New brewer new kettle decisions

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jwil911

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I've been extract brewing for ~ a year. My current kettle is 8 gal and I'm thinking about moving to BIAB with a 15 gal kettle. I don't yet have 240v in my brew space/garage so I'm thinking of getting a BrewBuilt 15 gal with two vertical TC ports that comes standard and having one TC port tig welded/added for a heating element for future planning. I don't want to overthink the kettle with whirl pool ports etc as that can be added later or get BrewHrdware spincycle or over the top whirl pool add ons.
I've been think about this for a while, there's so many option with AIO systems etc. Does this sound like a good logical next step in my brewing evolution. Planning to pull the trigger on this with BrewHardware and order Wilserbrewer grandslam package. Still want a grain mill and missed the boat on the better pricing on Black Friday. I was targeting the MaltMuncher 3.
I'm all ears for suggestions or recommendations.
Thanks,
John
Alameda, CA
 

hotbeer

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If you need new toys, then get new toys.

However since you are moving from extract to all grain BIAB. I'd consider just working with what you have so you can find out what particular issue or issue BIAB is to you.

There are different ways that many of us do BIAB and not every piece of equipment out there is suited to the different ways each of us might be brewing.
 

grampamark

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If you want to start doing BIAB why not just start with your current equipment? An 8 gal kettle works great for 2.5-3 gal batches. Get a package of paint strainer bags from HD or Lowe’s, use your current heat source, and start learning the all grain process for very little cost.

You’ll want to find a supplier that will crush grain appropriately for BIAB until you get a mill. I don’t think you will find the learning curve too steep and once your familiar with the process you’ll have a better idea about the direction you want to take WRT upgrading.

I do full volume, no sparge, BIAB in a second location where space is limited, using an 8 gal turkey fryer and the usual assortment of small tools and accessories plus an immersion chiller. I might have $200 tied up in the whole system. I’ve found no difference between the same recipes, scaled appropriately, brewed on that system and the 3 vessel, 5 gal system that I do most of my brewing on.

Buying new stuff is cool, and all, but process has more to do with the quality of the finished product than than the shiny bits. :cool:
 

palmtrees

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I agree that going with the route above for at least a few batches will help you get a feel for your process. When I switched to biab, I got a big kettle, but I eventually realized that trying to do 5 gallon batches was too hard with my setup and I didn't want to start brewing outside or move to electric. I downsized and now do 2.5 gallon batches in a basic 5 gallon kettle on my stove with a cheap nylon bag. It's a very cheap system, and I'm turning out really good beers because I've dialed in my hot and cold-side process over the last two years. That's all to say that I think trying out biab on your current gear for a bit can help you make sure that when you upgrade, you're getting the equipment you actually want/need for the way you want to brew.

Of course, if you're set on some new gear, you know you want to do 5 gallons or more, and you eventually want to move to 240v, then your plan sounds good. That brew built kettle looks nice, and I agree with your approach to give yourself flexibility with elements in the future, while ignoring the superfluous stuff like whirlpool ports.

And for what it's worth, I've been very happy with my mill. I held out for a long time and got my grain crushed by my lhbs, but if you're doing biab, it's very handy. I get much better mash efficiency now that I grind my own grain.
 

deuc224

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I I say do it. I went from reading online to all grain brewing and dont regret it at all. But for budget, whatever you planned budget is, multiply that by 1.5. Also buy main grains in bulk and specialty grains by the 5 or 10 pound bags, i rarely dont have something on hand when i brew, also se if you can get away with using 2 120 volt heaters, I was set on going 240 but 2 120 plugs is actually good enough to boil my 15 gallons without a steam hat.
 
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jwil911

jwil911

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Thanks everyone for the input, I appreciate all the different perspectives. Yes I could stick it out with my current kettle but I think I will pull the trigger on the larger kettle I’ve been lusting for and start my BIAB journey from there. I do want to add a mill to my bag of tricks. And once I get comfortable with the process I will definitely buy base grains in bulk. Nothing wrong with saving money somewhere.
 

