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Old 02-27-2013, 06:29 AM   #1
Johnny_Five
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Default Review my selections before I pull trigger? (long post, can't help it sorry, >$500)

Hello all, I was hoping you could review the items sitting in my NB cart, so far at $526 total before shipping, that has been slowly been building up. I am also sharing this info with you to simply get it "off my chest" as much as anything, because I am struggling to hold down my impatience for the moment, as I feel that I've been researching non stop. In fact, I still could see pulling the trigger at any moment, as I believe I've done a decent job in doing my due diligence, but maybe I can hold out for a tiny bit longer. Yes, this is for extract brewing for the moment. I would like to eventually graduate to Belgian tripels, but who knows how slowly that may come around (on a side note, I've heard conflicting information about the necessity of corks/cages, which could lead me to upgrade my capper to the Colonna, but I digress). I've read How To Brew, have Papazian's book but haven't touched it yet, and have several more books on the way, two of which are on Belgians, and one on growing hops. Without further ado, the preselected items, each followed by a blurb about my decision making process.

Megapot 10g, ball valve + Brewmometer, both weldless, $220. Too big is better than too small, and it could maybe take on AG duties in the future, who knows.

2x Better Bottle 6g, plain, $55 total. I was tempted by the oxygenless transfer if willing to add so much more money, but reading about slow and/or clogging situations, cheap cracking units, I was finally convinced to simply use an auto siphon, with money in the pocket. (Deciding on the fermenter choice, also with which options to get, took waaay more time than I could have ever anticipated, though wort chillers were a close second.)

Glass carboy w/ bung, $39. For the possibility of long term fermentation, wine, and/or just to have a 3rd fermenter for more beer!

Wort Chiller, a "standard" 25' of 3/8" with hose fittings, and I'm half expecting the fittings to leak out of the box. I spent way too much time reading about whirlpool, counterflow, and plate. I was possibly ready to splurge $200 on a Therminator, then saw $20 for the assembly, then finally realized I even need a (March or other) pump, all that and I may still have cleaning and/or possibly chill haze(?) issues, so I think I got ahead of myself, particularly with the budget. Really, I was ready to pay more in advance with the hopes of saving considerable time, but I'm on this side of the "compromise" for now. I also looked into DIY solutions, watching several YT videos. Assuming I stay at 5 gal batches, I think some of the solutions are more hassle than I need to deal with presently, at least when it's not a baking hot day.

OK, I'm adding a yeast starter kit just because. I don't even know how much it would benefit me, $16.

Miscellaneous:
Star San 32oz, $16.
Auto siphon 1/2" + 6' of 7/16" tubing $17.
2x 3piece airlocks, 1x bubbler airlock. I figure I might need 3, and might as well try both kinds, $4.
3x standard carboy handles (I'm not very sure about the necessity of these particularly with the BBs, especially if I do pick up a furniture dolly), $20.
Hydrometer $5.
Capper $17.
Caps $4.
Bottle Tree $19.

Can anyone point me to a good oxygenation system with diffuser please? The one at NB is out of stock, TYVM.

I have yet to even decide on a first recipe, so I still will need to select yeasts, DME, hops, etc. I may just go local for ingredients, or I may add certain ones to the order I suppose.

I also look forward to trying to grow some hops. I obviously don't know enough about brewing yet to know which rhizomes to order, and have done some research on what people have succeeded with near me, though I deal with relatively lower amounts of sunlight due to the nature of the property.

I am sort of planning on buying a furniture dolly to help move the fermenters into a closet on the same floor as the kitchen, as it's all a hard floor along the whole path. I was torn over getting an outdoor burner, but I can always decide on that later. What's nice about the chosen Megapot is that it seems it can easily straddle two of my gas burners, yet is low enough to clear the microwave (the front half will be totally unobstructed; I'm hoping I'm good in this regard).

I should mention that I have Oxi free and TSP/90 on the way from Amazon. I'm still not sure what is the correct proportion for the best approximation of a poor man's PBW.

Thermometers: I'm not keen on Fermometers, and am wondering how helpful my instant read IR gun would be (I know it's relatively useles on hot liquids from a recent cheesemaking foray, as it starts reading the vapors instead). I was OTOH convinced to add the weldless to the brew pot, as it seems too convenient not too?

Congrats for surviving my endless rambling. Whew! So, do you think I'm good to go? You give me a pass?


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Old 02-27-2013, 06:50 AM   #2
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Jumping right in... nice

I'll be honest, I did not read your whole thread. I saw you had you eyes on the megapot, nice kettle. You could probably find a pot cheaper, even bigger. Hell, I got mine on eBay. 45 bucks, its aluminum but its real thick. It'll hold 15 gallons. And adding a ball valve was not hard. Buckets work great as primary fermenters, and they are not as expensive as carboys. But then its all in what you want to spend. There are plenty of vendors here on HBT that make nice kettles too

Also, Idk if the carboys handles should be used on the better bottles.


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Old 02-27-2013, 06:59 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgmatic View Post
Jumping right in... nice

I'll be honest, I did not read your whole thread. I saw you had you eyes on the megapot, nice kettle. You could probably find a pot cheaper, even bigger. Hell, I got mine on eBay. 45 bucks, its aluminum but its real thick. It'll hold 15 gallons. And adding a ball lock was not hard. Buckets work great as primary fermenters, and they are not as expensive as carboys. But then its all in what you want to spend.

