Author Topic: Upgrade ideas  (Read 1087 times)

Offline Phil_M

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Upgrade ideas
« on: January 28, 2016, 12:46:23 PM »
I'm thinking about selling my electric BIAB setup, and changing to a larger, simpler system.

Background: I brew in my garage, which is on the opposite end of the condo from the kitchen. This inevitably makes for numerous trips for little odds and ends throughout the brewday. All water collection and cleaning happens in the kitchen as well, as there is no running water in the garage. Plus, I do my own vehicle maintenance, so right now there's a constant battle between brewery needs and shop needs in the garage.

I've been brewing extract lately, and to me it's just not as fun as all grain. Mashing is probably my favorite part of homebrewing, relying on extract has made me brew less often.

By not being tied to a 240V circuit, I hope to move my brewing to our front patio, which is much closer to the kitchen. This also places me in an area of the building where I may be able to wash some of my gear outside. The downside of brewing there is there is no electricity, to even run a pump I'd have to run an extension cord from the garage.

The requirements for any upgrade would be:

1. Ability to do 10-gallon batches
2. No moving pots of near-boiling liquids. While I can lift heavy pots, in my mind moving heavy pots that are close to boiling is one of the greatest risks in homebrewing. 150oish mash water doesn't trouble me as much, near boiling liquids do.
3. Affordable-In hindsight, I spent way more than I needed to on my first system. It works, and I know some folks want that type of precision. Honestly, at some point down the road I may go back to an electric system, but that will be many years from now. Also, affordable systems are also more flexible, so I'd be better able to change things out as I find ways to improve the system.
4. Simple setup: I want to minimize any assembly required each brew day.

So here's where I need help. I'm pretty much set on Denny's cooler batch sparge setup for my mash tun. Relying on gravity to move liquid as much as possible is going to mean some sort of brewing sculpture. I'm not sure I can fit something like the Blichmann Top Tier in my garage without taking it apart each time. Any other simple sculptures out there? The patio is two steps up from the garage level, so any sculptures would need to be fairly easy to move up them.

Between work and school I'm not able to brew as often as I'd like, so doing ten gallon batches would help me have homebrew available more of the time.

Also, does anyone else have tips for AG brewing in a home where space is at a premium? Am I nuts to consider selling my current system, should I just stop griping and use what I have?
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline Philbrew

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2016, 03:36:39 PM »
Is your patio covered?  If so, would it support a pulley tackle to lift 20-25 lbs. of wet grain in a BIAB?
Many of us would be on a strict liquid diet if it weren't for pretzels.

Offline Phil_M

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2016, 03:39:20 PM »
Nope, completely open air. Nor could I build one, as out outdoor spaces fall under the condo association when it comes to repairs/permanent modifications.

Plus I'm kinda just over BIAB. It's a whole lot of fuss that I'm not convinced is of any benefit, especially when compared to something like Denny's cooler mash tun.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2016, 03:42:00 PM by Phil_M »
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline Philbrew

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2016, 03:52:00 PM »
Well, your cheapest option would be to buy a 240 volt extension cord and use your current setup on the patio.   But that doesn't get you to 10 gallons and a mash tun.  Hmmm...let me think about it.
Many of us would be on a strict liquid diet if it weren't for pretzels.

Offline Phil_M

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2016, 04:25:41 PM »
One of the downsides of any extension cord, even for a 120v pump, is that it would run in front of our neighbor's garage and front walkway. So as not to inconvenience them, it'd need to be rugged enough to drive over. My biggest fear in that scenario is somebody turning the wheels while on top of the cable, grinding it over the pavement. I've had that happen, thankfully the cable was not energized at the time it was run over.

The other issue is length of the run. Estimating off the top of my head, I'd say that at least 75' would be required, probably closer to 100'. I looked at cords, and a 50' length of suitable cord is around $150, and I don't think you can just string two together at that power level.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline denny

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2016, 04:30:58 PM »
Take another look at www.dennybrew.com.  Besides the mash tun, the entire method os geared to what you need. I use a 1/2 gal. plastic pitcher to move water so there's no heavy lifting involved.  I do use a pump, but it's mainly for chilling.  I still xfer mash/sparge water by hand, and use gravity to run off into the kettle.  Avoids having to use a tiered system.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline Philbrew

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2016, 05:13:11 PM »
Is there no way that you could run a shorter extension cord out a door or window of your house?
Many of us would be on a strict liquid diet if it weren't for pretzels.

