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Author Topic: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment  (Read 4699 times)

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2015, 09:56:16 am »
Every hobby has its own acquisition syndrome no matter how little utility comes with acquiring more.

I have a really simple cooler setup. Before buying anything I ask whether I really need the equipment to make or serve better beer than the equipment I already own. Often the answer is no and that guides my purchases. At some point in the near future I want to upgrade my mill and I do think that would improve my efficiency a little but that is at least partially a want rather than a need. I am still making really good beer with a $25 corona-style mill. At some point I will finish a kegging setup when I have the space in the home.



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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2015, 10:06:42 am »
I am absolutely a skin-flint. I don't buy anything I don't need. However, due to a desire to stay out of the cold Indiana winters, I've upgraded my system to all electric. I could have still gone with natural gas since the line is just feet from my brew room, but that skin-flint/self preservation thing kicked in and I decided that all electric was the best for me and least likely to kill me or the family.

I have cobbled together all my gear over the course of 15 years and its been satisfying. One step at a time, I've assembled what I consider to be utilitarian and functional gear. Sure, it would look better to have a wiz-bang, fancy commercially-sourced system, but that is not me. Half the joy of the hobby for me is learning and creating.

Invest in the equipment that meets your needs and moves you along in your continuum to what you consider brewing satisfaction. Don't lose sight of the fact that sometimes paying more for quality is worth it.
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Offline denny

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2015, 10:16:25 am »
In the age of the Internet and the massive amounts of instant information we have at our disposal, one could drive themselves nuts ooh-ing and ah-ing over the large selection of equipment for Homebrewing.

A personal brewing system can be as simple or advanced as the Brewer desires.

Is it too much? I've found myself, in other hobbies as well, crippled by what the Guitar community calls GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) but have tried and so far succeeded at keeping my homebrew aspirations simple and reserved.

What is everyone's opinion on simplicity in brewing? Does your equipment fit the model of simple and pragmatic? Could you be accomplishing more with less?

My opinion of simplicity?  Well, I've used the same 48 qt. cooler and hose braid for 16 years and 492 batches.  It doesn't need to be more complicated than that.  I just don't care about equipment as long as it isn't a PITA to use and makes good beer.  But it's a personal thing.  I know that some people are into the equipment as much or more than the beer.  Whatever works for you.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2015, 10:24:29 am »
I'm upgrading some items soon and I couldn't be happier. There is a sense of pride to brewing on old hacked together gear and finally upgrading. It's like buying your first new car.

RPIScotty

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Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2015, 10:54:21 am »
I really appreciate the time you guys take to answer my posts. I seem to fire off an opinion related post weekly and I am always intrigue by the variety (and sometimes lack of variety, which isn't a bad thing!) of answers given.

Thanks to all.

Offline Whiskers

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2015, 11:54:32 am »
I've been a gravity-and -manual-lift-buckets-of-water-and-wort kind of brewer for 17 years.  I've worked with wooden 3-tiers and all ground level sans pumps.  Nothing wrong with any of that even for 15.5gal batches.  Been using a pump the last three with a few other tweaks.  I like the pump but I'd go back to all-gravity in a second if I had a catwalk!   

Offline jimmykx250

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #21 on: December 20, 2015, 12:06:24 pm »
Im A BIAB guy. 20 gal alum pot is all i need. I like simple but am thinking of going the cooler route just to get a clearer wort- besides that im happy with my set up- don't want pumps that just seems like more stuff to clean! I do love home brewing though its been fun and quite an education.
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Offline ccfoo242

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2015, 12:12:13 pm »
I've bought new gear for various reasons: poor research caused me to get something I didn't like, moving from 5 to 10 gallon batches, and cool factor. Lately I've added the switch to electric to the mix.
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Offline narcout

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2015, 12:32:17 pm »
I try to keep my actual brewing set up fairly simple. 



However, despite my intentions, I have amassed a fair amount of gear.  I'd like to not acquire anything further, but I think I need a second chest freezer for meads and ciders.

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Online BrewBama

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2015, 01:29:24 pm »
I ogle at the big bucks equip but I run about the most simple system out there. Cheap and Easy.


