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Going All Grain. Multiple Pots or Cooler setup?

Right now I have a blickman burner, 9 gallon plain thick SS brew kettle and a 5 gallon thin cheapo kettle.

Its time to go all grain however my friends are steering me towards the 3 pot method and multiple burners and the cooler method seems a LOT easier with more consistent results.

I’d like to get some more opinions before I go one way or the other.

Least amount of equipment for AG = kettle, burner, nylon bags for grain (mash in a bag method), but handling more than about 10# of grain is a PITA. Easiest method for producing anything more than five gallons of wort = cooler, burner, boil kettle, hot water kettle (batch-sparging).

[quote=“Shadetree”] Easiest method for producing anything more than five gallons of wort = cooler, burner, boil kettle, hot water kettle (batch-sparging).[/quote]I agree, sounds like you have all you need to start batch sparging
http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/
, sans the cooler. Later on if you decide you want to go with the 3 kettle/burner setup you can always upgrade. I’ve been batch sparging for over 6 years, it’s worked great for me.

No need for an extra kettle for sparge water. Heat it in you boil kettle and then dump it into your bottling bucket. :wink:

I agree with this, if you really want to go commando. That 5gal pot will let you stick a thumb in the eye of those three tiered/three burnered lotus eaters.

Provided you have a filter on your primary vessel and a bucket to catch the wort, you have more than enough hardware. With your awesome kettle/MLT, that 5 gallon pot, and a kitchen stove, you can do any mash schedule you like.

Ideally, though, a cooler is a much more efficient option. It has worked for me, and it has worked for us all. Odds are, it’ll work for you too. :cheers:

Yup. My first AG set up was three buckets. Upgrades slowly come and next thing you know 15 gal batches.

I would pick up a cheap turkey fryer burner for your HLT kettle and use a cooler for a MT.

I think I may have been misunderstood.

Heat the mash water in your boil pot. Dump in your cooler. Heat sprage water in the boil pot. When ready to sparge dump that in your bottling buck. Drain 1st runnings. Then dump the bottling bucket water in the cooler. Drain.

No need for 2 pots to heat water in.

:cheers:

[quote=“Nighthawk”]I think I may have been misunderstood.

Heat the mash water in your boil pot. Dump in your cooler. Heat sprage water in the boil pot. When ready to sparge dump that in your bottling buck. Drain 1st runnings. Then dump the bottling bucket water in the cooler. Drain.

No need for 2 pots to heat water in.

:cheers: [/quote]

Sorry Nighthawk, I thought you were suggesting a two vessel system sans cooler, I thought that was pretty cool. It is do-able, but as you suggest, a cooler is a much better way to skin the cat.

What’s a “bottling bucket”? :wink: But yeah, you could use a bucket instead of a second kettle.

What’s a “bottling bucket”?

A bucket with a spigot.

[quote=“fimbrew”]What’s a “bottling bucket”?

A bucket with a spigot.[/quote]

Hey fimbrew - just an FYI, Shadetree was being sarcastic about questioning what a bottling bucket is. I’m sure he kegs all or 98% of the beers he brews.
Just an FYI. Since you are newer here, you’ll notice many people use sarcasem. OFTEN. :cheers:

I got the cooler system, and I wish I hadn’t. I spent around $700 for two coolers , valves, and the boil kettle. From what I’ve seen, the converted kegs are cheaper and more versatile. I’d go for those if I had it to do over again, and I’d start out by batch sparging so I only needed two.

[quote=“abrown001”]I got the cooler system, and I wish I hadn’t. I spent around $700 for two coolers , valves, and the boil kettle. [/quote] :shock: $700, really? I picked up a Coleman Extreme cooler for $35, a 15 gallon pot for $61+$20 to have a nipple welded in and around $15 for the valve, fittings and toilet braid.

I have been using two keggles (HLT and BK) with a 10 gal Igott style cooler that I converted with a stainless mesh. I just received my new 15" false bottom and am working on converting another keg to use as my MLT. This will give me a whole lot more space for grain/water but I will lose more heat (I’ll probably wrap it in insulation and run a HERMS setup).

If you are just starting out, you could do brew in a bag or cooler. I personally think the cooler setup is easier and holds the temps perfectly. If I wasn’t upgrading to HERMS system, I’d continue to use my cooler. The only downside of a cooler is that you cannot direct fire it but if done properly, you should only lose 1 degree or less over an hour.

My 1 kettle 2 cooler method is:

Heat mash water in kettle, dump in mash cooler.

While mash is going, heat sparge water and dump into a separate cooler(retains heat better than a bottling bucket)

Then drain mash into kettle, start heating water for boil while sparing(dump full separate cooler into mash cooler).

I’m a cheap-o, but this is just another method to brew AG wort without breaking the bank.

See www.dennybrew.com for the “Cheap’n’Easy” system.

For our AG setup we went the route of one seven gallon boil pot and two ten gallon coolers, one for the mash and one for water for fly sparging. Turns out fly sparging is more of a pain in the ass than we want to deal with for now so we just batch sparge and dump water from another boiled pot into the first cooler. Could have saved some money had we known this but it all depends on what way you want to do this.

I ended up getting the 10 gallon AG system for XMAS early. I was planning on making my first batch today but the temps are in the teens. Hopefully tomorrow. I need to be able to drain water in to my yard and not make an icerink. supposed to be 41 tomorrow.

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