I'm an ex all grain brewer coming back after a 5 year lapse ! I like to brew lagers and fruit beers. I also make fruit wines.
My equipment was less than optimal and I'm trying to figure out what I should improve before I start brewing.
I've got 4 Sanke kegs. I cut the tops off of two and I use them as brewing pots. I have 2 untouched kegs. I have 2 propane burners for my pots.
I use one keg as the boil keg and the other as the hot water tank.
I use a rectangular cooler as my lautner tun. I have a copper tube pickup in the bottom of it which I covered with a plastic screen.
I have a small centrifugal variable speed pump that I use to circulate the sparge water through a heat exchanger coil in the HLT. The coil is a bit on the small side and I have to do a bit too much circulation to keep the temps up. I haven't had any problem with stuck sparges, but I think I get more oxidation than I should.
I have a counterflow chiller. It seems to work well.
I have 4 corny kegs.
I've tried fermenting in them with mixed results. I find they are too small and I don't like cleaning them through the small lids. I think a lot of beer gets wasted trying to rack using the pickup tubes. I've made custom pickup tubes.
I have 2 plastic fermenting buckets. I guess they work OK for primary fermentation. I've been using carboys for secondary fermentation.
I hate racking because I hate syphoning when things get plugged up and the flow stops. I hate using the pump because I think it oxidizes the beer. I wanted to use the corny kegs and CO2 to force it from one keg to another but there is too much loss and such.
I have a small peristatlic pump from work. I haven't used it yet, but I think it might make a great pump for sparging and for racking. It will probably be too slow for racking, maybe for sparging too. I don't like using my centrifugal pump because I think it makes the liquor too turbulent and foamy and thus oxidized.
The peristaltic pump very similar to 43045K36 at www.mcmastercarr.com
The centrifugal pump is like item 5771233 at www.princessauto.com
. I run it with a dimmer switch, which allows variable speed operation.
I've also got a residential water filter setup that I use for filtering beer and wine. And I have a home made counter pressure bottle filler.
I have a 20lb CO2 cylinder and a regulator. My tank has expired, so I would have to replace it. OUCH ! I am wondering if one can get a small CO2 cylinder like the paintball guys use.
So, if you were me, what would you change about my setup ?
I'm on a wife imposed budget. But she likes the beers and wines I make with my equipment. I have a machine shop with lathe and milling machine and stick welder. I don't have access to a tig welder. Nor a mig, but I am thinking of buying one. I'm a good stick welder.