Offline braufessor

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #25 on: December 20, 2015, 03:35:41 pm »
I have acquired a fair amount of gear over the years and have probably spent more money than most.   But, I don't really have other hobbies that I spend money on.  No kids at home.  And, it is what I like to spend my time doing.  Probably one of the biggest reasons I tend to just buy stuff is I am simply not at all a "do-it-your-selfer."  It is not that I probably couldn't make things, build a brew system, etc...... I just don't want to.  Can't stand spending my time making things or putting stuff together.

I think you also have to look a little at cost vs. use.  I bought a 3 tier gravity brew sculpture from More Beer 17(ish) years ago.  Lot of money at the time.... $1300 or so.  But, I am sure I have brewed 400-500 batches of beer on it - so, I can easily say it is the best money I ever spent.  1000's of hours of entertainment over a couple decades is simply something I am fine spending money on.  Same with other things I have spent money on like temperature control, kegerators, etc.  I love brewing beer and I love entertaining friends that come over to enjoy it.  Money well spent.

That said - do you NEED to spend money on shiny equipment to brew great beer? Absolutely not.  There are tons of people who brew spectacular beer on modest set ups - as evidenced by many of the previous responses from some truly great brewers.  Brewing good beer is about process,  learning and practice.  No equipment will help a person brew good beer if they don't have those things.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #26 on: December 20, 2015, 04:20:17 pm »
I have acquired a fair amount of gear over the years and have probably spent more money than most.   But, I don't really have other hobbies that I spend money on.  No kids at home.  And, it is what I like to spend my time doing.  Probably one of the biggest reasons I tend to just buy stuff is I am simply not at all a "do-it-your-selfer."  It is not that I probably couldn't make things, build a brew system, etc...... I just don't want to.  Can't stand spending my time making things or putting stuff together.

I think you also have to look a little at cost vs. use.  I bought a 3 tier gravity brew sculpture from More Beer 17(ish) years ago.  Lot of money at the time.... $1300 or so.  But, I am sure I have brewed 400-500 batches of beer on it - so, I can easily say it is the best money I ever spent.  1000's of hours of entertainment over a couple decades is simply something I am fine spending money on.  Same with other things I have spent money on like temperature control, kegerators, etc.  I love brewing beer and I love entertaining friends that come over to enjoy it.  Money well spent.

That said - do you NEED to spend money on shiny equipment to brew great beer? Absolutely not.  There are tons of people who brew spectacular beer on modest set ups - as evidenced by many of the previous responses from some truly great brewers.  Brewing good beer is about process,  learning and practice.  No equipment will help a person brew good beer if they don't have those things.
There are a lot of home brewers who really enjoy DIY and tinkering with development of new ideas, improvig old ideas, repurposing, and doing things on the cheap. New, techy, shiny, and expensive gets kind of poo pooed, a little at least. I have a little money in my setup, but its nothing to show off. I'd love to have a big new digital pid setup and I might some day.

The cost issue kind of cracks me up though. Cost in hobbies is relative to the culture of that hobby. If I piled up everything I have aquired for brewing, maybe $3k new. I'll bet there are plenty of brewers on this forum whose pile would be $300. And some whose pile would be $10k. The majority reaction to $10k tied up in brewing would probably be "Holy cow! You must be filthy rich!"

How many garages across America have $10k worth of brewing equipment in them? Maybe 50? Maybe 500? A safe bet would be less than 5000.

How many garages across America have a $10,000 Harley in them? A safe guess would be that 100,000 garages are home to a harley that hasn't been riden in over six months. No one blinks an eye at the idea of pouring $10k into a harley. Mine was $25k.

My farmer neighbor bought an airplane this year. He was over having a beer with me and sheepishly spilled the beans that he spent $52k on it. His friends all think he's nuts. He flies every day off. I told him that maybe he should have bought a $50k class A RV, then everyone would snicker at what a cheap ass he was, cuz their class A cost $150k.

My harley cost $25k. I rode it three times this year. My RV cost $14k. We camped in it 8 nights this year.

