Quantcast

Going All-Grain...

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Stevorino

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
936
Reaction score
2
Location
Alpharetta, GA
Hey everyone, I want to move to All-Grain within the next month or two and have begun saving/planning the purchase of the necessary equipment.

I've done some searches for other topics on the forum, but none seem to have the answers I'm looking for: I'm interested in spending between $400 and $600 initially on my setup but don't want to have to replace things in the future (ex: buy a bigger brewpot in a year or two to accommodate 10 gallon batches).

Right now I have essentially what I need to get by w/ Extract brewing and a 32 oz Brewpot (I know I want a bigger one!).

Also, for what it's worth, I want the system to be fairly efficient for both infusion and decoction mashing. Eventually, I'd like to automate as much as possible. Overall though, quality is of the utmost concern-- and if I have to spend a few hundred dollars more to achieve a considerably higher quality, so be it!:mug:

Thanks!

P.S.-- I'm going to get a Keg System this Summer/Fall-- Not as part of this investment to All-Grain.
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,398
Reaction score
116
Here is what I built... total cost about $500... very efficient, maintains temps without alot of hassle (no recirculating or anything). Just simple infusion mashes... 10 gallon coolers.

 

brewhead

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
832
Reaction score
7
with allgrain bigger is ALWAYS better - make your equipment selections based on expansion in the future even though you firmly beileve that you'll never brew more than 5 gallons at a time. i'll bet you dollars to doughnuts you'll live to eat those words
 

Gammon N Beer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2007
Messages
708
Reaction score
10
Location
WI
You have a plan. That is, in MHO the most important component.

Look to pick up a keg as a brew kettle. Turkey fryers are on sale this time of year, look on Craig's list for a propane tank. Search around and you will come up with a keg. Then, convert it yourself or do so with a friend.

And maybe that would be useful to you. Take on a brew partner and split the costs.
 

slnies

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2007
Messages
851
Reaction score
10
Location
Maple Lake MN
I am building a RIMs set up. It is slightly automated, and I will have spent about 200$ when I am done. If I went all out, I could, for your price range build a sixteen gallon MLT, 16 gallon HLT and expand my kettle to fit. The point here is, you can get a lot for your money if you put time into finding what you want. So start your design by defining what it is you want out of the system, that will give you the direction you want to go. Build from there. Your brew sculpture will be a work in progress for years. So enjoy the journey. Good luck.
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
24,826
Reaction score
3,499
Location
Whitehouse Station
I would definitely buy looking to 10 gallon batches. When you invest 5 hours minimum into a brew, 5 gallons just doesn't seem worth it especially when it's a recipe you know you like.

To give you a baseline, my 48qt cooler is big enough for 10 gallons of 1.065 max wort using batch sparging.

You can pull off good all grain beers with just a cooler mash tun with a stainless braid and a large kettle (15 gallon minimum for 10 gallong batches). You can continue to use your current pot to heat water. Two propane fired outdoor burners will move the day along a lot faster than one.
 
OP
Stevorino

Stevorino

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
936
Reaction score
2
Location
Alpharetta, GA
Awesome Feedback guys-- thanks!

Are coolers the best mashing vessel? I want to be able to do Infusion, Step, & Decoction Mashing w/ whatever setup I create.

Other than the mashing vessel, this is what I'm thinking I need:

Keggle for brewpot, w/ thermometer & Ball valve
Tubing
Copper Immersion Chiller
Fly Sparging Arm (Fly or Batch is better?)
Propane Burner
Propane Tank


What else am I missing to make this better/easier? I'm planning on buying big enough for 10 gallon batches.
 

Gammon N Beer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2007
Messages
708
Reaction score
10
Location
WI
Stevorino said:
Awesome Feedback guys-- thanks!

Are coolers the best mashing vessel? I want to be able to do Infusion, Step, & Decoction Mashing w/ whatever setup I create.

Other than the mashing vessel, this is what I'm thinking I need:

Keggle for brewpot, w/ thermometer & Ball valve
Tubing
Copper Immersion Chiller
Fly Sparging Arm (Fly or Batch is better?)
Propane Burner
Propane Tank


What else am I missing to make this better/easier? I'm planning on buying big enough for 10 gallon batches.
You will get a lot of differing opinions on the fly vs batch sparge issue. Take a deep breath and read some more and ask some questions before you decide.
 

BierMuncher

...My Junk is Ugly...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2007
Messages
12,443
Reaction score
975
Location
St. Louis, MO
“Are coolers the best mashing vessel?…”
There the easiest. They hold a mash temp most consistently. They don’t lend themselves as well to step mashes and decoctions, because those methods involve changes in mash temps and would require mash be removed, heated in a separate vessel and reintroduced. (FWIW, I don’t step or decoct…)

Other than the mashing vessel, this is what I'm thinking I need:
Keggle for brewpot, w/ thermometer & Ball valve


Keggle yes. An installed thermometer and ball valve are a luxury. I use a simple digital thermometer and a racking cane to move the beer. I’ve no plans to install a spigot on my keggle.

