Stepping Up To All Grain

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garyhead.design

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Hey Brewers

I have been brewing partials for a while, brewing in a bag and doing partials boils in an old 12L stock pot. I've been paying through the nose for my grain and buying as I need it and getting it milled at my local brew shop.... Fail

Fast forward to the present and I'm wanting to go all grain but I'm looking for a bit of advice before I start going crazy buying or building all my gear.

First off, I'm want to keep brewing in a bag and I'm thinking I might move to brewing in an urn. So how big, 30 or 40 Liters?

Secondly, I want to buy grain in bulk, so what do you recommend as a grain storage solution?

Lastly, I'm going to need a grain mill, anyone have any suggestion on whats best?


Cheers
Gary
 

ekul

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I reckon urns are pretty expensive for what you get. A 50L pot and a weldeless element or handheld element would come out significantly cheaper, and have the same grunt.

From the savings from not buying an urn you could then invest in a MM2 from monster brewing. If you find someone else who wants one the postage price will come down, as its the same to post one as it is to post 2.

I store my grain in the sacks the;y come in. Once i open them i hold them closed with a rubber band. I bought some plastic 44 gallon drums with removable tops to put the grain in recently, they only cost me $10 each. I can fit 5 sacks in them from memory ( i used to store my grain in 44 gallon drums). Check the local paper, there's always someone selling some drums with lids in there.
 

keifer33

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40 Lt urn will give you a 23lt batch without having to worry about volumes etc compared to a 30lt urn and also give you a bit of room for protection against boil overs.

I store my grain in 20Lt Handpales from Bunnings and they are about $10 each and hold half a bag of grain. I recently switched to these as they stack well and take up less room.

As far as Mills go the Mashmaster MillMaster MiniMill seems the best value for a good quality mill and available locally (as in within australia). You will have to knock up your own hopper and base and power it will a drill or build a motor.
 

cdbrown

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I have my unopened grain sacks stacked up off the ground, the open ones go into a 60L fermenter which I line with heavy duty garbage bags (the grain stays in the sack). Also have some 40L or so plastic storage containers for my miscellaneous grain packs or when the amount in the sack is reasonably low to free up a fermenter. Just purchased some grain from a friend and they store it in the 40L containers, just tip it directly in. Problem is the lids are pretty flimsy and I wouldn't recommend stacking anything on them.
 

hughman666

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Vessel
40L urn with a concealed element will cost you ~$280. Grain bag for BIAB ~$10.

That's your cheapest/easiest way to get into AG, at least with the lowest hassle factor. After while if you want to move to a 3 vessel system, this guy can become your HLT or Kettle.

Optional extras:
- use a march pump for an additional $270 to recirculate from the outlet of the urn back to the top of the urn. you'll need to do some minimal plumbing work which won't need any drilling or cutting of the urn.
- get a mashmaster thermo for $60 to regulate the urn element while recirculating.

Grain

If you're going to brew a variety of styles you'll need 3 base malts (pils, ale & wheat) so just get a 25kg sack of each of these. These base malts will let you do a range of ales, pils/lagers and wheats.

For ale and wheat malts, I've been happy with Barrett Burston and Joe White. Don't really see much of an improvement by going with Bairds, Weyermann etc.

The one exception is I always use Weyermann for the Pils malt (Bohemian Pils) as its a VERY light colour and lets you do some great styles e.g. Kolsch where you will get a great light golden colour.

Use the plastic storage containers you get from Bunnings for $10-15 each to store these bags.

You'll need some speciality grains such as crystal, choc, vienna etc and you'll prob get these in 1-5kg quantities depending on regularity of use, so get a 4th tub for these. The tubs stack on top of each other and seal pretty well to stop bugs etc getting in, plus they can be wheeled around.
 

ekul

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40L urn with a concealed element will cost you ~$280. Grain bag for BIAB ~$10.

That's your cheapest/easiest way to get into AG, at least with the lowest hassle factor. After while if you want to move to a 3 vessel system, this guy can become your HLT or Kettle.
It might be the easiest, but certainly not the cheapest. My 50L pot cost me $50 (chinese cheap shop A&Js trading in the fortitude valley), a weldless element from craftbrewer would be $48 including power cord. My 80L pot of the same brand is still going strong and my burner is massive. If a better wuality pot was required craftbrewer has these bad boys as well for $150.

If you went the cheap route (with the chinese pot) You'd could use your savings to get yourself a mill and maybe even a sack of grain.
 

hughman666

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It might be the easiest, but certainly not the cheapest. My 50L pot cost me $50 (chinese cheap shop A&Js trading in the fortitude valley), a weldless element from craftbrewer would be $48 including power cord. My 80L pot of the same brand is still going strong and my burner is massive. If a better wuality pot was required craftbrewer has these bad boys as well for $150.

