second sparge. My first sparge water (near boiling) gets heated up in my brew kettle and I catch first wort runnings in a bottling bucket.

Figure your pre-boil volume is going to be about 7 gallons so buy at least an 8-gallon brew pot. I got a 9-gallon with couplings for a thermometer (nice to have) and a 1/2" SS ball valve (super nice to have).

Oh, if you don't already have one, a wort chiller is a must-have when doing full-volume boils. Buy or build one.

Good luck with this.
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