Setting up to do AG brewing

I’ve got my first two batches fermenting. The first was a LME Bavarian hefeweizen from a kit. The second was a Belgian ale kit witch was a LME, DME and a sack of grains for steeping. It seemed to be a little satisfying steeping the grains and so forth. But after the battle stopped and the smoke cleared I felt like I had just rehydrated someone elses kool aid.
So I feel the need to do AG brewing. I’ve been researching it and found I’m not set up for it. It seems getting everything may be more money than my wife can make sense of me spending all at once. So I was wondering if you fine folks have any ideas for a cheap set up and maybe a basic recipe for a limited ingredient American pale ale.
Any advice on this would be much appreciated.

Check out Denny’s Cheap and Easy set up.


That would be great.

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Thank you guys.

Denny’s setup FTW. In real terms, this is what I bought:

Turkey fryer- $40 (I actually did this for extract, but still use it for all grain).

Cooler- $30 (cheap-ish Target special. I held out for a blue one)

Ball valve/toilet line: About thirty dollars, best guess. I splurged on this, getting stainless.

Grain mill: I spent thirty dollars on a corona mill. In hindsight, I wish I’d skipped this and spent a hundred bucks on the Cereal Killer to start. This is technically optional, but it helps when you buy base grain in bulk. Buying in bulk really pays off in savings.

Scale: Another splurge. Fifty dollars on a kitchen scale to weigh bulk grain and bulk hops. You could do this cheaper, but the wife had input on this. We use it for other things. A bathroom scale would work for weighing grain.

Also consider propane, if you don’t have a tank around.

When adding this up, consider the difference in price between an extract kit and buying bulk ingredients and brewing extract. All grain is significantly cheaper. I’m not saying it pays for itself right away, but it won’t take too long.

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This seems very achievable…
Can’t thank you guys enough.
The willingness to share and help around here is great.

I use a 3 kettle brewing system but another option which is very cheap and compact us BIAB (brew in a bag).


Yes Loopie has the idea to kick off yer journey, BIAB. I have all grain equipment that I’ve been using for more than 10 years and lately I tried the BIAB way this past summer and enjoy doing it this way better. Mind you, I won’t be gittin’ rid of my stuff as I may step up to 20 gallon batches and lifting wet grist in excess of 60 pounds, very warm, aint gonna happen! Sneezles61

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+1 to the BIAB suggestion, but if you’re looking to go all grain on the cheap also consider the 3-gallon batch size. Especially if you don’t already have a turkey frier and kettle for outdoor brewing with propane. All you’d really need is the bag. A second pot or a cooler is VERY nice to have, although you can make-do without.

Without buying a propane burner, 3-gallon BIAB All grain batches can be made stovetop with a 20-quart pot; but the threat of boil-over is very real at the beginning, so call that an absolute minimum size. Bigger batches basically require the outdoor burner, and a minimum 8-gallon pot. Bigger is better but $$$

NB also has a (VERY limited) selection of 3-gallon sized kits which you can order pre-crushed, which helps defer the expense of a grain mill. You can also order pre-crushed grain by the pound to assemble your own recipes. Ultimately though you will want to mill your own grain, and buy base malt in uncrushed bulk.

I’m one of those who can’t leave anything alone… I brewed exactly one extract kit to the recipe specifications. The next couple kits, I modified. Then I broke out on my own into doing BIAB partial mashes. The problem was, my brew days got quite long and after fighting it awhile, I kind of burnt out. Too busy with other things and I didn’t look forward to spending an entire day brewing, especially with my hip problems (auto accident).

Now for Christmas, my brother got me a good outdoor burner. So I invested in a new 15 gallon kettle (stainless with a bulkhead fitting, Spike Brewing), copper counterflow chiller and the mash tun setup. I didn’t need to go all out like that, but it’s where I’ve wanted to take my hobby for awhile. As far as scales and whatnot goes, I had all of that from doing partial mashes on the stove. I had bought a postal scale for weighing grains (ebay, IIRC it was around $35), and I was given a kitchen scale (IIRC, walmart around $30). The kitchen scale is a little more precise so I use it for measuring hops.

