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What's been your single most beneficial homebrewing upgrade?

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BucksIPA

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The biggest thing is just figuring out the basics.

Procure the right eauiptment upfront, this can be done on any budget level
Get to all grain
Yeast starter equiptment
Controlling oxygen
Temp control
Get to kegging
Be very clean
Keep it simple, build with process
 

bracconiere

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well being i'm in the minority, and brew to save money.

malting my own grain! (swear it tastes better to, straight from kiln to mash tun)
 
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jddevinn

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Ferm Temp control for general initial quality

O2 control for lasting quality.

Other controls for repetition.
 

Imhoppy

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Building a custom brew kitchen in my basement. The only things that are in there are brewing supplies, brewing equipment, a kegerator, kegs, bottles, and lots of beer. Everything has its place with lots of storage for everything needed to brew and drink beer.
 

bracconiere

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everything needed to brew and drink beer.

damn, so a projection screen surround sound system and taps at every chair? lol, you're my hero!

i didn't even think of that to add, when i had a projector on the wall over my bed and a beer tap next to the bed so i could lay there and fill up my glass! ;)

unfortanlty, i never had a glycol system and i only could pour alco-pop from the lines :(
 

Kent88

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Switching from a false bottom in my mash tun to a filter tube.

That false bottom constantly was giving me stuck sparges. I made the switch and I haven't had one since. Cut my sparge time in half. Cut my frustration down by more.

I'll be trying out a new chiller soon as well. I've only ever chilled by icewater bath, and it takes forever. This should cut my time brewing to something much more manageable. Sure, I'd rather invest my money in stir plates and yeast banking, but I realized I need to make my brewdays more enjoyable (or at least less frustrating).
 
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bracconiere

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you're an odd duck, bracc.


🦆
i have no idea, but i'm glad i'm not the only one with a sense of humor in this world! and now that i think of it! add that to my BEST EVER brewing upgrades! having a sense of humor! :D (i actually think i didn't have one UNTIL i started brewing!)
 

bwible

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Kegging. I wouldn't do this anymore if I had to screw around with bottles. Plus, tap beer at home is just cool.
I would have said this, too, awhile back. But I find myself bottling again and it’s not as bad as I’d remembered. 😁 I get somewhat of a break with 3 gallon batches because I’m only bottling 30 at a time instead of about 50. I like having the variety, though priming correctly and getting the right carbonation is sometimes tricky.

I have a couple 3 gallon kegs. I often still have issues with kegs, too. Getting them to seal, leaking CO2, under-carb, over-carb, etc.
 

harrower

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Switching from propane to 240v electric. My Anvil allows me to mash and brew in one device at an affordable price.
 

deuc224

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I would say not looking at price when getting all the equipment. Just bite the bullet and get what i wanted vs what I could afford, it helped me a lot in making brewing fun vs doing a bunch of workarounds to get the same results. I have one last workaround i need to iron out and i should be pretty content.
 

NGD

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@Kent88 Which chiller did you decide to go with?

One of the best “upgrades” I’ve made is writing out my brew day ahead of time and preparing the night before. Fewer wasted motions, far fewer “I forgot” moments” and less stress. Its a tossup between ferm temp control and a chiller for second place.
 

OldDogBrewing

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I brew all grain, for now I let my temp and water "speak" in my beers, so my best improvement has been a big enough mash tun so now I have enough space to mash really big grain bills
 

Kent88

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@NGD I have a plate chiller I've been meaning to test for months. I think I finally have the right connections to do it now, but both of my kegs are full and I have no motivation to make anything until after the new year.
 
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willjamr

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After my first few batches I really wanted kegs. When I was comfortable with kegging I tried racking from secondary to a keg, adding priming sugar to the keg and using a picnic tap on the keg to fill bottles. My original bottle filling setup was clumsy and problematic.
 

bracconiere

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@NGD I have a plate chiller I've been meaning to test for months. I think I finally have the right connections to do it now, but both of my kegs are full and I have no motivation to make anything until after the new year.

you gotta drink, up and as this song says!