Fly Sparging Arm (Fly or Batch is better?)
Batch is faster. Better? That’s up for debate. For me…faster is better. Also no need to sparge arm purchase.

Propane Burner & Propane Tank
Get two…eventually. Especially if you want to get to 10-gallon batches and cut your brew time down to 4+ hours.
 

enohcs

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2008
Messages
446
Reaction score
43
Location
Washington, DC
I've been building my grain system and here is the list I used with approximate prices as found at www.northernbrewer.com (easiest homebrew site to navigate):

Converted 12.5 keg for HLT: $130
Thermometer for HLT: $35
Propane burner (x2...one for HLT, one for Kettle): $75ea ($150 total)
10 Gal Cooler for Mash Tun: $70
I haven't yet found a thermometer for the mash that I like
Cooler conversion kit: $40
False Bottom: $30
Sparge Arm: $42
Converted 15.5 gal keg for kettle: $170
Thermometer (not required but helpful if using immersion chiller): $35
Wort Chiller: $100
Hoses and Tubes for transfer and chiller: $20


I would also recommend:
Pump: $130
Aeration setup (O2 tank, hose, diffusion stone): $40
Grain Mill: $120


Did I forget anything?
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,398
Reaction score
116
COOLERS... they are all I have used. You will want 10 gallon coolers, or 48 quart, whatever it is, 10 gallons is a minimum really.

STEP MASHING... is entirely possible and easy in a cooler. Your dough in will generally be around .9 or 1 qt/lb of malt, so that your second step does not give you an overly thin mash. Step mashing is not really necessary nowdays, but if you have to on the off chance, you certainly can with great results. Not hard to do a protien rest and and alpha...

They maintain temps like a champ... like nothing else. My Rubbermaids are generally losing (1) degree per hour while mashing.

I fly sparge... just because... I always have. You may gain a couple efficiency points, but it will cost you alot more time and attention.
 

abracadabra

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2006
Messages
1,923
Reaction score
9
Location
Newnan
BierMuncher said:
“
Fly Sparging Arm (Fly or Batch is better?)
Batch is faster. Better? That’s up for debate. For me…faster is better. Also no need to sparge arm purchase.

[.


No need for a sparge arm to fly sparge. Just take a piece of heavy duty alminum foil, pierce a series of holes in it and place it on top of your grain. Easy, cheap and reusable.

For me the ease of use of having a spigot on my keggle makes the price paid for the spigot & having it installed insignifigant.
 

FSR402

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 30, 2007
Messages
2,811
Reaction score
30
Location
Jenison, MI
My 10 gallon system is this.
15 gallon stainless kettle = $160 with the ball valve and thermometer
20 gallon cooler MLT = $100 for the cooler and the copper manifold/ball valve
7.5 gallon stainless HLT = $120 (with ball valve, thermometer, and site glass)
CFC = $70
2 LP burners = $80
And my 3 tier gravity feed tower (made of wood and piped for water) I have about $120 into it.

I do 10 gallon batches up to 1.070 then I drop to 5 gallons because of the boil size. When I get the money I will step up to a larger kettle and take the one I have and use it for the HLT.
 

Lil' Sparky

Cowboys EAC
Joined
Feb 6, 2006
Messages
3,952
Reaction score
91
Location
Honolulu, HI
My current setup is the single tier on the left. The steel was free, but here's what I've got into it.

Kegs - $50 ea with fittings = $150
Pump + QDs - $150
CFC - $65
Plumbing for stand - $100

So that's only $465. I've probably also got another $50 in various other bits (thermos, mash paddle, etc.) You can have a really nice setup for what you're wanting to spend, especially if you're willing to DIY on some of it. The 3-tier on the right is also mine, which eliminates the $150 pump if you let gravity do the work.

I would agree with the others that a cooler MLT is probably the easiest since it holds heat better, but I really like the keg MLT because it's more flexible. I'm able to direct-fire it to heat the strike water and raise the temps during step mashes or for a mashout. It's also big enough to hold the 35-36 lbs of grain to do 10 gals of 1.088 Russian Imperial Stout. 10 gal coolers don't have that capacity. Just another perspective.

 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
24,826
Reaction score
3,499
Location
Whitehouse Station
I understand wanting ultimate flexibility and all, but for someone just getting into all grain, there is nothing more cheap and simple than a cooler with a stainless braid in it (meant for batch sparging). No, it's not perfect for step mashes but you're just getting into all grain. Your first battle is making beer that's drinkable. You can get fancy on batch 20 if you like.
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,398
Reaction score
116
If you are getting 10 gallon coolers, get then at ACE Hardware if you can... last I checked they were $50 with free shipping to your local store.
 
OP
Stevorino

Stevorino

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
936
Reaction score
2
Location
Alpharetta, GA
abracadabra said:
No need for a sparge arm to fly sparge. Just take a piece of heavy duty alminum foil, pierce a series of holes in it and place it on top of your grain. Easy, cheap and reusable.

