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Author Topic: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment  (Read 4698 times)

RPIScotty

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Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2015, 11:24:44 am »
Just a thought experiment really. I fall into the small batch minority (< 1.5 gal) and it's much easier for someone like me to KISS.

I was just curious to know people's setups, how they arrived there and if they feel as though things have become a bit convoluted.

Offline blatz

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #31 on: December 21, 2015, 11:41:44 am »
I have a very complex brewing system (theelectricbrewery.com model) but it is exactly what I need/want and to be honest, once I worked all the kinks out, I've not made an equipment purchase in over 2 years. 

I made great beer with my cooler setup, I just wanted to be able to move inside to make summer brewing a bit more tolerable.
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Offline atodd

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #32 on: December 21, 2015, 11:42:53 am »
I have a 10 gallon kettle with coolers, it simple, cheap and effective.  Though I did build a brew pi for fermenting and that was money well spent. 

Offline factory

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #33 on: December 21, 2015, 11:57:49 am »
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!

I have a 3 vessel Blichmann Toptier setup with pump and Therminator.  I built my own RIMS controller.  I probably have about $3000 total invested.  Do I need it?  Nope.  But it is my only hobby.  I was one of those that had a HD Road King in the garage that I never rode so I got rid of it.  Same thing with the 5th Wheel Travel Trailer.  By far the cheapest hobby I've ever had, but also the most enjoyable.  I don't have to look for "nice" days or weekends to ride or go camping.  I brew in my garage, day or night, independent of any weather (except maybe a hurricane, but I haven't been interrupted by a hurricane in many years).

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #34 on: December 21, 2015, 12:07:05 pm »
Just a thought experiment really. I fall into the small batch minority (< 1.5 gal) and it's much easier for someone like me to KISS.

I was just curious to know people's setups, how they arrived there and if they feel as though things have become a bit convoluted.
Cereal Killer mill mounted on bench with switched hammer drill
2 double burner Camp Chef with chugger pump
15G boil kettle with copper curl pickup, 60' 1/2" recirculation IC
15G MT/HLT domed false bottom
8G MT/HLT uses same false bottom.  I switch from 8G to 15G MT depending on grain bill size
All kettles have Brewmometers
6 30L speidels 4 dedicated to wild beer
Red bottle o2 regulator with stainless stone
Fermentation chamber is 14cf chest with dual stage control
Lagering/conditioning chamber is 7cf chest with dual stage control
Two tap frat fridge kegerator
Red winged capper
Green farrari floor corker
~12 cases of belgian 750ml cork n cage bottles
8 cases 12s
7 corny kegs
Autosyphon
Wine theif
Hydrometer
Ph meter
Digital thermometer

Stuff I've tried and dont use anymore
Floaty thermometer
Hop spider
Mesh bags
Stirplates (though they have a new pupose stiring DME and agar)
Corona mill
Bazooka screens
Buckets (except for bottling bucket)
Vented silicone bungs (speidel airlocks take forever to evaporate to empty)
Brown malt, victory, honey malt, American base malts (just dont care for the flavors)

Stuff I am adding
Yeast Banking lab
More corny kegs
Blichmann beer gun
Larger lagering/conditioning freezer
2 more speidel 30Ls (I really think 4 speidels is not enough wild beers)
« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 12:27:27 pm by klickitat jim »

coastsidemike

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #35 on: December 21, 2015, 02:48:42 pm »
I think not in terms of desired capacity but in terms of what I can consume.  I've also brewed too many batches in the 5+ gallon size that I've eventually tossed, and so I have two setups. 

The first is 1 to 2 gallon stove-top BIAB, for anything experimental.  No more large batch recipe experimenting.  It includes a wort chiller using a 12v pump meant for CPU cooling.

The other is for 8 to 11 gallons.  I keg 5 and then bottle the remainder for giving away, or possibly split and ferment/dry-hop differently.  I'm not going for a lot of different styles but only a few recipes that I try to do well.  Gravity fed with a 10 gallon cooler as a mash tun.  If I were to upgrade, I'd consider an RO water system or possibly getting off of propane.  I also make a point of BBQ'ing when I use this one and consider that part of the setup.

Also, I unload any brew equipment if I don't use it within the last six months.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 03:32:02 pm by surfin.mikeg »

Offline wi_brewer

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #36 on: December 21, 2015, 03:34:42 pm »
I found an amazing deal on a complete Brutus 10 that I couldn't pass up.  It is very nice and I'm happy to have it, but I would have to say it isn't any easier to use than my former cooler/gravity setup.

Offline Rhoobarb

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #37 on: December 21, 2015, 03:44:49 pm »
I have a lot of the same items Jim mentions.  For all the years I've been AG, my system has been a simple gravity fed one.  Aluminum pot HLT, cooler mash tun and beat up keggle, set up on saw horses and cinder blocks with a step ladder on the side and a home made ghetto immersion chiller.

I recently got some extra spending cash and "splurged" on an SS Brewtech 15 gal. boil kettle with false bottom and thermomoter and a JaDed brewing immersion chiller. I also bought a bunch of 6160 aluminum angle, hardware and casters to build a dedicated brewstand that I can pull out on brew day and wheel away after clean up. I'll be in for ~$850.00 when it's all done. But I think it will be money well spent. I thought about going single-tier and getting pumps, but every time I have been at a fellow homebrewer's session that had a pump, the pump was a PITA - there was always some issue. So no - I'm sticking to gravity fed.

