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Craig311

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I've got a handful of extract (with steeping grains) brews under my belt and want to take the next step in doing a partial mash with full 5g boils. I've got a couple hundred dollars to spend and want to make sure I'm spending it wisely. I've read the BYO article on doing partial mashes with 4lb of total grain in a 2 gallon cooler with a grain bag (http://byo.com/feature/1536.html). However, most of the partial mash recipes I come accross usually have a larger grain bill than 4lbs. So, I wouldn't mind going a little bigger (I'm guessing 5g cooler instead of 2g).

Currently I'm using:
- 6.5g plastic bucket for primary
- 5g glass carboy for secondary
- 30qt pot and turkey fryer from Walmart (also have a 20qt SS pot)

Thinking I need:
- Immersion Chiller to cool the full boil
- 5g cooler (with a false bottom?) for a MLT
- Larger pot for the boil (or is 30qt enough if I'm careful with the hot break?)
- More accurate thermometer for mash temp
- Aeration System?
- Brewing Software?

Any help in getting me on the right track would be greatly appreciated! I'm open to any and all suggestions.
 

Flipper

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Craig311 said:
I've got a handful of extract (with steeping grains) brews under my belt and want to take the next step in doing a partial mash with full 5g boils. I've got a couple hundred dollars to spend and want to make sure I'm spending it wisely. I've read the BYO article on doing partial mashes with 4lb of total grain in a 2 gallon cooler with a grain bag (http://byo.com/feature/1536.html). However, most of the partial mash recipes I come accross usually have a larger grain bill than 4lbs. So, I wouldn't mind going a little bigger (I'm guessing 5g cooler instead of 2g).

Currently I'm using:
- 6.5g plastic bucket for primary
- 5g glass carboy for secondary
- 30qt pot and turkey fryer from Walmart (also have a 20qt SS pot)

Thinking I need:
- Immersion Chiller to cool the full boil
- 5g cooler (with a false bottom?) for a MLT
- Larger pot for the boil (or is 30qt enough if I'm careful with the hot break?)
- More accurate thermometer for mash temp
- Aeration System?
- Brewing Software?

Any help in getting me on the right track would be greatly appreciated! I'm open to any and all suggestions.
IMHO an IC is a must! If you are only going to do 5g batxhes, then a 25' will be fine

If you are going to eventually go to all grain, I would go with a 48qt cooler with a manifold

I have a 60qt pot and Love it...Plus I would have room to go 10 gal if i wanted

Definately an accurate Thermometer

Aeration is nice, but not a must

Brewing software, you can try the trial software for Beersmith or some of the others.
 

bradsul

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Check out this thread by FlyGuy on a cooler conversion. The thread is for a 10 gallon cooler but it applies to a 5 gallon as well.

A chiller of some sort is a huge benefit (you can get by with ice baths but it's not recommended). An accurate thermometer is a must. A 30qt pot will work but you need to be very vigilant for boilovers.
 

srm775

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Craig311 said:
I've got a handful of extract (with steeping grains) brews under my belt and want to take the next step in doing a partial mash with full 5g boils. I've got a couple hundred dollars to spend and want to make sure I'm spending it wisely. I've read the BYO article on doing partial mashes with 4lb of total grain in a 2 gallon cooler with a grain bag (http://byo.com/feature/1536.html). However, most of the partial mash recipes I come accross usually have a larger grain bill than 4lbs. So, I wouldn't mind going a little bigger (I'm guessing 5g cooler instead of 2g).

Currently I'm using:
- 6.5g plastic bucket for primary
- 5g glass carboy for secondary
- 30qt pot and turkey fryer from Walmart (also have a 20qt SS pot)

Thinking I need:
- Immersion Chiller to cool the full boil
- 5g cooler (with a false bottom?) for a MLT
- Larger pot for the boil (or is 30qt enough if I'm careful with the hot break?)
- More accurate thermometer for mash temp
- Aeration System?
- Brewing Software?
Well, if you're going to go all-grain, which is probably going to happen eventually, you'll need a bigger boiling pot. Instawares has 40 qt aluminum pots for around $40. A Weld-b-Gone spigot is also a pretty good idea.

