All grain equipment check list.

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

cjp87

New Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2014
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Hi all. I've been browsing this forum for awhile (mostly because nearly all homebrew google searches lead here) as I'm piecing together my first brew kit. I want to go all-grain (I'm the kind of person to do lots of research and jump in feet first). I think I've got a pretty good shopping list put together, but I wanted to double check and see if I've missed anything important.

I'm planning a 2.5 gallon batch size because I don't really have the space for all the 5 gallon equipment, and I'm not confident my stove could actually boil a 5 gallon wort. I plan on using multiple carboys for a couple of reasons, primarily because 1 gallon carboys are easier to fit on my shelving, but also because it could be fun to play with mixing a beer with different yeasts, and that'd be an easy way to accomplish that (I think). Also, four 1 gallon carboys are somehow cheaper than one 3 gallon carboy.

Shopping List

Mash Tun

Rubbermaid 12-qt cooler - (Amazon)
1 - 1/2” NPT 304 SS Full Port Ball Valve - (Amazon)
1 - 1/2” x 1.5” 304 SS Nipple - (Amazon)

Mash manifold

Watts 1/2” x 10ft PVC tubing - (Home Depot)
1/2” x 10ft CPVC Pipe - (Home Depot)
8 - 1/2” CPVC 45º Elbow - (Home Depot)
3 - 1/2” CPVC T-joint - (Home Depot)
1 - 1/2” CPVC Slip x FIP adapter - (Home Depot)
1 - 1/2” CPVC 90º Elbow - (Home Depot)
1 - 1/2” x 1/2” Brass barb x Male threaded adapter - (Home Depot)

Boiling

16 qt SS Stock Pot - (Amazon)
25’ Copper Immersion Chiller - (Learn to Brew)

Fermentation

4 - 1 Gallon glass carboy - (Learn to Brew)
4 - 1-way valve - (Learn to Brew)

Bottling

24 - 12oz Longnecks - (Amazon)
144 - Oxygen-absorbing Caps - (Learn to Brew)
Bottle Capper - (Learn to Brew)
Siphon equipment (Learn to Brew?)

Thanks for looking, any comments are appreciated.
 
Oxyclean (better yet- go generic and save 50%)
Starsan- make it with distilled water and it'll last forever

You may want a few feet of silicone tubing for drain the mash tun.


Sent from my iPad using Home Brew
 
First, awesome of you to jump right into AG. I did the same, it's been a learning experience, but love the journey so far.

My changes to your list (as I've got a similar setup as you already):

MLT:
1) Go with a 5gal cooler right off the bat. True, you may never need all the volume, but it's better to have it than to need it. You can mash as little as a gallon batch in one, and it'll still hold temps just fine. 5gal from HD is fine.
2) Build an "H" manifold, less parts, easier to build, mine gives me 80%+ effeciency with the right crush and a batch sparge.
3) Grab a package each of 1gal (for a hop bag when boiling) and 5gal (to line the mash tun with - makes stuck sparges a thing of the past and cleanup a breeze) paint strainer bags at HD.
Kettle:
4) Buy a 5gal pot. Seriously. 22qt would be even better if you can fit it on your stove. Not foolin' with this.
5) Build your IC. 20' 3/8" copper, fittings, and tubing set me back $25. Works like a champ.
Fermenter:
6) A couple 1gal jugs are great, but keep an eye out for code "1" PETE watercooler bottles in the 3gal size, OR water jugs (code "5"). Both are around for cheap, both make great fermenters. Don't be afraid to ferment in a large vessel, like a bucket either - I do it all the time, works great and no beer-bomb worries.
MISC:
7) Get the auto siphon. Seriously. Get the expensive silicon tubing. Seriously. Use whatever sanitizer you want, Starsan or Idophore are great. Cheap oxyclean is a must.
8) Hydrometers are a must, but once you get a refractometer you'll use it only for FG. Maybe. Get a good weight scale for hops - you'll need it.
Bottles:
9) Don't buy bottles. Waste of money, go get a few 6'ers of beer you like/want to try and clean 'em up. Oxyclean does awesome for removing labels.
10) If you going to bottle, don't waste the money on a wing capper, get a bench capper right off the bat. Seriously.
11) Just get the standard caps, unless you plan on sitting on those cases for a few months.

I'm sure I could think of more, looking back at everything I bought when I started out, then moved to only a few brews later as I found things that worked/didn't work/caused undue stress/etc.

Keep it fun, have fun.
 
I second building your own immersion chiller. I did the same thing sum brew did. It was a 1/3 the cost of buying the same thing, works great, And took 5 minutes to put together.

I also second trying to buy equipment bigger. Better to have than to want and do this all over again, spend more money later, etc.

As far as manifold go, there are tons of cheap options. I personally use a pizza pie pan that I drilled a assload of holes in. It took a while but I did it for under $15 and it works just as good as any false bottom.
 
This is just my opinion, but if you want to build a mash tun, go for it. Since you are doing 2.5 gallon batches, I would go BIAB, also known as Brew in a Bag. There is a ton of info on it, just do a search. Get a 4 or 5 gallon pot and a few 5 gallon paint strainer bags and a thermometer. 1 gallon paint strainer bags are nice to contain your hops. That's pretty much all you need for the mash and boil. Ice and water in your kitchen sink can cool a 2.5 gallon batch easily. Remember, if you plan on doing primary fermentation in 1 gallon carboys you'll need a decent amount of headspace. I think you'll quickly learn you want to ferment an entire batch in a 3 to 5 gallon vessel. Homer buckets from Home Depot will do the trick.

I wouldn't sweat the dedicated mash tun or immersion chiller unless you decide to do 5 gallon batches.
 
