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Leighton

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I've been bartending for years, and it's finally time for me to start doing some brewing for myself. This forum has been great for lurking until this point, but now I to get some input.

I'm going to build my set up over the next few months, buying one nice piece of equipment at a time. I'd eventually like to upgrade to all grain, so I want to make sure that what I buy now will be usable when I reach that point.

I'm considering buying this kettle. I've read elsewhere that I should just go straight for a Blichmann, and a 15 gallon at that. This makes me think I should get an economy 10 gallon that I can easily upgrade, because that is such a daunting purchase for my first kettle.

I'm also planning to buy this starter kit. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance for the help, guys. I'm looking forward to talking to all of you.
 

eastoak

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for less than the price of that kettle you could convert a sanke keg but if you don't want to go that route the midwest kettle is fine. the starter kit is too expensive in my view, you do get a beer kit with it but no hydrometer.
 

johnturner9

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I can't speak about the kettle but the starter kit is top notch. It's what I have, and started with the Caribou slobber, which was awesome!
 

Mtn_Brewer

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If it's in your means, I'd recommend going with the 10 gal Blichmann. With a false bottom and hopblock, the system is unbeatable and you are unlikely to grow out if it anytime soon. With a cheap 5-7 gal basic pot for sparge water and a couple of food grade plastic buckets, you are set for all grain 5 gal batches. After a few years I got a 20 gal for 10 gal batches but I still mostly use the 10 gal. I like to brew and love variety, so I prefer 5 gal batches.

Here are a few shots of my Blichmann 10 and brewing evolution from stove-top extract to garage turkey fryer to RIMS:

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Leighton

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I've been told that if I'm going to go with Blichmann that I should buy the 15 gallon and be done with it. I just worry this a ballsy set up for my first kit, but to be fair those kettles retain value unbelievably well.

Does your thermometer work at 5 gallons?
 

iijakii

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It's common group-think on HBT to coerce people into buying the 15 gallons because everyone assumes the natural progression is to go bigger. If you ever think there's a chance you'll want to do 10 gallons then yes, go for the 15g pot. If you're fairly positive you won't be doing 10 gal batches then just get the 10s.
 
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Leighton

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I think 10 gallons would be reasonable to assume I would want to do at some point. I just don't want to have to dump a ton of money in to an upgrade to all grain after spending $400 on a kettle.
 

iijakii

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Just read around on the forums. There are much cheaper ways to get brewing. You don't need a Blingman.

You could get a 15gal kettle and cooler mash tun for the same price, probably less even. That's basically all you need for all grain.
 

stevehaun

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I would get the 55 gallon Blinger. I am on my 5th boil kettle, a 55 gallon SS drum.
I went from 5 gal to 7.5 gal to 15 gal keggle to 25 gal megapot to 55 gal SS drum.

Seriously, I would buy a pot big enough to do 10 gallon batches as I think this is where most homebrewers end up. You can still do 5 gallon batches in the bigger pot. So, I would recommend somewhere in the 15-20 gallon range.
 

eastoak

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Just read around on the forums. There are much cheaper ways to get brewing. You don't need a Blingman.

You could get a 15gal kettle and cooler mash tun for the same price, probably less even. That's basically all you need for all grain.
this is very true. i'm not a blichmann hater, the top tier stand and mash module are in my brew house right now. when i started out i bought a used 10 gallon boilermaker for $300 which i loved but when i discovered keggles i switched over to them and the blichmann just sat around doing nothing until i sold it to buy the tower of power mash module. the 15 gallon kettle sold at morebeer and other places is a great value and it's every bit as good as the blichmann.
 
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Leighton

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People seem to say that if I don't get the nicest pot I can afford I will regret it.
 

D-MOTITAN

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IMHO......I think using a keggle is the way to go. Spending all that money on a pot seams better spent on a pump, fermentation control, a grain mill and such. If money is not the issue than I am sure you wont regret it. A polished keg is a beautiful thiing.:)
 

mcangeli

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I'm working up to buy the local Budwiser plant. I figure go big or go home.

;)

I've started with a basic pot from William Sonoma with a spigot on it. I'd put my money on carboys (plastic or glass) to ferment in as opposed to a kettle.....
 
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Leighton

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So pretty much no one agrees. I guess I'll just do whatever I feel like doing.
 

movet22

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My 2 cents? Start buy buying this book: http://www.walmart.com/ip/2191155?a...1=g&wl2=&wl3=21486607510&wl4=&wl5=pla&veh=sem

Most people here will agree it is a great read. It was my number one resource during my extract years and its a fun read to boot.

Second, if you are unsure of how big of a pot you need and money is an issue, then go with (man I hope I don't get torched for this) a 10 gal aluminum. I got mine for ~$50 and was able to add valves and a boil screen easily (I am in no way handy, so this is a testament to how easy it is).

I learned two things quickly, I love making beer, and because of that, I wanted to go all grain. well guess what- I was only a cheap rubbermaid setup from that. Now that I have traded in my monopoly money lifelstyle for a real one, I was able to manage a [modest] kettle upgrade to on 15 gal ss pot (I am using another 8 gal SS pot that was a gift from my parents with plans to upgrade soon.) But the first 5 years of brewing, both extract and AG, were done with super cost-efficient aluminum.

