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Help with my new equipment purchase!

I am somewhat undecided, I am currently brewing in a 5.5 gallon stainless steel pot and usually boil about 4 gallons of wort in it… needless to say I have gotten more than too close to an overboil. I am thinking about getting a bigger pot keeping in mind that I will eventually move up to full grain, should I get a 10gallon or a 15 gallon. I am looking at the blichmann ones and the price difference doesn’t seem to be that big, still paying an arm and a leg in the end :slight_smile:

Or should I buy a 7cu feet freezer with a digital termperature controller so i can control fermentation temperature better and then dream about the blichmann pot?

Having jumped deep into the hobby from the get-go, I skipped extract and started with all-grain. Having said that, looking back I realize how many dozens of batches could have been much better if I had better fermentation temp control. How are you currently controlling temps? If you’ve got a decent temp control system in place (even if it is just an ice-bath) then I’d go with the bigger kettle.

Keep in mind, though, you can start doing all-grain even in your 5.5g pot, nobody says you have to brew 5 gallon batches. You can make any batch size if you buy the ingredients, or just split a 5g kit in half. I started all-grain with 3 gallon batches, which was awesome because I got to brew a lot and refine my technique before going larger or buying too much equipment.

Kettle size really depends on where you see yourself going with the hobby. Over the years I’ve had 5g, 9g, 15g, and 25g kettles. And believe it or not, I’ve actually experienced a boil-over in the 25 gallon kettle with only 7 gallons of wort! I’ve come to realize that I was brewing too large batches for how much I actually drink, which meant I wasn’t brewing very often, so I’ve scaled back down. I now brew 4.5g batches using the 9g kettle, which is just right for me. So, conventional wisdom says get the larger kettle so you have room to expand, but having been there; you can save a lot of money in the long run if you try to narrow in your preferred brewing technique/practices/batches sizes/etc before you make the investment.

Personally, I’d rather have a variety of different batches over larger batches. But I have some beer-style ADD.If I made a 10 gallon stout I’d be sick of drinking stout before I finished. I like to swap things up, Saison today, Pumpkin Ale tomorrow, IPA after that. I’ve been happy with 5gal batches, but have considered moving to 3; I’ve never thought about 10. Usually by the time I’ve finished 2 cases, I’m done with that beer.

Over Labor Day I finally got my 7.1 cu. ft. Freezer, so obviously I’m an advocate of temp control over larger batches. My first temp-monitored batch has been in primary since then.

Right now my temperature control consists of me putting the carboy in my pantry which seems to be staying at a constant temperature during the winter (69-70), but I can’t fine tune the temp and its also hard to control the temperature during the first stage of fermentation when the yeast creates a lot of heat. I didn’t even bother trying to brew this summer other than a Saison, which needs a higher temperature.

For your kettle size the way I look at it you can boil 2.5 gallons in a 25 gallon pot but try boiling 20 in a 5. Seriously if you ever decide to go to 10 gallons you will be happy you went big on the kettle. If not it is still harder to boil over 5 gallons in a 15. 15 gallon beer kegs make really nice “keggles” and if you can do the work to convert it yourself not expensive.

I went from 5 to 10 then to 20 gallon batches. Having that capacity does make you feel obligated to brew 20 but I still make a 5 gallon on occasion.

In that case I’d go with the temp control first. There’s no sense in brewing larger batches if you can’t ferment appropriately. If you don’t have the money for a fridge right now at least use a water bath; this is what I’ve done for years. During the summer I add icepacks to the bath, and use an aquarium heater during the winter. A large enough water bath avoids temperature fluctuations throughout the day. With this method I’m able to keep my fermenter in a 60-62 degree range regardless of time of year, so I’ve never bothered to upgrade to a fridge.

[quote=“CliffordBrewing”]

In that case I’d go with the temp control first. [/quote]

+1. Controlling ferment temps precisely will improve your beer more than all-grain (assuming you are using fresh extract), full volume boils, or any of that other nonsense. Some may disagree with that statement, but I just judged 18 IPAs/IIPAs and 14 Viennas/Marzens this past Saturday, 80% of which had fermentation issues.

If you are a real scrounger, you can find a chest freezer cheap on eBay. Check out HBT for threads/places to source cheap temp controllers and build yourself, or if you are lazy like me,

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Johnson-Control ... 2eca00ab4c

Your beer will improve, immensely. Many errors in mash temp, hop additions etc will be forgiven by a clean fermentation with enough yeast*

*also consider investing in a stir plate. Brewers make wort, yeast make beer. Happy yeast make better beer.

Why not buy an inexpensive aluminum pot and the chest freezer? Waresdirect.com
http://www.waresdirect.com/category/Restaurant-Supplies/Professional-Cookware7/Stock-Pots44
has 10 gallon aluminum pots for $32 and 15 gallon one for 20 bucks more.

[quote=“Glug Master”]Why not buy an inexpensive aluminum pot and the chest freezer? Waresdirect.com
http://www.waresdirect.com/category/Restaurant-Supplies/Professional-Cookware7/Stock-Pots44
has 10 gallon aluminum pots for $32 and 15 gallon one for 20 bucks more.[/quote]

This. You can trick it out with a weldless valve if you want with a step drill bit.

I have about a $300 budget so I was thinking about buying a brand new GE freezer from Sams club and a 75 dollar Johnson temp controller. You never know with the eBay/craigslist stuff.

As for the aluminum pot… I’m one of those purists that only wants to use SS and glass haha… don’t wanna deal with oxidation issues and other things like that

Thanks for all the feedback! Definitely makes the decision easy now.

[quote=“tszabo86”]I have about a $300 budget so I was thinking about buying a brand new GE freezer from Sams club and a 75 dollar Johnson temp controller. You never know with the eBay/craigslist stuff.

As for the aluminum pot… I’m one of those purists that only wants to use SS and glass haha… don’t wanna deal with oxidation issues and other things like that

Thanks for all the feedback! Definitely makes the decision easy now.[/quote]

Great move. Though I don’t know if your SS snobbery is well-founded :mrgreen:

Make sure to set the AsD on your Johnson Controller to 5 or 10. It will keep the compressor on your slick new freezer from kicking on continually and wearing itself out :cheers:

[quote=“Pietro”][quote=“tszabo86”]I have about a $300 budget so I was thinking about buying a brand new GE freezer from Sams club and a 75 dollar Johnson temp controller. You never know with the eBay/craigslist stuff.

As for the aluminum pot… I’m one of those purists that only wants to use SS and glass haha… don’t wanna deal with oxidation issues and other things like that

Thanks for all the feedback! Definitely makes the decision easy now.[/quote]

Great move. Though I don’t know if your SS snobbery is well-founded :mrgreen:

Make sure to set the AsD on your Johnson Controller to 5 or 10. It will keep the compressor on your slick new freezer from kicking on continually and wearing itself out :cheers: [/quote]

Thanks for the heads up!! Just got the freezer today and the Johnson controller is in the mail, just under the $300 mark :slight_smile: Can’t wait to brew

This probably sounds weird because I don’t know you, but I’m really psyched for you. The taste of an ale fermented at 65*, held steady is just so much better. Not to gas up your expectations. Happy brewing! My first brew with temp control was a cream ale, and man it was tasty.

No disagreement here. Temperature control is essential to make great beer. Of course, other things are essential too…

I know, I can’t wait, still trying to decide what beer to brew next

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