Offline Phil_M

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2016, 05:36:15 PM »
Take another look at www.dennybrew.com.  Besides the mash tun, the entire method os geared to what you need. I use a 1/2 gal. plastic pitcher to move water so there's no heavy lifting involved.  I do use a pump, but it's mainly for chilling.  I still xfer mash/sparge water by hand, and use gravity to run off into the kettle.  Avoids having to use a tiered system.

D'oh! I'd looked at the pictures, but the idea of scooping sparge water out didn't occur to me. (I'm a visual learner, and somehow watching Don Osborn's vids made me only think of dumping the water)

I've already been using gravity to feed my therminator, so no issues there provided my burner/boil kettle sits high enough.

Is there no way that you could run a shorter extension cord out a door or window of your house?

For 120v, yes, though that still requires propping a door or window open. Doable, but not preferable in the Maryland summer.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2016, 05:41:04 PM »
I scoop my mash and sparge water until over half the volumes are in the cooler, then pour the rest. Hell of a back saver !
Jon H.

Offline Philbrew

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2016, 05:54:09 PM »
If you want a light-weight, stowable multi-tier set-up, you could base it on something like this http://www.homedepot.com/p/MetalTech-21-ft-Aluminum-Telescoping-Multi-Position-Ladder-with-300-lb-Load-Capacity-E-MTL7200ST/206691429.  Use some c-clamps and two-by-fours (or aluminum sq. tubing) for the tiers.
And when you're not brewing you have a handy aluminum ladder.
Many of us would be on a strict liquid diet if it weren't for pretzels.

Offline denny

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2016, 06:06:17 PM »
I scoop my mash and sparge water until over half the volumes are in the cooler, then pour the rest. Hell of a back saver !

Same here, only I scoop a bit more before pouring.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline denny

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2016, 06:06:56 PM »
If you want a light-weight, stowable multi-tier set-up, you could base it on something like this http://www.homedepot.com/p/MetalTech-21-ft-Aluminum-Telescoping-Multi-Position-Ladder-with-300-lb-Load-Capacity-E-MTL7200ST/206691429.  Use some c-clamps and two-by-fours (or aluminum sq. tubing) for the tiers.
And when you're not brewing you have a handy aluminum ladder.

But why put together a Rube Goldberg contraption when it's so easy without one?
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline Phil_M

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2016, 06:30:51 PM »
If you want a light-weight, stowable multi-tier set-up, you could base it on something like this http://www.homedepot.com/p/MetalTech-21-ft-Aluminum-Telescoping-Multi-Position-Ladder-with-300-lb-Load-Capacity-E-MTL7200ST/206691429.  Use some c-clamps and two-by-fours (or aluminum sq. tubing) for the tiers.
And when you're not brewing you have a handy aluminum ladder.

But why put together a Rube Goldberg contraption when it's so easy without one?

Bingo. The more time I spend running around setting everything up, the less time I spend brewing.

Plus, I already have enough questionable activities in mind for the new system, such as decocting.  ;)
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline Philbrew

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2016, 08:28:10 PM »

Bingo. The more time I spend running around setting everything up, the less time I spend brewing.

True, but don't underestimate the time you will spend hand transferring strike water, sparge water and 1st and 2nd runnings into the boil kettle.  I like a pump...but I'll have to admit that I'm lazy.  :)
Many of us would be on a strict liquid diet if it weren't for pretzels.

Offline denny

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Re: Upgrade ideas
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2016, 09:26:07 PM »

Bingo. The more time I spend running around setting everything up, the less time I spend brewing.

True, but don't underestimate the time you will spend hand transferring strike water, sparge water and 1st and 2nd runnings into the boil kettle.  I like a pump...but I'll have to admit that I'm lazy.  :)

Doing it by hand, it takes ma total of 15 min. to get 7.5-8 gal. preboil volume from the time I start my mash runoff, through stirring in sparge water and running off the sparge.  Not too bad.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell