New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

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ches501
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New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by ches501 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:48 am

Morning all

So after prolonged deliberation I am jumping into AG brewing with a vengeance :shock: . I am starting from scratch, planning on using an induction heat source and have loaded up my Brew UK basket with items that I think I will need.

I would appreciate any comments as to what I might have included that might not actually be necessary (or if there are other better options) and vice versa, anything obvious that I might have missed off. So my basket currently contains....

1 x Ss Brewtech 10G kettle
1 x Ss Brewtech 10G mash tun
Sparge arm
1x Speidel 30l fermenter with tap & airlock
Starsan
pH stabiliser
PBW cleaner
Spare 30l buckets
Bottling wand
Steel paddle
Bottle brush
Bottle cleaner
Counter top capper
Caps
Auto syphon
Jug

I know I need a hydrometer but am considering using a refractometer so not added anything yet. I also need a Buffalo 3kW induction hob but will need to source elsewhere. To save a few quid, in the first place in am thinking about using one Brewtech kettle to act as a HLT and boil kettle - is this a good or bad idea?

So if anyone has time to comment then feel free - it would be really appreciated. :mrgreen:

G

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Mr Squiffy
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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by Mr Squiffy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:29 pm

I use a Brewtech 15G kettle with a 10G mash tun, I was worried about boil overs but in hindsight a 10G kettle should be fine. The mash tun comes with a sprinkler type sparge arm so you shouldn't need a separate one, unless you want a spinning one. EDIT - looks like it doesn't come with it anymore
Make sure they come with the barbed fittings to connect your tubing to the valves.
EDIT - You'll probably need a false bottom :oops:
I personally would just stick with a plastic paddle, the tun is quite small and a steel one might scratch it.
Do you really need an autosyphon, just buy some silicon tubing and use gravity. If you get silicon tubing you can buy a long handled brush that goes down the middle for cleaning.
Try Nisbets for your Buffalo, they often have the induction hob on offer. Also have you compared prices with Malt Miller, I bought all my SS Brewtech stuff from him.
Can't think of anything else for the moment, happy spending. :D
Last edited by Mr Squiffy on Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ches501
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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by ches501 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:36 pm

Cheers Mr S

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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by DethApostle » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:45 pm

That's a comprehensive list! Happy Christmas! ;)

Only things I would add is that... is a 30l fermenter big enough when you have 10g (45l) brew kettle? From a 5g batch I get 21l in the FV so while it won't be an exact scale up 10g would mean roughly 42l in the FV?
Even if you do go with a Refractometer you'll need a hydrometer too for post-fermentation readings.

Also you may need a plastic funnel, hop bags and some sort of hop filter/spider for your kettle (if it doesn't come with one)

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ches501
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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by ches501 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:56 pm

Thanks DA. I have squirrelled away a bit of cash. My body is now too old for 5-a-side football and the golf clubs are sitting unused in the garage so need a new hobby. Also got to spend the cash before wife / kids birthdays come around again :shock:

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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by Matt in Birdham » Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:05 pm

DethApostle wrote:That's a comprehensive list! Happy Christmas! ;)

Only things I would add is that... is a 30l fermenter big enough when you have 10g (45l) brew kettle? From a 5g batch I get 21l in the FV so while it won't be an exact scale up 10g would mean roughly 42l in the FV?
Even if you do go with a Refractometer you'll need a hydrometer too for post-fermentation readings.

Also you may need a plastic funnel, hop bags and some sort of hop filter/spider for your kettle (if it doesn't come with one)

DA
It's US gallons, so about 37.5l (roughly?), with say a 30l boil allowing for some headspace. I think it is pretty much the recommended size for 20l batches, which is what I use mine for.

Nice looking setup - might as well spend once and spend well! Not sure about "ph stabiliser" - is that the mythical 5.2 stuff? I think you are going to be better off with AMS/CRS and a water treatment calculator.

If you are spending that much cash, make sure you don't miss out on the basics. Assuming you have a temp controlled space to ferment in, for example?

You might as well drop a little bit more and get an SS Chronical as well :)

ches501
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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by ches501 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:31 pm

Thanks MiB. Yes got a couple of fridges and just need to wire up the temp controller.

AMS/CRS? Help me out?

Was thinking of a Ss fermenter but not sure whether any extra cash would be better spent on a 2nd kettle?

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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by Matt in Birdham » Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:45 pm

ches501 wrote:Thanks MiB. Yes got a couple of fridges and just need to wire up the temp controller.

AMS/CRS? Help me out?

Was thinking of a Ss fermenter but not sure whether any extra cash would be better spent on a 2nd kettle?
CRS/AMS is a blend of acids used to reduce alkalinity. Have a search around the forum - there is a lot of stuff on water treatment, and if you haven't gone down that road yet then you should probably add a water test to your initial outlay (see wallybrew on this forum).