Noob_Brewer

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Thanks everyone for the input, I appreciate all the different perspectives. Yes I could stick it out with my current kettle but I think I will pull the trigger on the larger kettle I’ve been lusting for and start my BIAB journey from there. I do want to add a mill to my bag of tricks. And once I get comfortable with the process I will definitely buy base grains in bulk. Nothing wrong with saving money somewhere.
Welcome to the rabbit hole! lol. Even though the brew built with 2 TC ports looks nice, if you are doing BIAB style the top port with a thermometer in it could rip your bag. If I was going to buy a kettle for BIAB, Id personally look for a kettle with two low ports instead of the vertical orientation. Spike sells the 15gal Kettle with two welded couplers as a stock item. Its prob only ~$30-50 more for the spike but at least your temperature probe will be below the bag. Good luck!

EDIT: not sure what your budget is, but you could recoup the added expense of a spike kettle with two low ports by purchasing a ~$100 cereal killer grain mill vs a ~$175 malt muncher 3 as well. I have a cereal killer and its been great!
 

RM-MN

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If you want to start doing BIAB why not just start with your current equipment? An 8 gal kettle works great for 2.5-3 gal batches. Get a package of paint strainer bags from HD or Lowe’s, use your current heat source, and start learning the all grain process for very little cost.
Buying new stuff is cool, and all, but process has more to do with the quality of the finished product than than the shiny bits.
You'll be moving from extract to all grain. At the same time you want to move to a bigger kettle and will need to make some changes to do so. Why not start by learning the process with your current kettle and smaller batches. You may find that all grain is not the answer you were looking for and will have found that you wasted the time and money. BTW, I manage 3 1/2 gallon batches BIAB in my 5 gallon kettle. You could easily do a 4 gallon batch in your 8 gallon kettle with no additional cost. A 5 gallon batch in that kettle is possible but not quite as easy.

BIAB allows you to use grain that is very finely milled and a Corona style mill works well for that. I still manually crank mine but it doesn't take a lot of work to add an electric drill to reduce the effort and speed up the process. For example, here is one on Amazon. You may find one for less money if you search. Amazon.com
 

Bobby_M

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Or even 4 gallons. And every gallon below 5 takes away 8 pounds less weight to schlepp around.
I guess my point was more about priorities. One might approach brewing with "here's what I have, what batch size can I make without buying more gear?" The other way is "I want to brew 5 gallon batches, what do I need to buy to make that happen?" We can't assume the motive.

Even though I personally don't need 5 gallon batches, there are a few reasons why I set my batch size to 6 gallons post boil.

1. It takes the same amount time to make 3 or 6.
2. I can split 6 into two 3 gallon fermenters to do blind comparisons between yeast strains or ferment temperature profiles, etc. Sometimes I'll even brew 8 gallons and split it four ways.
3. The margin for error increases the smaller the batches. One extra pellet of a high alpha bittering hop in a 1 gallon batch will alter the beer where it wouldn't matter at all in 6. It's easier to be consistent the bigger the batch.
 
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Yes Bobby, understood. I was more reacting to the idea that many folks think the standards in homebrewing are 5, 10 or 15 gallon batches. Maybe that is indeed a "standard", but you brewing 6 and me brewing 4 speaks to the fact that all grain brewing allows us to set any batch size we want.
 

CascadesBrewer

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Thanks everyone for the input, I appreciate all the different perspectives. Yes I could stick it out with my current kettle but I think I will pull the trigger on the larger kettle I’ve been lusting for and start my BIAB journey from there.
Money spent on a good quality kettle is a solid investment! I have had a nice quality 10 gallon kettle for maybe 15 years and it looks almost new still. While I like the all in one systems, I am more attracted to a more modular system build around replaceable/upgradable components.
 
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