Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: chargerssb on April 07, 2011, 04:07:22 AM

Title: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: chargerssb on April 07, 2011, 04:07:22 AM
I have a b-day coming up and my wife is asking me what I may want.  I was thinking of some new piece of equipment, but I am not sure what might be the best thing to get.  Right now I have a 5 gallon carboy, 6.5 gallon carboy, 6.5 plastic fermenter, bottling bucket, immersion chiller, 5 gallon brew kettle, and all the basics (hydrometer, thermometer etc.)  As of now I do extract brews, steeping specialty grains.  I want to move up to all grain, but don't quite have the room for the extra equipment (cooler mash/lauter tun).  Any suggestions?
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: tschmidlin on April 07, 2011, 04:39:30 AM
Start with a big boil kettle and a burner, something around 15+ gallons.  That will let you do 10 gallons at a time with a full boil, and you can keep doing extract until you decide you have the space for all-grain.

Or since space is a concern, an 8+ gallon pot so you can do full boils on 5 gallons.  You'll probably want a burner for that too unless you have a serious stove.  You'll need a bigger pot when you move to all grain anyway, but it's not wasted with your current setup.

Either that or fermentation temperature control would be my picks.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Norm! on April 07, 2011, 05:00:03 AM
+1 on the temp control for fermentation, actually I would start there, and then go to a bigger boil.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: tygo on April 07, 2011, 11:25:29 AM
If you decide on the new pot definitely try to go for at least a 10 gallon one.  Like Tom said 15 gallons would be better.  Just gives you more flexibility down the road.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Hokerer on April 07, 2011, 01:59:16 PM
Something to take care of fermentation temperature control would be my first place to start
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: maxieboy on April 07, 2011, 02:27:31 PM
+1 on the temp control for fermentation, actually I would start there, and then go to a bigger boil.

+1 Then a good roller mill. A little cheap 'n easy later, you're an all grainer!
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Beer Monger on April 07, 2011, 03:16:05 PM
So... how do you guys control your fermentation temperature? 

I currently use the method of putting my carboys in a water bath w/ an aquarium heater. 
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: tygo on April 07, 2011, 03:19:20 PM
So... how do you guys control your fermentation temperature? 

I currently use the method of putting my carboys in a water bath w/ an aquarium heater. 

I have a 7.5 cubic foot chest freezer equipped with a digital temp controller.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: denny on April 07, 2011, 03:28:18 PM
So... how do you guys control your fermentation temperature? 

I currently use the method of putting my carboys in a water bath w/ an aquarium heater. 

Exactly what I do.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Hokerer on April 07, 2011, 03:33:31 PM
So... how do you guys control your fermentation temperature? 

I currently use the method of putting my carboys in a water bath w/ an aquarium heater. 

Mine never seem to need warming but rather cooling down.  I do that with a variation on the "son of fermentation chiller" thingy
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Beer Monger on April 07, 2011, 03:45:31 PM
So... how do you guys control your fermentation temperature? 

I currently use the method of putting my carboys in a water bath w/ an aquarium heater. 

Exactly what I do.

OK.  I figured that was a somewhat common method.  :) 
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: maxieboy on April 07, 2011, 08:24:11 PM
Dedicated fermenting fridge with Ranco controller and fabbed thermowell utilizing a carboy cap. One port for the thermowell, one for the airlock.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: tschmidlin on April 07, 2011, 09:28:28 PM
Dedicated fermenting fridge with Ranco controller and fabbed thermowell utilizing a carboy cap. One port for the thermowell, one for the airlock.

don't quite have the room for the extra equipment (cooler mash/lauter tun).  Any suggestions?
No room for a cooler, but room for a fermenting fridge? ;D
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: maxieboy on April 07, 2011, 11:16:43 PM
Looks like I was answering Beer Monger's question. You know, thread drift, stream of consciousness posting, etc. ... Also looks like I replied to the OP earlier on. So,  :P   ;)
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: tschmidlin on April 07, 2011, 11:29:38 PM
Looks like I was answering Beer Monger's question. You know, thread drift, stream of consciousness posting, etc. ... Also looks like I replied to the OP earlier on. So,  :P   ;)
Sticking to your story? ;D
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Will's Swill on April 07, 2011, 11:58:11 PM
OK, perhaps something that will fit.  I can't recommend more highly getting a bottle tree with a sulfiter on top.  Makes bottling fun.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Beer Monger on April 08, 2011, 01:11:44 PM
OK, perhaps something that will fit.  I can't recommend more highly getting a bottle tree with a sulfiter on top.  Makes bottling fun.
I couldn't imagine bottling without one.  After power-spray cleaning my bottles, that tree & santizer sprayer make it so easy.  Just pull it over next to you and grab each bottle as you need it. 
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: euge on April 08, 2011, 05:26:28 PM
Earlier I was going to suggest a kegging setup, but didn't because this might involve a small fridge. However, bottling would largely become a thing of the past.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Bret on April 08, 2011, 05:52:55 PM
Earlier I was going to suggest a kegging setup, but didn't because this might involve a small fridge. However, bottling would largely become a thing of the past.
I truly believe that kegging saved my home brewing career.  I hate bottling.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: JKL on April 08, 2011, 05:58:13 PM
Earlier I was going to suggest a kegging setup, but didn't because this might involve a small fridge. However, bottling would largely become a thing of the past.
I truly believe that kegging saved my home brewing career.  I hate bottling.

