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Moving from K&K to AG

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After doing kit beers for 2 years, I've finally decided that I want to make the move to AG.

The first thing I'm going to buy is a kettle, but not sure on size. I plan on doing a 60L batch on each brew day - which size kettle would I need? I think I need to allow space for boil over, as well as allow more water initially due to evaporation.

Can anyone recommend anywhere to buy kettles?

And what is a NASA burner? What gas do I use? Propane or LPG? Does the burner come integrated with a stand to put the kettle on?

Initially I'd like to try BIAB - is that possible for a 60L brew? I think I'd need approx 15kg worth of grain which would be heavy to lift out with the weight of the water as well.

I guess I'd need to move to 3 vessels (3V?) in the future if I want to not do BIAB.
 

golfandbrew

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Is your 60 litre batch into the fermenter or out of the fermenter? This is important to sort out as there will be losses in the fermenter to consider as well as dead space from the kettle.

Propane or natural gas will depend on what you have available. Some have the ability to tap into their natural gas so they do. Those that don't will use propane/lpg or go electric. It's really just a matter of what suits you best.

15kg of wet grain will be heavy for most and probably awkward to lift if brewing on your own.

Might be a good idea to start with a smaller BIAB batch while you sort out the type of set up you want. Or find one or a few people in your area through a local home brew club that have different set ups for you to watch brew to help sort out what will work best for you.
 

kadmium

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Is your 60 litre batch into the fermenter or out of the fermenter? This is important to sort out as there will be losses in the fermenter to consider as well as dead space from the kettle.

Propane or natural gas will depend on what you have available. Some have the ability to tap into their natural gas so they do. Those that don't will use propane/lpg or go electric. It's really just a matter of what suits you best.

15kg of wet grain will be heavy for most and probably awkward to lift if brewing on your own.

Might be a good idea to start with a smaller BIAB batch while you sort out the type of set up you want. Or find one or a few people in your area through a local home brew club that have different set ups for you to watch brew to help sort out what will work best for you.
To do 60L batches AG you will need 100L pot, considering you will need to start with 60L + grain + absorption (1L/kg) + boil loss

Thats 60 + 15 + 15 + at least 5 so 95L.

Most people use a hoist above the pot to pull the bag and let it drip into the pot.

You would need a LOT of electricity to do that electric (15 AMP)

I would suggest gas, using something like what the Americans call a Turkey burner. You will probably need to knock up a stand for the pot.
 

MHB

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There are two ways to go, from what you have written you clearly have a lot of learning in front of you, that's not a bad thing, just the way it is. All of us often don't know what we need to know until the absence bites us.

You could go out and spend, well a good quality system that will knock out 60L is going to run you over $500 unless you are lucky or cut a lot of corners.
Other option and the one I would recommend is to put together a small low cost system and learn your trade. What you learn will let you make much better choices when your ready to scale up.
A 20L big W stock pot
A mash bag, either brought or home made
A decent thermometer - much undervalued, get a quality glass lab thermometer ($20ish)
An accurate way to measure liquids, I find a 5L jug very handy
If you can trust your malt supplier you can get away without scales

Do some smaller volume brews, there are some basic rules you will need to learn, better to learn them on smaller batches. Do some well tested recipes, probably a good idea to develop a relationship with a good supplier. Find some local mashers, take a six pack and sit in on a few brew days, maybe find a club - you will find most brewers more than willing to help.
Mark
 

S.E

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15kg of wet grain will be heavy for most and probably awkward to lift if brewing on your own.
I5kg is not really that heavy or hard to lift for most people if you think about it. If it was say a suitcase with a handle you would probably lift and carry it without a thought? Remove the handle and it becomes awkward to lift and carry. So yep, it could be awkward if you have 15kg of hot wet grain in a bag and try to grip the bag or the draw string to lift it.

A lot of folk seem to use a hoist/pulley to lift the bag these days but I will let you in on a very simple but apparently long forgotten secret (don’t think I have ever heard or read it mentioned here on the forum) using a broom handle as a handle to lift the bag.

BIAB was about the most common brewing system when home brewing started becoming popular in the sixties and seventies. There was no AHB or internet to learn from, only HB books that described and illustrated simple BIAB or bucket in bucket malt pipe mash tuns.

If using BIAB bag it was almost always suggested to insert a broom handle through the drawstring or handles on the bag and use that to lift and support the bag above the pot and support it with two chairs back to back.

So there you go. Using a broom handle when lifting a BIAB bag is as easy as lifting a suitcase, or easier as you can lift it with both hands.
 

contrarian

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I started out with BIAB with a 70L pot and a spiral burner with a medium flow regulator, the regulator is important in getting the most out of a decent burner. For all of that plus a bag and a way of hoisting it etc you can probably do it on the cheap for around the $300-$400 mark.

