Just Starting -- All Grain

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flamingoezz

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I really like drinking beer and now that I'm settled in a house, I wanted to try my hand at brewing my own.

After reading some posts here, I think I want to start with all grain brewing.

Are there good resources for places to a kit that will contain everything i need to start brewing? Any areas I should spend an extra few bucks rather than struggling with a base version of any components?

I'm not interested in bottling. I think I'll run 1-2 corny kegs at any given time. With that in mind, how many kegs do I need? 3? 4?

I have a room in my basement I wanted to dedicate to brewing. Is 8x5' a large enough space to run an operation like I'm looking to?
 

TasunkaWitko

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I can't help with the kegging, but assuming you're talking about 5-gallon batch brewing, take a look at these all-grain options:

http://brooklynbrewshop.com/five-gallon-beer-making-kits-and-mixes

The first kit comes with any mix you choose - after that, you can order just the mixes and re-use the equipment in the kit. It does come with bottles and a capper, which you can either sell or keep for possible future use.

From personal experience, I can whole-heartedly recommend the Bruxelles Black and Jalapeno Saison; the Peanut Butter Porter and Old-Fashioned beer mixes are also on my "must try" list.

Once you put a few of these under your belt, you will probably want to try some recipes and/or develop your own. Lots of great folks here that can help with that.

Good luck!

Ron
 

freisste

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That's enough space for storage. I would run 4 kegs, so you have replacements when you kick what's in the kegerator. If you buy a kegerator, go with a double tower for options. If you build, you can run as many as you can fit (chest freezer and temperature controller). Either way, go with 4 kegs. On sale now at adventures in homebrewing* (I only know because they're my LHBS, homebrewing.org) for $200 for 4x used kegs.

Look around the main sites for kits. They will likely contain everything you need. You might need an "all grain upgrade" or something to get where you need to be to start all grain. (I think most sites/stores assume beginners will start extract, so kits seem to lean that way.) When I say main sites, I mean the big guys like Austin homebrew, morebeer, adventures in homebrewing, etc. can't think of all of them now.

*No affiliation, just a happy customer.
 

Pariah3j

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So I just made the leap to All Grain and I'm loving it. But is there a particular reason you've decided to jump straight to All Grain ?

I personally am glad I started with extract brewing, it allowed me to develop the basic skills/techniques and to expand on my brewing knowledge so that now I'm at the AG mark, I feel like the biggest learning challenge is the grain aspect, not the boil/fermenting/bottling(or kegging in your case) aspects.

Buying with the expectation that you will go AG will save you a fair amount of not having to rebuy things. You can still do extract brewing with an AG setup/kit.
 

TasunkaWitko

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I started with all-grain, and have never regretted it. I've got a couple of extract/partial mash mixes, and will brew them, someday....
 

Jim311

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I very strongly recommend the book "How to Brew" by John Palmer. If you read that book and follow the advice you will begin brewing good beer immediately. If you don't, you'll have some hurdles along the way before you get there. It sounds like you're on the right track starting with kegging and all grain. Try "brew in a bag" brewing first using a cooler before you buy much gear. Making quality beer doesn't get any simpler than using that method. You probably already have a cooler to mash in, too. The space you have for brewing is usable I think. One thing you're going to definitely want to look into is a fermentation chamber unless you have a nice cool stable place to ferment at. You need stable ambient temps of 60-64 degrees to make good ales.
 
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flamingoezz

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wow...thanks for the quick replies.

@pariah -- I prefer starting with all grain because its a hobby i've wanted to get into for a while and i know ill eventually be doing it anyway, so why not just get to it and start figuring things out.

I had a keezer at my old place for commercial beer. i want to build a new cabinet for it, and already have freezer, co2 tank and temp controller. I saw some corny's for sale here and on craigslist nearby so I should have that covered pretty easily.

