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Old 10-18-2007, 06:45 PM   #1
Kevin Dean
 
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I've got a few extract brews under my belt and while I enjoy it it feels like making kool-aid compared to making fresh squeezed lemonade.

My extract brews haven't been too bad, so I'm not moving to AG for flavour (though I know it will improve). I've moving primarily because brewing is a hobby that is designed to kill time and be fun for me - AG taking longer and being more involved gives me that.

In addition, once I begin buying things in bulk, AG will be cheaper which isn't exactly a killer for me, but it's a nice benefit. Also, it allows me to aquire equipment that SWMBO can justify as being a savings in the long run. (Next up, Barley Crusher!)

I DON'T have a wort chiller in the traditional sense, but I have a method that is sanitary and times rival those of immersion chillers from what I read. I'm ordering kits from Austin Home Brew with milled grain. I've got my cooler to convert into a MLT, got a large kettle (9 gallon), a propane burner, all the stuff I need for extract brewing (Spoons, fermenters, hydrometer, grain bag yadda yadda).

I'm planning on purchasing a digital thermometer that I can use to monitor mash tems without opening the lid but I don't yet have that. What equipment do you guys see immediately needed for me?

I've read Palmer's How To Brew (online) several times and while I understand the basics, the process and the methodology, I tend to get lost with some of the specifics. I can, however, say that the same was true for Palmer's information on extract brewing. I plan on learning the intricacies later to make better beer but since I've not done an AG batch I can't identify what is VITAL to making beer and what is needed to make GOOD beer. What advice can you guys offer for an AG newbie?
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:47 PM   #2
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If you have not tried chilling 5.5 gallons of 212 degree hot wort with your method, I would highly recommend getting a chiller.

 
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:57 PM   #3
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I have done 5.5 gallons give or take .5.

Essentially what I do is submerge my covered kettle in a tub that is connected to the garden hose, turn it on lightly and whirlpool it. Slightly cool water is exchanged with the hot water consistantly until I get the temps down to where I can siphon into a sanitized Better Bottle. I then take the bottle upstairs and give it an ice water bath to bring down to pitching temps - the whole process takes about 20 minutes if I'm prepared.

I am, however, planning on purchasing an immersion chiller some time in the near future simply because it's a smidge less tedious but having done sucessful brews using kitchen sink ice baths I think this method is pretty effective without an $80 investment.
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:19 PM   #4
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It sounds like you are ready to go when you get your MLT built and the digital thermometer. An immersion chiller will be nice in the future but for now you should be able to manage with what you have + a thermometer.

 
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:08 PM   #5
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Chiller can be done for ~$35 at home depot. Buy the coiled copper, 3 SS hose clamps and a few feet of 3/8" ID tubing.

 
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:39 PM   #6
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Don't fight the chiller. There are plenty of plans for cheap ones. If it was optional, very few of us would have one. No chiller, and you risk infection and incredibly long brew days. You have over 6 gallons of wort at a temp over 220º that needs to be brought down to 70º ASAP. Even if you stuck it in a snowbank it would take hours. (Trust me - did it once in a Chicago winter and bought a CFC the next day.)

See if you can find a brewer in the area who will brew with you.
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesefood
Don't fight the chiller. There are plenty of plans for cheap ones. If it was optional, very few of us would have one. No chiller, and you risk infection and incredibly long brew days.
Quote:
Originally Posted by z987k
Chiller can be done for ~$35 at home depot. Buy the coiled copper, 3 SS hose clamps and a few feet of 3/8" ID tubing.
I recall investigating that a few weeks back. I was, even then, planning to go all-grain at some point so I checked that out. I read that a 25' chiller would be ineffective beyond 5.5 gallons and that a 50' was needed for anything close to 10 gallons. Taking that to be truth, I checked and found that 50' of copper tubing was running close to $70-$80 last I checked and with my LHBS selling a pre-made one for $90 I figured there was very little to be gained in making my own vs buying one.

Cheese seems to press upon me that it's not optional so I'll head down to HD today to get the parts to covert the cooler and I'll see if I can convince SWMBO that 50' of copper tubing is critical.

Thanks for the input. Any more advice?
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Dean
Any more advice?
RDWHAHB!

Besides that, I found it extremely helpful in my first AG brew to write out the steps beforehand - mentally stepping through what needed to be started when, especially getting sparge water up to temp.
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:15 PM   #9
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Don't rush things on brewday. Let everything happen as it should and keep your mash temp as close to target as possible. Don't let your sparge water get over 165f (to be on the safe side).

And last but not least. Good Luck!
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:57 PM   #10
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Making the jump to AG can be a bit intimidating, but it's not anywhere as difficult as I thought it would be before I made the move.

Ask lots of questions here, and prepare a detailed plan before you brew.
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