All grain equipment for new brewer- pots, mash tun, etc

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Jumbo82

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I've only been brewing for a few months, but its quickly becoming an obsession. A couple months ago I only had a primary bucket, now I have 5 carboys and am concerned I may need more soon. I was going to make the transition to partial mash brewing, but I realized that since I know I'll be doing all-grain eventually, I might as well just get on with it and skip that transition step. I'd like to dive head-long and get equipment that will allow me to make 10 gallon batches. I'll start out with 5 gallon batches until I'm comfortable with the process, but from what I've read it seems like if I'm going to spend the time to brew a 5 gallon batch, I might as well invest the extra time to make a 10 gallon one. So, for those of you experienced all grain brewers, if you were starting out today, what equipment would you buy (with quality taking priority over cost-cutting, but obviously you don't have a blank check -[i.e. no conical fermenters])?

Keep in mind I'm not much of a DIY guy. I was thinking of getting this http://www.northernbrewer.com/allgrain.html kit along with a 15 gallon Megapot with ball valve and thermometer (http://www.northernbrewer.com/kettles.html). From what I've read, it sounds like the Bayou Classic Cast Iron Burner is a good size for 10 gallon batches. And a standard 10-20 gallon immersion chiller. Recommended grain mill? Other "must haves" (aeration, refractometer, etc)? I've been reading lots of other threads, but it seems like most people are upgrading or building their own all-grain systems, so I've had trouble finding out what would be ideal for my situation. There is probably a thread very similar to this one somewhere. If so, a link to it would be helpful. Thanks in advance for any feedback.
 

Lil' Sparky

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The NB setup you pointed to will work fine for low-medium gravity 10 gal batches, but will be to small if you want to do a big beer (although you could still do a 5 gal batch). My 15.5 gal MLT was maxed out doing 10 gals of the 08-08-08 RIS.

A 15 gal pot is right on the limit of being too small IMO for 10 gal batches. I usually shoot for 11 gals post-boil, which means 13-13.5 gals pre-boil, and usually at least a little boil-over. The Megapots are nice, but really 'spensive. If you can find a 1/2 BBL keg on craigslist, scrapyard, etc. and willing to convert that yourself, you can save quite a bit of cash. You can also buy completely converted keggles online but that may not save you much.

And most turkey fryers will be adequate for boiling 10 gal batches. My stand has the same burners and I've never had a problem.

Any grain mill will do fine (love my Barley Crusher), but I wouldn't call that a necessity. You can buy your grains pre-crushed, unless you want to buy bulk grain and save some $$. I'd put this on your future want list.

And it's not a necessity, but once you go this route, you may find yourself wanting a ready-to-go setup/stand rather than trying to southern engineer something where you can drain from one vessel to the next. My brew day has become considerable easier and more relaxing since I built mine.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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You are in a great position and are going about this the right way. You will save a lot of money by purchasing nice equipment up front (IMHO).

I think direct fir is the way to go. This is what I would purchase:

3 - 15g megapots with thermometers and ball valves
1 - bayou burner
2 - 35,000 BTU more adjustable burners (I got mine from LHBS)
1 - false bottom for mash tun
1 - trub screen for BK
1 - at least 50' immersion chiller
8 - feet of silicon tubing
1 - aeration setup (air or O2)

This is what I would start with. All of these items will fit into a "dream system" when you decide what that means for you and you likely will not have to upgrade from these items. If you are not capable of setting up a brew stand of some sort, I would just get the cheap 3 tier system from Morebeer.com. If you outgrow that you could sell or trade it.

Good luck!
 

abracadabra

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I'd add corny kegs to your wish list. Bottling is a PITA. Also cornies make great secondary fermenters.

A Banjo burner from bayou classics.

I'm real happy with my Keggle but like Sparky sez it's tight for 10 gal.

A digital thermometer and a calibration themometer.

I made my brew stand out of 2 each ($89) folding scaffolds but 1 could be modified to work. But having 2 will allow me enough room to have 2 each 10 gal. brews going at the same time and have 4 tiers so that I can gravity feed all the way into the fermenter.
 
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Jumbo82

Jumbo82

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I just took a look at the Morebeer.com brewing scuptures, man do those things look cool! I'll have to put one of those on my wishlist.

Boerderij Kabouter said:
I think direct fir is the way to go. This is what I would purchase:
I couldn't tell if that is a reference to a company I haven't heard of, or just a typo. I think if I bought everything on that list I'd be in damn good shape for some serious brewing, although if that all arrived at the house on the same day SWMBO might freak a bit. I'll have to space out my orders... ;). Thanks guys for all your input!
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Oh yeah, that is "direct fire". Good catch.

