Author Topic: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions  (Read 16055 times)

Offline top_jimmy44

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2013, 08:54:18 PM »
Thanks Scott.  I'm not sure if this got lost in the post somewhere, but I have not started anything or purchased anything yet.  The only thing I have done so far is recruited friends (and myself) to save all the bottles I will need to get started.  I am at the "all-grain" section of "How to Brew" now and am probably going to stop by the book store and pick up another book to read...I'm thinking Papazian's book. 

I'm just trying to get a good grasp of the concepts/methods first, save a good sized chunk of money, and then buy the items I need to get started.  I most likely will not get started until after the new year, mainly because money is going into savings for Christmas.  Once I decide on a setup, I may start buying smaller pieces, maybe get the mash tun built, but that's all for now. 

I guess I'm still a bit confused about the whole setup I had originally suggested.  Over lunch today, I watched a video again that I had watched a few weeks ago.  It was John Palmer, author of "How to Brew" showing a ten gallon brew using 10 gallon igloo mash tun and HLT.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5J8S5nBdUc&list=WLo0wfCJNs1cqyqzIIpwgpw63AKoNojJdy

I know someone had mentioned brewing only lower gravity beers with that type of setup, and the question I have is...is he brewing a low gravity beer in this video?  It makes me wonder if I do a fly sparge with the two cooler setup, and can brew a 10 gallon batch of a brown ale, I'd be happy.  And if I were to want to brew a higher gravity beer, couldn't I just use the 10 gallon system but just brew a 5 gallon batch?

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2013, 10:01:50 PM »
Thanks Scott.  I'm not sure if this got lost in the post somewhere, but I have not started anything or purchased anything yet.  The only thing I have done so far is recruited friends (and myself) to save all the bottles I will need to get started.  I am at the "all-grain" section of "How to Brew" now and am probably going to stop by the book store and pick up another book to read...I'm thinking Papazian's book. 

I'm just trying to get a good grasp of the concepts/methods first, save a good sized chunk of money, and then buy the items I need to get started.  I most likely will not get started until after the new year, mainly because money is going into savings for Christmas.  Once I decide on a setup, I may start buying smaller pieces, maybe get the mash tun built, but that's all for now. 

I guess I'm still a bit confused about the whole setup I had originally suggested.  Over lunch today, I watched a video again that I had watched a few weeks ago.  It was John Palmer, author of "How to Brew" showing a ten gallon brew using 10 gallon igloo mash tun and HLT.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5J8S5nBdUc&list=WLo0wfCJNs1cqyqzIIpwgpw63AKoNojJdy

I know someone had mentioned brewing only lower gravity beers with that type of setup, and the question I have is...is he brewing a low gravity beer in this video?  It makes me wonder if I do a fly sparge with the two cooler setup, and can brew a 10 gallon batch of a brown ale, I'd be happy.  And if I were to want to brew a higher gravity beer, couldn't I just use the 10 gallon system but just brew a 5 gallon batch?

If I were in your shoes, I'd start with the 10 gallon igloo mash tun.  If you're going to fly sparge, then you'll have to have the HLT!  Fly sparging is much more advanced than batch sparging for someone just starting out.  Making the fly sparging arm requires that you have a HLT (added expense) and build the fly sparge system (more added expense).  I don't mean to discourage away from fly sparging though.

It's just that it adds cost and complication right from the start.  If you start with just the igloo cooler mash tun and batch sparge until you learn the brewing process, you'll still make great beer that way.

We had 5 different set ups in my driveway this past Saturday.  Four of the five were batch sparge and one was fly sparge.

Fly sparging also takes about an additional 45 minutes to an hour longer over batch sparging.  You can make just about anything in your 10 gallon mash tun, as long as it's a 5 gallon batch.  I got 1.089 starting gravity out of my system on Saturday.  I did a ten gallon batch with basically a 5 gallon recipe in each 12 gallon mash tun, and they were no where near full.  I've gotten as high as 1.100 SG out of my 12 gallon mash tun. 

