Getting Started with All-Grain

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ProfessorBrew

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I've been brewing extract and partial mash brews for a year and a half now. I'm ready to step up to All-Grain. Any ideas on how to get started cheaply? Brew in a bag? Cooler mash tun?

Thanks for your comments.
 
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BIAB would probably be the cheapest.. though the best thing to get first would be a quality pot, a couple gallons larger than the largest batch you plan on doing.. that way you wouldn't' have to re-purchase anything which is the worst..
 
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I'd do a cooler mash tun. You can build one with a hose braid for pretty cheap. Coolers are pretty reasonable at the Home Depot. BargainFittings is a great place for valves. You can go cheap with brass or spend the money to upgrade to stainless.
 
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That's a good point, I was assuming you had a big enough pot to do a full boil. I get by with a single 7 gallon pot and a cooler mash tun. Barely. You'll probably need and immersion chiller if you don't have one.
 
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ProfessorBrew

ProfessorBrew

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I have a 7.5 gallon brew pot. I think that's big enough for a full boil of a 5-gallon batch, isn't it?
 

bchurch

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ProfessorBrew said:
I have a 7.5 gallon brew pot. I think that's big enough for a full boil of a 5-gallon batch, isn't it?
You might get the occasional boil over if you don't keep an eye on it
 

Beer-lord

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I have a 7.5 gallon brew pot. I think that's big enough for a full boil of a 5-gallon batch, isn't it?
That wouldn't be enough for me but you could make it work. I have a 9 gallon and I cheat to put 15.5 lbs of grain in it for a BIAB. My last brew 2 weeks ago had the water to the very top and stirring was a chore but I got great effeciency (82%).
But, in your case, you could do a BIAB and then a simple sparge and you should be ok. Hopefully those who have similar equipment can chime in about how they go about this. Some remove the bag and dunk it in hot water. I've not tried that so I can't say how efficient it is.
 

daksin

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I do 5.5 gallon batches in a 7.5 gallon turkey fryer. I always start with 7 gallons- you really really need to keep an eye on it and use some fermcap in the boil. I boil 7 gallons down to 6 in an hour, lose about a half gallon to trub, and end up with 5.5 gallons of clear beer so my kegs are always 100% filled.

I started on BIAB thinking I would go to a traditional 3-vessel setup quick enough, but have never changed. BIAB is just too simple, and produces excellent beers. There's nothing you can't do with BIAB except maybe fly-sparge, but I don't much care for that and imagine it wouldn't be hard to do if you really really wanted to (kind of defeats the purpose of BIAB though, haha). A lot of people start out with the paint strainers, but I just made the switch to the Bed/Bath/Beyond mesh laundry bag- it's way larger so I can mash in the full volume of my BK (which for me means up to 22lbs of grain with a thick mash!!!), sturdier, and has a drawstring. Good stuff. I would say start on BIAB and never look back!
 

Pie_Man

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ProfessorBrew said:
I have a 7.5 gallon brew pot. I think that's big enough for a full boil of a 5-gallon batch, isn't it?
I too have this size kettle. I've done BIAB and all grain with a cooler mash tun. I had to do smaller, about 3.5 gallon, BIAB batches to get everything to fit without sparging; you can sparge in another pot to increase your volume. That varies depending on your recipe. The kettle is better when using a cooler to mash in, but the water level is still pretty high. I learned to add at least a portion of my bittering hops just before I reach a roiling boil. Unhopped wort will boil up very quickly and boil over. In my experience, you can use this pot, it's better with the cooler mash tun setup, but I'll be upgrading shortly. I have a keg, I just need to convert it.
 

cmybeer

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Other than that you need and immersion or plate chiller for cooling that much wort. Your 7.5 gallon pot should work for normal boils but could be cutting it close right at the beginning of the boil when adding hops. A nice wooden mash paddle is nice but not necessary. Another nice but unnecessary item are the brewpot thermometers for heating your strike water and if you do go with BIAB it would be nice to have as well I would imagine for mash temp.
 

BrewinHooligan

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I had a spare rectangular cooler laying around that I converted with a stainless braid for around $15... Craigslist has cheap and possibly free coolers that are great for this. I have an 8 gallon tamale pot that I bought for $20 so I was able to go this route very cheaply. I still haven't gotten a chiller and can get down to pitching temps in about 30 minutes with an ice bath. About 2 weeks in the fridge after carbing takes care of the chill haze. No matter what you do, you will make beer and it will be rewarding and most likely very good. :mug:
 
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