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All Grain equipment

So I have only done 1 gallon small batch brewing so far. I am making the jump to 5 gallons for me next brew. I decided to do an extract brew for my first 5 gallon because I don’t have a strainer big enough to handle all that grain once I’m ready, and I just am not ready to buy more equipment for a lauter tun. I plan to make my own in the future, but for now I am curious if there is a method I can use in the meantime? I have heard all grain makes a better beer than extract (though with my 1 gallon brews I haven’t noticed much of a difference) so I want to start.

Any suggestions on what I could use? Or is the answer simply “get a lauter tun, it’s the only solution” ?

Here are a couple of posts that may help:

edit: forgot to make the weekly suggestion for buying How to Brew, 4th edition :slight_smile:

Search on “brew in a bag” and do a little reading. If you have a kettle all you need is a bag to go all grain.

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The claim that all grain makes better beer than extract is like saying boiling the chicken to make stock produces better chicken soup than store-bought stock.

Once you know what you’re doing, then yes. But an all-grain brew with poor yeast quality and no temp control will likely not be as good as an extract beer made carefully with experience.

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Me started out extract. And still once a while do one. Next step. Brew in bag. And lots of reading. And once you you got it under control. All grain brewing. Only thing you have to buy. A mash tun. Hot water kettle. And a big enough. Boil kettle. Me did buy. Grains milled. Now got a grain mill. So take grains home from the brewery. And mill them my self

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Go to home depot and buy a 5 gallon paint strainer bag. Get a coupe of 1 gallon one for hops also. They work great. I used to use them all the time. If you want to use a cooler. Use any cooler you have and do your mash no bag. Line your pot withe the strainer bag and dump in the mashed wort. Add more water to the cooler pull the bag and do a dunk sparge in it for ten. Pull the bag and discard. Combine the wort and proceed.

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???

BIAB IS all grain brewing. It’s just a different fliter medium.

@jmck My chicken stock IS better than the store bought! I won’t claim my AG beers are better than your extract beers though…You are correct with proper procedure and attention to detail you can make very high quality beers with extract. I’ve tasted a few that were medal winners made with extract.

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I’m going to add a book suggestion for the “Brew Your Own Big Book of Homebrewing”.
It does a good job of covering equipment for 5 gallon batches (both extract and all grain).

I have read that some people feel there is a “gap” between chapters 1 & 2 of “How To Brew”. If so, for $10 (ebook), “Big Book of Homebrewing” fills the gap nicely.

It’s not that all grain makes better beer it’s just a fun process. If you do extract and steep grains or partial mash and you enjoy that process you will probably enjoy doing all grain.

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You must know what you’re doing then! My stock is not.

I use a leftover carcass, skin, giblets and any leftover dark meat add celery, green onions, carrots, salt and pepper cover with water, bring to boil then lower heat and simmer for 5-6 hours, skimming the foam off, when it’s done strain it through cheese cloth.

OK thread highjack over.

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celery leaves are good to add. I also add coriander/dill seeds to my stock. num num num

OK, so I guess my statement about all-grain being better than extract has been proven wrong. I apologize for that. However, I am not really into the BiaB option, I have tried it once and it just wasn’t for me. I would like to expand my brewing horizons still, so I want to be able to do extract or non-bag all-grain… probably never exceeding 5 gallon batches. So my next question is:

I watched the video on the Northern Brewer website about all grain brewing. The guy said that you’d need a propane burner because a stove top would not be able to heat the large quantity of mash up to the proper temperature. However, he seemed to be talking about a 10 gallon batch, not a 5 gallon batch. If I stick to a 5 gallon, all grain brew, would a normal stove top (electric) be able to do it? The stove top can handle 1 gallon all-grain brews, and 5 gallon extract brews. I just want to make sure I have all the equipment before setting up to brew, but if I can avoid spending on a burner that would be great. Has anyone had problems or success with a normal stove top and 5 gallon all-grain brews?

Keep in mind, 5 gallons means you’ll probably start with 6-7 gallons. Getting that boiling takes a lot of heat. I don’t know that you can do that in one pot… you could split your starting volume into a few smaller pots and get them all boiling at once (then split your hop additions across all the pots, etc).

A propane burner is also faster… waiting for an electric stove to boil is not an insignificant part of your brew day commitment.

Yea I know that it takes a while, for now I am OK with the time required. I was just curious if it was even possible. If it’s impossible, then I would stick to extract brewing for the immediate future. I just don’t want to mix all my grain in my big pot, just to find out the hard way it couldn’t be done.

Basically, if I can do it with a stove top, then I would work on either buying or building a lauter tun. I already have a 30 quart pot, which I believe should be big enough to handle a 5 gallon brew of all-grain (though I know it would be close). My house happened to come with a stove in the basement, so it’s a perfect place for brewing my beer. I just don’t want to have to change every little detail right now, so buying a burner probably isn’t in the cards for me.

The statement about all grain being better than extract is a very commonly held bias, so no need to apologize. To be honest, I had the same belief when I switched to AG, and while I will continue to do AG, I now also do extract batches when I see a kit I like. The other bias is “Liquid yeast is better than dry.” The fact is that liquid yeast has more variety than dry, but the quality of dry yeast has come up a lot.

