Author Topic: Getting a new brewpot  (Read 7887 times)

Offline dirigo

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Getting a new brewpot
« on: April 26, 2012, 10:56:32 PM »
   Used my old 5 gal. SS lobster stockpot for a brewpot in extract brewing. Made a volume error, as some here know. LOL! I figured that I aught to get a 10 gal. pot. I'd have plenty of boil over room, could do a full boil, and have room to up my start boil volume so that my bottling volume would end up at 5 gal..
   Some questions: 1) Is this a good idea? LOL! 2) Does doing a full boil have any benefits or disadvantages from doing a partial? 3) What about using a double boiler? Less stirring and chance of burning LME and more temp. control for specialty grains.
   Let me know what you think. Thanks.
~ Dirigo ~

Offline MikeinRH

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2012, 07:27:48 AM »
Heck yes it's a good idea. There's nothing quite like the sound tennis shoes make when they get boiled-over wort on the bottom! The benefit to you is that most recipes are published for a full boil. Trust me on this ... you should switch to all grain. You won't believe how simple it is!

Offline tom_hampton

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2012, 09:33:43 AM »
Dirigo-

1) My $0.02 is this....A 10 gallon pot is an ok size, it will let you make most any beer in a 5 gallon batch.  But, if I were going to spend money to buy a new pot, I would buy the last pot I ever hoped to buy.  In which case, I would buy a 15 gallon pot.  A 15 gallon pot will give you the freedom to make any beer you could ever want to make in either 5 or 10 gallon batch sizes. 

I (like a LOT of folks) use a 15.5 gallon keggle.   I've used an 8 gallon pot for the last 10 years.  Frequently, I would have to hold back some of my wort until it had boiled down in order to fit it all in.  I switched to the keggle last fall.  It is awesome to be able to put the whole wort into the kettle, and put the burner on high without ANY worry at all that it might boil over the edge. 

2) Benefits:
  • Better hops utilization, by about 2x.
  • Less melanoidin formation (browning reactions) and darker flavors.  Ie, better tasing beer.
  • No need to come up with a source of sterile water to add following the boil (or risk contamination by NOT using sterile water).

Drawbacks:
  • You have to store a pretty big pot somwhere.
  • You really HAVE to have a larger burner (turkey frier or so).
  • Cost.

3) Just no.  Learn to control the burner temperature to avoid burning the wort.  You need this skill for many other things to come in your brewing life (for AG brewing). 


As far as switching to AG goes....I know what Mike is saying, but its a personal decision.  I wouldn't rush to switch.  Stick with extract until you are ready.  Many competition winning beers have been made with extract. 

You've got the right idea, I think.  Switch to a full boil.  That will have the many benefits listed above.  Then focus on learning how to absolutely and precisely control fermentation temperature.  When you have the ability to choose a desired fermentation temperature precisely to within a single degF or 1/2 degC...then the next step would be switching to AG.  If you can't control fermentation temperature then you will NEVER make better beer.  Once you can say to yourself "The last time I fermented this at 68F, but it was a little estery.  I think this time I'll try 66F." and actually pull that off, you are ready to move on to AG. 

Without fermentation control AG brewing will only make the same "okay beer" more complicated to make.   In reality, the first few AG batches are likely to backslide a little bit, as you learn the process (and make the normal rookie mistakes). 

Anyway that would be the conservative approach.  OTOH, some folks just "go for it".  Nothing wrong with that either.  There will be lots of trial and lots of ERRORS.  But, its all learnin' and its all fun.  You'll still end up with beer to drink, in the end. 
R.I.P.:Belgian Blonde
On Tap: Apfelwein, Kolsch(v2), Pumpkin Ale, Belgian Specialty 
Aging/Storing: Coffee Porter, Chocolate Porter, Flanders Red, English Barlywine
Fermenting: Maggie's Altbier
Next Up: PtE(1.1), Belgian Dubbel?

Working thru all BCS recipes

Offline piper55

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2012, 07:47:09 AM »
 Get the keg you will love it

Offline dirigo

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 05:59:59 AM »
Thanks Guys,
    Gonna go with the 15 gal. pot for now. I already use the propane burner so that's no problem. Tom is right. I do need to learn temp control with the burner and in fermentation. Burner shouldn't be a problem. Just need practice. The fermentation I just can't figure. The room I use is 4'x8' with a fiberglass shower stall w/o a door or curtain.(So the room temp is in the shower too.) I put my fermentor or bottled beer in the shower. Figure if I get blow off or beer bombs I can just rinse it down using the 1" poly line I hooked up to the shower head pipe. I have an portable quartz heater with a thermostat in the room. The temperature seems to fluctuate up and down by a couple of degrees. Perhaps, it needs to be better insulated? A 4'x3' section of one wall is made of cement block and is an exterior wall. The floor of the room except the shower is cement. How do you guys regulate your fermentation temps?
~ Dirigo ~

Offline tom_hampton

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 12:18:42 PM »
Probably good to start a new thread for this question.  I'll answer and let the mods split out if they wish.....

Fermentation temp control:
I've done the quartz heater thing.  It works "okay".  But, as you point out...it takes a lot of "attention" to keep the temp regulated.  I like "set and forget" control systems.  I hate coming home to find my beer 5 degrees warmer than I thought...for one random reason or another. 