My point is, while I would love 3 20 gal blichmanns, I feel the money can be better used elsewhere because a 15 gal SS concord pot with self installed weldless fittings, works shockingly well ;)

set your budget, plan for 3-5 years from now and make your plans accordingly. If you can afford a big SS guy now, I'd go for it, but I know that lots of us can't/couldn't. Best of luck to you sir, and welcome to the addiction.
 

LandoLincoln

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So pretty much no one agrees. I guess I'll just do whatever I feel like doing.
Do you have friends that like to drink craft beers? A big part of this hobby is sharing what you brew. My friend and I started out with a five gallon setup, but we realized that splitting five gallons between the two of us was just too small, so we went to a 10 gallon setup, and while that's enough beer for the both of us, we like to give out sixers to people, so now we're working on a 15 gallon setup.

Blichmann stuff is very nice, and would probably be the way to go if you're not a DIY type of person. But if you are a DIY type, then there's quite a few other options that will save you some cash. Keggles are great for up to 10 gallon batches, and since you work with distributors, you can probably get your hands on some decommissioned sanke kegs for pretty cheap.
 

Monster Mash

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So pretty much no one agrees. I guess I'll just do whatever I feel like doing.
I think everyone agrees to buy something you won't outgrow in a year or two. It's up to you how much you want to spend.

I started off with an 8 gallon pot doing 5 gallon batches, now I have 30 gallon pots doing 25 gallon batches. It took me 19 years to get where I'm at so I would not buy 30 gallon pots right off the bat....
 

eastoak

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if you can afford the blichmann and all of the other gear then you won't regret any of it. if you later decide to go to a bigger kettle or even keggles your old blichmann kettles will sell, fast.
 

SpentGrains

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Keggles are great for up to 10 gallon batches, and since you work with distributors, you can probably get your hands on some decommissioned sanke kegs for pretty cheap.
Seriously, this is how I would go if I had the contacts in the industry- All keggles, 1/4 barrels as fermenters, 1/6 barrel for serving, yadda yadda yadda...
 
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Leighton

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Keggles make me a little nervous. They aren't made with the intention to withstand that kind of heat. Does anyone have any issues with warping, or anything like that?

Also, another question: What size sparge water pot would you need for 10 gallon batches?
 

DrHops

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The most bang for your buck would be the 60 quart Concord pot on eBay for $100 shipped. It's stainless steel and at least two vendors here on HBT buy them, add either weldless or welded fittings to them and then resell them. I've read nothing but great reviews of them on here. I'm already on my third brew pot in 4 years. I went from an 8 gallon stainless steel, to a 20 gallon aluminum and I just ordered the 60 qt Concord pot from eBay. I learned the hard way that aluminum brew pots don't work well for electric brewing (the electric element will not fit through a 1.25 inch hole in an aluminum pot).
 

GlenF

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Probably 10 gallons.

If you want to brew 10 gallon batches, get a 15 gallon pot (keg or other). Have another keg or 10 gallon kettle for strike/ sparge. You do NOT need Blichman. It's $$$ for no other reason than bling. Just get a decent kettle that can hold water. The beer won't be able to tell the difference.

And no, I've not had any problems with my keg kettle. It's handled lots of heat for awhile now.
 
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Leighton

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I think I'm probably going to buy a 10 gallon SS economy pot (maybe polar ware?), and then upgrade to a really nice 15 or 20 gallon once I switch to all grain, and make the 10 gallon my strike/sparge pot. That seems like the logical thing to do. Mainly since everyone on here seems to have a different way of doing things and thinks it is the best way to do it.

Once you switch to AG you need two burners, is that correct?
 

eastoak

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Keggles make me a little nervous. They aren't made with the intention to withstand that kind of heat. Does anyone have any issues with warping, or anything like that?

Also, another question: What size sparge water pot would you need for 10 gallon batches?
sanke kegs are made of stainless steel, just like most brewing kettles. i don't know what the thickness is on a sanke but it's thicker than most other kettles i've seen, certainly thicker than a blichmann kettle.
 

Monster Mash

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Keggles make me a little nervous. They aren't made with the intention to withstand that kind of heat. Does anyone have any issues with warping, or anything like that?

Also, another question: What size sparge water pot would you need for 10 gallon batches?
If you can boil wort in an aluminum pot a SS keg will definitely withstand the heat....
 

LandoLincoln

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Keggles make me a little nervous. They aren't made with the intention to withstand that kind of heat. Does anyone have any issues with warping, or anything like that?

Also, another question: What size sparge water pot would you need for 10 gallon batches?
No, no warping issues whatsoever with at least 15 batches in. The steel is pretty thick. Those things were designed to take a lot of abuse, so they made them pretty sturdy. The only thing that you have to worry about is making sure that some drain holes are already existing or are drilled into the bottom rim of the keg, or else you could have some serious problems. Every keg I've ever seen already has the holes drilled.

I have a second keg for use as an HLT, but I could get away with a 10 gallon HLT since most of my beers are around 1.050 OG and I use around 1.5 quarts per gallon for strike water. We did a 1.074 batch of beer once and if we had brewed our usual 10 gallon batch, then a 10 gallon HLT really would have been pushing it, even at 1.25 quarts per gallon.
 

Lushife

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The concord pots mentioned above are what I'm looking at. I got a step bit on amazon for like$10 pr $15. You need a little patience but adding a weld less valve isn't that difficult and can save you a lot. I'm doing 5 gallon batches now and moving to AG so I'm looking at maybe getting a 15gallon pot in case I decode to move to 10 gallons. I don't really see myself going more than that.
 
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