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Old 04-17-2010, 01:33 AM   #1

I've done twenty-some batches so far; about 2/3 Brewhouse and Festa Brew kits and the remainder extract kits from Northern Brewer and a local supplier. I've got a few NB lagers left to do, but my days of kits and extracts are drawing to an end.

So given that Northern Brewer is having a 10% off sale ending in a few days and I have been procrastinating taking the AG plunge, the time has come. I know enough about brewing to understand just how little I know!

That's where y'all come in. The equipment I do have has been good for my purposes, but it seems likely I will have to upgrade to do AG. The question is, what do I really need to get to the next step? I'm fairly certain I can get by with what I have: basically a SS 22 quart pot I've been using for small boils on my stove. Deathbrewer's stovetop AG method would be achieveable for me.

But I'm interested in putting together a system that I'll be happy with in the long term and that will help me get better and better beer as I gain experience and knowledge. I think that starts with having the capacity to do full boils, so I am looking at at least an 8 and perhaps a 10 gallon good quality kettle. Along that I need a BoilerMaker? Megapot? Polarware? A false bottom for the kettle?

The next issue I think I have relates to sparging. I've been working my way through the "no sparge" thread. I guess I need some advice on whether to pick up (or build) something like the NB deluxe AG system with two coolers, false bottom, valves, hozes, etc. Once again, though it's possible to brew (and probably make great beers) without all the extras, do I increase my upside potential with a "better" system? Do I make my brewday easier?

Any words of advice that can be offered are greatly appreciated.

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Old 04-17-2010, 01:42 AM   #2
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I believe that you will need at a minimum:

MLT (I have a 10 gallon Igloo with false bottom)
7.5 gallon pot (or bigger) and burner

That's about it. You can use the 22 quart pot to heat up sparge water. If you batch sparge, no reason to get the second cooler or a sparge arm. My first AG set up (which I still use for decoction mashes and small batches when I'm not using my HERMS) is this:

I KNOW it's ugly! I did eventually get a nicer pot, and added a 5 gallon cooler for an HLT. There are some great pots out there- polarware, Blichmann, etc. But think about your goals. Are you going to want a keggle? What about doing 10 gallon batches? I wouldn't buy an expensive pot until you knew what you wanted to have in the future. An inexpensive turkery fryer can be used, and then you can use the 30 quart pot later on to heat sparge water, if you want.

You can do AG with a bare minimum of equipment. I'd start with an "upgradable" MLT. I think a 10 gallon MLT would be great- for "big" beers on 5 gallon batches, or medium OG-sized 10 gallon batches. That would be my first investment. Then the pot and burner. Make that decision based on your future goals. While an HLT and second cooler isn't a waste of money, I still rarely use an HLT if I'm batch sparging. It's just quicker to heat and dump the water into the MLT.
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Old 04-17-2010, 03:36 AM   #3

Thanks Yooper. I found another thread that was helpful as well, at least from a philosophy-of-building-your-system standpoint:

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