I’m getting ready to make the leap into all grain brewing and am pretty excited, but I want to do it right. I don’t want to buy things to turn around a few batches down the road and wish I had bought something else. So I want to either make sure the things I buy now will work for future upgrades. A couple of key things to keep in mind is that I am doing 5 gallon batches now, but might want to do 10 gallon batches in the future. Also, I like high gravity brews which requires more grain to get the more sugars, so again I need to think about the volume capability of the upgrades.
Key Items for all grain brewing
- Hot Liquid Tank – HLT
- Propane or Electric Burner
- Mash/Lauder Tun – MLT
- Mash Paddle
- Kettle / brew pot
To get into all grain brewing from what I have now (see my tools here) I will need to get a mash/lauder tun (MLT), a mash paddle, and a large kettle. I’ll explain my logic as I go through each one.
Hot Liquid Tank – HLT
A HLT is a fancy brewers way of saying a pot or kettle for heating water. The hot water here will go into the MLT. I have an existing 5G stainless steel pot which will be sufficient for 5G batches. For 10G batches I’ll need a large pot, but my plan will be to buy a larger pot when time comes for this. At the very least I’m not buying something now that won’t be used later.
Propane or Electric Burner
I have an existing 38,000 BTU burner from the turkey fryer kit I bought to get into home brewing. From my calculations my burner should be good for batches up to ….TBD
To eventually do a 10G batch I have calculated that I’ll need about a TBD burner.
Since a MLT isn’t needed for extract brewing I don’t have any existing equipment and will have to buy something new. Seems like when someone gets into a really fancy brewing setup the MLT is a stainless steel pot, but many successful and far cheaper options use a converted cooled as they can easily be converted into an MLT and are fairly inexpensive. Additionally, MLTs can be made for fly sparging or batch sparging. I’m going to plan to do batch sparging as it seems this is relatively foolproof and the advantages for fly sparging aren’t too great. I want to be sure that the MLT that I end up with will be good for 5G batches now and 10G batches in the future.
A high gravity (barleywine) 10G batch will have 45lbs amount of grain and at most 27.25 gal of water in the MLT at one time. Remember the space in lid usually counts as part of the volume for a cooler so plan for a slightly larger cooler. From this I get a cooler size with at least 94qt of internal space. Well a 100qt coleman extreme cooler is going to only have about 80.25qt of internal space, but I figure I won’t be making any 10G batches of barelywine and will call it good. Also, many poeple have recommended that a 70 qt (17.5G) is good for up to 10G batches. The coleman extreme cooler comes highly recommended since it has a drain groove through the bottom. With this cooler in mind a 5G batch will have a volume of 18 qt. So with that in mind a 70-100qt cooler should be good into the future.
So I received a 100qt coleman extereme cooler for my birthday, but I have some questions about it as it isn’t as I thought it would be. Read more on the Home Brew Talk Forums.
I’ll need a mash paddle. I’ve read to use a hardwoord such as maple makes a good paddle. Also, when making the paddle drill/cut good size holes in it to break up the dough balls well.
As I mentioned below I’m planning to use my existing kettle 7.5G kettle to become my HLT and then will purchase a new kettle. Since I want to to small brewing upgrades without having to discard things in the future I’m planning to buy a kettle that will work for 5G and 10G batches, but to save money now I’m going to pass on any of the extra gizmos (thermometers, valves, sight tubes) for now.
Other posts suggest that a 80 qt (20G) stainless steel pot/kettle can do 10G batches.
In my quest to selecting a kettle I asked for some help with the selection criteria on homebrewtalk.com forums (here).