For the propane burner question… Do you have a pot that can hold 6-7 gallons now? Time how long it takes to come to a boil. When I do my batches, I do 3-gallons, and my kitchen stove takes ~40 minutes to bring it to a boil from mash temps. 2x the volume would take at least 2x the time. So I believe my kitchen stove cannot do a 5 gallon full-boil batch. If you have a nice gas stove the time to boil could be something you can live with. But rule of thumb is yes, a propane is pretty much a requirement for full-boil 5+ gallon batches.

Yea I will test it out over the weekend. I will just fill my pot up with 7 gallons of water and see if I can get it to boil. If not, then I have my answer.

I have a propane grill for cooking in the back yard, and it has a side burner that is made for such applications if need be. I don’t know if anyone ever expected this much weight to be placed on it, but that’s a story for another day. I’m just trying to get my ducks in a row before I start buying equipment like crazy… I’m sure the wife wouldn’t be too pleased if I spent hundreds of dollars on a whim right now.

In terms of gear acquisition…
I started with the basic 5-gallon starter kit. I brewed 5-gal extract batches in my 20-qt stock pot. And fermented in buckets, and eventually added plastic carboys for fermenting & secondary.

From there, I went to 3-gallon all-grain. All I had to add was the cooler that serves as my MLT. My starting volume is about 4-gallons, which I admit gets a bit nerve racking from the position of worrying about boil-over.

A 3-gallon batch CAN be chilled with an ice-bath, but I did eventually buy an immersion chiller, so I can chill it in ~20 minutes. I also have a propane burner that I got during a “Spend a $100, and we’ll send you a Dark Star” sale, but it’s never left the box. I brew all my batches in my kitchen.

I am curious about your negative experience with BIAB vs traditional Mash. Can you add more? My process is somewhere in between the two. I use my cooler as a MLT, but I put the grain in a bag, versus using a false bottom. I get less dead space, and can still press the bag, (or not) at my choosing. I can also crush the bejeezus out of my grain and not worry about a stuck sparge.

In any event, even though our host’s 3-gallon kits are labeled “BIAB kits” you don’t have to Brew them in a bag. They can be made in an old school MLT.

Yes, I already own a 6 gallon carboy, a 1.25 (ish) gallon carboy for small batches, a 5 gallon bucket (for secondary fermenting if needed), and a bottling bucket with an auto siphon as well as a spigot/bottle filler. I also own a 1.5 gallon pot, a 4 (ish) gallon pot, and a 7.5 gallon pot. So, I have the items I would need to brew 5 gallon extract brews, or 1 gallon all grains (or any 3 gallon brews as well). I just don’t think I am ready to spend on a lauter tun, a burner, and possible a mash tun or 10 gallon pot.

I will give you a quick breakdown of what I have found in my brewing experience:

I have done small batch all-grains mostly. I really enjoy this process, it feels like I am “earning” my beers. I like the method, I get to feel hands on. I just don’t like the small yield for roughly the same amount of work, hence the desire to jump to 5 gallon all grains.

I have also done a few 5 gallon extract brews. I am OK with this process, but it feels odd at times. I guess the part where you add the syrupy extract… it just feels “manufactured” at times. I really hope to not offend anyone who loves them, because I know how much work these can be… I know it’s not the easy way out. I just don’t get the same “hands on” feeling, because it feels like I would not be able to do this without buying an entire recipe kit. At least with all grain, I could go to a local brewshop and buy some grain. I am sure you can buy extract there as well, but I just don’t get the same feeling of accomplishment. It feels like I am adding stuff that I have no clue about.

Thus, BiaB is sort of in the middle. You have all the ingredients in front of you, and you sort of know what they all are. However, maybe I was just skewed by the name… it reminded me of kits for other crafts, where you opened the box, and 75% of the work was done for you already. Just drop the bag in water, and wait/stir. Mostly, I just think it’s my personality. I like to feel like I have done the extra work, so that I can enjoy the spoils. I like to do things myself, rather than be handed something with half the work already done for me. Overall, BiaB is not something I hate, I just prefer to do more work and rely less on others. Again, I truly hope none of this offended anyone, and I am sure my perspective is a little wrong. I just feel like BiaB isn’t my jam.

BIAB can be done with your own recipes, instead of a kit, as well. Not being snarky, just saying the only difference between BIAB and building a Mash/Lauter tun is the method you’re using to separate grains from wort.

I totally get where you’re coming from, though. There are a lot of ways to go… Dave around here has posted quite a few times about his stovetop, one third of a five gallon batch method. Heck, I’m thinking about scaling back from 5 gallons to save some heavy lifting and so I’m not stuck with 5 gallons of the same beer all the time.

Are your 1 gallon all grain batches from your own recipe, or kits?

I guess my advice to someone who doesn’t want to go all in is to work with what you have, maybe do 2-3 gallon batches, focus on recipe creation, and avoid buying half-step improvements. A turkey fryer was a big deal for me when I started out, but I eventually upgraded that… I should have started with the nicer setup right away.

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