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mrdonbonjovi 03-10-2010 03:01 PM

Upgrading Brewing Equipment
 
Hello everyone, I've been reading around here the past couple of days and decided to make my first post.
My girlfriend got me started with a Mr. Beer kit a couple of months ago but I've been thinking about upgrading to a bigger setup that lets me start to brew larger and more diverse batches. But I had a couple questions for you guys.

1. Carboy or Food Grade Bucket from a local hardware store? Is there any disadvantage to using a bucket for a primary and secondary fermenter? It seems much cheaper. Just need to drill a hole in the lid for an air lock. I would end up getting 3 of the same size buckets (primary, secondary, and bottling buckets drilled and a spigot inserted). Also what gal size is the best?

2. What size pot for boiling?

Grimm 03-10-2010 03:11 PM

I think these questions can be answered with one simple question to you. What size batches do you plan to brew? if you are going for 5 gallon batches, then 6.5 to 7 gallon buckets would be good. And I would say a minimum of a 5 gallon brew pot. Although with that size brew pot you probably won't be doing full boils. I have a 6 gallon glass carboy, although the Plastic "better bottle" carboys are cheap and just as good.

152Sumo 03-10-2010 03:14 PM

I think the advantages to using plastic is that it is cheaper, lighter, and easier to clean. I think the normal for bucket size is 6, or 6.5 gal.

For kettle size, I use a 4 gal. I think most people are going to say go with the biggest you can afford. Full boil would be better than partial. I am happy with my current setup.

Mirage 03-10-2010 03:16 PM

First off, welcome to the forum! Are you planning on doing 5 gal batches? Extract batches? If yes to both of those, we bought a SS 24 qt pot from Amazon which allowed us to do a full boil (have to be careful!) on a gas stove. As for fermenters, bottling buckets and secondaries, buckets work great! We are currently using them as fermenters and bottling buckets. The only drawback is that you can't see what is going on inside (more for me because I would like to watch the yeasties). You don't have to worry about them breaking and slicing and if they get scratched, they are inexpensive and you can easily buy more. That said, if you want plastic and clear Better Bottles are nice, albeit a little pricey. Get 6.5 gallon buckets, they will give you the headroom so you won't have crazy blowoff. Good luck and keep us posted!

mrdonbonjovi 03-10-2010 03:31 PM

I would like to eventually move on to making enough beer to fill a homebrew keg (how many gallons?). So I think that answers my own question on bucket sizes. From my understanding the brew pot doesn't need to be as big as the buckets since water makes up most of the volume in the fermenter the volume of the wort that is boiled is a lot less?

For those of you that used buckets for the fermenters:
1. No modification to the bucket (I plan to siphon), just add a airlock to the lid?
2. I can use the same lid from primary to secondary?
3. Any advantage to using a lid like this opposed to the standard bucket lid?

Mirage 03-10-2010 04:11 PM

Save yourself the trouble and just get a regular lid and drill a hole. A "homebrew keg" is a corny and holds 5 gallons. Yes, just add an airlock. You will make better beer if you can do a full boil (boil the entire volume together). Thus the larger pot. If you are brewing on an electric stove though, it may be hard to get that much wort boiling. The standard advice (already stated) is to get the biggest one you can, as at some point you may want to do partial mashes or go all grain and will have to have a bigger pot anyways. We sorta listened to this and have the 24 qt. Although we are going all grain and are getting MUCH bigger kettles anyways. Have a nice big soup pot now. :)

Homercidal 03-10-2010 05:00 PM

What I would do in your case is to at LEAST get an Ale Pail or equivalent from a homebrew store. With lid. I think the place down the road sells them for $12 a bucket and $2 for a lid. They are nice and have the gallons marked off on the side.

I would also spring for a kettle large enough to do full boils if you can. Stainless or Aluminum. (hint: turkey fryers come with aluminum kettles that are pretty good and inexpensive) If you don't want to spend the money on a large kettle, look into late extract additions.

I would consider looking at a "kit" of homebrewing equipment from a homebrew shop. you will get the bucket or carboy, and lots of other stuff that make homebrewing better and easier. A basic kit runs under $100 and a nice one for a little over.

Grimm 03-10-2010 05:10 PM

I'm new to the brewing process and I like mirage am already looking for a larger brew pot. I'm probably going to go for a 10gallon pot. I feel this should allow me to do foil boils safely without running too much of a risk of boil over I'm also looking at pots with the ball valve and thermometer. I just don't want to have to buy another pot for a long long time.

Mirage 03-10-2010 05:25 PM

Yea, I like Homer's suggestion. We purchased the kit (2 buckets, one with a spigot, capper, bottling wand, hose, racking cane etc) from Midwest supplies for like $80. It is a great place to start. Get a larger pot, we paid like $45 for our 24 qt. It will be fine for you for full boil extract and we used it for our Partials too (in conjuction with the cheap enameled lobster pot that everyone has in their basement). You won't regret it and if you are really serious about it, buy some kegs and start cutting (that is the route we are going). Grimm, you should look into that too. We have gotten 3 kegs so far and the most expensive one was $35. 15.5 gallons and just need tops cut and bulkheads ($26). Nice way to go for an inexpensive kettle.

loxnar 03-10-2010 05:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mrdonbonjovi (Post 1935474)
I would like to eventually move on to making enough beer to fill a homebrew keg (how many gallons?). So I think that answers my own question on bucket sizes. From my understanding the brew pot doesn't need to be as big as the buckets since water makes up most of the volume in the fermenter the volume of the wort that is boiled is a lot less?

For those of you that used buckets for the fermenters:
1. No modification to the bucket (I plan to siphon), just add a airlock to the lid?
2. I can use the same lid from primary to secondary?
3. Any advantage to using a lid like this opposed to the standard bucket lid?

dont siphon it with your mouth =(


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