Author Topic: New equipment for all grain  (Read 833 times)

Offline harlequin

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New equipment for all grain
« on: March 18, 2015, 11:14:23 PM »
Hello all,

I was not sure if this should go into equipment or all grain, so I put it here. Also as a note, I have looked around at various threads and some of them have great information, but otherwise I find that my questions are actually pretty simple and specific. I am making the switch to all grain brewing and I wanted some recommendations on some equipment. The first piece of equipment (or pieces I should say) are the kettles. For both mashing and lautering I need bigger tanks than what I currently have. I am brewing 5 gallon batches at the moment, but I will be upgrading to 10 gallon batches pretty soon. For this reason I am thinking 12-15 gallon kettles to have a little extra space.

The kettles/systems I have found are from Bayou:
http://bayouclassicdepot.com/800-408-bayou-classic-premium-brew-pot-kit.htm
From Polar Ware:
https://storefront.ldcarlson.com/storefrontCommerce/itemDetail.do?item-id=6516&order-quantity=1&item-index=0&customer-item=5026&order-uom=&warehouse-id=2&item-number=5026#
From Megapot:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/megapot-1-2-all-grain-brewing-system.html
and from Blichmann:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/blichmanntm-boilermakertm-g2-brew-kettle-w-autosparge-7-5-10-15-20-30-55-gallon.html

Does anyone have experience and or recommendations about these?
Second part of the first question: Who would recommend using a cooler for the mashing as opposed to a stainless kettle and is there any reason why besides money? I am having trouble finding something larger than 10 gallons.

The second question about equipment is about burners. First part of the question: electric or gas? I would prefer to use whatever is going to be cheaper in the long run, although I would sacrifice price if the quality drops by any noticeable amount. What are the general opinions about these?

I have found these three options in propane and would like any opinions:
Bayou:
http://bayouclassicdepot.com/kab6-kick-a-banjo-burner-plus.htm
Blichmann:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/blichmann-floor-standing-burner-discontinued.html
and Edelmetall:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/edelmetall-bru-burner.html

As to electric, I have to do more research to see which brands I like, but any help here would also be great.
One last note is that I am trying to get as much of this as possible from my local store, because I like to support them, so that is why I am looking at these brands in particular, but the owner said that he should be able to get just about anything in in the event there is a preferred brand or item.

Cheers and thanks for the long read,
Dillon

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2015, 11:19:13 PM »
for 10 gallon batches you will want at least 15 gallons on your boil kettle. I have 50 liters and it's a close thing on a long boil 10 gallon batch.

On the mashtun. I'm happy with my coleman extreme 70 qt although on 10 gallon higher gravity or 5 gallon very high gravity brews it can also get close to capacity. I went with the cooler method because of money and easy of entry but i like it for the hands off nature of the mash, stir it up well, close the lid and walk away for an hour or so. It helps that I can put one together in about an hour.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2015, 11:30:51 PM »
I went with the cooler method because of money and easy of entry but i like it for the hands off nature of the mash, stir it up well, close the lid and walk away for an hour or so.

+1
Jon H.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2015, 12:15:28 AM »
I went with the cooler method because of money and easy of entry but i like it for the hands off nature of the mash, stir it up well, close the lid and walk away for an hour or so.

+1
Stir real well and take the temp, stir a little more if need be.
Measure mash pH, adjust it need be.
I must be doing it wrong.  ;)

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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2015, 12:18:43 AM »
I went with the cooler method because of money and easy of entry but i like it for the hands off nature of the mash, stir it up well, close the lid and walk away for an hour or so.

+1
Stir real well and take the temp, stir a little more if need be.
Measure mash pH, adjust it need be.
I must be doing it wrong.  ;)



Good points - not quite that simple. That's a bit more accurate.  ;)
Jon H.

Offline cascadesrunner

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2015, 01:06:53 AM »
It may not be as simple as the ol' dump and stir, but it really isn't overly complicated.  The cooler method is a good, cheap foray into the world of all grain brewing.  If you decide to to step up later, you can always use the cooler later in the cycle.  Instead of using it for heat early in the process you can use it for chilling all those tasty brews. :)
Run then beer.

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2015, 04:03:29 PM »
I've used a cooler for over 475 batches now and for me it's the only way to go.  Well, other than a computer controlled robotic system....
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Offline euge

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2015, 04:38:07 PM »
I second going with a larger kettle. But, if you live in a warm climate a freezer/fridge with a controller would be my first real upgrade. Before going all grain even...
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2015, 06:35:02 PM »
I second going with a larger kettle. But, if you live in a warm climate a freezer/fridge with a controller would be my first real upgrade. Before going all grain even...

+1000

No matter your location, get your fermentation control down first: temperature (used fridge with controller), oxygen (oxygen stone), and pitching rates (starter flask and stir plate).

Extract beer with ferm. control > All grain beer without it
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Offline harlequin

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2015, 07:13:12 PM »
Thanks for all the help, and I am in the process of setting up my fridge and temp control system (which does indeed have priority over kettles etc).


Offline coolman26

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2015, 03:51:35 PM »
Buy the best you can afford once, save money in the end.  I bought the 10 gallon Polarware to start.  Pricey, too small, now is my hopback.  Bought a 25 gallon Mega Pot and love it.  Bought from a commercial restaurant supply for $200.  I would go 15 gallons at a minimum IMO.  I brew Natural Gas outdoors.  This and the stainless MT for me is out.  I couldn't imagine fighting temps during a winter mash.  I have almost no variant in temps for 90 minutes.  That is a plus for me on the cooler.  Mine is 120qt Igloo MaxCold and I really like it.  Coolers are cheap, easy to build, and work.  You can get by with a little smaller HLT to begin with.  Heat your strike water in the lager boil kettle, and use something cost effective for your hot liquor tank.  I used another cooler I had for my original HLT.  You don't need flash and bling to make good beer. 
Gas vs electric is a huge difference.  I think I would have to start with gas.  Down the road, if your still brewing, then think electric.  Give yourself some time to learn what you like, don't like, then you will figure it out.  Everyone here has adapted their system for their setting, and what they like.  You will end up doing that too.  My vote would be nice large BK, cooler MT (70qt-ish), reasonable HLT, and a gas burner.  Good Luck!   
Jeff B

Offline Rattlesnake44

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Re: New equipment for all grain
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2015, 04:53:31 PM »
Not really much more to add... So I'll confirm what others have said. Buy bigger than you think you'll need, because you'll eventually end up needing it.
I have a MegaPot and I'm liking it a lot. I had the thermometer and ball valve added to it and it makes things a lot simpler.
I have two coolers a 5 gl and a 10 gl I got from Home Depot, added a few pieces of stainless hardware from my local brew supply shop and haven't looked back. Works great.
I have a trusty Bayou propane burner that hasn't let me down for about 50 boils so far. I like the ease of temp adjustment that comes with cooking with gas.
I live in SoCal, so the first real expenditure on equipment I made was a chest freezer with a dual temp controller. That has made a huge difference in the quality and repeatability (is that a word?) in my beers.
Have fun! And cheers!