Given that it is definitely worth considering one of the all in one systems from keg king, kegland etc where you can get a 65L all in one for around $650, although that will require a 15amp circuit to get the best our of it. You might be able to pick one up second hand cheaper as well.

I appreciate what Mark is saying about starting small and learning the craft and that is certainly a good way to go but as someone who was time poor and couldn't brew that regularly the ability to knock out a few no chill cubes in one session and then ferment at different times was appealing to me and I think if I was getting into brewing now that one of the off the shelf systems would be very appealing!

Whatever way you decide to go ask a lot of questions and if you can, connect with some local brewers who use different brewing methods. Most brewers love sharing a brew day with people who are interested in and for me, seeing how it all worked made it much more approachable.

Have fun, it's a slippery slope!
 
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The 60L batch will be split into 3x 20L batches (each in a 30L fermenter).

I don't have mains gas (got the 45kg LPG bottles instead). I would prefer to buy a 9kg bottles (and a quick Google tells me that LPG is the same as propane, lol). I heard using electric would take too long to heat up kettle (and cost a lot more).

I could try a small BIAB - I already have a 20L stockpot I bought from Big W a couple of months ago, that I did a ginger beer in (with real ginger).

I'd like to store some wort in 20L no-chill cubes to ferment at a later date (but just fill the fermenter vessels if they are empty)

Defo lots to take in!

There's some kettles I could buy from here, not sure if they're good value or not.

 

contrarian

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I wouldn't assume that electricity was more expensive than gas. The question is whether or not you have access to enough to do what you want to do quickly.

For example if you have access to 1 15amp and 1 10amp circuit there's potential for 6kW of power and that will heat water from 20C to 65C in about 40 minutes. Given a kW hour is less than 30c in most parts of Australia I doubt gas would be as cheap. If you only have access to 2 10 amp circuits it will just take an extra 10 minutes or so.

You can also use over the side elements like these Brand New Portable Immersion Hot Water Heater Element 2400W 230Volt | eBay and they come in handy whatever iteration your brewery takes in the future. I also like the fact that it is rare to run out of electricity!

The down side of this kind of element for BIAB is that it can make doing a mash out a bit trickier as you actually have to stir with the element while the temp comes up! With gas it can be a bit simpler.

I also feel more comfortable leaving electricity unattended for short periods of time than gas. Especially where I live near the coast it can be windy and when maintaining a boil on a lower setting you need to keep an eye on it.

In terms of pots the cheeky peak ones are definitely awesome but you pay for that quality. They also have all in one systems with a metal basket instead of a bag here NANO BIABasket Single Vessel Brewing Systems - All Grain Mashing Equipment.

I started out with a 70L pot from craftbrewer. It is nowhere near the quality of the cheeky peak pots but is still going strong after 8 years. I also recently got a 130L pot from ebay for an upgrade that is cheap but will certainly do everything I need it to do which is hold wort! a lot of these decisions come down to personal preference and budget as well as what resources you have available in terms of power etc.
 

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+1 for electricity, and even cheaper if you have a solar system, and time your use.
If you decide to go electric just make sure the elements are ULWD's (ultra low watt density) Lwd's can be used but with less confidence, a "normal" hot water system element will most likely scorch the wort if you don't have some method (eg,SSR) to control it's heat output, and scorched wort is always something to worry about when using gas.
Natural (mains) gas is a lot cheaper than bottled propane, but it has a lower heat output, so in the scheme of things I think they work out to be a similar cost., your electrical cost will depend on how much you are charged by your supplier, I can assure you that a "turkey fryer" type gas burner chews through a 9Kg bottle very quickly, I've used one to heat a bath tub full of water to 70c and it just about emptied the bottle.
 

Grmblz

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I5kg is not really that heavy or hard to lift for most people if you think about it. If it was say a suitcase with a handle you would probably lift and carry it without a thought? Remove the handle and it becomes awkward to lift and carry. So yep, it could be awkward if you have 15kg of hot wet grain in a bag and try to grip the bag or the draw string to lift it.
Yeah, except were not talking about lifting 15kg, OP mentions 15kg of grain, it'll be closer to 40kg for the initial lift, and 30kg by the time it's drained, and that is a big lift especially if you have to hold it while it drains, a pulley system/hoist of some description will be essential, does he have somewhere to mount the hoist, and the height to lift the bag sufficiently.
Marks suggestion of doing some 20L batches first makes more than a little sense, it'll give OP a handle on just what is involved.
 

