Starting over... What would you do?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

skemp45

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
260
Reaction score
55
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Hey all, its been a long time since I have been active but here I am again! I got out of hombrewing a while back and I finally have the time and space to brew again YAY!:rock:

I want to brew all grain on electric and I want to use an all in one unit so I can mash and boil in the same unit. Despite many peoples feelings on this, with two young kids and s till very busy life anything to save me time while I get back into it is a must!

My question to you is this:
If you wanted to spend around $800 for your all in one unit, wort chiller and fermentation setup what would you choose assuming you have nothing anymore.

I know $800 is not a lot but its what I want to limit myself to as I start to get back into this. I have been gone for a while so I am hoping to get some good advice from those who have been paying attention.

Cheers and I look forward to sharing more as I get back into the swing of things🍻
 

Bramling Cross

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2020
Messages
701
Reaction score
2,479
Location
The 51st State
I would eagerly throw the lion's share of my money at fermentation temperature control, then prioritize a good quality wort chiller (it's boring but it saves so much time and makes everything so much easier. You won't understand until you start brewing). I would further invest in a one-gallon jar and read this.

At that point, I would concede that electric all-grain is out of my budget for the time being and content myself knowing that my extract beer is a whole lot better than all-grain done without temperature control.

The key point is this: Wifey likes your beers because you're not the only person on earth that tastes the promising hints of Bohemian Pilsner coming through that thick pall of fruit cocktail and napalm that you fermented out in the garage. Better yet, because of your temperature control and yeast management skills, your bottles do not explode and lodge themselves in the kitchen ceiling (yes, this happened to me).

In your situation, I would get Wifey on board by making her favorite beer. To do so, you'll need temperature control and good yeast management. A slick electric brewing system can do neither.
 
Last edited:

apache_brew

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
389
Reaction score
264
Location
Nor Cal
Not that I have experience with the system, but I'd probably look at the anvil 10.5 system if you want to do 5 gallon electric batches. The anvil bucket line of fermenters seems nice too, or the spike flex line. These are just things I would recommend to a random person online asking about electric system options around $800.

Realistically, I would scrounge for a large used boil pot (20-25 gallons), a nice burner (Hellfire), March pump, some silicone hoses and cam locks, build a makeshift bag shelf, BIAB bag, build a CFC from Home Depot, find a used freezer for fermentation on Craigslist, inkbird 308, and ferment in kegs.
 

madscientist451

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2014
Messages
5,496
Reaction score
3,273
Location
Bedford
My question to you is this:
If you wanted to spend around $800 for your all in one unit, wort chiller and fermentation setup what would you choose assuming you have nothing anymore.

My 2 cents:
Considering you have 2 young children and not a whole lot of time, here's what I would do:
--Bottling takes a lot of time, so I'd get into kegging right away.
--You don't need a "system" to make wort, so with the financial constraints, I'd skip the all in one system
--Realize that you need to compromise about some things, and the first should be scaling back from 5 gallon batches,
a 5 gallon plastic carboy is pretty cheap, but you need some headspace so 4 gallons is a good amount. I usually make 2.5 to 3 gallon batches, have a lot of variety and its easy to handle the wort/fermentation.
Small Chest Freezer from Big Box store $200 (if another pandemic hits, the extra freezer space will come in handy) This will be a combo fermentation chamber and place to keep your kegs cold but you can work around it.
Temperature control for freezer, buy on line $50
Two used kegs, buy on line or look on craigslist or FB marketplace $40/each total $80 You can also go with new 3 gallon kegs for $75 each that will then fit into a standard fridge if you want to.
Tank and regulator try to find used $100
Picnic taps and hose and connectors for kegs $20
For brewing the beer I'd use two 16 quart cheap pots from big box store and a BIAB bag and your kitchen stove. Pot #1 for the mash, pull the bag and drop into pot #2 for a dunk sparge. Total cost, about $60 or less.
5 gallon plastic carboy and airlock $40
So the above adds up to $550, plus any tax or $620 if you go with the new kegs. So that leaves some cash for an auto siphon, hydrometer, thermometer, star san and PBW, new O-rings for the used kegs a second fermenter, maybe a few more kegs and perhaps even a used fridge to keep the cold beer in so your freezer can be (mostly) your fermentation chamber.
Edit, forgot to include immersion chiller, $70 or so?
So for less than $800 you are brewing beer, have fermentation control and a kegging set-up, you can do it for even less if you already have some of the above items.
 
Last edited:

Hwk-I-St8

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
1,916
Reaction score
854
Location
The Hawkeye State
An electric all-in-one unit, plus all the other things you need to start brewing (fermenter, temp control, packaging, test instruments, material storage, etc.)....I don't think you can get there from here.