I have $3k max tied up in brewing stuff and I used it a minimum of 24 full days this year, not counting a few random hours each week.

Brewing is the cheapest hobby I've ever had, per hour enjoyment.

Brewing is a hobby, therefore a luxury, but I think its cool that a lot of us consider cobbled together repurposed mishmash,  a luxury. I also think its cool that some of us consider a $350 peice of stainless a necessity!
« Last Edit: December 20, 2015, 04:29:49 pm by klickitat jim »

Offline braufessor

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #27 on: December 20, 2015, 06:56:57 pm »



The cost issue kind of cracks me up though. Cost in hobbies is relative to the culture of that hobby.

How many garages across America have $10k worth of brewing equipment in them? Maybe 50? Maybe 500? A safe bet would be less than 5000.

How many garages across America have a $10,000 Harley in them? A safe guess would be that 100,000 garages are home to a harley that hasn't been riden in over six months. No one blinks an eye at the idea of pouring $10k into a harley. Mine was $25k.

My farmer neighbor bought an airplane this year. He was over having a beer with me and sheepishly spilled the beans that he spent $52k on it. His friends all think he's nuts. He flies every day off. I told him that maybe he should have bought a $50k class A RV, then everyone would snicker at what a cheap ass he was, cuz their class A cost $150k.

My harley cost $25k. I rode it three times this year. My RV cost $14k. We camped in it 8 nights this year.

I have $3k max tied up in brewing stuff and I used it a minimum of 24 full days this year, not counting a few random hours each week.

Brewing is the cheapest hobby I've ever had, per hour enjoyment.

Brewing is a hobby, therefore a luxury, but I think its cool that a lot of us consider cobbled together repurposed mishmash,  a luxury. I also think its cool that some of us consider a $350 peice of stainless a necessity!


Yep, You nailed it Jim.  Everyone "wastes" money on something.  But, if it is making you happy..... that is what it is all about.  And, brewing pales in comparison to most hobbies.  I look around our neighborhood and see RV's, snowmobiles, motorcycles, $50k vehicles.... and feel a lot better about my spending on brewing.

I am 46 and still driving the second vehicle of my life - a 9 year old Ford Ranger with 33,000 miles on it - I will still be driving it 10 years from now too:) 

Would love to spend more money on brewing in my life than I did on vehicles ;D

Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #28 on: December 21, 2015, 05:03:49 am »
I do 5-gal BIAB outside with propane burner in a 10 gal. Spike S/S kettle.  An inexpensive grain mill, 25-ft. immersion copper chiller, plastic fermentors and bottling bucket are the rest of my basic stuff. 

Fermentation is in a water bath with ice or hot water added as needed (at least in the best case scenario) and I bottle all my beer.

I would like to get a small chest freezer with a temp controller so I could brew lagers; currently, I'm limited to ales.

However, the biggest PITA is I don't have enough room to store all my brewing equipment together.  Its all over the house and garage and has to be assembled on brew day, then put away again after cleaning,
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Offline gspot

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #29 on: December 21, 2015, 09:13:37 am »


What is everyone's opinion on simplicity in brewing? Does your equipment fit the model of simple and pragmatic? Could you be accomplishing more with less?

I'm not sure the OP was asking about cost so much as he was about equipment options that would KISS.

For example, I'm "downgrading" in a couple days when Santa brings me a Grainfather. It's simple in concept and application, but at $900 not necessarily cheap (although that's relative to a person's disposable income as previously pointed out).

I see it as a simplification because I'm coming from a cobbled-together 10 gal single-tier 3v propane-fired RIMS, whereas the Grainfather is a comprehensive electric appliance not much bigger than a 6.5 gal carboy. I'm not sure the extra volume per session is worth the cost and complexity to get there. If I want more beer, I can just brew more often.

I've always thought that, had BIAB been around when I started, that's probably what I'd be using today, and I view the Grainfather as a variation on the BIAB theme since you mash and boil in the same vessel. I think small-batch BIAB is probably about as simple as you can get, and if you put it together yourself rather than buy a turn-key solution like I did, also probably one of the cheapest.  I'm looking forward to trying it out in a couple weeks.

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