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Old 05-04-2013, 08:17 PM   #1
TheDarkChemist
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Default If you could start over and had $1000 what equipment would you get

Good afternoon my brew swillin' friends.

I have been wanting to get into brewing for some time, but never realized that brewing at home was attainable for someone with somewhat limited space and time. Recently after having visited a brewery, it rekindled my interest.... the tasting tour reminded me of what good brew was, and explained why I had lost my interest in drinking beer since I moved to NC. (Was from Racine, WI before that and would drink Lakefront Brewery concoctions liberally)

I have read through Palmers book on how to brew, and am excited to get started. My favorite beers are the darks, but I need to taste through them again keeping in mind the characteristics I enjoy, and where they come from. I used to think hops were only in IPAs and that chocolate stouts were some unearthly creations of a brilliant mad scientist.

My goal in starting this new addiction.. err new hobby, is to be able to brew myself and any appreciative friends or colleagues, a full range of good beers, and to be able to stock my soon to be home bar with 2-4 cornys of my own beer.

So Ive already started rambling, so let me get on to my first of many questions I will hurl at this forum in hopes of deepening my own knowledge on this subject.

What to buy, starting out.... I plan to go all grain eventually, I may start with a few extract brews just to get some beer under my belt, and understand the steps more fully (learn by doing, after, of course, researching). Some of my concerns are brewing too much to start, and not having anywhere to put it. I foolishly gave away a standard white fridge to a friend a month or so ago, so have limited storage space, hence the start of this thread.

I want to allocate enough to the brewing components (carboys, cane, pot, etc) to be able to do 2-3 batches at a time, but Im stuck on 5-6 gallon vs 3 gallon. Starting out I would like to brew more, smaller batches, so that I can practice the art of homebrew without having my health affected . Additionally, being southish, temperature controls may be a bit of an issue for fermenting, so I was considering building a standup freezer to manage temps, either that or claim an empty room in our house, and put a standing AC unit with a temperature set appropriately for that room.

I realize I am all over the place here, I have read too much in the last week or so. I will stop here and summarize.

I plan to start out just brewing ales, will leave lagers until later, if you had similar goals, and lived where I live, and were starting over, what would you buy/build with the $1000 to get started on the magical journey of brewing? Including bottling/storing/conditioning, etc.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Edit: And yes Ive read abit on the forums, and other sites, seen what typical starter kits contain, just wanting some input from the brewers who have experience, in order to maximize my potential without wasting money on stuff I will outgrow quickly, and to spend the money in the right places to make the most impact.


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Old 05-04-2013, 11:43 PM   #2
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How much do you like building/fabricating/assembling your own stuff? That will affect your approach to many equipment issues in this hobby.

#1 - Temperature control (as you have already noted). I'd go with an upright freezer controlled by an STC-1000. That will handle your ale needs just fine. When I got into doing lagers, however, my upright freezer became the lagering/cold crash chamber and I picked up a used fridge for fermenting.

#2 - A good large kettle or keggle. If you think you may eventually do 5 gallon BIAB, a 10+ gallon kettle is needed. Rig it with a SS ball valve.

#3 - Wort chilling. A good immersion chiller is worth every $$ you spend to build/buy it.

It's funny how this hobby sucks you in. When I started, I thought there's no way I'd spend anywhere close to $1000. I was doing fine (even with kegging) staying under that figure until I decided to build an E-BIAB rig (which is getting close to completion).


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Old 05-05-2013, 12:16 AM   #3
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I saw this the other day while thumbing through a Midwest catalog:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/maste...ing-setup.html

I thought, if I were to start from scratch, that this kit looks like a pretty good deal. $200 for a keg setup seems pretty average (though this looks like a 3 gal keg, it doesn't actually say -- but you can buy used 5 gal cornys for relatively cheap), and then temp control is at least another $50 (which you will need if you are setting up a fermentation chamber in a freezer or fridge). Then it's just $100 or so for the rest of the stuff that you will need. One primary and two carboys means you can pull of the 2-3 batches at a time. The only negative is that shipping would cost a bomb.

Other than that, you will probably want an 8-10 gallon brew kettle (I got mine from Amazon for a reasonable price), perhaps a propane burner (as boiling full 5 gal batches on the stove sounds like more trouble than it's worth), and a wort chiller (you can make one fairly easily using tutorials on this site or elsewhere), a big jug of Starsan (rather than that crap they give you with the starter kits) and probably a bottle capper, though I'm probably forgetting something.

Then, when you are ready to go all-grain, you are pretty much ready. You can do a cooler MLT conversion for a pretty affordable price (again, you can find good tutorials for this on this site).

