Author Topic: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.  (Read 337 times)

Offline Joe_Beer

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Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« on: May 10, 2020, 11:43:25 AM »
Hi! I've never brewed before. The amount of gear needed (burners, kettles, propane, etc) always deterred me. Where would I store all this stuff? Brewing outside all year around (mid-west winters gets cold)? I stumbled onto a Brewer's Edge Mash and Boil and was intrigued. Mash tun and brew kettle all in one? I could use it inside! Maybe even in the kitchen by the vent fan! Hrm.. It's nearly $200/keg right now to get a beer delivery every few months and the price isn't going down.

I've been looking around for a few weeks trying to figure out what I need. I don't want to do extract brewing. You're limited by what you can buy. If the taste is off, how do you adjust it? I guess if I'm going to invest in any gear, I might as well start with all grain. You can get "kits" for that too so you don't have to know about epsom salt and gypsum straight away and your setup to make adjustments to the grain bill, hop additions, whatever and when you want to.

So that leads me to the gear. I have the kegerator so I won't be bottling (praise jesus. that looks like pain). I think I want two corny kegs (probably ball lock. I like the built-in pressure relief valve). One I'd have in the kegerator happily dispensing something not terrible, and a second one to brew with while the other keg is in use.

The BE Mash and Boil seems to have some better reviews than Robo Brew and much cheaper than the Grainfather. HOWEVER I recently found a video featuring the Anvil Foundry and really like the double wall idea because I'll need to use it with 120v and any way to conserve heat is a plus when trying to boil.

I have some questions hoping someone can answer:

1) sparging with an all-in-one. Where do you get the hot water? Nobody really shows where they are heating their sparge water in the electric brewing videos I've seen. Looks like sparge is only a gallon or two so could a coffe maker be used for this? It's more gear, but frees up the kitchen stove and I don't have to carry boiling water down flights of stairs.

2) maybe I missed something in the videos - can you heat up your mash water a bit and use the recirculation pump to sparge?

3) I have a 240v outlet for the clothes dryer. Anyone using that outlet with their setup? How's it working for you?

4) the Anvil has a 6.5 and 10.5 gallon model. I think I need the 10.5 capacity to have enough capacity to fill a 5 gallon corny keg from one batch. Is that right?

5) fermenting. I live in a tight space with inattentive people and a glass fermenter in the closet is going to get busted. The 7 gallon bucket is probably fine but anyone ever messed up a batch because of scratches on the inside? I get the concept of microbes hiding in the ridges, but how often does it happen? If you're not digging around in there with a pitchfork is it hard to scratch them enough to be a problem? Otherwise, I'm thinking something stainless.

5b) is the spigot on your fermenter all that functional or do you still end up with a lot of trub in your wort? Ever run the wort through a filter when transferring it?

6) conical fermenters. What did you find better about yours?

7) brew bag. I don't see too many people using these with the all-in-one systems. Why is that? It seems like any way of keeping the grain chunks out of your wort, pump and sparge water would be an added bonus.

8 ) wort chilling. What do you like about your setup (ice bath or tap water)?

9) if you went back in time to previous you before brewing, what would you tell yourself?


Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2020, 01:19:28 PM »
There is a lot to unpack in your post.  My initial suggestion is to do some reading.  The first book I recommend is How To Brew, by John Palmer.  Many of the questions you’re asking are answered in this book.

In my opinion, starting to brew beer without first understanding the hobby, science and art form might cause you frustration and dislike for the craft.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2020, 01:34:39 PM »
You raise the question that daunted every homebrewer: is this really something I want to do and how do I start?  Many have had a kit gifted to them that helps reduce one of those barriers, but it’s still up to the person to assess the other point. In my mind, resolving “whether I want to” with the smallest cost is important.

While I think those new brewing systems are great, they can be pricey. I suggest reviewing The Complete Joy of Homebrewing for an inexpensive way to check if this is something that you really enjoy. A pot, some malt extract and hops, a fermentation bucket and bottles is about as inexpensive as it gets. Boil on your stove.