Oh and don't worry, my wife freaks out and my stuff is always spaced out. The key is to brew good beer, so you can at least claim that all the toys are worth it. At least that works for me. Although if my wife was not a fan of beer this would be more difficult!:D
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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My only real suggestion is to fully plan out a great system and start buying toward that system from the beginning. I wasted a lot of cash while figuring out I liked brewing. If I would have started buying quality equipment earlier it would have been much better.

Cheers
 
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Jumbo82

Jumbo82

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Alright, I'm back on this thread again after more than a week. I was going to order this all-grain set up (https://morebeer.com/view_product/16773/102321) for $1450, but then I realized they ship from California and it would cost me over $450 to get the equipment to New Hampshire. Its 9-10 weeks to build, and who knows how long to ship across the country by freight. So I have two questions; first, is there a company closer to the east cost that makes similar all-grain brewing set ups? And second, is there any reason I should reconsider purchasing a unit like the one on morebeer.com? Thanks again.
 

Bobby_M

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The stand is the part that's making it really expensive to ship. You could easily have any metal fabrication shop bang it out for you. However, if you commit to go this far, you might want to consider a single tier setup with a pump to move liquids. I just can't get my head around climbing up a ladder to dough into a mash tun that's nearly over your head.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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I agree with Bobby, a local fab shop could do it for you. Or you could go talk to your local technical college and have the work done for free as a project in a welding class. You will likely need to supply the metal though.

Free is always worth a try.
 

jdoiv

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I bought the 1500 sculpture from Morebeer about 7 years ago. I have been very happy with it. However if I were going to do it again I would consider one thing before moving forward: space.

If you have the space for a single tier, go with the Brutus 10 plans. If you look around the sight you'll find them easily. If you have the bucks and space, get the new brew pots from Blichmann

I would get the 20 gallon boil pot, 20 gallon MLT and 15 gallon HLT.

If you don't have a ton of space, then I would get the 1550 from Morebeer. It has a tippy dump MLT which will come in handy.


I'm actually starting to think about adding the 20 gallon brewpot from Blichmann to my 1550. I should be able to get it to fit with a little work on the stand.
 
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Jumbo82

Jumbo82

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Thanks for the advice everyone. Yeah, I agree that the 1550 would be easier to use since you wouldn't need to climb a ladder to brew. They claim its their most popular unit, so that tells me something right there. The Brutus 10 and 20 both look very cool, but unfortunately I'm not enough of a DIY guy to undertake a project of that size. Thats why I was leaning towards purchasing a pre-fab set up. Space won't be an issue since I'll be setting it up in a barn. If someone is selling a used all-grain set up in the New England area, let me know. It stinks that I have to ship something that massive from California... I'll keep looking around locally.
 

jdoiv

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Two things. You can take the plans of the Brutus 10/20 to any welding/machine shop and get a quote on having them build it. It won't be cheap, but it will be less than the 1550 + shipping by a long shot. You will have to source your kettles, burners, hoses and such, but that isn't anything like trying to learn to weld.

Second, if that doesn't work for you, then the shipping on the 1550 really won't be that bad. This will be a purchase that will last a really long time so long as you stay in the hobby. Plus it comes with most everything you need right from the get go. If you have the bucks, you really can't go wrong with it. Yes you do have to wait for it, but I can say, it is well worth it.
 
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Jumbo82

Jumbo82

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I'm getting ready to order a sculpture from morebeer.com, but I can't decide between the B3-2100 (http://morebeer.com/view_product/15283/102326) and the B3-2050 (http://morebeer.com/view_product/15256/102327). Both units make 20 gallon batches, and the difference between $2350 and $2550 is too small to be a deciding factor. Plus with the various control panel options and shipping, I'm looking at close to $4000 either way anyway.

"The Flag Ship of our Sculpture fleet, the B3-2050, is an evolution of the B3-2000. We took the 2000 Sculpture and redesigned the stand to accomodate a Tippy-Dump Mashtun. The Mashtun is supported by a stainless basket that rotates on a triangular base, allowing the whole unit to pivot. After mashing is over unlock the mash tun and rotate backwards to dump spent grain down the stainless steel grain chute and into a trash can."

Versus

"The B3-2100 is our newest Sculpture design and features great accessability. All three kettles are at the same low height so that you can easily work without the aid of a step-ladder. Stirring in the cracked grain (grist) into the Mashtun on this Sculpture is an easier job than with our other Sculptures where a step-ladder is needed.

While easy access and viewing are the assets of this Sculpture, the two trade-offs are 1) Instead of gravity flow of wort from Masthutn tank to Boil Kettle you are pumping wort from your mashtun into the boil kettle. This requires precise control of the pump to slow the flow down and extend the sparge time. 2) We don't offer a Tippy-Dump Mashtun on this unit, so more time will be required to empty spent grains from the Mashtun."

