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Old 05-27-2010, 05:52 AM   #1
BigJefe
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Default What is the next step?

So I'm a new brewer (batch 4 will be brewed in the near future) and I'm looking to invest into some new equipment...

The two areas I'm looking at are either a chest freezer and temp controller to better control fermentation temps or equip to start brewing all grain. My current fermentation area is a closet dead center in my house (coastal San Diego) that stays right around 72 degrees without much effort.

Which would be a better direction to head in the interest of improving brew quality? Eventually I know I'll have both, but I'm hoping to have some help deciding which step to take first.

Thanks,
Jeff


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Old 05-27-2010, 06:10 AM   #2
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Jefe,

I went with the keezer first which gave me great versatility as I could keg and also control fermentation temps with the regulator. And I was able to lager which you don't want to do at 72F

However, in the name of cost, it is very reasonable to go AG depending on how you do it. If you invest in a $20 - $40 cooler you can get started with another approx $15 in parts. This would allow you to take your brewing to the next level for a very modest price and your fermentation could still be accomplished with your 70F closet.

And you can save a little dough with AG recipes and use that towards ur freezer and regulator to get your kegging setup rocking! But it really doesn't matter because sooner or later all of your money will end up in this hobby eventually. Its just a matter of time


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Old 05-27-2010, 02:59 PM   #3
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Yeah I forgot that kegging would be an added bonus...
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Old 05-27-2010, 03:09 PM   #4
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I'd go with the chest freezer and temperature controller - there was a recent thread in one of the forums where someone polled the group at large about the #1 thing they would suggest to improve the quality of their beer, and the answer was overwhelmingly fermentation temperature control. AG is great, but excellent beers can be made with extract, full boils, and good fermentation temperature control. With the freezer, you won't be restricted to styles with yeast that operate at 72F.
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Old 05-27-2010, 04:22 PM   #5
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Yeah, if it is QUALITY that you want to improve, proper and consistent fermentation temps. is more critical than AG vs. Extract.
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Old 05-27-2010, 04:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendBrewer View Post
Yeah, if it is QUALITY that you want to improve, proper and consistent fermentation temps. is more critical than AG vs. Extract.
I totally agree. Personally I'd go with the temp control. Plus there's the added benefit of being able to use that chest freezer as a lagering chamber/keezer etc when you're not fermenting anything and if you go for kegging gear eventually.

However, to some people the recipe formulation part of brewing is the most important and fun. If that is you, then going all-grain will give you the freedom to mess around with grain selection, crush level, mash temp/fermentability etc.

I went all grain before I had temp control, but only did two batches before finding a used minifridge and gutting it. Temp control makes it all better, and I spent less than $125 on my set up (one carboy at a time).
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:36 PM   #7
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AG is so cheap to get set up for, depending on what you have that could already be used for AG, like a large kettle and burner, and an old cooler, etc.

You could always use a swamp cooler to drop the temps down a bit more.

Now if you had temps in the 80s, or wanted to brew Lagers, then the temp control woudl be the obvious choice.


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