If you went the cheap route (with the chinese pot) You'd could use your savings to get yourself a mill and maybe even a sack of grain.
Yeah like I said combination of cheapest/easiest with the least hassle factor is definitely the urn route, its a single vessel that's got pot, element, thermostat and valve in one the one unit. You can definitely do it cheaper but you start it can be more of a pain.

Anyway, different perspectives always help the OP weigh up what's right for them :drinks:

<edit - element confusion>
 

QldKev

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I've 40L, 50L, 82L, 100L and 140L vessels

82L I've done doubles in, the 140L I do 100L batches...
(The 82L is my HLT, 100L is the mash tun and the 140L will become the kettle for my 3V system - one day)


For a single BIAB I have used both the 40 pot and 50L keggle conversion extensively.
The 40L is just a bit shy for a decent volume. Let's do the maths. For a decent batch you need a starting water vol of 33L + 5kg of grain = only a few L of space left. But it will all fit 100%.
The 50L is a better capacity, with an extra 10L of play (help prevent boil overs, etc) space. The only thing the only keggle I could source at the time is a skinnier / taller type and it's just not as nice to use.
Personally I would not consider a 30L system, but I'm slack and don't want to have to watch over it and stuff around to much with it.


If I was setting up for a single BIAB system I would get a 50L pot, as it is nice and wide.
For heating then you have a choice.
Get an electric element, which is quite, no LPG to stuff around with, and best of all get a STC1000 and you can dial up an exact mash in temp and walk away.
Get a LPG burner, which cost about $2 a batch more to run (to me thats not an issue), will get to temps a lot quicker, no issues with wort caramalising to the element stuffing it up.

There are a lot of people using the urns. They seem to work great and look nice and shiny. But if you want electric to me a decent pot and a STC1000 so you can dial up an exact temperature seems great. Also a decent pot can always be used later if you decide to go 3V (so can an urn, but you are limited in capacity)

my 2.2c, (inc GST, soon will need to be 89c because of stupid carbon taxs etc)

QldKev
 

mrTbeer

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I'm in the same boat. Electric or gas.
I've been doing a 19l pot on the stove but my stove struggles with the volume.
So have been thinking about an urn but keep bulking at the price. Im also in an unit so space is critical. Using the 9kg gas bottle on BBQ on verandah would be a simple affair if a burner and reg could be sourced and stored when not in use.
The electric element and stc1000 sounds good but I suspect with kettle it would approach the same price.
 

QldKev

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I'm in the same boat. Electric or gas.
I've been doing a 19l pot on the stove but my stove struggles with the volume.
So have been thinking about an urn but keep bulking at the price. Im also in an unit so space is critical. Using the 9kg gas bottle on BBQ on verandah would be a simple affair if a burner and reg could be sourced and stored when not in use.
The electric element and stc1000 sounds good but I suspect with kettle it would approach the same price.

Don't forget thou, with an urn you have a basic thermostat which will get you roughly to temp. With an electronic thermostat you dial up an exact temp.

QldKev
 

Weatherby

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So how close to temp do you reckon an urn would get, and is it then a case of topping up with hot or cold?
 

hughman666

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The mash master thermostat is $59 and basically gives you +/-1c accuracy. Whether you are going for a pot or urn, either way I would recommend a digital thermo. I found with my Birko 40L urn the thermo could be out by up to 7-10c at the upper ranges of 80c+.

This is where it becomes a bit of a no-brainer to go electric when it comes to single vessel brewing where accuracy, automation and low-cost are required. With a standard gas burner it is very difficult to regulate your temps at a constant without a lot of manual checking, or cost associated with digital ignition etc.

Realistically a pot with valve and thermo will get you sorted for around $280-300. An Urn with a digital thermo will be around $340. Throw in a pump for a RIMS system and you'll be looking at an additional $160. So whichever way you go you can be looking at a ducks nuts setup for $500 max.

Having started with the cheapest possible route years ago and moving to more sophisticated setups including pump, thermo, herms etc I have to say that the extra $ you spend definitely translates to less hassle, less room for error and a shorter brewday. This, in turn means more batches can be brewed for less hassle and time. Given that you'll be saving at least 50% on our beer bill, the extra $ spent start to show their return in your first batch.

On top of that, your beer will be more consistent!
 

garyhead.design

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Wow thanks everyone!

You have given me lots to think about, Overall I'm liking the sound of staying with the single vessel idea, but going with a pot with valve and thermo idea

Cheers

Gary
 

hhouken

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I recently moved from cheap 15l chinese stock pot & 1.5kW portable elec stove to a Crown 40l concealed element & BIAB bag. Bought latter second hand for $250. I find that the urn is a tad small as I no chill in a cube. Usually around 2 liters short. If there was a 50l urn that would be the go for me.

When doing the math ($ wise) and given the ease of use I would recommend a 40 liter urn over a 40 or 50 liter pot plus gas burner. As was mentioned before the urn is a neat all in one package. I get over the size constraint by adding water after the mash.
 
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