So I am starting to get more serious about brewing beer. I've got four 2.5gal batches under my belt, and I've got the ingredients for my first two 5gal batches sitting there waiting to be brewed (a hefe and a raspberry wheat).
I am starting to collect equipment as I can. Here is what I already have:
several aluminum boil pots 2-4ish gallons
2x 6gal better bottles
2x 3gal ported better bottles
2x 2.5gal Mr. Beer fermenters
1x Bottling bucket with spigot
2x 5gal corny kegs with sanke coupler
1x 20lb CO2 tank
Obviously some other odds and ends like racking cane, hydrometer, refractometer, bottle washer, drying tree, sanitizer, etc etc etc.
After work I am going to pick up a 15.5gal keg, which I am planning on using as a future boil kettle (need to cut the top out and add a drain spigot/thermometer/etc).
Saturday or Sunday I will probably be picking up another 15.5gal keg, which someone decided to turn into a lamp. It is as ugly as it sounds. I will have to cut the top out of this one to remove the lamp post, and it already has a "pinky-size" hole in the side towards the bottom for the electrical cord.
Tomorrow after work I am going over to another brewers house to see what all he has for sale. Should be several pin lock and ball lock kegs, a couple 5gal glass fermenters, a homemade chiller, and some other things. I will probably buy everything I can use, assuming I have the funds.
My thread title pertains to where I go from here. I will most likely have two 15.5gal keggles to work with, probably as a HLT and BK. I am considering getting a 10gal cooler from Home Depot to convert to a MLT.
Using this setup, I'm trying to decide which of three options it would be better to start off with:
1. A simple propane burner or two, for heating strike water and boiling in the keggle.
2. Get a little more into gas and hook up some natural gas burners on a DIY stand (I have natural gas supply in my house/on my deck), which would be cheaper on the gas, but probably not in initial costs.
3. Go all electric. I have a 50amp 240v line running from its own breaker box in the laundry/storage area to an outlet in the garage. I could build a bench brewing area in the laundry room, and run from the breaker straight to a spa panel there (permits and inspections), or use the outlet in the garage, and set up an outlet plugged spa panel in the garage (no permits since not a permanent installation). Probably most expensive option as far as initial set up is concerned, but probably cheapest in terms of energy usage.
This is where I'm stuck. I see that most people just use propane burners, they're cheap, easy to use, small, and portable, and they work.
Others have gone with natural gas, which I like the idea of, since I already have lines to tap into.
But then I look at the electric builds, and my jaw just drops. Considering I've got a dedicated 50amp outlet in the laundry/garage not being used, it seems like I have a perfect reason to dive into electric.
Cost is an issue. I am on a very tight budget as far as brewing equipment goes. My wife is tolerant of my hobby so far, but she doesn't like me spending a lot of money all at one time. I don't want to be stuck brewing small batch/extracts on the kitchen stove for too much longer, but I don't want to invest in propane burners if I'm just going to end up going all-electric anyways.
What do you guys think? Is it worth it to put off doing larger AG batches while I save up for an all-electric setup, or should I just get some propane burners and not worry about the electric for a few months/years?
p.s. wow. I just scrolled to the top, and realized how long of a post this is. Sorry to those who've actually managed to make it this far.