Definitely get an immersion chiller. Either make one or buy one. From looking at the prices, it looks like making one doesn't save you that much money. If you're a DIY guy then make one and save a few bucks, otherwise buy one on ebay.

If you're gonna get a cooler, then get a 10 gal (at least) I made the mistake of buying a 5 gal. and which I wouldn't have. 10 gal for $42.

Brewing Software? I wouldn't waste the money on it, but if you think you have everything you need, otherwise, then I'd get it.

Aeration system? This is the cheapest equipment you'll buy. Either a 5 gal aquarium pump with inline filter and a aeration stone (also from a pet store) or just syphon from brew kettle to bucket from a distance and allow to splash.
 

RICLARK

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Craig311 said:
I've got a handful of extract (with steeping grains) brews under my belt and want to take the next step in doing a partial mash with full 5g boils. I've got a couple hundred dollars to spend and want to make sure I'm spending it wisely. I've read the BYO article on doing partial mashes with 4lb of total grain in a 2 gallon cooler with a grain bag (http://byo.com/feature/1536.html). However, most of the partial mash recipes I come accross usually have a larger grain bill than 4lbs. So, I wouldn't mind going a little bigger (I'm guessing 5g cooler instead of 2g).

Currently I'm using:
- 6.5g plastic bucket for primary
- 5g glass carboy for secondary
- 30qt pot and turkey fryer from Walmart (also have a 20qt SS pot)

Thinking I need:
- Immersion Chiller to cool the full boil
- 5g cooler (with a false bottom?) for a MLT
- Larger pot for the boil (or is 30qt enough if I'm careful with the hot break?)
- More accurate thermometer for mash temp
- Aeration System?
- Brewing Software?

Any help in getting me on the right track would be greatly appreciated! I'm open to any and all suggestions.
You can get a 10 gallon rectangle cooler for under 30 and the parts to convert it for mine was about 35 so we'll say 60 bucks for that, IC is nice but not needed I use Ice bath's in a big tub, A digital meat thermometer for under 10 bucks, a 30 qt is alright if you watch it like a hawk and use edworts spray bottle trick, I worry more about the cold break more than the hot break because you dont want to suck that stuff into your fermenter and if you start with 5 or 5.5 gallons in a boil it will boil off down to like 4 gallons which sucks, so Look on e-bay for maybe a 40 quart pot for around 40 bucks and IMO I would read howtobrew and just skip PM and go AG instead.

Breakdown 60 for mlt 10 therm. 40 for a pot
 
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Craig311

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Thanks for all the great replies so far! Here's what I'm thinking...

- 10g Rubbermaid cooler (with valve modification)
- 25' Immersion Chiller
- 40qt aluminum pot
(http://www.instawares.com/heavy-duty-stock-pot.cws-pot40.0.7.htm)

- Thermometer. Has anyone built a thermometer into the cooler for mash temps?

- For the cooler... Either a Bazooka T w/ adapter or a 12" SS False Bottom
Any recommendationd on which one might work better?? I found a false bottom on northernbrewer for $29.99.

- If I were to add a Weld B Gone spigot to the 40qt pot, what would I use it for?

Thanks again - this is a huge help!!
 

FlyGuy

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Looks pretty good. You are going to skip right to all grain with this gear, right? I would -- there is little benefit to doing PM batches if you have all this gear for 5 gal AG brews.

If you are running short on cash, the 30 qt pot will suffice for 5 gal batches. If you are worried about boil overs -- get some FermCap or Foam Control. Boil overs are a thing of the past with that stuff.

If you are going to batch sparge, spend $3 and try out a SS braid before buying a fancy manifold or false bottom. Not everyone likes the braids, but a lot of us swear by them. See my cooler MLT thread for a way to easily reinforce them (about 2/3 through; see my sig below).

A spigot is nice to have on the pot, but not entirely necessary. When using pellet hops and an immersion chiller, I actually prefer to whirlpool the chilled wort in the pot and siphon out the wort. You can also put a sanitized nylon paint strainer bag over your IC after the wort is cooled, and siphon through that (it will filter out the hops and break material).