Brewing is a chore.  But if it satisfies you, then it’s worth it. That’s when I’d make the investment in more costly equipment.
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Offline Kevin

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2020, 01:40:41 PM »
Don't be so quick to dismiss extract brewing. You can make some damn fine beer with extracts. And don't be so quick to jump into fancy brewing systems. They will certainly work for you but will also make a dent in your wallet. Do what mabrungard suggests and first buy some books. He suggested one and another is John Palmer's How to Brew. The most up to date version of that one I believe is the 4th edition.
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Offline BrewBama

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Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2020, 03:02:04 PM »

I have some questions hoping someone can answer:

1) sparging with an all-in-one. Where do you get the hot water? Nobody really shows where they are heating their sparge water in the electric brewing videos I've seen. Looks like sparge is only a gallon or two so could a coffe maker be used for this? It's more gear, but frees up the kitchen stove and I don't have to carry boiling water down flights of stairs.

2) maybe I missed something in the videos - can you heat up your mash water a bit and use the recirculation pump to sparge?

3) I have a 240v outlet for the clothes dryer. Anyone using that outlet with their setup? How's it working for you?

4) the Anvil has a 6.5 and 10.5 gallon model. I think I need the 10.5 capacity to have enough capacity to fill a 5 gallon corny keg from one batch. Is that right?

5) fermenting. I live in a tight space with inattentive people and a glass fermenter in the closet is going to get busted. The 7 gallon bucket is probably fine but anyone ever messed up a batch because of scratches on the inside? I get the concept of microbes hiding in the ridges, but how often does it happen? If you're not digging around in there with a pitchfork is it hard to scratch them enough to be a problem? Otherwise, I'm thinking something stainless.

5b) is the spigot on your fermenter all that functional or do you still end up with a lot of trub in your wort? Ever run the wort through a filter when transferring it?

6) conical fermenters. What did you find better about yours?

7) brew bag. I don't see too many people using these with the all-in-one systems. Why is that? It seems like any way of keeping the grain chunks out of your wort, pump and sparge water would be an added bonus.

8 ) wort chilling. What do you like about your setup (ice bath or tap water)?

9) if you went back in time to previous you before brewing, what would you tell yourself?

1) heat it before you start brewing. Hold it in a hot liquor tank (aka water cooler). Or heat some water in a stock pot with another heat source while you’re brewing (stove, heat stick, hot plate, etc). Or sparge with cold water.

2) most of those systems do recirculate but once you lift the basket I am not sure using wort to rinse the grain would get you much. Sparging rinses sugars from the grain. A sugar saturated wort might not do much though admittedly I’ve not tried it.

3) my brewery is the former clothes folding alcove in the laundry room. All my equipment sits in that area. I ran a 220v extension cord behind the drier and washer, around the perimeter of the room around to the brewery to my induction cooktop I use as a heat source. On brewday I simply unplug the drier and plug in the extension cord. Works great.

4) I believe you are correct

5) others have used the same bucket(s) for decades with no problem. I use stainless.

5b) the spigot on the fermenter is very useful. I use mine to transfer finished beer to a keg. It can also be used to take hydrometer samples to determine progress in the fermentation. It is positioned at the lower end of the fermenter but above the yeast and trüb cone.

6) I use an SS Brewbucket. I believe the best features are the lid seal and trüb cone. I brew a lot of Ales and get blowoff so I want the blowoff come out the tube only.  I want the yeast to settle out in the cone post fermentation so I can transfer clear beer.

7) the guys at Basic Brewing use a bag in the basket of the all-in-one system they use in their videos.

8) I use a hydra immersion chiller. I like it because it’s fast. I use tap water initially and save the hot discharge for cleanup. Then I switch to a pond pump submerged in ice water.

9). Relax. Close enough is good enough. Setup up the general conditions for nature to work within a reasonable tolerance and you will be rewarded.


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« Last Edit: May 10, 2020, 03:19:03 PM by BrewBama »
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2020, 03:25:32 PM »
Brew Bama has it stated well.  When to buy is a personal decision.  I have the larger Foundry and use a Brew Bag with it (400 micron).  I have found that the timer function is really nice to have strike water ready when I plan to brew.  You can heat up the entire batch of water needed and simply run the sparge water off to a small cooler (I have a one gallon cooler for that).  Or you can buy the recirc pump and arrangement and do full no sparge.  The Brew Bag is extra assurance that I use to keep the grain bits from getting through the screen. I have access to 240v in my garage - if I were brewing indoors a lot, I would consider a steam condenser.