Thanks, those kits look pretty promising, but may be overkill. As mentioned, I could probably get kegs used much cheaper and have a co2 tank. might one of these work better for me? not sure if they have everything i would need.

http://www.homebrewing.org/5-Gallon-Igloo-Mash-System_p_2731.html
http://www.homebrewing.org/Beginning-Homebrew-All-Grain-Kit-Upgrade-6_p_1709.html
 

bruhaha

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Regarding your kegs.......I started with two and expanded my keg inventory one keg at a time. If you go to a commercial brewery like Sierra Nevada and they say here is our 5,000 gallon brite tank, I laugh and think of my corny keg as a 5 gallon brite tank! I currently have 8 and usually have all but one or two in use as a rotation. I like German Lagers, so I'll make a double batch and keg which uses two kegs at a time. Then the 2 month lagering process, then they get moved to the 3 tap kegerator to drink. Not complicating your life, at least 5 kegs and up to 10 based on your beer style choices and consumption rate.
 

Jim311

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I would say two kegs is definitely bare minimum for sure. You're going to want to have something carbonating up while you serve the other one, or something lagering, etc. Three would be even better. The more you have the more easily you can rotate things around and have stuff on tap, carbonating, or lagering.
 

TurnipGreen

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I would also start out with a capacity larger that 5 gallons. I just started all grain two years ago and I really wish I would have made that jump then to also make ten gallon batches.

You don't have to brew 10 gallon batches all the time but I sure wish I could every now and again.
 
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flamingoezz

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I think I'm going to convert a cooler to the mash tun myself to save a few bucks. Is 5 gallon enough for a 4 keg setup?

It seems most 5 gallon kits come with a 5 gallon carboy and 6.5 gallon fermentor -- if I go 10 gallon on the mashtun, I guess I'd need to double those as well?

Any other components I should splurge on? Any sites that run sales I should keep an eye on?

Thanks!!
 

kh54s10

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You really need to research a lot more. There are many different ways to brew all grain. The one with the least amount of equipment would be BIAB. For a 5 gallon batch I would go with a 10 gallon kettle and a Wilserbrewer BIAB bag.

Look at all the options, try to figure out what type of AG brewing you want to do and what equipment you will need.

For ingredient kits I like Northern Brewer. They have a great selection and have great descriptions of what the beer is.

You can look at those Kits and buy the items individually to save money. For instance, one that was linked to had bottling equipment that you would not need if you are going to kegs.
 

Jim311

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Assuming you want to brew 5 gallon all grain batches in the bag here's a list of basic equipment:


1) You'll need a cooler with a capacity LARGER than 5 gallons to fit your mash water. This will be your "mash tun." 10 gallons should suffice. A lot of people use those round drink coolers from Home Depot, etc. You might even want a cooler larger than 10 gallons if you think you'll be brewing BIG beers like imperial stouts or IPAs. Basically you'll put your grain in a bag, then put that bag into the cooler filled with water around 165 degrees or so and wait an hour for the sugars to render.

2) A patio stand burner, bringing 7 or 8 gallons of wort to a boil is tough without one.

3) A pot large enough to fit said 7 to 8 gallons of wort. A lot of people cut the lid off an old keg and install a spigot on it and use it for a boil kettle

4) Something to ferment in. It can be as basic as a plastic bucket with a lid and an airlock, or something nicer like a 6 to 8 gallon carboy or similar. Even though you're only fermenting about 5ish gallons of wort you need head space for the krausen (foam) that forms during fermentation.

5) A way to control your fermentation temperatures. A refrigerator with a temperature controller is the most ideal scenario but you can get by with a cooler filled with water that you put the carboy in and then drop an ice bottle into twice a day to keep those temperatures in the 60s.

6) A few other necessities, like a good thermometer to measure strike water temperature and mash temperature, a hydrometer to measure gravity both before and after fermenting, an auto-siphon to transfer wort and water around and such. A large METAL spoon for stirring your boil pot and mash tun. A mesh bag large enough and strong enough to put 10+ pounds of grain into.

7) All of your supplies for kegging. A CO2 tank, regulator, distribution block if you plan to run multiple kegs, the kegs themselves, the lines to run from the regulator to distribution block, and distribution block to kegs, and the ball lock or pin lock fittings to hook up to the kegs. The taps, and of course the fridge to put them in.



I guess that's a fairly basic but also somewhat comprehensive list of all the things you'll really need. As you can see it's a lot of gear. I think most of us have acquired all of these things over a lengthly brewing career rather than all at once. Most of us started out bottling and brewing partial mash or extract beers in 3 gallon pots on the stovetop. Then when we were pretty sure we were in this game for the long haul we invested in all the other stuff. I still use almost every piece of the basic brewing kit I started with though, so don't be afraid to pick one of those up, it's all stuff you'll almost certainly use.
 

