Author Topic: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System  (Read 6269 times)

Offline anje

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2012, 08:06:44 AM »
Euge, I'm considering getting an outdoor burner and big enough kettle to do full boils and eventually allgrain (read: turkey fryer kit) and some sort of wort chiller before I get a fermentation chamber. But you're giving me pause, because I *do* want tight fermentation temp control. Suggestions on what to prioritize?
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2012, 08:09:36 AM »
Euge, I'm considering getting an outdoor burner and big enough kettle to do full boils and eventually allgrain (read: turkey fryer kit) and some sort of wort chiller before I get a fermentation chamber. But you're giving me pause, because I *do* want tight fermentation temp control. Suggestions on what to prioritize?

all grain is wonderful but regardless of AG or extract or minimash, temp control is the best thing you can do for your beer. I am always right on the edge of saying that temp control is MORE important than sanitation. I say this because with lax sanitation you might well still end up with great beer but with poor temp control you really can't. 78* ferm temp will ALWAYS negatively impact your beer while poor sanitation might or might not cause a problem. Plus, if you get a hot estery beer I always feel a bit like I should struggle through it but if it gets infected and turns nasty it's easier to dump.
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Offline mmitchem

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2012, 08:10:15 AM »
Here here - all in favor of fermentation equipment upgrades! A lot of people get trapped in the bigger MLT, BK mindset. The fermentation side of the house is where the magic happens.

If I could do it all over, I would go with a bayou classic burner, a 15 gallon pot and an igloo cooler. You can produce stellar wort with these things. I would buy Blichmann conicals and upright fridges with temp controllers for them. Put my money heavy on the fermentation end - for sure!
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2012, 08:22:55 AM »
I've given the argument before in this forum that a consistent process is more important than fancy equipment.

That being said - as you learn your process and its deficiencies, there is nothing wrong with making improvements as you grow as a home brewer. The easiest way to keep consistency while improving your equipment is to make one small change at a time and regain your confidence and consistency before making another. This is my only option

IMO - the best place to start making improvements is with fermentation control. Nail down your fermentation temperature, oxygenation, and pitching rates before messing with the brewhouse.
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Offline sparkleberry

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2012, 08:36:00 AM »
i have an outdoor burner and a nice 10g kettle with sight glass which were both great upgrades. best upgrade i made was a chest freezer and tcd(finally got them in may). improved things right off the bat. the last upgrade i made was a rectangular cooler for batch sparging. i started ag with biab and liked it just fine. i was brewing more often and refining recipes for the first time. and the 3g batches allowed a bit more variety for me. i am doing the same thing now with the cooler and batch sparging. i bought a 70qt cooler for whatever future brewing i may do. but for the time being, i'm still very happy making 3 and 5 gallon batches. and i think i'm maybe two more brews away from having the system dialed in completely.

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Offline a10t2

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2012, 08:56:10 AM »
Euge, I'm considering getting an outdoor burner and big enough kettle to do full boils and eventually allgrain (read: turkey fryer kit) and some sort of wort chiller before I get a fermentation chamber. But you're giving me pause, because I *do* want tight fermentation temp control. Suggestions on what to prioritize?

I don't think that I would ever suggest full boils to someone brewing in an apartment, even with all-grain. Doing a concentrated boil and chilling/topping off with ice is just too easy. Temperature control, on the other hand, is all but mandatory.
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Offline mmitchem

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2012, 08:59:29 AM »
Euge, I'm considering getting an outdoor burner and big enough kettle to do full boils and eventually allgrain (read: turkey fryer kit) and some sort of wort chiller before I get a fermentation chamber. But you're giving me pause, because I *do* want tight fermentation temp control. Suggestions on what to prioritize?

I don't think that I would ever suggest full boils to someone brewing in an apartment, even with all-grain. Doing a concentrated boil and chilling/topping off with ice is just too easy. Temperature control, on the other hand, is all but mandatory.

