Originally Posted by the75
Thank you gentlemen. One more question. I'm thinking about doing the digital controls & the gas valve install myself. With a HERMS, I can't see any reason to put a gas valve control on the mashtun since I'm already controlling the temp through the HLT. Am I correct? I won't be firing the burner on the mashtun except for in the beginning.
If you're doing the gas stuff DIY, it might be beneficial to consider doing more of the stand DIY so you can get exactly what you want. It will take more work, but you can save some $$$ and possibly get better equipment. If you're not so DIY inclined, just go with a pre-built system. Even if you have to farm out the welding, it'll still likely be much cheaper since you don't have to pay for a lot of labor and the design.
You're correct in your thinking here, but an automated direct fire MLT might allow you additional flexibility, such as easier/quicker step mashes. Having automation allows you to take a more hands off approach, should you decide to go there.
Look into Stout Kettles
. While they are the most pricey option out there, they have pretty much exactly what you're looking for and it's not THAT much more than building your own kettles or going with other common pre-built options.
Edit: Personally, I'd look into taking the approach I did. Build your system in pieces, but build it with the intent of your end goal. That way, if AG isn't your cup of tea, you're not out $4-5K from the get-go. (I knew I was serious and have done a number of AG batches on our local homebrew group equipment, so I did a stepped approach more for budget purposes.)