Trust me when I tell you that your 10 gallon mash tun is a great starting point.  It will keep your costs reasonable at start up, while not causing you to purchase something that you can't use after you upgrade.  If you start with the 10 gallon igloo cooler and batch sparge and later decide that you want to go to a larger mash tun and fly sparging, it's as easy as getting that 70 quart cooler and using it for a mash tun, and repurposing your 10 gallon mash tun into a 10 gallon HLT.

The only thing you'd have that you won't be able to re-use if you switch to fly sparging is the bazooka screen or manifold that you use in the bottom of the igloo cooler.  Fly sparging requires a manifold in the bottom of the mash tun, so that you pull the wort down evenly through the grain bed when you fly sparge.  It sprinkles on top from your HLT and goes straight down through. 

With batch sparging, you can get away with a bazooka screen, which is just a long stainless mesh tube that hooks to the outlet.  A bazooka screen runs about $18 at my home brew supply store.  So it's not that big of an expense.

Let me stress, with a 10 gallon igloo cooler, you'll be able to brew just about anything in 5 gallon batch sizes.  With the 70 quart cooler, you'll be able to brew anything in 5 gallon batches and most beers in 10 gallon batches.

Batch sparging is easy.
Fly sparging isn't difficult, but it isn't as easy as batch sparging.  The learning curve is a little steeper.

Is the book your reading John Palmer's "How To Brew"?  If it is, you're off to a great start!

Also, I don't know where you're located at, but look for a local homebrew club and attend the meetings.  You don't need to be brewing to join a homebrew club.  Make brewing friends now.  Most homebrewers would welcome the opportunity to help you get started right.  I know our club would welcome it.
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline top_jimmy44

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2013, 10:24:31 PM »
Thanks Scott.  I did contact a local brewer's guild and they are having a get together this week so I may try to go to that if I can.  I am reading How To Brew by Palmer.  It has been a good read so far. 

I understand what you are saying about the fly sparge vs batch.  Only reason I thought I'd do fly was to increase efficiency, but if it is negligible, maybe it wouldn't be worth it to me.  Would love to see pics of your 12 gallon mash tun setup.  In my research, I have seen so many different versions of cooler mash tuns that I think I'm confusing myself. 

Jim

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2013, 12:39:55 AM »
Here are photos of my system.
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline Brewangel7501

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2013, 04:02:21 AM »
The one thing i would definitely suggest is to NOT bottle from the carboy.  We can all offer differing opinions on how we operate our brewday, and it can get confusing... ;) just keep working on your brew and a method will arise, but...
When you bottle you will prolly be adding a priming sugar to the beer, and it would be a little easier if you rack it off of the trub first, into a sanatized priming bucket
Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Offline Beer_Tigger

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2013, 06:21:35 AM »
I keg 90% of my beer and I still rack to the bottling bucket 80% of the time.  It gives it 1 more chance to settle out particulates.
"Let's see if this here beer will help me to stop procrastinating." - my cousin

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2013, 10:58:48 AM »
+1 to the bottling bucket.  I put my bottling sugar in the bucket first.  Then I rack into it, let it create a whirlpool to allow the bottling sugar to evenly mix throughout the beer.  It's still important though, to not let it splash during this racking process.  You don't want to introduce oxygen into your beer before bottling.  If you do, you stand a good chance of having off flavors, especially cardboardy flavors.

Rack = Syphen, by the way.
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline Mtnmangh

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2013, 06:41:35 PM »
I had always fly sparged (and really slow too), wanting to squeeze every last drop of sugar out of the grain, but this last brew I did my first batch sparge and save darn near an hour and 15 minutes.  I'm hooked.  That's a pretty significant time savings which has begun to matter to me more as my Brew Buddy has a young child and has not been able to be over for as long.  Never underestimate the value of a brew buddy (especially since I don't have a pump yet and lifting up 6 gallons of wort in a heavy kettle to gravity feed through my chiller is impossible for one guy).