Of course, the other thing you will eventually need is a grain mill. For now, you can buy your grain pre-crushed from your LHBS, or watch around for a cheap $20 Corona mill that will work OK. But a good mill will quickly become a necessity for AG brewing, and in fact it will allow you to buy bulk grain at great savings.
 
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Craig311

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Thanks FlyGuy. I guess you're right... I just inadvertently set myself up for 5g all grain brews. Yes, I'd probably hold off on the grain mill for now. However, an upgrade to a 40qt pot seems worth it.

Now that I've just decided to skip partial mash, I need to do a bunch more reading to be sure I fully understand what I'm doing (and avoid too many more dumb questions). In the meantime, what do you think of something like the kit below? If I didn't have the second cooler, how would I keep my sparge water at the correct temp? Again, all of your thoughts are greatly appreciated! Time to go do some reading over in the all grain forums...

"Deluxe All Grain System" - Based on their description, it looks like the 5g version would do the trick.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/allgrain.html
 

wilserbrewer

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Craig311,

Things you will need for your first all-grain. Believe it or not, you pretty much have everything you need for an all grain batch except a mash tun. The igloo round coolers do have a nice look, however, most any 20-50 qt. cooler can be equipped w/ a braid and give excellent results for batch sparging. You may even have a cooler that you could use?? I get a kick out of the mash tun posted in the first link below. About as simple as you can get, not even a valve.

Immersion chillers work well and cut time off your brew day, but you could certainly do a batch w/out one by using a water / ice water bath for the kettle.

I would reccomend calibrating your thermo if it is the dial type w/ ice water at 32 and boiling at 212. Sure a better thermo would be nice, but great beer can be made w/ a simple thermometer if it is working properly. If you do purchase another one, it is always nice to have a spare or to double check.

A 30 qt pot is small for a five gallon batch, but you could work around its shortcomings by mashing an extra pound of grain and collecting a little less "more concentrated" wort and topping up the kettle during the boil to maintain 5.5 gal. post boil. Or you could just scale a recipe to 4 gal. to provide a little mor headspace in the kettle.

Dry yeast I believe shouldn't require an 02 set-up.

Some feel a need for brewing software...some don't...certainly more of a want than a need!

I've found the links below to be very informative for easy, simple all grain brewing.
My advice would be to get started with what you have plus a mash tun, and a chiller if you like, and after a few batches you'll have a much better idea of what you want/need.

Great beer can be made w/out much equipment, if the brewer is skilled and knowledgeable!!

http://cruisenews.net/brewing/infusion/index.php
http://www.tastybrew.com/articles/dennyconn001
 

RICLARK

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Craig311 said:
Thanks for all the great replies so far! Here's what I'm thinking...

- 10g Rubbermaid cooler (with valve modification)
- 25' Immersion Chiller
- 40qt aluminum pot
(http://www.instawares.com/heavy-duty-stock-pot.cws-pot40.0.7.htm)

- Thermometer. Has anyone built a thermometer into the cooler for mash temps?

- For the cooler... Either a Bazooka T w/ adapter or a 12" SS False Bottom
Any recommendationd on which one might work better?? I found a false bottom on northernbrewer for $29.99.

- If I were to add a Weld B Gone spigot to the 40qt pot, what would I use it for?

Thanks again - this is a huge help!!
I use a 21" SS Braid in my cooler I love it I didn't want to screw around with a manifold Just follow all the Instructions on Flyguy's Cooler Conversion and it will work like a dream, Remember not to Over tighten like I did. :mug:
 

abracadabra

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wilserbrewer said:
Craig311,


I would reccomend calibrating your thermo if it is the dial type w/ ice water at 32 and boiling at 212. Sure a better thermo would be nice, but great beer can be made w/ a simple thermometer if it is working properly. If you do purchase another one, it is always nice to have a spare or to double check.


[/url]
This is a technique frequently recommended on this forum. Unfortunately in my experience it was not a lot of help because the the temp. range you really need to be accurate at is around 150* F for mashing.

Knowing that your thermometer is accurate at freezing and boiling doesn't do much good if it's off by -7*F at 152*F and you don't know it's inaccurate.