The following should cost a total of about $50 in materials:

1.  Go over to homebrewtalk.com and look in the DIY section for aquarium heater controller builds.  Get an STC-1000 (acquarium heater thermostat) and follow the instructions in the threads.  Get a real STC-1000 ($25-$35 on ebay or alibaba...I got 3 for $17 each)...some of the other ones look the same but aren't as nice.  The STC-1000 is a two stage controller so it has separate heat and cool signals and will turn on a heater or cooler, whichever is needed.  They can switch up to 10 amps.

2.  Place the temperature probe directly on the side of your fermenter and cover with some kind of insulation.  This allows you to directly measure the temperature of the BEER, rather than the air around the beer.  Beer can be anywhere from 0 to 10 degrees F above the surounding air.  During active fermentation it will be high...after it will be about the same.  The only thing you care about is the beer (not the air).

3.  Use a fermwrap or an eletric heating pad on LOW (I use heating pads because I can buy them at walmart for $12...I don't have to order it over the internet...and wait for it to ship), and wrap it directly around your fermenter(s).  The heating pad now directly applies heat to the beer, based on the temperature of the beer.

4.  Set your controller for 0.5 degC (basically 1 degF) swing.  Then set your desired temperature. 

5.  check on it once a day and record the temperature in your log book.  Adjust your temperature as desired for any particular schedule. 

The only other thing to make this work is a room that is about 5 degF COLDER than your desired fermentation temperatures.    The idea is the cold air in the room cools the beer off, and the heaters warm it up.  You can make several temperature controllers and then you can ferment more than one beer at a time....each can be at its own temperature. 

If you get a heating pad, be sure you get one that doesn't have an auto-shutoff timer....or, find out how to disable it if it does (like me). 

R.I.P.:Belgian Blonde
On Tap: Apfelwein, Kolsch(v2), Pumpkin Ale, Belgian Specialty 
Aging/Storing: Coffee Porter, Chocolate Porter, Flanders Red, English Barlywine
Fermenting: Maggie's Altbier
Next Up: PtE(1.1), Belgian Dubbel?

Working thru all BCS recipes

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2012, 05:55:28 PM »
When you pick your pot, get something squat.  (Didn't mean to rhyme, but what the hell.)

Seriously though, you want to maximize surface area. 
Surface area means a few things - lots of metal to bathe with flame, plenty of evaporation, and lots of volume per vertical inch when it tries to boil over.

You also should consider weight.  My nine gallon pot that's shaped like a D battery kinda sucks (wish it was squat), but I can safely carry it from the walkout basement to the propane burner and back by myself. I couldn't do that with a 15 gallon pot.

I don't know how, or if, or with who you will be moving things around, but do take that into account.

As far as temps go, I just brew what the thermometer in my basement tells me to brew.  Winter it tells me to make lagers, spring and fall ales, and summer is too warm to brew.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline piper55

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2012, 06:09:34 PM »
As for temperature I spent a lot of time around different parts of the basement with a thermometer. My boiler room stays 68 like a rock in winter,I have another part that stays 59 and near the north wall 50. As for summer early Im good with ales otherwise its the chest freezer with a temperature controller.I tried the tshirt with the fan and the ice bath,its for the birds to much fluctuation.the heating pad sounds nice though you can get them pretty cheap

Offline tom_hampton

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2012, 06:16:25 PM »
Summer...that's why god made refrigerant!  I just finished converting an unused coat closet into a walk-in cooler with a $99 box store air-conditioner.  Running at a steady 11 degC, right now.  Hefe is quietly fermenting away at 62.3 F.

As far as large, heavy pots go...15 gallon kegs are not light...you stop moving the mountain.  The keg gets set on the burner and then it stays put.  I don't move it around.  I have a valve at the bottom of the keg to drain the wort, and I have a RV hose with a carbon block filter attached to fill the pot with water. 

-tch
R.I.P.:Belgian Blonde
On Tap: Apfelwein, Kolsch(v2), Pumpkin Ale, Belgian Specialty 
Aging/Storing: Coffee Porter, Chocolate Porter, Flanders Red, English Barlywine
Fermenting: Maggie's Altbier
Next Up: PtE(1.1), Belgian Dubbel?

Working thru all BCS recipes

Offline piper55

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2012, 08:03:00 PM »
beer making is the mother of invention

Offline durrettd

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2012, 01:06:43 PM »
Many thanks to Tom Hampton for his emphasis on temperature control! Can we start a new topic, or at least a thread on fermentation control? I've been battling it for years, and here in Florida it's a problem that has pretty much forced me out of the lager business - my primary interest.

I've seen dozens of ideas for refrigerator-based heat exchangers, frozen milk jug thermostat-controlled fermentation boxes, window air conditioners, commercial whatevers, boxes built over HVAC vents, and basements. Clearly, the basement is the best idea going, but here in Florida, basements are rare and would usually hover around 60 to 70 degrees F. An old refrigerator might be a close second, but I tried that and got an energy hog.

I'm looking for something economical, simple, not labor-intensive, and effective. Suggestions please!

Dan

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2012, 03:52:44 PM »
Quote
beer making is the mother of invention

More than you know.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/how-beer-saved-the-world/

Quote
I'm looking for something economical, simple, not labor-intensive, and effective. Suggestions please!

I use one of these and a chest freezer for my kegs. I bet you could use it to rig something.  You've got the initial investment of the thermostat and the appliance of choice, but after that it takes care of itself.

http://www.williamsbrewing.com/CONTROLLER-II-P183.aspx

"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline piper55

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Re: Getting a new brewpot
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2012, 04:08:42 PM »
 That and the chest freezer is the way to go for lagering. I turned mine into a kegerator to but I guess thats yet another thread lol