Author Topic: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase  (Read 2342 times)

Offline ChitownJT

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 5
  • Chicago, IL
    • View Profile
Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« on: March 05, 2012, 02:36:39 PM »
Long time lurker, first time poster.  I've been doing partial boil extract brewing and have been loving every second of it. I was hoping you guys could help me figure out what piece of equipment I needed next. I have a starter set from the LHBS (buckets, siphon, hydrometer, etc), a better bottle, a 3.5 and a 10 gal SS brew kettle from the father-in-law (a big homebrewer back in the day), and a solid inventory of kitchen equipment (the wife and I love to cook). I'm not planning on making the jump to AG yet and our condo has some tight space restrictions.

That being said, I'm not sure how to prioritize what I need next to continue making improvements to my home brews. I think a wort chiller could be next, but I think I would need submersible pump rig since I'm unable to attach anything to the kitchen faucet, so that's going to be an additional cost. I was also thinking of a stir plate since I began harvesting yeast from previous batches and so I could increase the volume of yeast I'm pitching. Maybe a turkey frier to do full boils?

So I put it to the collective wisdom of the forums - What do I need next?
Thank God I married the daughter of a home brewer, otherwise this would be a lot more difficult.

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4532
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2012, 02:46:03 PM »
Every thing that you mentioned would be good to have. Turkey fryer, chiller, and pump would be good.  Do you have outside hose bibs at the condo? You will be outside with a turkey fryer, and you could hook up to those and run the spent water into the grass or plants once it cools off.

Chillers are easy to make, consider that to save a $ or 2.
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline Slowbrew

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1656
  • The Slowly Losing IT Brewery in Urbandale, IA
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2012, 02:56:45 PM »
+1 on the turkey cooker.  It can make a huge difference in your brew day, especially if you go all grain.

One thing I would recommend, if you don't already have one, is a valve on you large kettle.  I brewed for many years with just a kettle and siphoning the wort to the fermentor.  A spigot on your kettle is a huge time saver.

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline Joe Sr.

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2325
  • Chicago - NORTH SIDE
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2012, 03:49:24 PM »
Depending on the faucet, you can get adapters that would allow you to hook on a typical hose-bib threading.  If not the kitchen (I know I can't do it with our current kitchen facuet) maybe the bathroom?

I think a chiller is a very good next step.  If not, what about aeration?  You could get one of the aquarium pumps or go with disposable oxygen bottles.

Stir plates are so easy to make I wouldn't buy one.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline nateo

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2162
  • Aachen, DE
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2012, 04:06:56 PM »
If you have the room for a freezer or similar, I'd say a fermentation chamber is the most necessary equipment for making great beer.
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline WDE97

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 112
  • Lewiston, ID
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2012, 04:22:22 PM »
Depending on the faucet, you can get adapters that would allow you to hook on a typical hose-bib threading.  If not the kitchen (I know I can't do it with our current kitchen facuet) maybe the bathroom?

I think a chiller is a very good next step.  If not, what about aeration?  You could get one of the aquarium pumps or go with disposable oxygen bottles.

Stir plates are so easy to make I wouldn't buy one.

These would be my first two suggestions, especially since you mention space limitations.  If you can't get your fermentation temps down into the 60's and have room for an extra fridge/freezer I would then go with something for temp control.
Robert H.

There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.    - Steven Wright

On tap: Oak Aged Bourbon Stout, Flander's Red, IPA, Belgian Pale, Northern English Brown Ale.

Fermenting: Flander's Red, RIS.

Aging: 4 Flander's Red Ales, Belgian Dark Strong, RIS.

Online euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7220
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2012, 06:11:05 PM »
Really the footprint of a small chest freezer isn't that large. I would make temp control during fermentation a priority.

A sub pump and an immersion chiller with an icewater recirc ought to work though you'll use a fair bit of ice. How are you chilling your wort now?
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline ChitownJT

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 5
  • Chicago, IL
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2012, 06:59:41 PM »
Thanks for all the suggestions guys!

It definitely seems like the chiller might be taking the lead. Right now I'm cooling my wort with an ice bath in the sink. It works relatively well, but it still takes a while. The guys I brew with usually come over to my place, but I think one of their condos has an outdoor bib that we can hook up to.  In the meantime though, I can get the pump so I can still use it when I brew solo.