So I recommend a digital thermometer from Target or Wal- Mart and a calibration thermometer (my local homebrew store sold me one for about $7).

My digital thermometer was off by -5*F @ 150*F but is only off by -1*F at 175*F

The dial gauge thermometer on my HLT was way off too. Having that calibration thermometer allowed me adjust the thermometer so that I know what the temp really is.

The difference of a few degrees at mashing time makes the difference between a sweet beer and a dry beer. While it's not the only factor but it's a major contributor.

Of course you can always make adjustment if your beer doesn't taste right to you, but for me I rather be right from the start.
 

vasie

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Unless you think that you will have a need for an extra 40qt pot in the future, I suggest that you buy big enough that you can brew a 10 gal batch. I spent a fair amount of money the last few years stepping up my stockpots to accommodate larger and larger brews. If you think that you might have the brewing bug, you will likely be interested in 10 gal brews someday too. Go Big, save some green. JMHO.
 
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Craig311

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This looks like a pretty decent deal (link below). I may either go with this, or do the conversion myself. Either way, I'll end up with the same end result. Add a good thermometer, a 25' immersion chiller, and a 40qt boil pot and I think I'm just about ready to start AG. I'll probably use my 20qt SS pot to heat my sparge water. If I can convince SWMBO that I need brewing software, I'm sure I'd have fun with that also.

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/products/ProdByID.aspx?ProdID=4098

Anyway, thanks again to everyone for the thoughtful responses. It was a huge help straightening all of this out!

- Craig
 

srm775

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Craig311 said:
If I can convince SWMBO that I need brewing software, I'm sure I'd have fun with that also.

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/products/ProdByID.aspx?ProdID=4098

- Craig
That deal from Midwest Supplies just isn't that good. First, you only need the second cooler if you're going to fly sparge. Second, if you fly sparge, you might as well use your second 30 qt pot, direct fire that to keep temp and just buy another Weld-B-Gone spigot conversion. Otherwise, if you intend to batch sparge, just heat your water in your other pot and dump it in as you need.

Also, I highly recommend installing a ball-valve spigot in all your pots.
 

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These answers are just if it were me, and if it were my money. Everyone's got their own idea of the "right" way to do it.

1) MLT. If you're going to spend $$$ on a 5 gal round cooler, then why not go rectangular? The cost of the cooler itself is usually lower ($35 round vs $15 on sale for 48qt rect), and it'll still be useful if you go to 5 gal or even some 10 gal AG batches. Also the stainless braid conversion is cheaper than most false bottom rigs.

$15 cooler + $15 parts at Home Depot + $8 Ball Valve at Home Depot = $38 rectangular mash tun. I would cry if I had to spend that much on a pre-made 5 gal round one like you linked.

2) Temp management is a must. Digital thermometers can be found for under 20 bucks. Try Target or Wal-Mart - just be careful that some aren't really "sealed" and need a little quick-fix with some thin aquarium tubing.

3) Chiller is also a must. IC's seem to be cheaper than CFC's, and being a CFC-only owner, I wish I had an IC to use when I feel it's appropriate. 25' should be adaquate, but 50' is nice if you ever plan to jump to 10 gal batches.

4) Aeration is negligible. It's very nice to have, but the same basic result can be accomplished by sanitizing the biggest metal whisk you can find in your kitchen drawer. (I sanitize the bottom 1' of my hand and arm, too, just to keep the bugs at bay. Then I can dunk my whole hand and RDW.)

5) A bigger kettle is a good thing, but not as cost-effective as these other items. I use a 30qt and it is a VERY tight fit for the first 20 minutes of the boil. As others have mentioned, if you buy big now, you don't have to upgrade if you decide 10 gal batches are in your future. +1 to the other remarks about cheap options from Instawares, eBay, and other places.

Even if you don't fly sparge, having that 30qt kettle will be VERY handy for heating water. It is always nice to have multiple kettles at hand. :)

6) Software. Some say you don't need it. I say it's my best tool. I use BeerSmith, and recommend it quite heavily. I've tried StrangeBrew (Old version, pre-free option); ProMash, SUDS, and didn't like any of them as much as BeerSmith seems easy to use.
 