I ended up buying two coolers, a 72 quart Coleman Extreme from walmart and a 48 quart rubbermaid from Home Depot. Picked up some fittings from a local plumbing supply and put together a mash tun (using Denny’s Cheap and Easy build as a guideline) and put together what I refer to as a Hot Water Tank (HWT). By having the second cooler, I can heat my mash and sparge water using only one kettle. At first I had thought about using my old kettle for heating sparge water but when I discovered that some of my grain bills for doing 11 gallon batches will take 7 gallons of water, well, that doesn’t fit in a 5 gallon kettle very well, kinda wants to spill over all the time instead of staying where it belongs…

Right now I’m working on getting up a couple videos on putting together the coolers. Not sure when I’ll have it up, but I’ll try to remember to mention it. I will say though, the extra investment in equipment has paid off. My last brew day I did an 11 gallon batch in 5 and 1/2 hours, and that included measuring all the ingredients, putting the mash tun together and rigging up the HWT. If I prep the night before and don’t have to work on equipment, I should be able to cut at least an hour out of my brew day. And at the end, I had nothing to clean up, I cleaned as I went. A considerable change from my 8-9 hour brew days plus clean-up!


Lil_Blue_Ford I owe you a big Thank you… I discussed your above post with her… The whole taking more time if I skimped in equipment. So I got the cooler set up and 15 gallon brew pot. Have to wait on a burner. Thanks again…

You’re welcome, glad I could be of help!

I will say though, if you’re brewing on a stove, especially one with a glass top, you’ll want to keep your batches small. From experience, stove top brewing is not nearly as quick for heating large amounts of water as a good outdoor burner. And a lot of weight on a glass top stove can crack it (which will not go over well with the wife!)

As far as burners go, you’ll probably want a good one. Save up and get it. I have the Edelmetall Bru Burner and love it. The Blichman looks to be about the same without the fancy copper trim. The copper trim will discolor, but I care more about durability and function to really care about it discoloring.

As far as a chiller goes, you’ll want one if you don’t already have one. I ended up splurging and buying a copper counterflow chiller, but you could make your own or buy a less expensive counterflow if you wanted to save some money. I set things up to gravity flow my system, I actually use my work truck as a brew sculpture to do it. Throw the heavy duty stage up on the ladder rack for the mash tun, put a bench up there for the HWT. Burner sits on some concrete block in the bed with the kettle, chiller sits on the tailgate, and the fermenters sit on the ground behind the truck. Kind of a redneck setup, but I can gravity flow everything that way. Think out of the box and you’ll likely be able to surprise yourself with finding a way to gravity flow things.

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This is my low budget gravity flow system. It’s handy having 2 burner. They put out 60k BTU, I did have to shop around but finally found them at a farm and home store. After my wort is chilled I drain directly into a Carboy sitting on the ground.

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My gravity flow setup…

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Great creativity… I way over think things for the most part. These set ups are way more practical than the ideas I’ve been rattling around in my head.

I gotta get a burner!
I plan on my first AG batch in two weeks. Can’t wait.

A quick question. If I do a ten gallon batch, would it be better to have a 10 gallon fermenter? Is there any disadvantage to splitting it up into two 5 gallon fermenters?

The advantage of 5 gallon fermenters are 1.portability 2. They will fit in a refrdgertor or freezer fermentation chamber. 3. You can pitch different yeasts yo the same batch 4. Perfect size to rack to a keg. 5. Rack one earlier and let one age of lager. That’s all I can think of now. Oh yea you can clean them in a sink. If you get a big one it should probably be 15 gallons. And you probably need 2 one For a bright tank.


You would actually need a 12 gal+ fermenter for 10 gals., or two 6+. No problem splitting, I use two 6 gal carboys for 10 gal.
A bigger challenge might be chilling and keeping over 10 gals. cool during fermentation.

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This is good news… I have 4 five gallon fermenters… Plus one less thing to buy…

Five gallon fermenters are to small. Sorry