Author Topic: Starter All Grain Equipment  (Read 2340 times)

Offline nicosan1

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Starter All Grain Equipment
« on: March 10, 2013, 11:31:20 AM »
Seeking some advice as a newer AHA member. I have been doing nothing but partial mash for the past year or so, have recently took an All-Grain class and am interested in getting into All-Grain fully, to save some cash and control my brews a bit more. I generally do a range of higher 5-8% beers in 5 gallon batches. What type of cooler should I get that will allow me to do my regular brews and a few bigger bears like a DIPA, Imperial Stout? Given the limits of the 5 gallon coolers, would a 7 gallon be the best option? Should I just buy online and do the work myself or buy a regular setup?  Space and price limitations (I live in NYC, but may be in DC soon) are a part of my calculus.

Thanks!

Offline Jeff M

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Re: Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2013, 11:41:31 AM »
You have a choice to make first off.

Bazooka tube or False Bottom? Or vice versa Round or rectangular?

This first choice will pick what kind of cooler you get.  Ive seen most people using bazooka tubes in rectangular MLTs.  I use a round false bottom in my 10 Gallon round drink cooler.  I think the price difference for the type of cooler is pretty negligable, but i havent done a lot of research in this department.  I just went to Lowes and bought a cooler like this for 50 bucks
http://www.lowes.com/pd_217539-528-00042125_0__?productId=3742177&Ntt=10+gallon+rubbermaid&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3D10%2Bgallon%2Brubbermaid&facetInfo=
a cooler like this seems to be the minimium size to make 5-6 gallon Big Beer Batches.  With the grain bill of some Big Beers being upwards of 30 lbs, that makes this cooler maxed out.  Have to remember the large amount of grain will displace a large amount of space.
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Offline denny

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Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2013, 11:42:51 AM »
Take a look at www.dennybrew.com
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Offline duboman

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Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2013, 11:46:11 AM »
10 gallon Bev coolers will handle up to about 23# grain and IMO should be the minimum size.

I use a copper manifold but you could do false bottom or bazooka screen as well

I would also recommend a 10-15 gallon kettle with 10 being the minimum, my opinion as well!

BTW, put the money saving idea aside as while the grain is cheaper the toys you buy for AG will always be on the wish list:)
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2013, 12:08:29 PM »
+1, 10 gal is really the minimum to be able to do big beers with a workable mash. I'd look for something in the 50-60 qt range. At that size your kettle will probably fit inside it for storage.
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Offline beersk

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Re: Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2013, 12:49:17 PM »
I'm going to suggest brew in a bag, because it's awesome and easy. I did the cooler thing for the last several years only to find brew in a bag, and I love it. It combines the ease of extract brewing with the control of all grain. And it's cheaper for start up. Currently, I do 3 gallon brews in a bag on the stove top. Dig it.
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Offline denny

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Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2013, 02:08:11 PM »
I'm going to suggest brew in a bag, because it's awesome and easy. I did the cooler thing for the last several years only to find brew in a bag, and I love it. It combines the ease of extract brewing with the control of all grain. And it's cheaper for start up. Currently, I do 3 gallon brews in a bag on the stove top. Dig it.

BIAB seems like a viable method of you do small batches like you do.  But when I think about lifting a bag with 15+ lb. of hot, wet grain, it makes me glad for my cooler.
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Offline dannyjed

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Re: Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2013, 02:36:36 PM »
When I started thinking about going all grain, I looked at buying a round cooler set up on NB.  Luckily, I checked out Denny's site and realized I already had a rectangler cooler and a 7.5 gal boil kettle.  So, for about $10 jumped into all grain and never looked back.  I eventually bought a better and bigger boil kettle, but the "cheap and easy method" has been working great for me for 4 years.  I think I might eventually get into a single tier system with a pump to save my back, but starting out simple just makes sense.
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Offline jamminbrew

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Re: Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2013, 03:16:18 PM »
I bought a 52 quart rectangular cooler from a major retail store for $20. The parts from a major home building store, $20. Quick and easy. And it doesn't have to be blue. Don't let these guys fool you, red is just as awesome... 8)
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Offline beersk

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Re: Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2013, 04:23:52 PM »
I'm going to suggest brew in a bag, because it's awesome and easy. I did the cooler thing for the last several years only to find brew in a bag, and I love it. It combines the ease of extract brewing with the control of all grain. And it's cheaper for start up. Currently, I do 3 gallon brews in a bag on the stove top. Dig it.

