Straight Outta Brooklyn, or convince me not to spend a lot of money

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whovous

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I am still very new to all of this. I have made a total of five Brooklyn Brew Shop all-grain one gallon kits, with the fifth one in the fermenter for two weeks now. I would like to get a lot better at this, and I do not think that is going to happen with six quart pots on a stove.

I want to do larger brews, say 2.5 to 3 gallons, and I want to automate the process a lot more than it is with these kits. I've added a few toys, including a Brewdemon fermenter, an oxygenation wand, and a 5 gallon cooler mash tun with a copper manifold. For a while, I was very taken with JKARPS Brutus 20 system, but the more I looked at it, the more I decided that level of construction and assembly was just over my head.

I am giving serious thought to the Unibrau Mini - http://brausupply.com/collections/brew-kits/products/small-batch-countertop-electric-brewery-biab-1. With the controller and shipping, it is a little under $600. I like that it does everything in one pot, but I am new enough to all of this that I am also worried that it does everything in one pot. Is there a reason this is an uncommon method?

Basically, I want to get a lot more heavily into brewing, and I do not want to spend a lot of time and more important, money, experimenting with one system after another. Should I pull the trigger on this? I am anxious to get started, but I do not want to do something stupid in my haste.

Thanks!
 

ericbw

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Short answer: don't spend the money. You say you want to get better, which means improving techniques more than equipment.

Unless you're rich, spend that money slowly while increasing your knowledge of basic techniques. Start with fermentation temp control.

It's like buying an expensive baseball glove instead of learning to throw better.
 

JPrather

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I don't know what you should do, but let me offer an option, that could fit especially if money is a priority.

I use one of these: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002JQ3KQ4/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 (make sure you check the "used" section because they typically have these much cheaper under warehouse deals).

With that, I currently do ~3-gallon all-grain batches, BIAB, single vessel, no sparge. I get 70-75% efficiency consistently. It's quick and effortless and I love it. It's not quite as automated as the system you linked but it's pretty damned close for a helluva lot less money.
 
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whovous

whovous

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You get that efficiency without recirculating the wort at all? How do you do that? It is a very interesting idea.

Money is not a huge object here. It is more that I don't want to throw money after one idea, only to decide on another idea shortly thereafter.

Ericbw, my basic plan is to make a single style, probably a citra pale, over and over until I get it right. Where can I learn more about fermentation temp control?

I am not rich, but I just sold a bunch of vintage audio equipment with the plan to use the proceeds on a new system. I have almost nothing that carries over from my one gallon tries, so I need to spend money on something before starting. How much and what are the questions, I guess. I place a fair amount of value on not buying more and better stuff all the time. Also, and this is just me, and I am well aware it is not smart, but I want it to look good, too.
 

JPrather

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I don't think it's difficult to get >70% efficiency with a no-sparge BIAB system, and I've seen people report getting over 80% consistently with a similar technique.

After re-reading your OP I'm pretty sure your best bet is to start doing small batch all grain BIAB batches. I'd recommend against spending anything near $600.

The simplest way would be to just get a 20-qt or so stock pot and a bag. You could brew that way for ages and never need anything else, unless you wanted to go bigger than 3-gallons or so for full volume boils.

You could definitely keep using your brewdemon for 2.5 gallon batches or so.

Oh, and +1 to the idea of spending your money on fermentation control. If you don't have one, look around Craigslist in your area for a mini fridge or chest freezer. Get one, add a temperature control and you're set :).
 

madscientist451

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You get that efficiency without recirculating the wort at all? How do you do that? It is a very interesting idea.

No, you don't have to recirculate the wort. Get an 8 gallon pot. You already have the cooler. Put a BIAB bag in the cooler, if the mash gets stuck just pull up on the bag. Instead of a fancy re-circulation setup, get a mash paddle and stir the mash by hand every 15 minutes. If you want to be fussy about the mash temp. use a step mash calculator to add hot water to bring the temp up a few degrees. Or just leave it and don't stir it, don't worry about efficiency just use a little more grain.
The more important issue is fermentation temperature control. There's all kinds of ways to do this. A small chest freezer is less than $200. The temp control unit is $75. I'd get that before spending $600 on an automated brewing device. You can do it even cheaper with rigid insulation, computer fans and water frozen in milk jugs. Look for you tube videos about this. Happy Brewing & Cheers!!!!
 

C-Rider

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I am still very new to all of this. I have made a total of five Brooklyn Brew Shop all-grain one gallon kits, with the fifth one in the fermenter for two weeks now. I would like to get a lot better at this, and I do not think that is going to happen with six quart pots on a stove.

I want to do larger brews, say 2.5 to 3 gallons, and I want to automate the process a lot more than it is with these kits. I've added a few toys, including a Brewdemon fermenter, an oxygenation wand, and a 5 gallon cooler mash tun with a copper manifold. For a while, I was very taken with JKARPS Brutus 20 system, but the more I looked at it, the more I decided that level of construction and assembly was just over my head.

I am giving serious thought to the Unibrau Mini - http://brausupply.com/collections/brew-kits/products/small-batch-countertop-electric-brewery-biab-1. With the controller and shipping, it is a little under $600. I like that it does everything in one pot, but I am new enough to all of this that I am also worried that it does everything in one pot. Is there a reason this is an uncommon method?

Basically, I want to get a lot more heavily into brewing, and I do not want to spend a lot of time and more important, money, experimenting with one system after another. Should I pull the trigger on this? I am anxious to get started, but I do not want to do something stupid in my haste.

Thanks!
Here is my 2 cents in a video. I've refined it a bit over the past year or two and now put 1.9 gal into the fermenter and about 1.75 into the bottling bucket which gives me three 6 packs. Easy cheap BIAB setup.

 
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