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Advice on a new all grain set up

Discussion in 'Gear and Equipment' started by ptom012, 10/9/18.

 

  1. ptom012

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    Posted 10/9/18
    Hi guys,

    I have been brewing with cans for a while now. I have a relatively simple set up with my fermenter in a temperature controlled fridge and then bottling once fermentation has completed.

    For my last few brews I have fermented a Fresh Wort Kit from Grain and Grape in Melbourne and can definitely taste the benefit of all grain.

    I am looking at buying an all grain set up, and seeing as I am going down that path, I am think about getting a keg system. I am sick of bottling.

    I am currently looking at buying a grainfather complete set up but this is a lot of money and would like to see what people think?
    The set up I am looking at is:
    • NEW Grainfather Connect with Counter Flow Wort Chiller
    • NEW Grainfather Conical Fermenter PRO Edition with Temperature Controller, Dual Valve Tap & Conical Coat
    • NEW Grainfather Glycol Chiller with 3L Glycol
    • 3x Tap Mangrove Jacks Kegerator
    • 3x 19L Mangrove Jacks Kegs
    • 3x Tap Kegerator Assembly Parts (including CO2 Regulator, Beer Tower, pre-assembled Hoses with T-Connector & Gas Disconnect, Liquid Disconnect, Wrench, 85cm Hose & Instruction Manual)
    • Refractometer
    • Sparge Water Heater
    • Hop Spider
    • Stainless Steel Paddle
    • C02 Cylinder 2.6KG (4L)
    • Blue Bottler with Spring
    • Mangrove Jack's No Rinse Sanitiser 250g
    • Grainfather High Performance Cleaner 500g
    Coming in at a cost of close to $5k I will need the system to last for approximately 10 years to pay itself off.

    https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https://www.ebay.com.au/ulk/itm/253597709276

    The grainfather seems to be the best value for money from what I can tell, I can't understand what the Braumeister is so much more expensive and the robobrew and guten seem to have a few quality issues.

    Any feedback from people with these systems would be much appreciated
     
  2. Bonenose

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    Posted 10/9/18
    Could just start with the grainfather, keep an eye on buy swap and sell gumtree etc for kegs and keg fridge. I only use plastic fermenters and temp controlled freezer so not sure on the rest.
     
  3. Courtney Scott

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    Posted 10/9/18
    Hey mate, given you are only just starting out have you thought of just doing BIAB(Brew In a Bag) just in case All Grain is not for you. i know a couple of blokes that went all grain and didn't like the extra time that is needed and went back to the cans.
    I reckon you could set yourself up for a few hundred to start and then if it's the way to go put it on Ebay and get the system your looking at. In my opinion $5k is a lot of money for a startup.

    But whatever works for you.

    regards,
    Norto
     
  4. MHB

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    Posted 10/9/18
    Couple of points -
    On the Braumeister/Grainfather, I don't agree. Having used both the BM is way out in front in terms of design and build quality. About the same as you would expect from a BMW or Audi / Haval or Great Wall. You do get what you pay for!

    As to the rest, its a bit of a dream list, these days when I brew at home, I'm doing 10L BIAB in a 20L pot, have a fermentation fridge and an very secondhand barf ridge, 10L kegs and all the bits. All up I could replace it for few of hundred bucks - call it $300-500.
    All the parts Gas Bottle, Regulator, Beer Gun, Lines, Disconnects are good quality very reliable and work well although some of the parts are pushing out toward decades old.

    You can spend as much or as little you like, Five grand in gear wont make you a better brewer, personally I find that commercial taps/guns pour so much better than the less expensive (well from anyone with Keg, King, Land or Chrome in their name) products that I wouldn't consider any other option.

    Better I think to start with a good value for money set of basic equipment, try learning the fundamentals of all grain brewing and work out what gives you the best return on your investment.
    Mark
     
  5. Wobbly74

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    Posted 10/9/18
    Having gone down that path myself the last couple of years, I'd be looking at either diy or a cheaper rb/guten (take your pick). Diy is a good entry point if you like building / tinkering (but not if you don't). A cheap $40-50 sparge urn and a $50 fridge off ebay with an stc plus some kegging gear and you're good to go. Better off covering your bases with the basics and seeing how much you brew and like the process before working out where you then want to add more gear, unless money is no object.
     
  6. bevan

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    Posted 11/9/18
    This is what I did, still biabing but in the process of building my own brauclone. AG beer is much better than kits but there is the time factor. Putting a kit beer together say 1hr max, AG 5 - 6 hrs. AG’s pretty much a all day thing.
    It cost me about $100 (did get given the kettle, cost was to convert from dodge gas setup to electric) to set myself up for biab and it makes good beer!
     