I bottled a batch last December.  1st time in 4 years. I guess I'd forgotten how hard it was?  It took almost 2 hrs just to clean/sanitize the bottles before I even started to bottle.  Plus, I didn't wear gloves and between the water, sanitizer, and cold weather my skin cracked so bad they almost bled.  Never again! 
-J.K.L.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: bluesman on April 08, 2011, 06:43:52 PM
Do you have a stir plate?

There was a recent article I think in BYO about apartment all-grain brewing. I'll look it up and get back to you.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: chargerssb on April 09, 2011, 03:17:36 AM
Tons of great suggestions.  I like the idea of a bigger pot and burner.  I saw this on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-1195-Stainless-Steel-Turkey-Fryer/dp/B000291GCU/ref=dp_cp_ob_ol_title_1 (http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-1195-Stainless-Steel-Turkey-Fryer/dp/B000291GCU/ref=dp_cp_ob_ol_title_1)  Would this be something I could drill a hole in and add a weldless spigot to?

However, even that might be a bit pricey right now.  What temperature controls would you all recommend (Ranco, Johnson)?  I could at least use that in the time being to monitor what temp it is fermenting at (as of now I don't have anything, not even one of those sticker things).  A stir plate is also a good idea.  I really do want to move to all grain soon though.  We'll see if I can talk her into the turkey fryer above and I could do the brew in a bag method since I wouldn't have a mash/lauter tun.  
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: bluesman on April 09, 2011, 03:29:31 AM
If you have or can get BYO's November 2009 addition there's a great article on Small-Space Brewing Tips plus Build a Countertop All-Grain System.

http://www.byo.com/component/resource/article/Issues/266-November%202009/1987-countertop-brewing-system
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: jamminbrew on April 09, 2011, 03:31:35 AM
Do you have a stir plate?

There was a recent article I think in BYO about apartment all-grain brewing. I'll look it up and get back to you.
I kind of rather enjoy the bottling process. Turn on some good tunes (loud as you can), pour a glass or three of your favorite brew, and just think of how good it's all gonna taste afterwards! For me, it's a labor of love.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: beveragebob on April 09, 2011, 07:23:05 AM
Being it is your b'day.....and she asked.... I would look at all the responses of equipment upgrades, search around for the best prices....add it all up and put a "wish package" together with a bottom line price she is willing to spend. Of course I'd shmooze her and ask/tell her that I would brew any type of beverage that she so desired(be prepared to throw a bunch of stuff at her like "Honey Wheat, Chocolate Raspberry Stout, Honey Mead....etc....you get my drift ;D
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Kirk on April 09, 2011, 02:32:50 PM
Something to take care of fermentation temperature control would be my first place to start
Along that train of thought, for me, one of the biggest helps is having a place to store beer in interim stages of development, so that I can keep brewing fairly often, and have the patience to let beers develop like they should.  So, a keezer, or fermenteezer, comes to mind.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: maxieboy on April 09, 2011, 02:40:19 PM
No room for a cooler? Is this your house?  :D

(http://www.togetherweareone.com/files/images/tinyhouse.jpg)
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Will's Swill on April 09, 2011, 04:03:43 PM
Earlier I was going to suggest a kegging setup, but didn't because this might involve a small fridge. However, bottling would largely become a thing of the past.
I truly believe that kegging saved my home brewing career.  I hate bottling.

I bottled a batch last December.  1st time in 4 years. I guess I'd forgotten how hard it was?  It took almost 2 hrs just to clean/sanitize the bottles before I even started to bottle.  Plus, I didn't wear gloves and between the water, sanitizer, and cold weather my skin cracked so bad they almost bled.  Never again! 
-J.K.L.

You must not have been using a bottle tree and sulfiter!  Last weekend I sanitized well over 100 bottles in about 10 minutes.

I actually keg and bottle, but I understand the bottling angst.  I gave up bottling after my second or third batch and switched to kegging because I hated the bottling so much.  But my nasty avocado green brewing fridge was sacrificed when moving in with SWMBO and I had to switch back to bottles.  She banished me from my tried and untrue bleach-and-bottles-in-the-bathtub-then-rinse-forever method of sanitizing, so I was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of Star San.  A new brewing buddy (i.e. he was new to brewing) helps out occasionally at a winery and he suggested we borrow their bottle tree and sulfiter.  We also used his capper and a bottling bucket that doubles as my MLT.

