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Old 11-30-2012, 01:55 PM   #1
Nov 2012
Posts: 5

Hi everyone, first post on the forum...

I got an extract kit for my recent wedding and I started my first batch, and got bit by the bug and have spent every spare moment since then listening to brewing podcasts and reading everything in sight.

I have a habit of getting intensely into hobbies, and when I do that I tend to spend too much money because I buy cheapo stuff off the bat and end up on a neverending upgrade path that costs way more than it would have if I spent the money right at the outset. I am also the type to absolutely master things one step at a time before moving on to newer skills.

So, I have tried to put together a list that will give me a good starting point for all-grain brewing (since that is my interest) and have tried to strategically choose important items that will be a higher upfront cost but that will carryover throughout my future in the hobby, while still keeping costs down.

The goal is to have an all-grain setup that can effectively cyclically brew several 5 gallon batches, and to start with pale ales and master them before moving on to other styles. This way I cut my teeth on a flexible and relatively forgiving style that I happen to enjoy thoroughly before I go all-in on other stuff.

I was wondering if some of you old pros could give it a once over and make some suggestions on things that are worth upgrading now and/or things that I have overbudgeted for that are not necessary and/or things I completely missed while planning this whole thing out.

So without further ado, here is the list along with approximate cost when purchased new (where applicable).

Better Bottle 6 Gal Carboy w/ Rack x3 @ 65.95
10gal blichman boilermaker 329.99
Blichmann Burner 149.99
Propane tank ~40
Stoppers, etc ~10
Schmidling Grain Mill 189.95
50 lbs grain ~50
Yeast 6 x 20 ~120
Hops 1 oz x 20 ~40
Enzymes 5x 2.95 ~14.75
Irish Moss 4 oz x 4 ~24
Bottles 22oz x 150 ~150
Picnic Cooler (58 qt) 99.99
Assorted Bits and Pieces ~50
Additonal 6 gallon food bucket ~15
Iodine solution ~10
Mash paddle ~20
pH paper (ColorpHast) ~10
1 gallon growler with sealing cap
1 liter beaker
Sterile Gloves
Facemask (Particulate)

Subtotal 1521.52
Tax 76.076
Grand Total 1597.596

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Old 11-30-2012, 01:57 PM   #2
Nov 2012
Posts: 5

Forgot to mention,

I already have: tons of funnels and strainers, a 6.5 gallon bucket, hydro and thermo, tons of starsan, cleaning brushes and supplies

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:02 PM   #3
Jan 2011
Sierra, Nevada
Posts: 4,037
Liked 440 Times on 351 Posts

How many batches have you brewed so far? One?

I recommend brewing with the bare essentials for a awhile before going overboard and spending $1600 in one fell swoop. As you begin to learn more about your system/process, make a few of these bigger upgrades... bit by bit.

Brown bottles can be had for free after your beer purchases; it depends how often you drink. You will need caps for the bottles though. Get other little things like tubes/hoses, hydrometer, thermometer, fermometer strips, more carboys, airlocks, auto-siphon, and go with a 2-3 liter beaker with foam stopper instead of the 1 liter. Also, I don't think many of us would stock up on a few of these things, like $120 worth of yeast.

Try not to take the fun out of brewing before you even begin. You do not have to take the hobby so seriously in order to brew great beer. Just be efficient.

FYI - Some of those supplies can be bought for 3/4 less the price you are listing, so shop smart!

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:02 PM   #4
Apr 2011
Saugatuck, MI
Posts: 248
Liked 12 Times on 11 Posts

Nice list. Congrats as well. I would seriously think about a stir starter if I were you. Pitch rates are uber important and those help alot. Also make sure you have a 2L flask to go with it. The only other thing I would say is if you are spending that cash just get 6.5 glass carboys. I just tend to trust that more even with the good reputation of better bottles.

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:04 PM   #5
Mar 2012
Chicago, IL
Posts: 210
Liked 20 Times on 19 Posts

I didn't see any kind of cooling device in your list. If you have the money, I'd suggest a good plate chiller.