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Craig311

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srm775 said:
That deal from Midwest Supplies just isn't that good. First, you only need the second cooler if you're going to fly sparge. Second, if you fly sparge, you might as well use your second 30 qt pot, direct fire that to keep temp and just buy another Weld-B-Gone spigot conversion. Otherwise, if you intend to batch sparge, just heat your water in your other pot and dump it in as you need.

Also, I highly recommend installing a ball-valve spigot in all your pots.

Here's what you get with the midwestsupplies deal linked...

$119.95
- 10g Rubbermaid Cooler
- Kewler Kitz Basic + Valve & Bulkead
- Stainless Steel False Bottom
...comes pre-assembled.

I added up the peices by themselves on the northernbrewer website and came out with a total of $139.

I think the only way I'd save over this is if I could find a better deal on the cooler and make the spigot myself. Otherwise, it doesn't seem all that bad.
 

Chriso

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Craig311 said:
I think the only way I'd save over this is if I could find a better deal on the cooler and make the spigot myself.
:ban: :ban: :ban:

There ya go! That's the key sentence right there. Ultimately, it's your money, and you decide how much your own time is worth to ya. But if it's a choice between building my own for <$40 with the option of whatever size I want, or spending $120 on a smaller capacity unit, I know my pick.

Kewler Kits cost twice their actual value because they come in a kit. A good bulkhead, valve, and all washers/fittings should not exceed $15, they sell them for $30. Because it is their job to profit off of assembling something that ANYONE can assemble. (** see note at bottom)

Rubbermaid round coolers are (for whatever reason unknown to me) more expensive than rectangular coolers, and hold less volume. The positive side is they take less space in storage. If you look around at garage sales, clearance, thrift stores, etc., you can get a 48qt or even larger cooler for $15, $10, even free.

Even if you buy a round one, you can save nearly 1/3 the cost by buying elsewhere - http://www.cspoutdoors.com/10galwatcool.html has one for $42, MUCH less than the $65 Midwest wants for theirs. My point is that you're buying a cooler, not a "piece of brew equipment" - you're making it INTO brew equipment. So buy from someone who's not marking it up 50% just because you make beer with it.

We do the same things with keg o-rings. You can pay 50c a piece at your LHBS for a dip tube O-ring, or 1.5c a piece out of your own bulk bag. I'm not trying to nitpick, but you DID say you wanted to find this stuff "cheaply". :)

Best of luck with your shopping!!
-Chris

** - If you decide to find your own parts for the Weld-b-gone kettle ball valve, I have silicone O-rings that I bought in bulk for my own kettle. PM me if you need some.
 
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Craig311

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Point taken. To the hardware store! :mug:
 

wilserbrewer

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Good job guys...I thought Craig was gonna bite at the $130 Igloo. That thing just didn't excite me at all. Maybe it's just me...maybe I'm a cheap bastard. My latest treasure is an old Igloo 60 qt. that my neighbor had out at the curb. After a thorough scrub down the thing is like new. It's also a beast! Much heavier and more solid than the new ice cubes. I intend to pull some tubing through the spigot and install a braid. I'll be doin some major mashin this spring!
 

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wilserbrewer said:
Maybe it's just me...maybe I'm a cheap bastard. My latest treasure is an old Igloo 60 qt. that my neighbor had out at the curb. After a thorough scrub down the thing is like new.
Well if it's you, then it's me too, because I know I'm a cheap bastard. Although, if I were gonna spend money on a cooler, I'd probably buy this one: http://www.igloocoolers.com/products/FullSize/QuickCool/12/

30 gallon capacity, anyone? :D (I especially like the "hatch". Great for checking your temps or adding your step infusion without letting ALL the hot air out.)

Mine (48qt classic Igloo) was free, found it next to the dumpster across from my house. It's as if the beer gods meant for me to find it. Smelled like ass, but a scrubby pad, hot water, and an overnight soak in strong StarSan took care of that. Now it looks like brand new, and is a bad-ass mash tun :D
 
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