Also, Idk if the carboys handles should be used on the better bottles.
Hi dawgmatic. $45 is a pretty good price! I'm only considering 5 gallon batches atm, but maybe those are famous last words. I will say that when I was comparing "parts costs" compared to the preinstalled Megapot with valve/thermometer, it seemed like a very small sum for the convenience. Maybe it was as low as $20, I'd have to look at my notes. Now if your $45 pot fit underneath my microwave, and perhaps came with these options preinstalled, I would go for it I guess... Hmmm, maybe I should go cheaper...

I compared pros/cons of fermenters until the cows came home. That was time consuming for me for sure. I'm sure it's exaggerated, and the answer to every brewing question in the world apparently is, "it depends", but some people even recommend changing out the plastic buckets every year! Not cost effective if even half true. I do like the idea of watching the fermentation, and I guess the "clarity" of the BB makes one feel more secure about the cleanliness without scrubbing. (I wonder if people just sloshed around Oxi free in buckets, if they would last forever, but I guess it's possibly more convenient to order new buckets than to do that every time?)

The snap on handles made by BB for their own products seem to get awful reviews. Now that we're discussing it, the carboy handles are probably a waste of money (esp if I do get that furniture dolly?), but then again anything to help me from dropping a 5 gallons of beautiful golden liquid is always welcome, haha.
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:12 AM   #4
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I have not had a single batch get infected... on accident

But I got two 3 year old buckets and a 15 year old bucket. It all depends on how you take care of it. I inherited some of my equipment, and acquired what I needed as I went on.

I think its super awesome that youre willing jump in this much. My only advice is that you should keg your brew. The investment is easily worth hassle of bottling. Good luck with your purchases
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgmatic View Post
I have not had a single batch get infected... on accident

But I got two 3 year old buckets and a 15 year old bucket. It all depends on how you take care of it. I inherited some of my equipment, and acquired what I needed as I went on.
Hmm. Great, thanks for the added confusion!

Quote:
I think its super awesome that youre willing jump in this much. My only advice is that you should keg your brew. The investment is easily worth hassle of bottling. Good luck with your purchases
Thanks for the encouraging words. Kegging, eh? Oh dear.... lol
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:35 AM   #6
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I would for sure skip out on the carboy handles...you dont need em for the better bottles. I do use one on my glass carboy but I also hold it from the bottom. I dont really like the idea of all the weight being stressed around the neck of a carboy. You mentioned an outdoor burner and that might be worth thinking about. I did one batch on the 5 gallon pot from my LHBS on my stove before moving outdoors. Got my burner from sportchalet in the car camping department and love it. It's great that your willing to dive right in but if your starting with 5 gallon extracts on your stove and think you might want to move into all grain in the future possibly think about a basic 5 gallon pot that doesn't cost much but will be plenty big enough for extract. This way when you realize how hooked you are you can decide if you want to stick with 5 gallon batches or go with 10 gallon batches then get your pot accordingly. It would be unfortunate if you wanted to move up to 10 gallon batches but had this awesome brew kettle that you spent a good chunk of change on holding you back. Either way good luck and Im sure youll love it!

welcome to HBT by the way
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:45 AM   #7
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Oh and I forgot to mention good call on the yeast starter kit. However you might want to go with the 2000 ML kit...one of those things where you can scale it down as much as you want with the bigger flask but you can only build the 1000 ml starter up so big with the smaller flask. Also look into building a stir plate. Its super easy and way cheaper than buying one from NB
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:10 AM   #8
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tflew, thanks for the great feedback! And for the welcome as well.

Upgrading to 2000 ml, check.
Very next thing to research will be homemade stir plate, check.
Next time I'm anywhere near sporting goods store, stop in, check.
Changing carboy handles order from 3 down to 1, check. (I was planning on supporting from the bottom, but nevertheless thanks for taking the time).

Regarding my choice of 10 gallon pot, I could probably do something like 7.5 gallons if I wanted to increase batch, right? Regardless, the smallest Megapot is 8 gallons, and with the same features I save only $25. It also has the same height (microwave) where I don't gain extra clearance, as I did think about that as well.

I meant to be clearer about my present feeling about AG, but it is a lot of added time to the brew day for what that may give me. However, at first I thought the cost differential was much smaller than what HBT folks seem to be reporting after some searches, but still, my impression is that AG essentially doubles the time needed on brew day, all said and done.

OTOH, having just briefly scoped out some recipes here, particularly in the Belgian section, relatively very few are extract based. Hmmm... I do like the ideas of yeast starters, or growing hops, because I can give time to those things in smaller increments, as they don't add up towards taking up the whole day so to speak. Maybe that's just the semi-timid beginner in me speaking. Thanks again, I appreciate it.
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:30 AM   #9
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Well done. I think you might be better off with a cheapo 6ishgallon pot initially. If/when you go all grain, you will need a bigger pot than 10 gallons (not only to work in easier but because you will find a recipe you know is a 10 gallon one, and not have the room. Once you are established and all graining, at that time, the thermometer and the ball valve on a big ass pot. Your temps are not so critical in the extract and partial brews (a cheap one will be fine, and you can still use for starters and whatnot later). Your 6-7 plain jane pot will still get plenty of use later on.

I just read what tflew said above, pretty much the same idea about the pot.

If you are very time conscious, I encourage you to look into BIAB and "no chill" down the road. I would not be all graining if not for BIAB. I do a 3:30-45 brew day on a 10 gallon batch. No chill is pretty amazing too, but do what is right for you.
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Old 02-27-2013, 05:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woknblues View Post
Your temps are not so critical in the extract and partial brews (a cheap one will be fine, and you can still use for starters and whatnot later).
+1 I didn't even think about that but yea temp control really is not as important for extract. a pot like this will do what you need and only put you out $35. Anyways your call but that would be my suggestion


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