I don't feel like you should have to spend $1000 to set yourself up pretty well, regardless of whether you get a starter kit or not. $500 should be enough if you're just going with extract to begin with, then add kegs and fermenters as you need them. My one piece of advice would be to always assume you are going to upgrade (as it seems most people do), so spring for that larger kettle the first time instead of buying two.
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Old 05-05-2013, 01:38 AM   #4
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Where at in NC? I'd say start with a basic turkey fryer setup with at least a 40qt pot. Then work from there with better bottles and all the other basics that I'm sure you have researched. Cheers and good luck!
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Old 05-05-2013, 03:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigFloyd View Post
How much do you like building/fabricating/assembling your own stuff? That will affect your approach to many equipment issues in this hobby.
I would say I do like tinkering and building stuff, but if anything is time intensive I do not have a lot of that kind of time at the moment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigFloyd View Post

#1 - Temperature control (as you have already noted). I'd go with an upright freezer controlled by an STC-1000. That will handle your ale needs just fine. When I got into doing lagers, however, my upright freezer became the lagering/cold crash chamber and I picked up a used fridge for fermenting.
I have read walkthroughs on building these and I think I can do it. You mentioned a fridge, what is the logic between using afridge or a freezer for the 50-75 fermenting vs the cold crashing/lagering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigFloyd View Post

#2 - A good large kettle or keggle. If you think you may eventually do 5 gallon BIAB, a 10+ gallon kettle is needed. Rig it with a SS ball valve.
I need to look more into the full boil vs partial boil + adding water. Rig the bottom with a ball valve for draining vs siphoning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigFloyd View Post

#3 - Wort chilling. A good immersion chiller is worth every $$ you spend to build/buy it.
Plan on building this for sure, not sure if I will do anything fancy or just straight through tap water.


Thanks for the advice!
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Old 05-05-2013, 03:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dg35884 View Post
Where at in NC? I'd say start with a basic turkey fryer setup with at least a 40qt pot. Then work from there with better bottles and all the other basics that I'm sure you have researched. Cheers and good luck!
Jacksonville area.

I did consider the turkey fryer but read a bit about added cost of fuel to the brew (I am anumbers person so I would be the kind to get the price per batch as efficient as possible). Also I have absolutely nowhere outside to brew, and would worry about stuff blowing from trees into it if ijust set itupon my sidewalk.

Im definitely set on glass over plastic bottles, but not sure exactly why, something about being able to scrub it clean, and glass looking cool :P
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Old 05-05-2013, 03:23 AM   #7
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Guesstimating here

about 300 for burner and a good kettle, about 150 for 2 plastic fermenters, a bottling bucket, autosiphon, and a carboy and various things like thermometers, hydrometers star san and the sort. 200 for kegging system, then I guess 150 for a mill and some various parts, then the last 200 for build my Mashtun and Wort chiller. Though I may consider going cheaper on some things to get a plate chiller instead of the wort chiller
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Old 05-05-2013, 03:38 AM   #8
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What are the benefits to the plate chiller, quicker, and more compact? If it is what I am thinking of, you pump both wort and water through the "plate" device and pump the wort directly into the fermenter?
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Old 05-05-2013, 04:02 AM   #9
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if you get much bigger than 10 gallon pots, there is so much metal that cooling the wort outside of the pot is more efficient. plate or CFC chiller just works better. CFC chillers are more forgiving regarding clogging than plate chillers.
Plat chillers have more surface area and are faster, use less water.
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDarkChemist View Post
Jacksonville area.

I did consider the turkey fryer but read a bit about added cost of fuel to the brew (I am anumbers person so I would be the kind to get the price per batch as efficient as possible). Also I have absolutely nowhere outside to brew, and would worry about stuff blowing from trees into it if ijust set itupon my sidewalk.

Im definitely set on glass over plastic bottles, but not sure exactly why, something about being able to scrub it clean, and glass looking cool :P
The gas cost is a small dollar amount.
1st learn how to brew
2nd going to all grain and bulk buying will drop the cost per batch more the the $10- $15 bucks for a refill on a propane tank
3rd temperature controlled fermentation would be my #1, more beer is ruined by hot fermentation then a leaf or bug dropping into a boiling liquid WILL NOT harm you or your future beer
4th If saving money is your goal collect coins this is a hobby that can easily get out of hand.

As far as spending money:
A turkey fryer gets you a pot, burner, and lid. (can add a bag for AG)
A roll of copper tube is an easy made chiller
Used fridge and e-bay temp control for fermentation
Plastic is fine for fermenting + less dangerous and easy to clean and replace
kegging vs bottling you have to decide

Welcome to the addiction that is a constantly learning and evolving process of beer styles, culture, recipes and designs.

bottom line is to research the forums see where YOU want to go when is all brewed you will still have beer


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