How solid is the $800 budget. One thing I've learned the hard way....buy once, cry once is good advice. I've spent easily 2-3 times what it would have cost to go straight to what I have now.

When you say electric, are you thinking 240v or 120v? 5G batches can be done with 120v, but it will be slow. You can blow through your budget pretty fast getting wired for 240v if you don't already have a spot set up. Personally, I wouldn't do electric with 120v...people do it, but for me that would be annoying. How committed are you to electric and what facilities do you have in place to support that?

If I were starting fresh today, I'd bite the bullet and get a Spike Solo rig. Quality stuff, and you've got a reliable, compact, easy to use, fast to brew and clean rig for $1500.

Gas is a much cheaper entry...build a cooler MLT for $80, get a Bayou classic burner for $75, a brew bag to fit for $40, brew built kettle for $180 and you've got a $380 mash and boil rig. That leaves a lot of money for tools, packaging, etc.

We can cut some corners. Limit yourself to Kveik yeast and you can skip fermentation temp control for now. Eventually, you're going to want to control ferm temps though.

Bottling is cheaper entry, but takes longer and is somewhat limiting in style. You can bottle a NEIPA, but getting avoiding oxidation and getting them to turn out as good as kegging is a tough prospect.

I think we really need more info to best guide you.
 

renstyle

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 20, 2020
Messages
392
Reaction score
442
Location
Central Iowa
This is what I have acquired (more or less) over the past year or so as my first system. I had nothing prior to ordering a keg and CO2 tank other than a few coolers and buckets, and built up from there.

Assumption:

1. you already have access to a "serving fridge" with room for 1-2 kegs.

Having a serving fridge vs. bottling is a tough call for some. I had one, so went with kegs and could focus on a ferm chamber first, rather than a kegerator or even a dual-use ferm/kegerator.

Budget: $800

$100 used dorm fridge to serve as FC
$40 Inkbird 308
$20 reptile heater
=============================
$160 ($640 left)

$275 Anvil 6.5
$100 5lb CO2 tank + regulator
$80 2 used corny kegs
$25 5gal round cooler
$20 brew bag
=============================
$500 ($140 left)

or, if you opt for the Anvil 10.5, you don't need the cooler to MAIB 5 gal batches
$100 more for the 10.5 - $25 cost of cooler =$75

$735 ($65 left)

Use the remaining budget for:

a. EVABarrier lines ($17 for 39ft/11.5 m)
b. duotight connectors (need the MFL-to-EVAbarrier for QD)
c. gas and bev QD
d. some kind of tap: cobra/pluto/etc.
e. hydrometer+ refractometer (I'd suggest having both)
f. graduated cylinder for hydrometer
g. misc SS ball valves, clamps, hose connections for chiller, etc.

You can start with buckets for fermenters, or just use one of the corny kegs w' a blowoff.

I won't lie, the included SS chiller coil included with the Anvil (either size) is lackluster at best. With patience and cooler water, it will get the job done tho.

A decent copper chiller would be tops of the "upgrade" list once the dust has settled. Then you can utilize the stock coil as a pre-chiller if desired.

...and if you wanted to stick with bottling vs keg, you could recoup $180 of the above total by not investing in kegs/CO2/regulator, and spend those funds on bottles, wands, etc. Here, having a better fermenter with a bottom spigot would be ideal to start.

IMHO, dialing in the fermentation scheme with a chamber from the beginning is key. It makes everything else more flexible. You can even utilize it as a regular fridge if you don't drill a bunch of holes in it. :)

The actual "brewing" task could include MAIB, or BIAB, or extract and run off 240v, 120v, propane, even stovetop.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Messages
497
Reaction score
828
I have an Anvil 10.5 and started with two fast ferment conicals. I then bought a ss brewtech brewbucket with cooling.

I'm fine with the fermenters as two are for wheat beers, which I love, and the other for lagers.

I'm having trouble with step mashes. The kettle does not like wheat. Keeps scorching. I bought a mash tun so that I can transfer the wort in the kettle and keep stirring while heating it up.

But if I had to do it again, I would look at setting up a boil kettle with 5500w heater.
 
OP
OP
skemp45

skemp45

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
260
Reaction score
55
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Some really awesome suggestions here and I appreciate everyone who took the time to give such solid advice. I will 100% be kegging but that is a separate budget. I bottled last time and started kegging at the end and that was life changing lol.

