Author Topic: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes  (Read 17885 times)

Offline Djehuty

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Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« on: March 18, 2010, 01:56:46 PM »
I've been searching for good advice on a setup for brewing five-gallon batches of beer, and my head is starting to swim.  Between information found online and fiddling with BeerSmith, I'm finding so many different versions of the "right" equipment setup that I'm fairly well lost.

What I have now is a five gallon cylindrical Coleman cooler, and some copper pipe and assorted bits and pieces for making the drainage manifold for turning the cooler into a mash tun.  I also have a five gallon brew pot.  I'm prepared to purchase a wort chiller, and I could exchange the cooler for a larger one if need be.  Unfortunately, I can't really afford a ten-gallon brew pot at this time.  They seem to run about $100-$120 or so.

For a fairly basic recipe, BeerSmith tells me I'd need about three gallons of water for the mash, then four and a half for the sparge.  This only increases if I add a mash-out.  Making things more confusing, John Palmer's How to Brew tells me that a water-grain ratio of 1.5 to 2.0 quarts per pound is more common than BeerSmith's default 1.25, and that the sparge water is typically double this amount.  The volume of water just keeps increasing.

So, is it possible to brew five gallons of beer using a five-gallon mash tun and a five-gallon brew pot?  If so, what am I missing, and what should I do?

Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2010, 03:20:13 PM »
Get a bigger cooler for your MT, You wont regret it. If you have some time and some tools that will cut metal. What I encourage you to do is go to a few liquor stores and ask them if they will sell you an empty keg. This will cost you around $40 which is what they usually have invested in them. Then Google keggle conversion. You will have a kettle big enough to do 5G or 10G batches and you will have saved a couple hundred bucks!

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Preston
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Offline Djehuty

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2010, 03:37:04 PM »
I think I'm going to be happy with five-gallon batches for the foreseeable future. :)  That's all I want to be able to do right now, in any case.  And the problem with converting a keg is that in addition to $40 for the keg, I'd have to pay for tools and time and parts and expert assistance for converting it, and then buy some sort of propane burner for heating it, and a stand on which to place it, and so forth.  I can't afford it, and even if someone gave it to me for free I'd have nowhere to put it.

I probably should have stated my final question better -- by "what am I missing" I meant "what am I failing to understand." :)

Is there really no way to brew five gallons of beer with five-gallon pots?

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2010, 05:58:31 PM »
Is there really no way to brew five gallons of beer with five-gallon pots?

Absolutely.  Don't get discouraged.  The constraint is that you may not be able to boil it all, what's referred to as "full boil."  And with the mash tun limits, you may not be able to produce all the wort via all-grain, so to hit higher gravities you'll likely need some DME.  But you can definitely produce 5.0 gals of great beer. 

I was making 4.5 gallons of pre-boil wort via all-grain with some pots in the kitchen, and I'd put 3.3 to 3.5 in the fermenter but I wanted all-grain.  You'd simply add ~2# DME for normal gravities.  You could either mash "loose" grain in a 5-gal pot, or do a Brew-In-A-Bag method to simplify straining and rinsing.

Offline Djehuty

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2010, 09:19:34 PM »
Hmm... so I can only do a partial mash if all I have is five gallons of work space?  That's disappointing.  I know that I can make excellent beer that way, just as I know I can make excellent beer with an extract plus specialty grains.  I already have.  The problem is that it feels incomplete to me.  I want to be involved with as much of the process as possible.  Heck, I'd be growing and malting my own grain if I had a fallow field at my disposal. :)

So what would you say would be the absolute minimum for all-grain brewing?  Assume I never want to expand to larger batches, and that I'm willing to work with batch sparge or no-sparge methods, or add water to the fermenter, or whatever else might keep the costs low.

And thank you very much for helping. :)

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2010, 10:06:59 AM »
Another option to consider is splitting the boil up in more than one pot.  Usually, you want to boil all of your wort if you can and for a five gallon batch this means boiling somewhere around 6.5 - 7.0 gallons of wort over the hour to 1.5 hours depending on how long and how vigorous you boil. 

