What to do next and what’s most important

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Hawkinbrau, Mar 1, 2021.

  1. Hawkinbrau

    Hawkinbrau New Member

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    Hi Brewers,

    So I may be a little keen after my first brew day yesterday but I’m already thinking how to do it better next time.

    My equipment is a 57 Litre (10gal) electric kettle (2.4kw). I’m fermenting in 25 litre buckets with the bubbler airlock. I’m using brew in a bag with an actual bag not basket.

    I’m looking for what to do next, issues from first brew were; where to source sparge water, lifting the bag full of grains and draining/sparging, cooling the wort (no chiller - I took the kettle outside and hosed it down), temperature control between stages.

    I’m quite interested in the idea of recirculating for helping with temperature control, but to buy the pump, hoses and connectors etc seems quite expensive, but not out of reach but is it worth the investment? Maybe there’s other more important improvements that is worth spending money on such as wort chiller or proper fermentation bucket with heat control?

    Can you guys maybe help point me in the best next step and also with my current set up what are the next upgrade priorities that will add the most to my efficiency?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I'd say you need to sort out the things in the order they cause you the most grief. I'm guessing the weight of the grain is a hassle. I use a pulley system anchored to the roof in my garage. It's a life saver for dealing with the grain.

    For sparging, have you considered no sparge? Just put all the water in at once and don't worry about it. It knocks 2-3% off efficiency but it's way easier.

    For cooling, I'd suggest looking at an immersion chiller, I'm told copper works better and I have a Jaded Hydra that works amazing but wasn't cheap. My wife bought it for my birthday 2 years ago.
    Alternately, you could look at no chill like a lot of Aussies do but that involves sourcing fermenters that can handle the heat.

    Biggest thing I'd say is figure out what annoys you the most and deal with it first.
     
  3. Hawkinbrau

    Hawkinbrau New Member

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    Good shout, I’ve just been thinking about this pulley option and I’ve recently bought a boxing bag arm for the wall which I can quite easily attach a rope will wall tie off, so that’s that box ticked.

    I think the chilling was then the next issue as hosing it down was annoying, but I could see how no chill goes.

    I’m just too keen for new toys I think.

    Another quick question - these bubbler air locks, do you ever need to replace the water in them? It’s been fermenting 24hrs and either the water is just displaced across more of the little bubbles or its coming out somehow...
     
  4. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    The toys are awesome, but don't feel you have to rush in.

    An immersion chiller is the easiest and simplest way to chill the beer faster, you just hook it to a tap and run water through it.

    Is it an S shaped bubbler or a 3-piece one with a little cap in it? They evaporate over time but unless it's being sucked back into the fermenter or blown out by trub it should be fairly consistent. As long as there is some water in there stopping whatever it is they stop it's probably fine. I don't use them anymore personally.
     
  5. Hawkinbrau

    Hawkinbrau New Member

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    It’s an S shaped one with little plastic bubble sections and a red cap.

    I’ll have a look at the immersion chillers and see what the damage is like, I like the time saving of chilling quickly as can’t guarantee ill get the time to transfer to ferment or and clean up the following day.
     
  6. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    The Hydra gets it chilled in under 15 minutes for me doing a half assed agitation, but you can get them pretty cheap. Even cheaper if you find one used.

    I think it's just the bubbles throwing you off, as long as there is some water in there I wouldn't stress.
     
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  7. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I would definitely deal with chilling first. The longer it takes to chill the longer your wort is at risk of picking up a wild yeast. The Jaded are probably the best commercially available immersion chillers available, cool the wort down quick. I wouldn't rush into too many gadgets right away. Whatever you are buying have a good reason for buying it. Shiny gadgets won't make better beer.
     
  8. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    You can also make an immersion chiller fairly cheaply as well. But a 25 ft (or even better a 50 ft) coil of 3/8 inch copper tubing from your local plumbing supply store. Wrap the coil around a gallon paint can or similar cylindrical form. Carefully bend the ends (use a pipe bender if you have one). Then clamp hi-temp tubing to the ends and on one attach a garden hose connector.
     