This leads to another issue...If you are going to do 10 gallon batches with a single boil, you'll about have to have a pump to move the wort, unless you are a body builder :)

Not to beat a dead horse from the above also - but I use a 10 Igloo cooler for my mash tun and with high gravity brews, my mash tun is well over half full, sometimes only leaving me with 5-6" of head space....just a thought.
Drinking: Belgian Golden Strong ale
              Step Up Porter
              Oktoberfest
               Brown IPA

Primary:  Step up Porter

Secondary: nada

Offline Beer_Tigger

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2013, 06:35:08 AM »
Not to beat a dead horse from the above also - but I use a 10 Igloo cooler for my mash tun and with high gravity brews, my mash tun is well over half full, sometimes only leaving me with 5-6" of head space....just a thought.

I started with  the standard 5 gal Igloo for my mash tun.  Soon I was brewing Scotch ales and heavier beers.  Had to buy a 7.5 gal cooler.  Then I moved up to shooting for 10% beers.  The 7.5 gal doesn't fit 21 lbs of grain.  Now I have a 10 gal cooler.

If you can swing it, get the 10 gal cooler for the mash, 5 gal for the HLT.  If you are doing 5gal batches, the 5 gal MLT is enough.
"Let's see if this here beer will help me to stop procrastinating." - my cousin

Offline top_jimmy44

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2013, 08:15:20 AM »
Thanks everyone.  So I finished reading How to Brew and purchased Papazian's book and I'm about halfway through it.  The more I read about this and the more I think about costs, I am wondering if brewing 5 gallon batches may be the way to go for me anyway.  Here's what i am now thinking though.  If I decide to go with a 70 qt rectangular cooler to use as the mash tun, instead of a 10 gallon round cooler, this would give me more space available to brew 10 gallon batches of any gravity of beer, correct?  Or, if I want, I can just go with my original design of two 10 gallon coolers, one for mash tun, one for HLT and with that setup, I could brew 10 gallon batches of lower gravity beers, and if I wanted to brew a higher gravity beer, I could use my 10 gallon coolers to brew a 5 gallon batch of higher gravity.  Yes, I wouldn't be able to brew a 10 gallon batch of higher gravity, but would at least have the ability to brew 5 gallons of it. 

I'm also thinking I am going to need to get a bottling bucket, bottle capper, and other supplies to get me started.  Would it make sense to just buy a beginner starter kit that includes the basics for extract brewing since I'll need that stuff anyway?  Then, if I get a carboy, I'll have two fermentors for the future and can maybe even try fermenting the same wort in two different fermentors with two different yeasts. 

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2013, 08:54:55 AM »
Remember, if you do more than 5gal batches you will need a pumping system.  Unless you're Heman, 10gal of wort is too heavy to lift safely.
"Let's see if this here beer will help me to stop procrastinating." - my cousin

Offline jomebrew

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Re: New, soon to be brewer - basic questions
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2013, 08:56:37 AM »
I put my system together over 6 months.  Cost was an issue for me.  I assembled it using mostly used gear.  In retrospect, I would have joined a couple local clubs first and got to know other brewers and visited brew days.  Learning the craft and getting equipment would have been easier.   For new gear, I shopped sales at every local and online brew shop.  I often shopped at advertisers on The Brewing Network since I love the shows and they often have a discount code.  It takes a while but I was ready to brew in the fall when was a good time to ferment since I lacked fermentation temp control back then.

Speaking of that, I should have, and highly recommend, planning fermentation temperature control first.  The two most important parts of brewing are sanitation and fermentation temperature control.  Oddly, no one mentioned that to me.  Now I am a bit zealous about fermentation temperature control with new and not so new brewers. Zealous really means annoying about it.

I started with gear to brew 10 gallon batches at the advice of a friend who got me interested in brewing.  I used a 48QT rectangular cooler using a manifold I made from the design in How  to Brew.  I had 2 converted kegs for HLT and Kettle.  I collected a few glass 6g carboys.  I kegged right off the bat so,a used fridge, temp controller and some kegs.

I only made 5 gallon batches.  I did an all grain 10.5% Imperial Stout and a couple 9.5% DIPAs.  So, big beers can be done in 5G batches.

I have since scaled down to lighter 8g kettles and HLT using the same cooler mash tun for the last 6 years.