I have a friend that has a smaller pot like you so instead of buying a bigger pot he just splits the boil up across a couple of different pots.  I'm not sure how you would handle things like hop additions or other kettle additions but it can be done this way.  Not ideal but certainly an option 

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2010, 06:19:56 PM »
I picked up a 5gal pot and did a few partial mash batches.  The difference was amazing.  I was hooked.  Didn't take long before I didn't want anything to do with extract.  There's a distinctive tang associated with beer brewed from extract.  Once you make beer without it it's hard to go back.  But all grain with a 5gal pot is wasteful.  You're not starting with 7-8 gallons and the sugar left behind has to be made up with extra grain and lost efficiency.  It still makes great beer though, and after a few batches you'll find a way to set aside dollars for more equipment. 
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline Djehuty

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2010, 06:23:43 PM »
Well, it looks like the best I can do in terms of the standard brewing method would be to buy a 7.5-gallon pot and a wort chiller, which comes to about $150 with shipping.  Admittedly, I'd be saving $15 per batch over brewing with extracts, but I'd only be saving $5 per batch over a lower-efficiency no-sparge method.  Since I'd only need to spend about another $20 (for a larger cooler for the mash tun) to be able to use that method... the math speaks for itself.

I'm intrigued by the amount of reduction that goes into making beer.  It had seemed obvious to me that one could brew five gallons of beer in a five gallon pot -- and you certainly can with extracts.  I'd never quite realized how much of the process someone else takes care of when you use those extracts.

Thank you all very much for helping me figure this out. :)

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Offline Djehuty

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2010, 10:09:23 PM »
Thanks, I have that one. :)

Offline Pirate Point Brewer

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2010, 02:46:23 AM »
I too only do 5.5 gal batches. I started with a 32 qt. aluminium turkey pot. They are around in yard sales etc pretty cheap and will JUST let you do a full wort boil. The acidity of the wort will get at the alum pretty quickly so ......... like you, once hooked on all grain...... I surfed the web and found a stainless turkey pot  for much less that a dedicated brew pot. Less that $90.00.  I keep it simple. No fancy valves etc on the pot. I just use a siphon. 15" of 1/2 copper tube and 1/2" id tubing. I use the alum pot as my HLT. I use a 5 gal Igloo MLT. With this set up I can do up to about 12 lbs of grain. Plenty for good beer.

Set up and operation for a 10 lb, 1.050 O. G. batch goes like this.  I start with 4 gal water in the HLT (old alum) and heat to strike temp. While heating I set up the MLT in front of the stove on two plastic milk crates to get the top of the MLT close to the bottom of the HLT. When ready to Strike, I fill the siphon with water. Hold my thumb over the tubing end and put the copper into the HLT. I put the tubing end into the MLT and remove my thumb. Cool water doesn't make a blister ::) This sets a strike of 3.25 gal in 10 lbs of grain. While mashing, I refill the the HLT with 6 gal. and heat to Sparge temp. At the end of the mash, I decoct aprox 1.5 gal of Mash Out into my old 5 gal pot I started with doing extract, and bring to a full boil. Mix back into mash for 20 min and I'm done!
I recirculate my first running till clear. I batch sparge in two equal steps using 100% of the tun. These steps are usually 2.75 gal each. So I end up with 2 gal 1st running, 5.5 gal sparge for a 7.25 gal boil.

Pretty easy ........ pretty inexpensive!
In Fall and Winter, we burn wood in the fireplace and brew beer.
In Spring & Summer, we're on the water or walking the beach!
 Then back at the dock we create a reason to brew!

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2010, 04:33:13 AM »
Good advice so far. I would recommend getting a 10 gallon round cooler instead of the 5 gallon. Get a brass valve to replace the spigot. Buy a toilet supply line and take the stainless braid off of it. Take that braid and crimp one end and clamp the other end to the valve inside the cooler. You have a mash tun. Look around as said for a turkey fryer pot. I am lucky where I live these pots are dirt cheap as well as burners. I think I paid $45.00 for an 8 gallon stainless pot. I did use an alum. pot forever though before that and didn't have any corrosion issues. Just don't ever use bleach in one to clean or sanitize.

Offline Djehuty

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2010, 10:06:14 AM »
I can't find a comparable price for a stainless steel pot, but is there any reason not to use one of those ceramic-on-steel pots?  I found one for a good price.

Offline Pirate Point Brewer

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2010, 10:26:37 AM »
Well, I'm not in favor of them because all it takes is one chip and they tart rusting from the inside out.
They do work, it just seems to be a short term investment. They don't last.

Link to the pot I use. It has gone up in price.  https://www.pelicansky.com/productdetail.aspx?id=125&cat=66.


In Fall and Winter, we burn wood in the fireplace and brew beer.
In Spring & Summer, we're on the water or walking the beach!
 Then back at the dock we create a reason to brew!

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Setup for Five-Gallon Recipes
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2010, 11:45:30 AM »
You could try a "Wanted" ad on Craigslist.  On occasion, someone is selling their entire stock of brewing gear at fire-sale prices.

YOu might email the bigger online HBS and inquire if they have a dented pot for cheap.