S.E

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Yeah, except were not talking about lifting 15kg, OP mentions 15kg of grain, it'll be closer to 40kg for the initial lift, and 30kg by the time it's drained, and that is a big lift especially if you have to hold it while it drains, a pulley system/hoist of some description will be essential, does he have somewhere to mount the hoist, and the height to lift the bag sufficiently.
I wasn’t replying to the OP. If you take a look above I quoted and replied to golfandbrew post #2 who mentioned lifting 15kg of wet grain. I average about 9kg dry grain for 55L brew length so 15kg sounded about right to me. Personally I wouldn’t consider BIAB for a 60L brew length though.

I think you have missed the point of using a broom handle for BIAB. You don’t stand holding the wet grain while it drains you use a couple chairs or something suitable height and support the broom handle between them.

A pulley system/hoist of some description would not be essential for most brewers. Even if the grain is nearer to 40kg as you estimate it would not be that difficult to lift up a short distance and support it above the kettle to drain. No more dificult than say lifting a 50L keg of beer onto the back of a ute or a 60L fermenter up on to a couple milk crates to gravity fill kegs. 40kg would need something a bit stronger than a broom handle but as I said I would not consider BIAB to brew 60L.
 

Grmblz

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I wasn’t replying to the OP. If you take a look above I quoted and replied to golfandbrew post #2 who mentioned lifting 15kg of wet grain. I average about 9kg dry grain for 55L brew length so 15kg sounded about right to me. Personally I wouldn’t consider BIAB for a 60L brew length though.

I think you have missed the point of using a broom handle for BIAB. You don’t stand holding the wet grain while it drains you use a couple chairs or something suitable height and support the broom handle between them.

A pulley system/hoist of some description would not be essential for most brewers. Even if the grain is nearer to 40kg as you estimate it would not be that difficult to lift up a short distance and support it above the kettle to drain. No more dificult than say lifting a 50L keg of beer onto the back of a ute or a 60L fermenter up on to a couple milk crates to gravity fill kegs. 40kg would need something a bit stronger than a broom handle but as I said I would not consider BIAB to brew 60L.
Ahh, fair call, I missed the quote bit, was still concentrating on the OP.
50L into a ute? or a 60L lift??? there's a reason health and safety put a 2 man lift on items over 20kg, not everyone is a weightlifter/bodybuilder, sure I used to stack 50L kegs back in the day when I was 30, today at 68 I'm paying the price for my heroics, just something to consider, and I'll stand by my comment that if you want to hoist and hold 40kg+ a hoist is essential, if for no other reason than your future well being.
Cheers G
 

philrob

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Holy crap, Batman.Lifting up to 60 kg, even over a few seconds? I wouldn't ever attempt to do that in a pink fit. Having been through spinal surgery and both shoulders surgery, that's never gonna happen in my brewery.
 
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Grmblz

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I suspect SE may be in the "prime of life" or a viking lol, it comes to us all eventually, I've had a good run, still got one good shoulder and one good wrist, the problem is it's the left shoulder but the right f****n wrist rofl Oh well, just have to get inventive when moving stuff.
 

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Hardly in “prime of life” and definitely not a Viking. Come on guys 50kg -60kg isn’t that outrageous to lift is it? I’ve been semi retired and fairly inactive for over 10 years now so not very fit, not something I do every day but lifting a 60L fermenter with 55L of beer in it every few weeks I can manage. 50L kegs get carried and moved about in pubs and breweries all the time.
 

philrob

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I spent my working life as an insurance claims manager, specialing in personal injury claims. There is a legion of claims which came across my desk with major back injury from just that of lifting weights such as discussed here. Definitely not good practice, and in my view would not pass Oc Health safety muster.
Not something I would ever recommend.
 

S.E

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I spent my working life as an insurance claims manager, specialing in personal injury claims. There is a legion of claims which came across my desk with major back injury from just that of lifting weights such as discussed here. Definitely not good practice, and in my view would not pass Oc Health safety muster.
Not something I would ever recommend.
Hang on, I wasn’t suggesting or recommending lifting heavy weights. I recommended using a broom handle to lift and support a BIAB bag above a kettle and said I would not consider BIAB suitable for brewing 60L

The fact is a lot of people use 50L kegs and fermenters and have to move them around by hand and lift them in to kegerators and fermenting fridges etc.

The point I was making is 15KG is not a particularly heavy weight to lift but a BIAB bag can be awkward to lift as it is very hot and wet. A lot of people use a pulley to lift them but in my opinion a broom handle is a simpler and easier option and has the added advantage of being portable that you don’t need to brew in the same spot below a pulley system and can brew in the kitchen, back yard or wherever.

I posted an extract from an old sixties HB book a while back showing BIAB using a broom handle over here: no chill into white plastic fermenter?
 

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