Good lawd - keep that LP outside! Fermentation all the way!
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Offline euge

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2012, 09:07:27 AM »
I think of a major reason why people want to upgrade to larger equipment: they cannot keep up with their own consumption- usually one has so called friends to help with this- so believe brewing more beer at once will solve this problem! This situation arrives early on in the brewing experience and promotes equipment purchases and developments that can be poorly planned and thought out due to inexperience- even with a fantastic resource at their disposal such as a beer forum.

I'd say get ferm-control right off the bat once one decides they're in this thing for the long haul. If just piddling and dabbling with brewing- no. Then get a kegging system before upgrading to a large brewing kit. Brew more often on the equipment one has and learn the process. Develop consistency. Make thoughtful decisions on which direction one needs to go- not "wants" to go. Will it be gas-fired or electric? HERMS/RIMS? How will one mash? How will one cool all that wort? How will the purchase of a single piece of equipment impact the entire system/method and overall experience?

I brought my 80qt back into the kitchen and it straddles two burners. Works fine for me but maybe not for others.

So I guess it would be: 1. Basic equipment (including the appropriate sized fermenters and type) coupled with appropriate chilling method. 2. Ferm-control- freezer(s) or fridge(s) 3. Serving system. 4. Larger kettle if needed- which will almost certainly change the heating and chilling method. 5. Wort transport if needed (pumps or gravity). 6. Perhaps then moving to AG, grain-mill and mash-tun type.

« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 09:12:15 AM by euge »
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Offline anje

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2012, 09:11:42 AM »
Yes, the LP will go outside.  8)  I'm relocating ASAP, as I hate my apartment, and the new place has a stove with a glass top which makes me paranoid, so I've got an incentive to take it outside.
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Offline safi

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #24 on: November 11, 2012, 07:57:33 PM »

So I guess it would be: 1. Basic equipment (including the appropriate sized fermenters and type) coupled with appropriate chilling method. 2. Ferm-control- freezer(s) or fridge(s) 3. Serving system. 4. Larger kettle if needed- which will almost certainly change the heating and chilling method. 5. Wort transport if needed (pumps or gravity). 6. Perhaps then moving to AG, grain-mill and mash-tun type.

thanks euge, just what i needed, ive been reading "How to Brew" before i start my first batch, im trying to do everything right from the start
Dani

Offline gsandel

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #25 on: November 11, 2012, 09:19:10 PM »
If your beer is good, upgrade your system to meet other goals (volume, safety, temp control), if not, work on your procedure with the equipment you got....unless that equipment is hampering good beer (such as infected plastic fermenters and transfer tubing).

You can make good beer without exacting temperature control, btw....just don't expect to make a light lager or other very temp sensitive beers....if you have 78 degrees, make a damn good saison....but more likely, find a cooler place in the house to ferment and lager.

I suggest making the best beer you can with what you have....and then decide what your limitations are and design upgrades to solve for one at a time.  It is a bad practice to say temperature control is more important than sanitation....IMHO.  There is no substitute for (nor any excuse for not having) good sanitation practices.  I like upgrades that make my brewday easier and safer as well as eliminate mistakes and breakdowns....when you upgrade, I like durability...buy it to last.

Unless you are made of money, that is, then just go buy the best out of the gate....it won't make you brew better, but you won't be able to blame your equipment if things go awry.
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Offline euge

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #26 on: November 11, 2012, 09:54:26 PM »
Sanitation is important. Don't let anyone scare you into thinking this is of more value than fermentation temp control. You'll never make consistently great beer without it.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #27 on: November 12, 2012, 06:58:19 AM »
Unless you are made of money, that is, then just go buy the best out of the gate....it won't make you brew better, but you won't be able to blame your equipment if things go awry.

I know a guy. Mega expensive equipment and terrible beer.
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #28 on: November 12, 2012, 07:58:26 AM »
[

thanks euge, just what i needed, ive been reading "How to Brew" before i start my first batch, im trying to do everything right from the start

i spent so much time pondering how to do it right that it took me forever to start.  just start and make the changes that suit you.
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Offline euge

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Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« Reply #29 on: November 12, 2012, 08:04:56 AM »
One really can make excellent beer with just a 2 gallon stock-pot and a food-grade bucket. That simple. I say start with what you got in the kitchen already.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman