Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Current All Grain Brew Setup

This is one of the most basic (read cheap) setups I think you can have. Over time I have gotten used to it and I'm making good beer. I'll explain the purpose of each piece and what went into making it.

Mash Tun:
Home Depot 5 gal Beverage Cooler Conversion - there are several sites that detail how to make these (the best). Or you can buy them new for around $100 (here, here). I went with 5 gal because I don't make very large batches and if I want to upgrade I have all the hardware and can just buy a new cooler. I also choose to use a different design for my manifold. You will see most commonly braided mesh screens used or a false bottom. I really liked the manifolds and was inspired by John Palmer's Book Chapter (available for free). I bent 2 pieces with the tighest curve of the pipe bender which was perfect. Then used a hack saw to make slits and fit everything together. I did not solder any of the copper together to make for easier cleaning. It works well and I get my efficiency at about 75% which I find to be a good mix between flavor and economics.

I use a converted Half Barrel(15.5gal) Sanke keg. I ended up completely cutting off the top of the keg. Most people leave the top handles and use a jig to cut out a hole on the top. But to me this is boil kettle and has no need for handles. By cutting off the top (with a angle grinder) it is much easier to clean, easier to fit my immersion chiller, and allows the needed chemicals to boil off and not return to the boil. The fittings are from Bargain fittings which can't be beat. The holes were drilled with 3/4" hole saw but afterwards I found a step drill bit cheap on ebay. Place these fittings as low as possible. My pickup tube is a little bit different, I originally had just a bent piece of copper tubing from the bulk head but since I am doing a lot of small 3 gal batches so I needed the immersion cooler to sit lower in the pot. So I added in 2 90* elbows and it works great.

Bayou Classic SQ-14 it is pretty cheap on Amazon. It is sturdy and fits the keggle perfectly.

5 gal glass carboy

 5 gal  kegs

  • 1. Sanke Keg top and a 6.5 gal carboy cap stretched over the opening

  • 2. Corny Keg and I remove the gas disconnect and attach 3/4" clear tubing with a SS hose clamp 

Several 1 gal glass carboys for experiments

Fermentation Fridge:
I built my own from scratch. Refer to the Fermentation Chamber.

Racking Method:
I am a new convert over to a Stainless Steel Racking cane (easy to sanitize in wall paper tray and clean with dip tube brush). I also use a sterile filter (mark your "in" side with tape) to start the siphon. To take it one step further I use my paintball CO2 tank to blow CO2 to start the siphon. This system works great as long as you are using carboys.

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