The big take away so far is maybe I should just increase my budget and focus on having a consistent and controllable fermentation chamber.
I really liked the appeal of the controlability and consistency as far as temps go of the electric setups but maybe that’s not something I should worry about right now as I do not have a dedicated 220 anyways
 

DuncB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2019
Messages
2,300
Reaction score
1,309
Location
Paremata New Zealand
No doubt about it when I got back into brewing and went Electric all Grain in One (EGO ) the beer was miles better. I just went with bucket ferment and bottling.
Then pressure fermenters, kegs etc etc. Everything was an improvement ( in my justification ). Was really happy with the Robobrew but I do have 220 v, now upgraded to Guten 70 L and even more content.
 
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Messages
497
Reaction score
828
Have you used a bag yet? Still having same issuse with a bag?
I did bought a bag. Didn't used it yet. I did also buy a mash tun. Tried to transfer and still scorched at 60% kettle power. Twice. I might be messing it up somehow that I don't understand.
 
Last edited:

bwible

I drink, and I know things
HBT Supporter
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
1,936
Reaction score
3,426
Location
Oxford, PA
I’m just going to mention the all in one electric systems really don’t save time in my experience. “Anything to save time” was stated in the original post. They do simplify equipment needs. Understand they function more like a BIAB system than a traditional 3 vessel system.

As others said, 240V is really needed if you’re going to go for one of the bigger systems. That said, I have the Anvil 6.5 and I run it fine on regular 120V. But that’s a smaller system. I use it to brew 3 gallon batches. I have their pump, which makes it like a recirculating system.

If I were starting over, I’d say the first step is to evaluate your “needs”. How much beer do you drink how quickly and how many friends, neighbors, or relatives will you be supplying? How often do you have parties? For some guys, 10 gallon batches are not enough. For others (like me) 5 gallon batches are too much. If I’m the only one drinking the beer, what am I going to do with 10 cases of beer from my first 5 batches?

You want a system that meets your needs, not what other people say you should buy.

Once you have an idea how much beer you want as output, then you can design something to meet that.
 

Jag75

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 24, 2018
Messages
6,959
Reaction score
3,099
Location
Taft
Imo fermentation temps are just as important as cleanliness and sanitation. Too warm can jack a beer . Its more important than what you brew with. However, that being said i have the Grainfather. It was worth every penny . I also have a Spike cf5 and a diy chiller . Maybe about 2k to 2.5k wrapped into everything.
 

renstyle

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 20, 2020
Messages
392
Reaction score
442
Location
Central Iowa
If I were starting over, I’d say the first step is to evaluate your “needs”. How much beer do you drink how quickly and how many friends, neighbors, or relatives will you be supplying? How often do you have parties? For some guys, 10 gallon batches are not enough. For others (like me) 5 gallon batches are too much. If I’m the only one drinking the beer, what am I going to do with 10 cases of beer from my first 5 batches?

You want a system that meets your needs, not what other people say you should buy.

Once you have an idea how much beer you want as output, then you can design something to meet that.

Good point. It does depend on where you want to "settle out" as it were. When I chose to focus on 4.5gal batches as my max for keg fermenting, it helped make the kettle decision alot easier.

I've run my 6.5 on both 120V and 240V with 5.5gal to get 4.5gal into the fermenter. With MIAB it's doable. By deciding to use a cooler mash tun, it's put off the recirc pump purchase until a later time.
 

NSMikeD

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2017
Messages
683
Reaction score
494
Location
Huntington
I brew 2.5 gal batches and no regrets. That’s 20 pints, last me 4 to 6 weeks perfect for my brew schedule. I have the Anvil 6.5. My kegerator and my fermentation chamber are DIY from second hand mini fridges. All in I’m in your budget. I can control mash and fermentation temps, do no O2 tramfers, ales and lagers and even though I have 240, with this batch size I plug into 110 v in my kitchen. Clean up on brew day is easy and I needn’t worry about weather. Everything stores away on a small table in my basement.

I didn’t start with this set up but over the years with a lot of trial and error, this is where I am. When I get home I make my dinner, pour myself a pint and relax.
 

madscientist451

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2014
Messages
5,496
Reaction score
3,273
Location
Bedford
The Anvil 6.5 looks like a good option if you don't want to use your kitchen stove. I've always wondered how long the electrical parts in units like the Grainfather and Anvil 6.5 are going to last, but other than that, it looks pretty good for the price. More heavy duty all in one systems like the Wort hog are going to be about $1,000.
If you only have 110v, you could also use a heat stick to speed up your strike water heat up and boil times.
 