For me the ease of use of having a spigot on my keggle makes the price paid for the spigot & having it installed insignifigant.
:ban: Dumb Question Alert: :ban:

What do you use the spicket in the keggle for?
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,398
Reaction score
116
To drain the wort after it has cooled? To use as a way to pump hot water from it if you are utilizing a march pump to transfer water to your tuns. It basically negates the necessity to syphon from the keggle.
 

Lil' Sparky

Cowboys EAC
Joined
Feb 6, 2006
Messages
3,952
Reaction score
91
Location
Honolulu, HI
Bobby_M said:
I understand wanting ultimate flexibility and all, but for someone just getting into all grain, there is nothing more cheap and simple than a cooler with a stainless braid in it (meant for batch sparging). No, it's not perfect for step mashes but you're just getting into all grain. Your first battle is making beer that's drinkable. You can get fancy on batch 20 if you like.
Bobby, I couldn't agree with you more. However, Stevorino's post made it sound like he was already looking into the future, even going beyond what I've got (automation). For someone who has that kind of foresight, even though they're just starting, I think it's an option he should consider. And besides, you are perfectly able to do a single infusion + batch sparge with a keg MLT (I have many times), and building one doesn't really cost much more than a cooler setup.

Stevorino said:
Also, for what it's worth, I want the system to be fairly efficient for both infusion and decoction mashing. Eventually, I'd like to automate as much as possible. Overall though, quality is of the utmost concern-- and if I have to spend a few hundred dollars more to achieve a considerably higher quality, so be it!:mug:
 
OP
Stevorino

Stevorino

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
936
Reaction score
2
Location
Alpharetta, GA
Thanks for posting pics/descriptions of your current systems guys-- that's been super helpful in this process-- and actually, the MOST helpful is showing these and then saying what you are going to do next to upgrade it-- it's been really interesting/informative. Thanks for the help so far, I'm still planning/considering different options-- more help is welcome!
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
24,826
Reaction score
3,499
Location
Whitehouse Station
I'm on the fence with this one. He's clearly read enough to know what step mashes and decoctions are but I'm not going to jump to the conclusion that it's something a new all grainer should be thinking about. I really think all new all grain brewers should cut their teeth on the cooler/batch sparge thing because you can work out a lot of the details of the process without worrying about heat loss during the sac rest. After a few batches, go ahead and rip the braid out and put the stock drain back in and now you have a cooler again for your BBQ beers. No money lost, plenty of AG knowledge gained.

I do realize that a sanke based MLT is just as easy to mod but you then have to dedicate a burner to it to be practical. It's more than a few steps more complicated even if it's about the same cost (questionable depending on the source of the keg of course).
 
OP
Stevorino

Stevorino

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
936
Reaction score
2
Location
Alpharetta, GA
Bobby_M said:
I'm on the fence with this one. He's clearly read enough to know what step mashes and decoctions are but I'm not going to jump to the conclusion that it's something a new all grainer should be thinking about. I really think all new all grain brewers should cut their teeth on the cooler/batch sparge thing because you can work out a lot of the details of the process without worrying about heat loss during the sac rest. After a few batches, go ahead and rip the braid out and put the stock drain back in and now you have a cooler again for your BBQ beers. No money lost, plenty of AG knowledge gained.

I do realize that a sanke based MLT is just as easy to mod but you then have to dedicate a burner to it to be practical. It's more than a few steps more complicated even if it's about the same cost (questionable depending on the source of the keg of course).
Yeah, I think you read me pretty well-- I've got a bunch of knowledge but very little experience (I feel like I just graduated from school, haha). I'm definitely not interested in Step/Decoction for my first slew of batches, but I don't want to have to buy a new crop of equipment to journey that way in the future. Ultimately I want to be able to make some really flavorful/crisp lagers--for which decoction seems ideal.

I'm willing to take the advice you guys give me, whether that be to slow down and just get a cooler for some Infusions or take a beating w/ a couple sub-par learning beers and just use a keg.
 

Lil' Sparky

Cowboys EAC
Joined
Feb 6, 2006
Messages
3,952
Reaction score
91
Location
Honolulu, HI
Either way you go, I don't think you'll end up with sub-par beer. The cooler will give you less to worry about. Like Bobby said, you should be able to use a cooler you already have, and then return it to its current condition if you decide to use something different.
 

shafferpilot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
1,579
Reaction score
16
Location
Cincinnati OH
step mashes can be done in a cooler by adding hot water or steam infusion. They're just as flexible as direct-fire. It's purely personal preference between the two.
 
OP
Stevorino

Stevorino

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
936
Reaction score
2
Location
Alpharetta, GA
Right now I'm leaning towards a keggle for a brewpot and getting a 70 quart cooler from Walmart w/ either a copper manifold or steel braid bottom.

However, I'm pondering how well a keggle w/ a stainless steel false bottom would work. Would this mashing vessel achieve infusion, step (w/ direct heat), and decoction well?

Thanks for all the help!
 

The Pol

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
11,398
Reaction score
116
If you have a keggle with a false bottom, you can directly heat it... no infusions, no decoction...
 
Top