 
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Dgallo

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It’s tough because there are a few that made a big difference. But if I had to choose, fermentation control is what makes the biggest difference in initial quality. You could have a great recipe and no control and the beer will be awful. You could have a not so good recipe and great temp control and the beer can still turn out good.
 

Dgallo

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I do not miss bottling. :)
A few months back I had to bottle 9 gallons of varies wilds/mix fermentation beers. This was my first time bottling in nearly 3 years after moving to kegging and 20 minutes into washing bottles I thought to myself, if I kegged and force carbed I’d be drinking this beer already lol fast forward 3 hours (still not done) and I told my wife I’ll never bottle beer again lol
 

GrowleyMonster

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So far I haven't had a batch that didn't taste great. But the PITA factor went way down when I upgraded from bucket fermenters to Big Mouth Bubblers. They are the bee's knees, for 5 gallon batches. I love them.
 

GrowleyMonster

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Oh yeah, and kegging. Way cleaner and easier. I only bottle any overage that won't fit in a corny.
 

Gozie Boy

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Going to a conical fermenter (with CO2 blanketing), definitely. It gives you opportunities to make several step change improvements: easy dumping of break/trub (eliminating need for secondary, if you go that way); capturing yeast; very low oxygen operations (dry hopping (e.g. w/purging), sampling, and transfers (using closed loop gravity filling); easier temp control (with heat transfer coil and heating blanket); and probably several items that I haven't listed. Some of the above are hybrid processes involving other items, but you gotta have the conical to make them happen.
 

TandemTails

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Aside from having temperature control which many other people have mentioned, there are a couple other upgrades that I've found really beneficial:

1. Blichmann Riptide pump - I use this for transferring wort from my mash tun to the boil kettle and then I can use it for recirculating the hot wort during whirlpool and to help keep the wort circulating around my immersion chiller for faster cooling. I also use it to clean my kegerator by recirculating PBW and then starsan through my lines.

2. BrewSSSiphon - I do a lot of mixed fermentation brews along side my clean beers. I was having trouble with my autosiphons and tubing getting contaminated and infecting my clean beers. I bought one of these so I can either leave it in the oven at a low temp to kill everything (temps that would melt plastic) or I can run everything through the dishwasher. This is made of nothing but silicone or stainless steel. BrewSensible® - All Stainless Steel & Silicone for Sustainability

3. Beergun 2.0 - I've found it's a lot easier to rack my beer from primary into a keg with priming sugar and then bottle via my beer gun. It lets me purge the O2 from the bottles and seems a lot less messy than my old bottling bucket / bottling wand was
 

Bobby_M

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I can't give you just one as my journey from zero to hero included a few very important upgrades.

1. Ferment temp control. Keeping cool at peak fermentation and warming up on the back end for all beers was major fix for Diacetyl and Acetaldehyde.
2. Proper pitch rates. Unless you're brewing with kviek strains, a single 2 month old pouch of liquid yeast is not enough for most beers, let alone lagers.
3. Start with RO water and use minimalistic mineral and acid additions.
4. Low oxygen packaging, fully purged kegs, pushed transfers with CO2 backfill.
 

BarryBrews

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The best upgrades that improved the taste of my beer were kegging, low oxygen techniques and the use Kveik.

Proper yeast pitch, temperature control, RO plus salts, good recipes and sanitation are not really upgrades but the point at which brewers should be starting.

The most beneficial upgrade for me was going to electric which led to the RIMS and pump setup which includes an input and output temperature probes, a flow meter and a hop-clog-proof CFC. About the only time this system isn't running is during the boil, which means all my temperature readings are done with two probes in the picture. The RIMS is (as are a lot of my electrical components) thanks to Bobby at Brewhardware.com. This set up is even a bigger deal to me than my "no stir no stuck mash" technique.

RIMS-Pump_system.jpg
 
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I am constantly upgrading little things here and there as I become aware of them and can afford them :rolleyes:.

But if I sit down and think about what has made the biggest difference in my beer? Temperature control (moving from a cold bathroom floor to a wet t-shirt+fan to ice baths surrounding the fermenter to an Anvil cooling system and a cooler full of ice),

or maybe even more important, simply filtering the water (chlorine/chloramine=no bueno).
 
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