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  9. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Yeah that's what I meant by them being cheap. Jaded ones are nice but not cheap.
     
  10. SabreSteve

    SabreSteve Well-Known Member

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    What kind of bag do you use? I've used 2 different bags and my mesh one is heavy but I can manage it. Had a cheese cloth one and I couldn't hold it long enough to drain the bulk of the wort because it drains much slower and holds on much more liquid. I'm in my kitchen and I rent so I don't really have any way to rig up a pulley system or a hook to drain the bag from so once the draining slows down and I've given it a few good squeezes I put it in a colander in a smaller kettle and let it continue to drain and I'll keep adding that back till I hit my target volume. If I think I'm going to come in under I'll even heat up another gallon and pour it back through the grains, then if I need/want to top up the fermenter I'll use that water.

    Toys are fun and I love my immersion chiller but I did several brews just fine without it. Have you considered using an ice bath? Not as quick as the chiller but it'll do the job. The hardest part is making and storing the ice if you don't have an ice maker, and I don't. I only have a couple ice cube trays so it used to take me a couple weeks to bag up enough ice. All you need is a sink (or bathtub) large enough for your kettle. I learned that if you don't want to eat through your ice that you should start with cold water and just keep changing it out out till below 150F then drain and add your ice. You can either stir the wort or gently move your kettle through the sink to facilitate cooling. For 5 gallon batches it typically takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to chill that way. Immersion chiller easily cuts that in half but you might want to hold off on the toys. Less to sell if you decide to call it quits after just a few brews. I also capitalized when I was ready to upgrade by putting all my brewing stuff on my Christmas list. Didn't pay a cent for my wort chiller or 6 gallon fermonster and only paid like 1/3 out of pocket for my 10 gallon bayou classic kettle. You might find your significant other much more excited about you getting new equipment when you're not paying for all of it
     
  11. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    Oh I'd love to buy a Jaded Hydra! Looks like they sell DIY kits now.
     
  12. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Oh that would be cool to do for cheaper.
     
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  13. Hawkinbrau

    Hawkinbrau New Member

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    I’ve seen that but they still want $120 to ship to the uk so seems a bit too much for what it is unfortunately as they do seem amazing!
     
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  14. Hawkinbrau

    Hawkinbrau New Member

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    It’s a polyester brew bag, it’s not too bad but just wet and heavy kept slipping, very hard with just one pair especially as I was trying to spare while lifting it which may have been the wrong idea...

    Well I did clear out my garage and sold some stuff so that’s like free money right haha! Would you say copper is the best chiller option?
     
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  15. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    They say it is, I'm not sure it really matters for our purposes. I know it's a lot easier to manipulate than stainless for making your own chiller.
     
  16. SabreSteve

    SabreSteve Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I don't sparge. I do squeeze the heck out of that bag though. I feel though that if you're going to do BIAB you might as well do full volume mashes.
    I have a stainless steel chiller and I'm not sure if there's any advantage or disadvantage to that or copper but someone else might know better
     
  17. Hawkinbrau

    Hawkinbrau New Member

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    Fair enough thanks everyone for there help so far think I’ll invest in a SS chiller seem cheaper in uk and honestly just look a bit cleaner (exception of course to jaded - but I’m not paying that much at this stage).

    Going to buy some rubber gloves for squeezing that bag too man was that hot!

    My next beer is a fest bier I’m very excited!
     
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  18. SabreSteve

    SabreSteve Well-Known Member

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    I use (clean) grill tongs for that...
    Whatever works though, that's all that matters
     
  19. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Look up "beer n bbq by larry" he has a video on making a chiller. I made my own, 100 feet of 3/8" copper tubing, two flow paths going in opposite directions. Chills 5 gallons from boiling to 20C in about 5 minutes. Last brew I didn't even fill 4 buckets of water.
    It is in this thread
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/threads/show-me-your-diy-immersion-chiller.13805/
     
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  20. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Buy a honking big colander and let gravity do the work! When I do BIAB, that's how I drain the bag...
     

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