BIAB seems like a viable method of you do small batches like you do.  But when I think about lifting a bag with 15+ lb. of hot, wet grain, it makes me glad for my cooler.
True. I think brew in a bag is practical really for the up-to-5-gallons kinda brewing; I think it's still a viable method for 5 gallons. But much more and you're limited, for sure. People have ways to hang the bag and whatnot over the kettle instead of having to hold it while it drains.
Watch out for those Cross Dressing Amateurs!

Offline denny

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Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2013, 04:37:42 PM »
I'm going to suggest brew in a bag, because it's awesome and easy. I did the cooler thing for the last several years only to find brew in a bag, and I love it. It combines the ease of extract brewing with the control of all grain. And it's cheaper for start up. Currently, I do 3 gallon brews in a bag on the stove top. Dig it.

BIAB seems like a viable method of you do small batches like you do.  But when I think about lifting a bag with 15+ lb. of hot, wet grain, it makes me glad for my cooler.
True. I think brew in a bag is practical really for the up-to-5-gallons kinda brewing; I think it's still a viable method for 5 gallons. But much more and you're limited, for sure. People have ways to hang the bag and whatnot over the kettle instead of having to hold it while it drains.

For 5 gal. the least amount of grain I'm gonna use is about 11 lb.  Even that much, hot and wet, is more than I want to deal with in a bag.  YMMV.  And having to improvise some apparatus to lift or hang the bag kinda negates the "simple and easy" aspect of BIAB.
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Offline Roger Burns

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Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2013, 05:17:23 PM »
I guess I'm doing BIAB wrong since I use a 40 gallon (not quart) kettle, a bag, and brew between 10-20 gallon beers on it. I use three thick-wall conduit poles ($10 each) in a tripod and use a small chain binder to lift.  It's nice to not have to clean much up and the three pole tripod folds up and is in my garage.

I also have s smaller one using paint strainer bags from the local big box store. I brew on it when I brew away from home.

BIAB is a cheap and easy way for someone to 'test the waters' of all grain brewing without the massive investment.
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Offline denny

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Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2013, 05:27:49 PM »
I guess I'm doing BIAB wrong since I use a 40 gallon (not quart) kettle, a bag, and brew between 10-20 gallon beers on it. I use three thick-wall conduit poles ($10 each) in a tripod and use a small chain binder to lift.  It's nice to not have to clean much up and the three pole tripod folds up and is in my garage.

I also have s smaller one using paint strainer bags from the local big box store. I brew on it when I brew away from home.

BIAB is a cheap and easy way for someone to 'test the waters' of all grain brewing without the massive investment.


I don't see where you're doing anything wrong, but I also don't see where it's easier than what I do.  But that's the beauty of homebrewing.....
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline nicosan1

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Re: Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2013, 06:47:32 PM »
These are all great suggestions. I figure I would just get one cooler and a false bottom, perhap in phases.  Is another cooler as a hot liquor tank really necessary or is fine to just rely on the kettle to keep your water warm? Could I use my bottling bucket to collect the sparged wort and transfer back into a now empty kettle? I like your method Denny in terms of relying on the pitcher to transfer water, I pretty much rely on that myself.

I was thinking a cooler, valve materials (hardware store), a false bottle, and a larger kettle. I have a 5 gallon kettle at the moment. The Lowe's/Home Depot deals on coolers are pretty decent in the bronx and can get the materials there or at Brooklyn Homebrew. 

Offline nicosan1

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Re: Starter All Grain Equipment
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2013, 07:02:04 PM »
http://www.homedepot.com/p/t/202315032?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&keyword=cooler&storeId=10051&N=5yc1v&R=202315032#.UT06DxlAvy8


Would something like this rectangular cooler work with the spigot in the middle as opposed to the side? its about 11.25 gallons, looks like big enough just wasnt sure if there is any effect on grain bed if the spigot is in the middle. Thanks again for the advice guys, I greatly appreciate your sage advice.