TasunkaWitko

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You can look at those Kits and buy the items individually to save money.
I very much agree with this - if you have an LHBS nearby, you can "save a ton of money" by getting the components there. If there's no LHBS nearby, then the kits (or pre-packaged mixes) do make some good sense. In my case, I would never have started brewing if it wasn't for mine - but, on the other hand, if there would have been an LHBS nearby, I would have gotten started years sooner. :mug:
 

kh54s10

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I very much agree with this - if you have an LHBS nearby, you can "save a ton of money" by getting the components there. If there's no LHBS nearby, then the kits (or pre-packaged mixes) do make some good sense. In my case, I would never have started brewing if it wasn't for mine - but, on the other hand, if there would have been an LHBS nearby, I would have gotten started years sooner. :mug:
Yes for ingredients also, but I was talking about equipment.

I don't think you can buy most equipment cheaper at a LHBS over online though.

Smaller amounts of ingredients are cheaper online also compared to my LHBS. Where I find big savings is in bulk grain due to shipping costs.
 

TasunkaWitko

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Yes for ingredients also, but I was talking about equipment.

I don't think you can buy most equipment cheaper at a LHBS over online though.

Smaller amounts of ingredients are cheaper online also compared to my LHBS. Where I find big savings is in bulk grain due to shipping costs.
Good points, KH - I didn't "discover" the on-line buying concept until just this year (for equipment as well as ingredients), and I have definitely saved money doing so.
 

Jim311

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Yeah but at the same time if the price difference isn't huge a local homebrew shop is pretty invaluable. You can't exactly walk into an online shop and ask them how to fix a stalled fermentation on a wine you made, or ask them what their preferred procedure is to carbonate a keg, or whatever. Hell my homebrew shop even lets you have a sample of their "recipe of the month" to see if you like it so you can brew it. They have a zillion kegs of homebrew laying around the shop and if you stop by they'll be glad to have chat you up. It's a fun place.
 

kh54s10

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Yeah but at the same time if the price difference isn't huge a local homebrew shop is pretty invaluable. You can't exactly walk into an online shop and ask them how to fix a stalled fermentation on a wine you made, or ask them what their preferred procedure is to carbonate a keg, or whatever. Hell my homebrew shop even lets you have a sample of their "recipe of the month" to see if you like it so you can brew it. They have a zillion kegs of homebrew laying around the shop and if you stop by they'll be glad to have chat you up. It's a fun place.
I too have a great LHBS that is great for advise, quick pick ups, bulk grain etc. So to support them, I visit fairly often. But to make my $$ stretch farther I also use online. And in many cases the price difference is significant. For instance I can get 4 ounce packs of hops at Farmhouse Brewing Supply for the same price of only one ounce at the LHBS. I will often get the one ounce of a new (to me) hop to try out at the LHBS. But only if I am there for something else.
 

mongoose33

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I'm going to suggest you do a couple extract brews before the all-grain. They will allow you to learn the process from the boil forward, including fermentation, bottling, and so on.

Then when you have that figured out, add the all-grain side. There are a lot of variables here, and if you get a bad batch and screwed something up, where will you point the finger?

At first, I struggled with the water issues a bit (maybe your water is fine for certain brews, but you should check), and with getting the mash temperatures right. That doesn't mean you will (maybe you're a chemist!), but maybe there will be other things too.

And the one suggestion I'd make that might overrule the above is if you could "help" an experienced brewer, i.e., watch him/her do a brew day. All the better if it's all-grain, and with their help a bit, I'd think it would be ok to do it.

Either way, good luck, enjoy, and report back!
 

CJ-3

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Craigslist and LetGo are also good resources for getting brew gear on the cheap.
 

vance

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I just started brewing this month - I went straight for all-grain too, and I'm glad I did. I didn't like how rigid extract felt. I know you can use specialty grains, but I like the freedom to experiment. I used the BIAB method for my first brews, and I really like it. I'd take a serious look at that - it's a bit less of an equipment investment than traditional all grain.
 
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