Re: controlling fermentation temperatures - I usually put my primary in our second bathroom where it stays in the mid-60s. Would figuring out a way to control fermentation temperature have a greater affect on the final batch compared to the time needed to chill the wort down? And how big a fridge/freezer are we talking about that it would fit a primary?

I'll probably add all of this to my toolkit eventually, so I'm really trying to figure out what should go first.


Thank God I married the daughter of a home brewer, otherwise this would be a lot more difficult.

Offline nateo

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2162
  • Aachen, DE
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2012, 07:16:19 PM »
Re: controlling fermentation temperatures - I usually put my primary in our second bathroom where it stays in the mid-60s. Would figuring out a way to control fermentation temperature have a greater affect on the final batch compared to the time needed to chill the wort down? And how big a fridge/freezer are we talking about that it would fit a primary?

I use a 7ft^3 freezer, and I can fit two 6.5gal ale pails, or two 5gal carboys in it, plus a bit left over. A 5ft^3 would fit one easily, plus maybe a couple growlers. Keep in mind that the temp during fermentation is probably 4-7*F above whatever ambient is, so your "mid-60s" might actually be low-to-mid 70s. IMO proper fermentation is what makes or breaks beer, and having a bit of haze from not getting a good cold break can be remedied by cold crashing in your fancy new freezer. 
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline repo

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 326
  • San Diego CA
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2012, 07:33:00 PM »
Thanks for all the suggestions guys!

 Re: controlling fermentation temperatures - I usually put my primary in our second bathroom where it stays in the mid-60s. Would figuring out a way to control fermentation temperature have a greater affect on the final batch compared to the time needed to chill the wort down? And how big a fridge/freezer are we talking about that it would fit a primary?
 




In short yes, fermentation temperature control. I think every book I've read and every professional brewer I 've talked to have said the #1 piece of advice they give to improve ones beer is fermentation temperature control. Don't get stuck with the idea that it must be a fridge/freezer though. There are some other options and great inventions that can suffice. Check ghetto chill in archives for instance. Also a temp contoller will also be required. I do love my wort chiller too though. My best advice would be , whatever you get be sure it will meet your needs for years to come :)

Offline thebigbaker

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 702
  • Denver, CO
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2012, 07:35:58 PM »
You could still go all grain and do 3 gallon batches which will still allow you to boil on your stove top.  Perhaps a cooler mash tun would be all you need to get your 3 gallon all grain batches going. 
Jeremy Baker

"An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You should never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience." - Mitch Hedberg

Offline ccfoo242

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 765
  • I drank what? - Socrates
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2012, 08:50:08 PM »
Add my vote for the fermentation temp control. Not that I actually know what I'm talking about, but it's really cool to have that digital controller hanging next to the freezer telling me the temp of my beer.   8)

Another reason to get the freezer is you can get your wort to a stable low temp (like 60F or whatever) before pitching. And it gives you the ability to do more types of beers.

If you buy new you're looking at around $300 for the freezer plus temp controller.

You could also build something out of 2" foam insulation boards like this: http://home.roadrunner.com/~brewbeer/chiller/chiller.PDF

Then its the cost of supplies plus the temp controller that you could use if you later upgraded to a freezer.

Intra cervisiam est deus.

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2012, 10:44:17 PM »
I agree that fermentation temp control is the first thing to look at, but since you have a room that stays mid 60s I think you can get the temps you need by spending less than $10 to rig a swamp cooler in there.

A chiller or a burner would be good, but I'd get the chiller first - otherwise you are stuck with a big pot of hot liquid, outside, that is going to take even longer to chill.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline bluesman

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8678
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2012, 10:49:07 PM »
+1

A swamp cooler or a chest freezer with a temp controller would be my first choice. Controlling your fermentation is vitally important to making better beer.
Ron Price

Offline beersk

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1877
  • In the night!
    • View Profile
Re: Prioritizing Next Equipment Purchase
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2012, 08:11:40 AM »
You could still go all grain and do 3 gallon batches which will still allow you to boil on your stove top.  Perhaps a cooler mash tun would be all you need to get your 3 gallon all grain batches going. 
I think this would get my vote.  3 gallon batches is the way I do it and I love it.  Brew inside, brew more often, and more variety, less heavy lifting, etc.  It's great.
Other than that, fermentation temperature control is highly recommended, obviously.  A condo probably won't have room for a chest freezer.  You could probably build some kind of fermentation chamber.  Otherwise, a chiller is awesome to have, those can be easy to build I think.
Watch out for those Cross Dressing Amateurs!