Narvin has the Steam Slayer and somewhere here on the Forum he posted a picture of that.
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Online denny

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2020, 04:21:24 PM »
1) no real need to heat sparge water
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Offline joe_meadmaker

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2020, 08:08:58 PM »
I'll jump to question number 9.  I would tell myself to do exactly what I did.  My advise would be to get yourself a home brewing kit.  It doesn't need to be this one, but something like this: https://www.morebeer.com/products/deluxe-home-brewing-kit.html.

You expressed concern with all the gear that's needed.  That is definitely a legitimate concern.  A kit like this completely eliminates that.  It will have everything you need.  And even if you want to upgrade things as you go, a lot of stuff in the kit will still be useful.  The boil pot, fermenter, hydrometer, the bottle capper, etc.

If you start with a kit, you don't have to worry about equipment, or the first beer you brew.  Everything you need is there.  Once you've done your first beer, you'll be able to see if you like doing it and can start thinking about making changes.

Offline tommymorris

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2020, 08:20:05 PM »
On question 1: I used to have Grainfather. I heated the sparge water in a pot on a induction burner.

Online denny

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2020, 09:04:33 PM »
On question 1: I used to have Grainfather. I heated the sparge water in a pot on a induction burner.

Same thing I do when I decide to heat the sparge water.  I don't always.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2020, 02:39:58 AM »
Yea, sparge water doesn’t have to be warm, in fact it isn’t even needed. But with the ease of heating with these systems, I thought I’d mention an easy way to avoid the need for separately heating with another heat source
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Offline Joe_Beer

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2020, 10:09:43 AM »
Thanks all! Appreciate you all taking the time to answer. How To Brew is ordered!

Offline Wilbur

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2020, 03:57:56 PM »
1. I'm brewing on the foundry (2 batches in, previously BIAB on turkey fryer) with no sparge. Currently getting 62% efficiency, trying to troubleshoot and bring that back up to 70% brewhouse efficiency where I used to be. Try it without sparging, there's enough volume to still brew a 7%+ beer without sparging.

2. Currently playing around with the recirc kit, but sparging is a separate step you may or may not choose to do.

3. Check the the Anvil Foundry All-Grain Brewing User Group, plenty have written about it. Short circuited brewing has made a video on how to make a pig tail adapter to avoid cutting the cord. Keep in mind you have to be very careful to ensure someone doesn't plug a 120V device in your pigtail (conversion cord). I've grabbed a lockout tag out device to prevent that.

That being said...I'm not sure how much I care about 240V at the moment. The delay timer is really nice, it allows you to set when the Anvil starts to heat up. Full boil at 120V gets you 7.5% boiloff (~1/2 per hour), which I think is plenty to take care of DMS. Others here have posted that 4% is more typical in professional setups. The only thing I'm interested in 240V for right now is to go from mash to boil. It takes about 30-40 minutes on 120V and 240V should cut that in half.

4. The 10.5 is great for 5 gallon batches, they recommend 2.5-3 gallon batches for the 6.5 gallon model.

5. I clean mine with a soft rag or brush. I have SS brewtech fermenters, and if you can cold crash you can get a lot of yeast/trub below the level of the spigot.

6. No experience with these.

7. I haven't tried it with this system but I'm still troubleshooting. I liked a bag for my single kettle turkey burner setup.

8. Tap water right now, I have a small pump I'm planning on using to recirculate ice water now that things are starting to warm up.

Offline Joe_Beer

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Re: Thinking about brewing. Have some gear questions.
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2020, 08:52:12 AM »
1. I'm brewing on the foundry

Thanks for the input! Especially about the Foundry! How do you like the double insulated wall?

I'm a couple few chapters into the Palmer book and if I recall correctly, he's not a fan of sparging either. I guess it seemed to me like an extra step that made sense but several videos I've watched, people have just drained the mash and got on with the boil.