  7. mongey

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    Posted 11/9/18
    I just moved to all grain after 4 years of cans and FWK

    I bought a good triple base 50l pot with tap installed , a bag , a cube , some silicon tubing and a high pressure burner for less than $450 all up and have made 3 great beers with it

    grain father looks dope, if you wanna spend the cash go for it. but you can get into it for allot less

    as bevan said time is the big investment with AG . my burner is super aggressive, (35 liters of water to strike temp in about 30 min, mash out to rolling boil in about 15 min ) so my time spent is a little shorter. but its still a 3 to 4 hour investment each brew. although most of that you don't need to be doing anything .especially as you get to know your gear
     
  8. find_another_slave

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    Posted 11/9/18
    When I kicked off homebrewing about 3 years ago, I was encouraged to go all grain straight up - everything was second hand and or gifted. Picked up a mad deal with fermenters, 6 (or was it 9?) kegs, keezer, gas bottles etc etc etc. Made my own keggle for BIAB, built my own keezer, use the old one to ferment in. My darling wife surprised me with a Grainfather a couple birthdays ago, and a GF conical fermenter this year. I put together a nifty AG BIAB kit for a mate, including the super burner, keggle, kegs etc - he hasn't looked back. I'd probably still be using that setup had I not been bestowed the bling. Also be aware that life can and will get in the way - you may have gaps in brewing - and for me, having 5K worth of kit sitting idle for periods of time would be upsetting...hence going to the GF conical pump option rather than the glycol chiller option - $99 vs $1300.

    I guess what I am saying is, like others, you don't have to spend a fortune to make great beer.
     
  9. Dubzie

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    Posted 11/9/18
    Also went from can/kits to all grain a few years ago.
    Started off small, cheap 2000w element, 50L pot, and BIAB. ($100 odd)
    Built a flashed STC-1000.
    Then i added re-circulation with a pump, built a malt pipe, and moved to a 70L pot (50L became the malt pipe), added a second 2400w element to help with the boil.
    Now on to building a CraftBrewPi to control my brew process.

    I nearly always do double batch's though (4 other mates all have keg setups and we brew together)
     
  10. Wolfman1

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    Posted 11/9/18
    It’s Not where I’d put my coin, but everyone’s financial situation is different.
    As others have said, going BIAB with an urn is far more economic way and easier way to get into AG.
    the urn can then be your sparge heater if you take the next step or sell it on.
    BIAB Is way more time efficient as well as there is no sparge.

    The grainfather glycol system is a complete waste of money. Breweries use these for repeatable production of a recipe in a factory so that every time someone opens a can it’s the same. On a home brew scale you get the same thing from an old fridge and controller. Put that money back into your pocket or into more kegs.

    Stainless fermenter is great but I reckon the grainfather brand isn’t giving any value here. You’ll get better results with better yeast and water minerals management than spending coin here.
     
  11. Bridgey23

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    Posted 12/9/18
    If your sure you want to do all grain and can afford it I say go for it. I have pretty much what your after and although a bit pricey the Pro fermenter and glycol chiller is awesome. I have two fermenters was thinking about a third but don’t think I’ll need it. I can brew a lager and an ale days apart and let the fermenters do their thing. No need for multiple fermenter fridges.
    It’s made my brew days and systems much more user friendly.
     
  12. pnorkle

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    Posted 12/9/18
    Hi @ptom012 - my .02c worth

    I've had a Brau in the past, and am now running a GF - the Brau is a better system (IMHO) but there's nothing wrong with the GF, and it's a helluva lot cheaper. So, I'd say, yes, go the GF Connect.

    I wouldn't bother with the Conical Fermenter with etc, as.. why spend all that money? You already have a fridge/temp controller/fermenter - just continue with that. Unless you just want the bling.. Kegerator?/kegs, sure why not - but no need to buy brand new kegs - again, unless you like bling. But then, the only time you're really going to see them is when you're filling them or cleaning them. You can get pre-loved kegs at a fraction of the cost, and they work just as well.
    Mangrove Jacks No Rinse - nah - I tend to stay away from "name brands" such as this, as you're paying for the name. Get a bottle of StellarSan Sanitiser (phosphoric acid) 500ml for 10 bucks - will last you a long while. Same can be said for the GF HP Cleaner - costs a Bundle - I'm pretty sure you get a container of the stuff when you buy your GF - once that's finished, if you don't want to get the individual components to make up brew cleaner, just get PBW from somewhere.

    You don't need to spend all that money to do what you want to do, and $5k is a lot to spend, given that you're only going to be brewing around 20ish litres at a time.

    HTH.
     
  13. pirateagenda

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    Posted 12/9/18
    If I was spending that much, i'd want to be able to brew and ferment double batches at least.
     
  14. ptom012

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    Posted 14/9/18
    Thanks for the feedback. All good points. I think I will stick with the temp controlled fridge and bottles for now, at least for a few batches, to make sure AG is for me. My only concern is that by sticking with bottles it will reduce the amount I brew due to my dislike of bottling.
    Now to make up my mind on a mash method.
    Is there any reason why one couldn't add a heater element, recirculating pump and grain basket to a conical fermenter and perform the entire brew from mash to bottling in the one vessel. Could even crash cool it after the boil by recirculating pump through a submerged coil. Thinking that fermenting in the same vessel as the boild would reduce the need for chemicals during sanitation.
    Might need a recirc pump that can handle a few solids and have a filter at the top.
     
  15. Wolfman1

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    Posted 14/9/18
    That logic is totally flipped for me. Kegs are so easy it’ll help you to brew more as it turns a 2-3 hour bottling session into 15 mins of work.

    To do all that work on a conical is going to be more of a time investment than anything else and with questionable results. Yes, you can do all those things but the sanitation aspects of pumps and chillers is going to add more time to your brew day.
    A ss conical that can be modified ain’t going to be cheap or easy to source and a PITA to temp control as it won’t be a small unit so harder to fit into a fridge or move around.
    Just get a guten or robobrew and sell it on if after a few brews you want to get more serious. You can use these as BIAB to start and then start using the basket and sparge as the next step.
     

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