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Old 12-08-2011, 02:21 PM   #1
Biking_Brewer
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Sep 2011
Rochester, MN
Posts: 20
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Posted this over in the newbie section as well, but thought it could be applicable here as well.

Up to this point I've been doing full boil, extract batches using my 10 gallon Blichmann kettle and Blichmann burner. I've got my sanitation and fermentation processes locked down and my results have been great. I now want to get into all-grain, however I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the options for equipment out there.

I've considered getting a Blichmann Top Tier stand and two additional Blichmann kettles, but the idea of having the HLT above my head doesn't really excite me. I'd prefer one tier, but two would be acceptable as well. I'd like to start simple, but not so simple that I sacrifice quality or effectiveness. Then once I get comfortable with the process and understand how I like to do things, I would invest in a high-end, quality brew stand/setup. Of course I'd like to utilize the equipment that I already have as well. So question is, what would you recommend for equipment to get started with all-grain?

Also, cost is not a huge concern at this point. I want to make sure I'm getting equipment that will help me best learn and master the process. I want to do it right the first time and set myself up for success. Lastly, I don't have much time for DIY solutions. Between full-time employment and graduate school, there isn't a whole lot of extra time on my hands.

 
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:47 PM   #2
scottland
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May 2010
Chandler, AZ
Posts: 2,116
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I'm assuming since you are doing full boil batches that you also have a wort chiller?

You literally only need a mash tun; that's all that standing between you can All-grain. Since it sounds like you don't have a ton of time to build a full-on temerpature controlled recirculating mash, I would recommend building a mash tun out of a cooler.

Get a 10gallon (round) water cooler, or a 48QT or larger rectangular cooler. Follow this guide:
Converting a cooler to a mash tun - Home Brewing Wiki

Shouldn't take more than 1 hour of your time, and cost less than $60. I had a rectangular one, and made a manifold our of CPVC rather than copper. I ran over 40-50 batches through it, and it still had tons of life left before I upgraded.

It sounds like you have the money for something nicer, but until you have the time to DIY a recirculating system, I'd use a cooler because it's insulated, and they work great.

Now assuming you don't mind using your boil kettle to heat your strike water, and picking it up and dumping it into the mash tun, that's all you need. If you don't want to pick up and dump, you need a March or Chugger pump ($100-140), or a stand that will allow you to gravity feed the water. You might also look into another vessel to hold hot water, and possibly another burner under the Hot Liquor vessel. But you can see how the price shoots up quick
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:59 PM   #3
Biking_Brewer
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Sep 2011
Rochester, MN
Posts: 20
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What kind of time would I be looks at for a DIY recirculating system? Weekend project?

Also, am I correct in saying that a "recirculating system" refers to a RIMS or HERMS setup?

 
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Old 12-08-2011, 03:29 PM   #4
scottland
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May 2010
Chandler, AZ
Posts: 2,116
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If you don't build a brew-sculpture to go along with it, ya you can totally build a HERMS or RIMS in a weekend. I built a simple HERMS that works great.

Took a plastic toolbox, mounted my pump, PID, as well as the switches and wiring inside. The pump and the PID are both controlled from this, and it's 100% portable. Then I bought a 2gallon drink cooler for about $8 and mounted a 1500watt water heater element inside. 20' of 3/8" copper tubing is spiraled inside there and mounted to the lid. The temp probe for the PID is mounted on the outlet from that coil. The 2 gallon cooler is filled with water

So the wort from the mash is pumped through that copper coil, and the temp probe takes a reading before the wort is returned to the top of the mash. The PID reads the temp, and fires the water heater element on and off to keep the wort at my desired temp.

HERMS or RIMS systems can be really easy and portable, you don't need to make a brew sculpture, but they are nice. The whole project, including the pump probably cost about $300-$350. I can send you my wiring schematics if you want. Just shoot me a PM
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