You need to decide how you want to brew before you can know if you will need a second kettle/HLT. I am a two vessel brewer and I "full volume mash", which means no sparging at all, a commensurately shorter brew day and no need for an HLT. You might want to try that, or batch sparging, in which case you won't need the sparge arm. Both of those methods are simpler and quicker than traditional sparging, the only real downside (if indeed it is one) being a slight loss of efficiency. Have a search for those terms as well - I know that I will never go back to sparging, but everyone has their own preference.
Last edited by Matt in Birdham on Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by Kev888 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:45 pm

Just some further thoughts - they may not all be applicable, or you may wish to build up later (and I see some have already come up whilst I was typing), but to consider :
  • Have you any way to maintain fermentation temperatures?
  • Of the two, I would go for a hydrometer (and tall/trial jar), but it may also be useful to get the refractometer if fly/continuous sparging (it is more convenient for measuring the last runnings).
  • A decent thermometer would be worthwhile.
  • Scales of sufficient capacity for weighing the grain, ideally that don't decide to switch off half way through.
  • Some tubing would likely be needed, the (platinum cured/food-grade) silicone hose is excellent for hot stuff, and won't easily sag or develop permanent kinks.
  • You may want to read up on the pH stabilizer; if its the fivestar stuff, it simply doesn't work for a lot of people. A total alkalinity measuring kit and/or water analysis to assess your water would likely be worthwhile; if it needs correction then acids like CRS or AMS can lower the alkalinity, or bicarbonate of soda can raise it, in order to then get the right mash pH. Some way to check the pH would be useful, like narrow-range test strips or a pH meter.
  • With starsan, the mixed solution needs to be acid, with a pH of 3 or less, and a lot of people's tap-water doesn't permit that (going cloudy is an indicator that it may not be right, though it can go cloudy for other reasons). If so for you, then some distilled or RO water is a good alternative; my local aquatics shop sells 25L for £3.75 (though initially you need to buy a refillable container) so it needn't break the bank.
  • Some campden tablets or sodium metabisulphate are convenient ways of neutralising any chlorine or chloramines in your water, or in equipment that has been cleaned with bleach. You may not need this if levels in your water are low, but its cheap and easy and prevents them reacting with the mash to make TCP-like flavours.
  • If your water is very low in calcium then some way of raising it would be beneficial. Its not unusual for people to somewhat blindly bung in a teaspoon or two of gypsum for this purpose, but its better to select suitable amounts of gypsum or calcium chloride to give an appropriate sulphate/chloride balance, based upon a water anaylysis (such as from wallybrew)
  • Kettle finings, such as whirlfloc or protofloc are another useful stock-cupboard item.
  • I assume the kettle has a hop filter, but if not a filter or hop bag
  • Do you have a way to cool the hot wort?
Last edited by Kev888 on Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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themadhippy
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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by themadhippy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:51 pm

my advice,forget about water treatment at this stage,get the basic kit to make beer, and put the money saved on chemicals towards ingredients,and get used to how the kit works.
I know I need a hydrometer but am considering using a refractometer
get a hydrometer,no get 2 and a trial jar,and a thermometer,if the glass type get 2
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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by Secla » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:41 pm

I'd agree with leaving water treatment for a bit, pop a campden tablet in your water to deal with the chlorine and leave it there until your a few brews in And have everything else nailed !
Personally I'd go for a stainless fermenter over a expensive plastic one, download a copy of beersmith or similar and spend z bit of time with that, although online recipes can be good different suppliers grains are lighter/darker and different years hops can effect the bitterness so I always like to check over a recipe in beersmith first

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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by Matt in Birdham » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:53 pm

Secla wrote:I'd agree with leaving water treatment for a bit, pop a campden tablet in your water to deal with the chlorine and leave it there until your a few brews in And have everything else nailed !
Up to a point, IMO. If your water is really unsuited to what you are brewing, results could be a little demoralising - water really does make a difference. Perhaps a good middle-ground would be to start with bottled water (Ashbeck?) that is known to be relatively benign (although this would depend to some extent on what sort of beers you plan on brewing).

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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by ches501 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:53 pm

Cheers all. Really useful info. =D>

G

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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by Dennis King » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:53 pm

Where do you live. There might be a brewer on here that will let you sit in on a brew day and could also give you pointers when it comes to water treatment.

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Re: New AG set up...starting from scratch...any comments?

Post by robbym123 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:47 pm

You've picked some nice equipment and should be able to brew some great beer with it.

My only suggestion that you consider is the size of your brewing kit.

I began brewing with a 50l biab set up, that was suited for c20-25l batches. One of the things i loved about brewing was sharing my creations with visiting friends. Whst i did quickly find was that once friends got a taste for it 40 bottle batches were not lasting long - that feeling of regret that i only had a couple of bottles of a cracking brew left came around all too often. So i began brewing bigger batches, trying to squeeze a 45l batch out of the 50l pot on the hob was a pain.

So i soon upgraded to a 100l pot, with electric elements as it was too big for the hob. This set up allows me to brew 60l per batch with ease, or up to 110l at a squeeze - if i am brewing a favourite that i want loads of.

Given my time again i would have definately bought the larger pot to start with.

One other thought, have you considered a conical fermenter?.

I think if i were spending your budget i would go 100l biab and conical - with a fridge big enough to hold the conical.

Of course, if you feel certain that 20l batches are as big as you want to go your kit choice is great.

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