Thanks for all the help, a lot of great info here. I'll need to do some more reading and digest this stuff to figure out what I'll do. My shopping list did get more expensive than I had intended, so saving any dollars here or there would be great.

I think I would like to do the MLT just to get the full process down. I had read before that a larger tun than you need makes it harder to keep it warm (since the liquid has to heat the dead space, too), but I see the HD 5 gallon is actually $15 cheaper than the Amazon 3 gallon, so that sounds like something I could live with. The H-manifold sounds just about as efficient as the octagon design I found (I think the designer said around 80%), which is surprising, but it would shave off a couple bucks and some construction/cleaning time.

Building an IC sounds like a great idea, but how easy is it to manipulate the copper? I know it's a malleable metal, but it seems like coiling it up wouldn't be a simple process. Guess Google will answer that question.

For the fermentation, I was thinking since the four 1 gallon carboys were so cheap, I could spread out 2.5 gallons into three of them pretty easily, which would let me use different blends of yeast strains. Is that not really a feasible idea? A single food-grade plastic tub would be cheaper, but the glass just seems more appealing. Minus the potential beer bomb you mention!

Good tip on the bottles, too. Can't believe I didn't think about that.
 
I think I would like to do the MLT just to get the full process down. I had read before that a larger tun than you need makes it harder to keep it warm (since the liquid has to heat the dead space, too), but I see the HD 5 gallon is actually $15 cheaper than the Amazon 3 gallon, so that sounds like something I could live with. The H-manifold sounds just about as efficient as the octagon design I found (I think the designer said around 80%), which is surprising, but it would shave off a couple bucks and some construction/cleaning time.

Building an IC sounds like a great idea, but how easy is it to manipulate the copper? I know it's a malleable metal, but it seems like coiling it up wouldn't be a simple process. Guess Google will answer that question.

For the fermentation, I was thinking since the four 1 gallon carboys were so cheap, I could spread out 2.5 gallons into three of them pretty easily, which would let me use different blends of yeast strains. Is that not really a feasible idea? A single food-grade plastic tub would be cheaper, but the glass just seems more appealing. Minus the potential beer bomb you mention!

Good tip on the bottles, too. Can't believe I didn't think about that.

Easy way to deal with MLT heat issues - slightly over heat the water (eg, if you're mashing in at 161, put 165 into the tun and let it warm up the tun and pitch when you hit 161) then put a piece of tin foil over the stirred up mash, that'll make an insulation barrier, then put the lid on. You won't loose more than a degree or two. Some folks will even toss a coat over the tun and insulate it further.

The "H" manifold just works - not sure why, just does. Who am I to question. :mug: Line the tun first with the 5gal paintstrainer bag, that's what makes cleanup a snap - also takes care of any stuck sparges, and keeps a fair amount of crap out of the manifold.

Building the IC is easy. Get something roughly 8" around, I used a section of PVC pipe from an old project. Don't uncoil the copper straight, just loosen up the coils, and then slide them over the object. Once you get all the loops over the object, then start to tighten/work the coils over the cylinder forming the IC. Then peel off the ends, use a tube bender, and make the angles you need to clear the pot. Whole process takes about 10min and a beer. Also - regardless what anyone may say, make the IC. Once I had it I wondered why the heck I didn't make it sooner. It's awesome to see that wort temp fall to pitch temp in 5min.

The one gallon glass jugs are fun. I won't discourage that - except to say I like the 2gal buckets better. They take up less room, are easy to double up in the fridge for lagering, and offer more headspace for the kruesen. You don't get to watch the show, and most of the time they don't seal great so you don't get to watch the bubbles.

RiteBrew and MoreBeer both have 3gal clear PET carboys for cheap, so it might be worth your while to grab one just for when you want to do a large batch. Otherwise, find a Primo's Watercooler drop point and get a 5gal cooler for 13.00 (the ones with the blue handles are PET). I like plastic over glass - personal preference.
 
As far as heat goes, add hotter strike water as mentioned and preheat your mlt with hot water. And consider insulating the lid of the mlt. Coolers are designed to let hot air out of the top so the lids are not insulated. For my 10g Gatorade cooler, I drilled tiny holes in the top and filled it with foam insulate. I drop 2 degrees in a hour on a cold day.
 
For the fermentation, I was thinking since the four 1 gallon carboys were so cheap, I could spread out 2.5 gallons into three of them pretty easily, which would let me use different blends of yeast strains. Is that not really a feasible idea? A single food-grade plastic tub would be cheaper, but the glass just seems more appealing. Minus the potential beer bomb you mention!

Good tip on the bottles, too. Can't believe I didn't think about that.

That's feasible, and I encourage you to experiment. But you'll be getting about 6-8 bottles from each fermenter if you're using them as primary fermentation vessels. That adds a lot of extra work... especially if you're just beginning. Lot's of extra cleaning, sanitizing and mixing priming sugar, not to mention a vial of yeast is $7. Multiply that by four. You can certainly use one vial and split them between fermenters, but you'll get a more consistent product if you ferment in one vessel. Also, keeping ferment temps in check will be easier in one fermenter should you need to use a swamp cooler or something. Don't be scared of plastic. Just a few things to think about.

Definitely get some one gallon jugs, you'll use them. Whether it be for starters, mixing star-san, or fermentation as you suggested.

Oh, and definitely don't buy bottles. You can probably get a case of cheap beer for the price of what they'll charge for 24 empty bottles!

Happy brewing.
 
How can this be? Explain.


Ok not literally but Starsan reportedly lasts longer in distilled water than regular tap. My limited understanding is that the lack of minerals keeps the Ph closer to where it needs to be in order to be effective. I know I made a batch with tap water and it was cloudy within a couple weeks. I then bought a few gallons of distilled and over a month later it's still crystal clear.


Sent from my iPad using Home Brew
 

Latest posts

Back
Top