All Grain Equipment Choices

I’m getting ready to make the jump to all grain and have been checking out the different choices for equipment. I see options for using coolers for hot liquor and mash tun like this: … allon.html and I see other options where brew kettles are used for liquor and mas tun like the one here: … ystem.html . I’m the type that likes to buy things once. What do people prefer? Why? I know this will spawn a variety of answers, many of them based upon taste. I’d just like to get thoughts on this as I really don’t want to plunk down 200 bucks on the cooler system only to change in a year to brew kettles. Btw, if I go with kettles, I already have a 15 gal blichmann boilermaker so i’d add in a 20 gal boilermaker. Thoughts? Suggestions?

How are you planning on sparging? Batch or fly?

I BIAB in the BK. Love it. I also have a cooler mash tun a la If you go the cooler route check that out before you pay 200 bucks for a couple 10 gallon coolers and a false bottom unnecessarily.

I did the Gott round cooler MT/HLT for years and it worked well. The Mrs. let me “invest” in a BrewMagic 10 years ago. I’m glad I got one when I did, because I think they’re brutally expensive now. Creative folks can certainly build a similar system at home, but I’m not that creative. The RIMS system works great for me and it’s a lot of fun.

Got myself a cheap cooler from a sporting goods store for $30, plus the stainless steel water supply braid for like $15, then a little tubing and a rubber mini-keg bung for almost nothing.

It works just as good IMO and is less than half the price of the fancy systems on this website. I could also BIAB with my new large kettle if I wanted to for even easier brewing. I can’t imagine spending that much on the system here.

For those that have the coolers, did you choose this method because it’s less expensive? ease of use? superior results?

WOW! 7000.00 bucks for the brew easy system. I’m pretty handy and could build something like that if I go with the kettles.

As for the biab, I only need one kettle and no cooler, correct?

I went the cooler route because of the ease of maintaining mash temperatures. Even when I BIAB, I put it in a 5-gallon round cooler. For larger batches, 10 gallon cooler with false bottom works well for me.

You really only need a pot and a bag for pure BIAB, a pot and a cooler/bag for modified BIAB, or two pots and a cooler with braid or false bottom for traditional 3-vessel. A cooler for HLT is pretty much unnecessary. You can really make it as simple or as complicated as you want.

I have used this system for 17 years and 478 batches so far. It makes award winning beer (with some help form me!), is inexpensive and so effective that I have no desire to brew any other way.


Same as above for my cooler. Don’t really lose much temperature wise and it was so much cheaper to build that myself as opposed to buying a kit.

It’s really not that hard either. If you look at he runs through the whole process for you. Easy and effective. I was almost spot on with my gravity the first try, although I think I was a bit higher because of my lower mash temp. My lesson learned was to aim high with strike water temperature. It wasn’t an equipment issue, it was my process. Always learning!

I have a
setup and Whirlpool immersion chiller. I was inexpensive and works well.

Thank you to everyone that chimed in.

Seems as though the majority feel that plunking down a bunch of money on fancy brew equipment for all grain batches doesn’t equate better brews.

[quote=“Misfit”]Thank you to everyone that chimed in.

Seems as though the majority feel that plunking down a bunch of money on fancy brew equipment for all grain batches doesn’t equate better brews.[/quote]
Definitely not. I tried just about everything in the first couple of years I went AG. Started with a round cooler/false bottom set-up for fly sparging (which is a pain and takes a long time), tried a false bottom in my kettle (difficult to hold/maintain mash temp properly), switched to batch sparging in a bottling bucket using screen on the end of a tube to keep the grain from flowing out with the wort (worked very well, but needed to do it in my sauna which was heated to around mash temp). Finally found Denny’s system and loved it - no reason to change. Get a 40-50 quart cooler if you intend to do 5 gallon batches, 70 qts for 10 gallons.

I’m planning on doing primarily 5 gallon batches but would like the ability to do 10 gallon batches too. Any issues with doing a 5 gallon batch in a 70 quart cooler?

[quote=“Denny”]I have used this system for 17 years and 478 batches so far. It makes award winning beer (with some help form me!), is inexpensive and so effective that I have no desire to brew any other way.


I switched to Denny’s method after owning the 5 gallon Gott cooler system for a while. Stuck mashes, over-sparging (by me), limited space for mashing higher gravity (1070 or higher), and inconsistent efficiency was my reasons to switch. Denny’s methods fixed all those problems and I’m very happy with the results (judges like them too) FWIW). I can get what I expect from my mash and concentrate on other things brewing related and family-related.

I use the round cooler for hot liquor and boil in my 8 gallon megapot, which I would recommend a 10-gallon for 5 gallon batches. Immersion chill to drop cold break before transfer.

I also use the same basic setup as outlined by Denny and others. I think you’ll find that you can brew amazing quality beer with a simple setup. That said, I think your answer should really depend on yourself.

Why are you brewing?
Are you a Luddite or a level 23 tech nerd?
Do you prefer simplicity or complex systems?

You can make great beer with the simpler setups as well as the more complicated setups. If you see yourself in a few years with pumps, valves, and fancy temperature controllers (RIMS/HERMS) setups, then you might consider the pots, as those will more easily grow into those sorts of setups. If you’re like me and prefer to keep it simple, then the coolers will work great and can be had for a fraction of the price, especially if you can manage some basic DIY.

I think both approaches to homebrewing have their pro’s and con’s, both can create amazing quality beer, and both can be highly enjoyable. The trick is to go with what suits your personal style.

Nope. I do it frequently.

I think i’d be silly to not try the denny brew method first before spending a bunch on kettles and such. I will have less than 100 bucks into the cooler if I go fully pimped out. Should I find that I dont like this method, I’ll still have a cooler and i’ll just spend the money on kettles. Thank you everyone for the help.

Nope. I do it frequently.[/quote]
I do it all the time also, but it can loose more than a few degrees over an hour, depending on the gravity of the beer you are brewing (low gravity beers are more affected) and how cold it is outside the cooler. If I were building my system now, I’d buy a smaller cooler.

Based upon the cost of coolers, I may just pick up a 40q for 5 gallon batches and get a 70q down the road if the need arises. Cost of the coolers is very cheap.

I was originally taught (about 20 years ago) to brew all grain fly sparging with a 5 gallon round cooler. about 5 years ago I switched to batch sparging with a rectangular cooler ala Denny and have not gone back. I took the false botton out of the round cooler and replaced it with a braid and occasionally use it for low-gravity batched with small grain bills because it holds temps better for low gravity recipes with fairly small amounts of grain. No desire to go back to fly sparging whatsoever.