My other hobby is model railroading.  I'll be starting a new train layout soon.  You want expensive?  Here's the hobby for you. $200 for one new HO locomotive is not uncommon these days.
"Brewing beer to save money makes as much sense as buying a boat to cut costs on a fish dinner." -- Tim French

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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #38 on: December 21, 2015, 09:18:51 pm »
I have equipment that I don't use and could sell, but I always think I may use it someday...usually, though I add things that help in some way.  Recently I added check valves on all CO2 QDC's to prevent any back flow on over filled kegs.  Not needed, but helpful as a precaution.  A new (my third) 60 liter fermenter, so I can dedicate 2 of them to lagers and the third to ales for my typical 10 gallon batches.  The new antimicrobial beer line as an upgrade since the old tubing is heavily discolored and I wanted to replace it anyway.  A new 1.75 gallon keg for those occasional larger than 10 gallon batches that exceed a growler in extra brew...it adds up, but still is way cheaper than my other hobbies of fishing, hunting and golf - and my wife loves that I am home on most Saturdays - to brew or do beer related stuff like cleaning things or racking beers.
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Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #39 on: December 22, 2015, 03:53:56 am »
I have a false bottom cooler mashtun setup and basic gravity process but have newer and nice gear doing so. I built a small, simple brewing rig, I have pretty much all the equipment I need and a tool box full of gizmos/gadgets I have aquired over the years. I do not need or own my own malt mill, but I have a nice burner, kettle and HLT, I use pure o2, I keg my beers and have a fridge with 3 taps. I'm quite content with my brewing and process. I have always thought about intergrading a Herms temperature and recirculation into my cooler mashtun setup but it's really not something that is going to make or break my brewing. One of the things I can see me upgrading to in the future is a wort pump to use for ciculating the wort while I use an immersion chiller.

This is pretty much the only hobby I have. My wife is supportive of it, I don't splurge but she understand some of the things I need/want cost some money. A big part of where I am with my setup is space, I brew out in my attached garage for the most part and have a small section of it for my setup. I don't really have any room for anything more at this time but that will come.

Offline JayMiranda

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #40 on: December 29, 2015, 02:35:31 am »
Great thread guys keep it going.
Just starting out myself and great to see what you more experienced homebrewers use.
JayMiranda
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Offline beersk

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #41 on: December 29, 2015, 07:30:35 am »
Been brewing for 7 years and I'm all about keeping it simple stupid. I have a Coleman Xtreme cooler with braided hose for mashtun, a 6.5 gallon kettle, a 5 gallon kettle and a 3 gallon kettle (for boiling extra run off that gets added to the main kettle for chilling). Also have a 50ft 1/2" immersion chiller. Ferment in buckets, use auto siphon to transfer to kegs. I seem to have a fair amount of equipment though. A 9cu ft chest freezer for kegerator with collar and 3 taps, a couple of co2 tanks with regulators. A mini fridge that was my first kegerator which is now being used for fermentation temperature control. Also have a Barley Crusher. And there's random little pieces of equipment like o2 setup, refractometer, etc.
I boil inside on my electric stove because I hate buying propane. They are 5 gallon batches, but I've been all over the map on batch size. I'd really like to downsize to 2.5 gallon batches; might be picking up some 2.5 gallon kegs soon. Can't decide for sure though.

I admire when someone can keep brewing really simple without much equipment - like being happy with just bottling. I wish I could be happy brewing like 2 gallon batches and bottling, but I like brewing lagers and they don't lend particularly well to bottling in my opinion.

I totally used to have the gear acquisition syndrome with playing drums years ago. I finally got to a point where I liked my setup and didn't need anything else. I'd always be eyeing some new pedals or cymbals, but eventually just had what I liked and that was that. It's nice to not be always wanting something, ya know? I guess it's easy to get bored with your setup though in those cases.
Jesse

Offline denny

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #42 on: December 29, 2015, 09:53:27 am »
I recently had a GABF medal winning commercial brewer out to homebrew a batch with me.  He was stupefied.  He kept saying that if people knew that Denny Conn had such a low end setup they'd be shocked.
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Offline brewinhard

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #43 on: December 29, 2015, 01:23:46 pm »
I recently had a GABF medal winning commercial brewer out to homebrew a batch with me.  He was stupefied.  He kept saying that if people knew that Denny Conn had such a low end setup they'd be shocked.

I am sure most would laugh at mine as well...

Offline Wheat_Brewer

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Re: Opinions on Homebrewing Equipment
« Reply #44 on: December 29, 2015, 02:12:57 pm »
I think not in terms of desired capacity but in terms of what I can consume.  I've also brewed too many batches in the 5+ gallon size that I've eventually tossed, and so I have two setups. 

The first is 1 to 2 gallon stove-top BIAB, for anything experimental.  No more large batch recipe experimenting.  It includes a wort chiller using a 12v pump meant for CPU cooling.

The other is for 8 to 11 gallons.  I keg 5 and then bottle the remainder for giving away, or possibly split and ferment/dry-hop differently.  I'm not going for a lot of different styles but only a few recipes that I try to do well.  Gravity fed with a 10 gallon cooler as a mash tun.  If I were to upgrade, I'd consider an RO water system or possibly getting off of propane.  I also make a point of BBQ'ing when I use this one and consider that part of the setup.

Also, I unload any brew equipment if I don't use it within the last six months.

+1 to this! I moved into a new house a couple years ago and promptly went to work building a brewery indoors. While I don't regret it I almost immediately realized with my new larger setup I don't consume the 10+ gallons I'm capable of brewing in one batch. So I find myself either experimenting with or simply brewing small batches in kettles capable of 15 gallon batches. I have friends who love to come over for a beer or take a growler home from time to time...but until there's more of a reason/demand for large batches I'm finding myself scaling back.

I will say I'm glad, and very lucky in these respects, to upgrade from what I started with so I know what I'm happy with versus always wondering "what if I had this...". If I were to give my beginner brewer/younger me any advise it would be to take that step back and weigh if what I have is good for what I want versus something I simply desire for the sake of desire.
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