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Old 10-06-2011, 01:50 PM   #1
Mar 2011
Athens, GA
Posts: 8

I have been extract brewing for almost a year now using just the beginner stuff I bought for my first batch (5 gallon kettle, plastic bucket and carboy, and all the other little stuff). I can't get my mind off brewing and am eager to start all-grain ASAP. Can you guys please help me figure out what I need to get started? For monetary reasons and because I'd rather make lots of smaller batches than fewer big batches, I want to stick to 5 gallons at least for a while.

1. I assume I need a 10 gallon cooler rather than a 5 gallon cooler? Does that leave too much air space in the tun that will make it harder to temp control? Is is possible/practical to use a 5 gallon cooler?

2. How big should my kettle be? I'm guessing at least 8 gallons but I'd love to get some input from people who have done it a lot and know how big you should go to maximize efficiency and reduce any chance of boil-over.

3. Anything else I need that I am overlooking? Eventually it would be awesome to get an awesome HERMS set up, but for now is a cooler and bigger kettle enough to make the switch? I don't care about the stuff that isn't absolutely essential- I'll get there eventually but for now I just want to get started with what I can afford.

Thanks in advance for your help!! Cheers.

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Old 10-06-2011, 02:23 PM   #2
hopsalot's Avatar
Sep 2007
Corpus, Texas
Posts: 1,553
Liked 18 Times on 17 Posts

1. no, you will need a ten gallon
2. 8 gal will work, watch for boil overs, when shooting for a final volume of 5 gal, figure you will have 6 in your boil kettle
3. you will need another kettle for heating sparge water
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Old 10-06-2011, 02:26 PM   #3
GodsStepBrother's Avatar
Apr 2009
, Texas
Posts: 1,261
Liked 25 Times on 23 Posts

1. Look at this thread gives you a very good idea of what size mash tun you need.
Keep in mind that 5 gallon batches can use tons of grains depending on how alcoholic it is. If you like imperial beers, then get a bigger mash tun. If your thing is session beer you will not need that big of a mash tun. I would go ahead and get a bigger one from the get go that way you are not limited.

2. Eight gallons is a very good size kettle, really you only need 7 gallons. But eight would be safer. If you like imperial IPAs though you might need an 8.5 size kettle that way you can hold more wort, most recipe ask for 8 to 8.5 starting boil volume. That is really the only beer style besides some crazy barely wine recipes that will ask you to boil for hours, and start off with more wort.

3. A couple of things, make sure your current cooling method will be able to cool a bigger volume of water like 5 gallons at a time. Get some method to measure the amount of water/wort, is in your kettle so you know where your at during a boil. Get a very good thermometer, that is accurate.

Good Luck!
Hope this helped some.

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Old 10-06-2011, 02:38 PM   #4
Bensiff's Avatar
Mar 2008
, Washington, the state
Posts: 4,944
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You can get away with a 5 gallon cooler, but will be limited to around 1.060 gravity so its better to go to 40qts. I'd recommend a 10 gallon minimum kettle size as well. I did the 32 qt kettle for a few years and it was often right on the edge.

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Old 10-06-2011, 02:42 PM   #5
Feb 2009
the far far east
Posts: 142
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Use fermcaps and you can boil with less than a gallon of head space.
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Old 10-06-2011, 02:52 PM   #6
Sep 2010
Posts: 1,689
Liked 43 Times on 40 Posts

Definitely 10G cooler.

I used a 30qt pot for a while (7.5G) and did 5.5G batches. Then again, my boiloff rate wasn't very high. I use a 10G pot now, but the 7.5G was adequate.

You'll need a few other odds and ends. I use a plastic mash paddle that cost like $3 or $4. You'll need some way of collecting the wort from the MLT to kettle (tons of ways to skin that cat).

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Old 10-06-2011, 03:04 PM   #7
Mar 2011
Athens, GA
Posts: 8

Great responses, thank you so much for your help! Happy brewing!

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Old 10-06-2011, 03:09 PM   #8
Oct 2010
Hattiesburg, MS, Mississippi
Posts: 326
Liked 7 Times on 6 Posts

We have done one round of all-grain with a turkey fryer kit, a 20 dollar cooler with a valve made up to release the wort, and well....that's it.

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Old 10-06-2011, 03:42 PM   #9
Feb 2011
Clemson, SC
Posts: 1,222
Liked 121 Times on 73 Posts

10 gallon cooler for sure. Extra air space doesn't really have any effect if you preheat it properly.

8 gallon kettle minimum IMHO. That's what I have right now, and I'd definitely jump for a 10 gallon if I were to do it all over again.

And as said before, a good way to cool your wort down quickly is necessary in my opinion, also an accurate, fast acting thermometer. Some extra buckets for measuring water/holding grain are always nice to have around too.

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Old 10-06-2011, 04:58 PM   #10
Lucky_Chicken's Avatar
Jul 2011
Bloomfield, IA
Posts: 795
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im gona start with a question .... how are you planning to sparge? (batch or fly) that will have a large impact on your cooler size and other equipment. If you fly sparge you will need a HLT (something to hold hot water) to feed into the MT but your cooler can be smaller. If you batch sparge you can get away with just the pot and MT but the MT will need to be bigger to hold the intial boil volume and the grain at the same time. some way to cool and you should be in buisness

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