OP
OP
skemp45

skemp45

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
260
Reaction score
55
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Alright I ended up picking these up today and tomorrow will work on getting a controlled fermentation chamber setup I took some of the advice and went for it against some of your best suggestions. I’ll just have to try it and see but this felt right to me
 

Attachments

  • 8A6EE2C0-983A-43B1-8BFE-2AC9F818CEA1.jpeg
    8A6EE2C0-983A-43B1-8BFE-2AC9F818CEA1.jpeg
    1.3 MB · Views: 63
  • F22C8F70-33C6-47A1-93F5-96E713A2E7FE.jpeg
    F22C8F70-33C6-47A1-93F5-96E713A2E7FE.jpeg
    3.5 MB · Views: 62

BarryBrews

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Messages
175
Reaction score
107
Location
MONCURE
Love the SS Brewtech brew buckets! So easy to CIP. As are kegs, btw.

Though you have already made your decision on size, I will still say this:
1. 5 gallons batches are almost twice as much work and time as brewing 10 batches. Hey, you are going to drink it.
2. A given in brewing is you will always be upgrading your system. For every dollar I've spent on my system, the equivalent of 80% has been given away, sold or in storage forever. Research thoroughly all the techniques and hardware and don't worry or get cheap with the money or you will eventually spend twice as much.

I'd tell you to return the 5 gallon brew system and go for a 10 gallon system, and ditch the immersion chiller for a Counter Flow Chiller (plate chillers don't handle hops well).
 
OP
OP
skemp45

skemp45

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
260
Reaction score
55
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Another update, I got my fermentation fridge today! 125 bottle wine fridge. I’m not sure on the temp range so I also picked up the inkbird temp controller.
 

Attachments

  • 6E06BB15-102D-4041-B151-E8FF1CB556E1.jpeg
    6E06BB15-102D-4041-B151-E8FF1CB556E1.jpeg
    1.3 MB · Views: 34
  • 015512A8-EE79-4DA7-84A3-E59A4F17D145.jpeg
    015512A8-EE79-4DA7-84A3-E59A4F17D145.jpeg
    976.5 KB · Views: 33
  • AA2E28E0-A42D-4139-9180-D32B1E0E69C0.jpeg
    AA2E28E0-A42D-4139-9180-D32B1E0E69C0.jpeg
    1.1 MB · Views: 31
  • FAF3A05E-564C-4BF1-88F6-EE4171B42A48.jpeg
    FAF3A05E-564C-4BF1-88F6-EE4171B42A48.jpeg
    1.3 MB · Views: 28
  • 2752265E-C8A8-47CF-937E-2B538394AEA1.jpeg
    2752265E-C8A8-47CF-937E-2B538394AEA1.jpeg
    1,011.1 KB · Views: 26

NewJersey

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
1,374
Reaction score
634
Location
Boonton
Love the SS Brewtech brew buckets! So easy to CIP. As are kegs, btw.

Though you have already made your decision on size, I will still say this:
1. 5 gallons batches are almost twice as much work and time as brewing 10 batches. Hey, you are going to drink it.
2. A given in brewing is you will always be upgrading your system. For every dollar I've spent on my system, the equivalent of 80% has been given away, sold or in storage forever. Research thoroughly all the techniques and hardware and don't worry or get cheap with the money or you will eventually spend twice as much.

I'd tell you to return the 5 gallon brew system and go for a 10 gallon system, and ditch the immersion chiller for a Counter Flow Chiller (plate chillers don't handle hops well).
I started 5, went to 10, and then came back to 5.
I, for the life of me, don't understand how guys go through THAT much beer.
 

day_trippr

"This Space For Rent"
Joined
May 31, 2011
Messages
38,345
Reaction score
21,435
Location
Stow, MA
fwiw, the two 17 cf top-freezer fridges in which I do most of my fermentations have 40 watt reptile bulbs mounted in uber cheap ceramic bases inside plywood & mdf boxes with 12VDC PC fans blowing through, like the example shown here.

ferm_heater_02.jpg
ferm_heater_01.jpg


These setups produce a moderate ramp which my BrewPi controllers can handle easily and thus avoid ping-ponging between heat & cool modes...

Cheers!
 

day_trippr

"This Space For Rent"
Joined
May 31, 2011
Messages
38,345
Reaction score
21,435
Location
Stow, MA
Well that was all my pleasure - I remain a huge fan and dedicated user of R'Pints, and couldn't help but be a proselytizer and occasional helper to others :)
I am pleased to see you have come by again. Hope you hang around for awhile...

Cheers! :mug:
 

Hwk-I-St8

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
1,916
Reaction score
854
Location
The Hawkeye State
I started 5, went to 10, and then came back to 5.
I, for the life of me, don't understand how guys go through THAT much beer.

Yep, I struggle to get through 5 gallons in a reasonable time frame unless I have a lot of drop ins to help out. There's a guy in my homebrew club who buys 20 bags of grain twice a year and brews 20 gallon batches. I'm convinced he's running a small bar or something...no way a single person or even a couple could drink that much beer.
 
Top