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:04 PM   #6
Mar 2011
Chester, IL
Posts: 435
Liked 15 Times on 12 Posts

You have a pretty good list.
I think you can get a cheaper pot than a blingman.
I bought my 9 gal SS pot on ebay for $85.
No need for steril gloves and mask.
My Barley Crusher mill was $125
I didnt see a wort chiller on your list. You definitely need one.
Good luck!

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:32 PM   #7
Oct 2009
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,487
Liked 1976 Times on 1241 Posts

Get a 15 gallon kettle instead of 10 gal. The 10 gallon kettle will limit you to 5 gallon batches. You might someday want to move up to 10 gallon batches, and you can't do that with a 10 gallon kettle (after allowing for boil-off and hot break headspace). Blichmann is the best, but there are plenty of other great kettles for far less money. You could get a great 15 gallon stainless kettle with ball valve and thermometer for less than the 10 gallon Blichmann - it just wouldn't have the "Blichmann" plate on the front of it.

I'd go with the Barley Crusher mill. It's a great mill, for at least $50 less than the Schmidling you listed.

Why are you buying so much yeast up front? While it's true that dry yeast keeps for quite a while, liquid yeast rapidly loses viability over a few months, even when properly stored. Plus, you will want to try different strains of yeast depending on what you're brewing. Buy your yeast right before you brew to ensure it's as fresh as possible. That said, I do keep a small stock (10 packets) of US-05 on hand just in case an unexpected opportunity to brew pops up.

You don't need a pound of Irish Moss to start out. Put some of that money towards an immersion chiller or plate chiller instead.

Don't spend $150 on bottles if you think you might someday switch to kegging. $150 would get you a nice start on a kegging setup.

Why is the picnic cooler $100? Go to Wal-Mart, it should be half that.

Do you have a plan for storing the 50 lbs. of grain? Is it all the same kind (i.e., pale malt)? FYI, it takes two 6 gallon buckets to store 1 sack of grain. You're going to want an airtight lid for them, too. Most of us use GammaSeal lids.

The 1 liter beaker will not be big enough for doing starters if you ever hope to try your hand at lagers. Go straight to the 2 liter beaker. You can still use it for 1 liter starters, but it keeps the option open for bigger ones later. Also, consider a stir plate to get the most value out of your starters.

Hope this helps!

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:43 PM   #8
Nov 2012
Posts: 5

Lots of feedback, thanks guys!

Here's the purchase order plan.

I'll find a cheaper pot - but I need to pick up a pot, the burner, one of the carboys, and the propane up front - because I'm using a borrowed stock pot now and I have to reutnr it NLT 12/15 and my kitchen stove takes 45 mins to bring 3 gal to a boil, and because I can only work one batch at a time currently with my existing equip. I might be able to snag some used carboys from a guy I know, in which case I'll knock those off the list.

I have a lot of yeast on there because I want to master the yeast starter process first and I assume I will screw up several attempts. I'll buy them one at a time but I figured six batches would get me close to mastery.

The all-grain goodies are going to wait until next spring. I will work with dry malt extract between now and then.

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:55 PM   #9
jsv1204's Avatar
Jan 2012
Posts: 290
Liked 23 Times on 19 Posts

Yeah - I would pass on the Blichmann burner and pot. Northern has a nice setup for about $150. I use a big aluminum turkey fryer I picked up new on sale for for $80. After 500 gallons or so, she's showing her age but has worked for me so far. I would also put the grain mill on your future acquisition list - almost every malt outlet will mill for you for nothing. And I never never use a dust mask - living dangerously! Figure the beer will kill me long before the particulates will!

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:57 PM   #10
Jan 2011
Sierra, Nevada
Posts: 4,037
Liked 440 Times on 351 Posts

Originally Posted by jackthestrat View Post
I have a lot of yeast on there because I want to master the yeast starter process first and I assume I will screw up several attempts.
With your penchant for perfection, I would not agree with that statement.

Just so you know, yeast starters are only generally necessary for bigger beers, and they are made using liquid yeast (not dry). The process is quite simple. 1/2 cup DME per every 1 liter of water.

The huge downside to stocking up on tons of yeast is that you won't use all of it immediately. Those Wyeast and White Labs packs/vials are dated and should be used ASAP for best results.

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