Holy frijoles, Batman!  :o  Bottling is a snap now!  Turned out my capper sucked (his was great), Star San is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and a bottling bucket is a hell of a lot easier than trying to maintain a siphon whilst filling bottles.  I have since purchased a True kegorator and some additional kegs, but I still actually enjoy bottling.  So I do both. YMMV.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: chargerssb on April 10, 2011, 02:45:17 AM
No room for a cooler? Is this your house?  :D

(http://www.togetherweareone.com/files/images/tinyhouse.jpg)

Ha ha, that is my house.  How did you get that picture..lol.  No, we live in a condo with a tiny one car garage (the car barely fits).  The closet I keep my brewing equipment is pretty small and already getting full.  Not to mention all the stuff we have around for our 5 month old son, I need to attempt to keep the brewing equipment to a somewhat manageable size.  If I get the 32 quart turkey fryer w/burner I can get rid of my old pot.  So the only equipment I would be adding on would be the burner which I could store outside.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Pinski on April 10, 2011, 03:28:00 AM
 What temperature controls would you all recommend (Ranco, Johnson)?  I could at least use that in the time being to monitor what temp it is fermenting at (as of now I don't have anything, not even one of those sticker things).
I have the Johnson Controls digital, found it on Amazon for about $70. Love it. Easy to set up and works like a champ.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: chargerssb on April 10, 2011, 11:59:08 PM
So after doing some research I found this http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-1036-Stainless-Steamer/dp/B0009JXYUA/ref=sr_1_3?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1302478930&sr=1-3 (http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-1036-Stainless-Steamer/dp/B0009JXYUA/ref=sr_1_3?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1302478930&sr=1-3)

Not too expensive and will allow me to do full boils.  I will probably also purchase this burner http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-SP10-High-Pressure-Outdoor/dp/B000291GBQ/ref=dp_cp_ob_ol_title_1 (http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-SP10-High-Pressure-Outdoor/dp/B000291GBQ/ref=dp_cp_ob_ol_title_1)

Thanks for all the suggestions.  For a MLT in the meantime I think I will just use Papazian's "zapap" lauter tun since I have a bottling bucket and my ale pale I used to use for primary fermentation before getting my 6.5 gallon carboy. 
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Will's Swill on April 12, 2011, 12:40:20 AM
You'll want a way to insulate the tun.  I've placed the whole thing in an insulated box with good success.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Kit B on April 14, 2011, 08:56:05 PM
If I get the 32 quart turkey fryer w/burner I can get rid of my old pot.

Seriously...I'd reconsider getting rid of anything.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: chargerssb on April 15, 2011, 04:02:23 AM
Got my burner yesterday.  Can't wait to break it in.  I am definitely going to use my old ale pail as a MLT for now until I find room somewhere for a cooler.  I'll insulate with something. 

I was actually thinking about the getting rid of my pot thing the other day.  I can use it to heat up strike water (is this right) while collecting first runnings for batch sparging.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: tygo on April 15, 2011, 10:45:21 AM
I was actually thinking about the getting rid of my pot thing the other day.  I can use it to heat up strike water (is this right) while collecting first runnings for batch sparging.

You'd be heating up the sparge water while you're collecting the first runnings.  Strike water is what you mash in with when you start the mash.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on April 15, 2011, 11:34:57 AM
If I get the 32 quart turkey fryer w/burner I can get rid of my old pot.

Seriously...I'd reconsider getting rid of anything.

Hang on to the pot.  I have a collection of pots that are used to do cold steeps, do decoctions, or what ever crazy addition to the brew day that I can think of.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: Will's Swill on April 16, 2011, 01:44:35 AM
+1 and the smaller pots from the early brewing career can do double duty when making chili for the superbowl party!  8)
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: chargerssb on April 16, 2011, 04:38:45 AM
I see okay, still learning about all grain brewing and the terminology. 

I am definitely going to hang on to my old pot.  Can you really ever have too much equipment...?  Well I suppose you can depending on your point of view, but hey, at least the pots can stack...
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: bluesman on April 16, 2011, 03:58:01 PM
I see okay, still learning about all grain brewing and the terminology. 

I am definitely going to hang on to my old pot.  Can you really ever have too much equipment...?  Well I suppose you can depending on your point of view, but hey, at least the pots can stack...

Old pots come in handy. I have an old 32 qt SS pot that I use for decoctions as I don't want to mess up my Blichmann's for that task.

Although I recently sold a converted keg on ebay that was collecting dust. Plus, I needed the space for other equipment. If I had the space I would have kept it.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: BrewArk on April 17, 2011, 04:13:49 PM
I gave away my old pot to a newbie under the condition that if he gave up the hobby he give it back.

Then I bought another one to use on "Teach a friend to homebrew day".  So I could demonstrate both syrup in the kitchen and all-grain in the backyard.
Title: Re: Next piece of equipment..?
Post by: gmac on April 17, 2011, 04:47:55 PM
Now that you have a turkey fryer burner, don't forget you can also use it to fry a turkey.  I keep my turkey pot separate from my brewing pot because I don't want oil near my brewing stuff but you could always dedicate your old pot to that.  If you've never done a deep fried turkey, it's worth trying.  We do chickens all the time.  3 1/2 minutes per pound so a 6 lb bird is done in about 1/2 an hour, take it out to rest and toss in fresh cut fries...mmmm....