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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Do I have what it takes to do AG?
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Old 07-11-2010, 04:36 AM   #1
mmonacel
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Default Do I have what it takes to do AG?

Grit, determination, and a willingness to drink excellent beer: check.

Now does my equipment plan allow me to go AG? I'm a newbie looking to go AG from PM. I like to mostly brew IPAs and IIPA / Barleywines. I'm doing 5 gal batches now. Not sure I'll ever move to 10 gal., but I'd like to keep that option open w/o bringing keggles into the system just yet. Below is my plan - where are the holes?

Two tier system:
  • 10 gal. Gott cooler for HLT
  • 10 gal. Gott cooler for MLT w/ stainless false bottom
  • 10 gal. brew kettle
  • 1 burner
  • 1 march pump
  • hoses / fittings / valves, etc.

I'm looking to do a single temperature infusion mashes.

Questions:
  1. Can I heat the mash water in the brew kettle and pump up to the HLT, and gravity feed down to the MLT for the mash. Then while the mash happens, heat up my sparge water and pump to the HLT. Then just sparge, recirculate, and drain into the brew kettle?
  2. I see a lot of systems with multiple burners. While I figure this surely is easier to directly heat each unit to a specific temperature, can I get away with one burner without pulling my hair out?
  3. If I got to 10 gal. batches I'm sure I'll need to replace my boil kettle, but will the Gott coolers and/or the rest of this system essentially be rendered useless?
  4. Any concerns I should have about using 10 gal Gotts when I'm only going to be doing 5 gal. batches? I've heard about insulating the HLT with a floating piece of foam insulation. I'm good with that, but any other concerns through the system?

Thanks so much in advance for your time and advice.


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Old 07-11-2010, 05:22 AM   #2
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I use the same equipment you have so its possible. In regards to your first question I follow the same idea but use my pump for all my liquid transfers. I have what I call a "knock down single tier system".

If you upgrade to 10 gallon batches you can still brew beer but you probably won't be able to bang out any barleywines or imperial stouts; you'll probably need a large mash tun for that.

I don't insulate my mash tun, just preheat and you're good to go.


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Old 07-11-2010, 06:43 PM   #3
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I've been doing all-grain for about a year and have done about 15 batches I would guess. You have a lot more stuff already than I still have at this point...... From your list you definately look good to go.

I have 1 burner
ten gallon pot
MLT
HLT (recently acquired in past 2 or so batches)
Chiller

[*]Can I heat the mash water in the brew kettle and pump up to the HLT, and gravity feed down to the MLT for the mash. Then while the mash happens, heat up my sparge water and pump to the HLT. Then just sparge, recirculate, and drain into the brew kettle?

You could but why not just pump or dump your strike water right into the MLT once it reaches temp?

[*]I see a lot of systems with multiple burners. While I figure this surely is easier to directly heat each unit to a specific temperature, can I get away with one burner without pulling my hair out?

Definately can "get away" with one burner. It's not bad at all. Especially since you have an HLT to hold your sparge water once it reaches temp.

[*]If I got to 10 gal. batches I'm sure I'll need to replace my boil kettle, but will the Gott coolers and/or the rest of this system essentially be rendered useless?

No advice on this one. Strictly five gallon brewer here.

[*]Any concerns I should have about using 10 gal Gotts when I'm only going to be doing 5 gal. batches? I've heard about insulating the HLT with a floating piece of foam insulation. I'm good with that, but any other concerns through the system?


No real concerns. My HLT warped a little from holding strike water of 185. The MLT has not warped but I'm guessing that's just because the mash temp is in the 150's.

As far as the floating insulator, I wouldn't bother with it. I use a 10 gallon cooler and do small mashes in it (5 gallon, 1.05 beers) and have never lost more than a degree over the duration of a 60 minute mash (evening opening it 1 or 2 times to give it a stir).
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Old 07-11-2010, 07:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrinksWellWithOthers View Post
I have what I call a "knock down single tier system".
Thanks for the insight. What makes the system a "knock down system"? Is it b/c it's easy to take a part / reassemble?
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Old 07-11-2010, 07:25 PM   #5
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Thanks Yeast Infection! (man... that just doesn't sound right...)
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Old 07-11-2010, 08:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmonacel View Post
Thanks for the insight. What makes the system a "knock down system"? Is it b/c it's easy to take a part / reassemble?
I consider it a knock down single tier system because its not stationary and I have to set it up every time I brew but the principle is the same. It consists of a fold up table which I put my HLT and MLT on and I set up my kettle and burner next to it. It'll become a stationary rig once I have more space.
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:01 PM   #7
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I love your setup, you'll do fine.

Some things to keep in mind, if you do 10 gallon batches, you're right, you'll need a larger BK, 15 gal. As far as mashing in 10 gallons, personally, Ive never made a 10 gallon batch above 1.060 (since those tend to move slowly and I dont want 10 whole gallons of it) and have had no problem mashing in 10 gallons sub 1.060 in my 10gallon cooler.

You'll be great with the HLT cooler, personally when I started I went with HLT/BK in one as I would only do 1 batch per day, that worked out great. The HLT would be more awesome if you had the ability to control the temp in it instead of maintain temp. Have you given any thought to going electric with it? Even a 120v 1500w heatstick (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/heat...wesome-142803/) would be great. It'd give you the ability to raise and maintain your temp for your mash schedule.

Just my 2c, but your system is better than mine, and Ive been doing AG for 2 years now
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:19 PM   #8
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You can always Brew in a Bag.


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