I plan on placing my order later this week. I'm sure I'd be happy with either unit, but since its a toss up for me at this point I thought I'd check with the professionals first. I like how the 2100 has each kettle in a row versus the 2050 has the mash tun and hot tank stacked. I'd be using pumps and a control panel in either system to recirculate, so the benefits of the gravity configuration in the 2050 seems meaningless. This appears to be the main difference. Since space and weight won't be issues, I'm thinking that maybe the 2100 is a better for me due to its convenient layout. Am I missing something with the 2050. It is their "flagship" afterall. Although the 2100 is their newest design (future flagship?). You see my dillemma? If anyone has some input to sway be either way I'd appreciate it. I plan to call morebeer support later in the day to speak with a representative, just want to do a bit of research beforehand. Thanks!
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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I wish I had your problems:cross:

Both systems are awesome and will make top shelf beer once you know how to use them. Gravity is nice for sparging. With a pump you must be careful not to draw a vacuum on the mash tun and compact the grain bed. That said, the vast majority of people on this site and everywhere else do not use a grant to cure this "problem" and make fantastic beer. I think The multi-level systems look cooler, but a lot of people prefer the looks of a single tier. The tippy dump feature is nice, because your mash will weigh upward of ~70lbs when you need to get rid of the spent grains. But I am sure that is not a very big deal when the kettle is only a couple feet up.

Please keep us posted when you get your new brewery! I would love to see this thing in action!

Cheers
 

Lil' Sparky

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If I had to choose, I'd go with the 2100. I recently moved from a 3-tier to a single-tier and much prefer it.

Make sure you post lots of pictures when you finally get it up and running.

Oh, and you do know morebeer has a forum that a lot of their sculpture owners use. Not trying to run you off, we've got much more brewing-related info here, but you might want to pose the same Q over there and see what kind of feedback you get.

Cheers :mug:
 
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Jumbo82

Jumbo82

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Thanks for the input guys. Whatever I get, I'm definately be showing it off with plenty of pictures :). I just received an email from morebeer saying that shipping will take 4-6 weeks, plus 11-12 weeks of build time. Crazy. I priced out the 2100 system with all the features I wanted and it came out to $4000, plus $640 shipping. I compared this to the Sabco Brew-Magic which is $5000 with only $60 shipping from Ohio. And its ready to be shipped in 3-5 weeks. At first I was going to go with morebeer sculptures because they were cheaper, but after adding features and upgrades its starting to look like I should just go with the "Cadilac" of brew systems and get the Brew-Magic. And I'd get it before summer. Either that or buy an igloo cooler... Well, I'll keep you posted.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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11-12 weeks of build time! and 4-6 weeks shipping! Wow, are they widdling the steel frame from a single stainless block and shipping over the high seas through the panama canal!? Or are they just soooo swamped with $5,000 orders that they can't get it turned around faster?

Yuri could make one of those in 45 minutes probably:rockin:

I had no idea their turnaround would be so slow. I would change gears and go with the Sabco for the extra cash. I would die a slow and horrible death in the 4+ months of waiting.....but that's just me.
 

Lil' Sparky

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Yeah, my stand took 4-5 hours of total work. And I've only got about $100 in it. Well, more like $500 if you count the pump, kettles, chiller, etc. :D

 
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Jumbo82

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Looks just like the Brew-Magic! How'd you do it?
 

jdoiv

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Well, I think the best thing to consider is how you plan to sparge.

If you are planning to do batch sparges, go with the 2100. Everything is on the same level and you don't need a step ladder to stir the mash. You can always use a small bucket to scoop out the spent grains for easier disposal. This system doesn't lend itself to doing fly sparges very easily though as you will need two pumps and have to be careful on watching the flow rates and making sure you don't compact the grains with too much suction. A fly sparge should float a little in the kettle for best efficiency and to prevent channeling.

If you plan on fly sparging, I would get the 2050. Only one pump is needed and you can get it with a float control switch so you don't have to baby the sparge as much. Gravity will handle the rest. Plus you get the tippy dump tun which will save your back big time. You can batch sparge on it, but will need to climb up and down a couple of times during this, which can be a bit or a pain (or part of your weekly workout). If you go this route, get the step option, it will save you from moving the step stool around constantly and forgetting where you put it last.

I have the 1500 which is very similar to the 2050, just no tippy dump tun and only 10 gallon batches. If I were to buy another sculpture from Morebeer, I would get the 2050 with the step and all the control panel options. That said, if I were to upgrade my current set up, I would probably go the route that Lil'Sparky has gone and have a welding shop build me something for a fraction of the cost. I wouldn't get all the cool control panel options, but it would be a good batch sparge set up that would be easy to brew on.

Or you could spend the extra dough and do the Sabco. Those are nice.
 

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