Kit recommendation

Postby PeddlerAndGroom » Mon Apr 10, 2017 09:43

Morning brewers,

I'm both new to this forum and to the world of brewing. I'm looking to purchase an all grain starter kit, something similar to the all grain kit on the brew shops site (post won't allow me to share the link). For £300 the kit includes:

Kit Contents
• Brew your Own British Real Ale Book
• Thorn Electric Boiler
• Insulated Mash Tun
• Wort Chiller
• Digital Thermometer
• LCD Thermometer
• Brupaks London Bitter Mash kit
• Paddle
• 30 ltr Fermenting Bin
• Airlock
• Hydrometer
• Steriliser VWP 400g
• 5 gallon Pin Valve Barrel
• Co2 Bulbs and Holder

I was wondering if any of you had recommendations of where and what to buy. My budget is around £300 but could push to £350. Being a total beginner I want to avoid buying individual components and start with kit form.

Many thanks in advance,
Richard.
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby Rolfster » Mon Apr 10, 2017 14:11

Have you considered making your own stuff?
Some of it is a bit daunting. Like cutting holes in stainless pots, but it's not so difficult.
And some of it is really easy, like making your own immersion chiller.

Just a thought!
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby sledgehammer » Mon Apr 10, 2017 14:38

you don't have to start with expencive flashy stainless kit i would begin with some plastic home made kit to start with see how you get on find out what you really need (and don't need) and work from there
i have a 3 vessle system but you can use a single and do everything in one pot (as i started) some use two
i started with plastic and have expanded it but not seen any advantage (for myself) in investing in stainless kit

Steve
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby Rolfster » Mon Apr 10, 2017 14:59

sledgehammer wrote:you don't have to start with expencive flashy stainless kit i would begin with some plastic home made kit to start with see how you get on find out what you really need (and don't need) and work from there
i have a 3 vessle system but you can use a single and do everything in one pot (as i started) some use two
i started with plastic and have expanded it but not seen any advantage (for myself) in investing in stainless kit

Steve


I did think that I should suggest making a cheap plastic set up! I've heard of people putting elements in plastic fermenters and using these for boilers.
You might want to Google biab as well. It's a less equipment heavy all grain way of brewing.
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby PhatFil » Mon Apr 10, 2017 15:00

Welcome and enjoy..

if at all diy inclined and feel confident wring a plug and tightening a compression joint nut then diy brewery building is a straight forward sunday afternoon job.

with £300-£350 budget you could make a nice shiny stockpot/thermopot 3v system 50/30/50, (buy pots direct from germany) use budget kettle elements and brass plumbing fittings for drainage etc and you should have some (not a lot) cash left for ingredients .. there are also the brewdog or ace microbrewery options kettle rims machines that have a small footprint and a growing fanbase.. fwiw i brew with a grainfather these days.

However as ive read forum posts over the years i have come to the conclusion there are as many variances on a brewday as there are brewers, And imho the best way to sus out just how you would prefer to brew is to start off with a minimal biab brewkit (boil kettle and grain bag) and after you have a couple of brews under your belt and the proceedure isnt at all daunting any more you will have a very clear picture of just what (IF ANY) extra equipment would improve your brewday experience and have a good positive impact on your product.


However i would strongly suggest you brew a few kits first. the skills needed to brew a kit are crucial to brewing a successful AG brew. After 10 minutes of brewing a kit you will be at a similar stage to an AG brewer 5hours plus into his brewday. The cleaning routines and sanitation procedures on the cold side of brewing are crucial to success, fail to rinse off a bleach based sanitiser 3 times and you will probably end up with 40 pints of tcp tasting beer.

ps when it comes to cleaning and sanitation a lot of use use generic unscented laundry oxi at a rate of 1-2 scoops per 5gallons or so of warm water as an excellant soap and detergent free soak off everything cleaner, and while a £10-£15 outlay on an acid based no rise sanitiser such as starsan may seem expensive but its a few years worth of sanitiser AND the time it saves on rinsing is HUGE!!
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby rpt » Mon Apr 10, 2017 16:34

I'd also recommend doing a couple of kits before going all grain. It lets you get the sanitation, fermentation and packaging sorted before the complication of all-grain. Instead of VWP I use cheap oxy clean to clean and then Starsan for sanitising. It's no-rinse and easy to use. I've not used the pressure barrels as I've heard too many bad stories about them leaking - I started with bottles and now have a pub-style keg system.

When you move to all-grain, I'd suggest BIAB (brew in a bag). Instead of a separate mash tun you use a voile bag in your boiler. It requires less kit and shortens the brew day as there is no need for a separate sparge step. I also don't use a wort chiller but use a no-chill cube. This involves storing the boiling hot wort in an HDPE jerry can (£7 delivered off eBay) and allowing it to cool overnight. I've done over 60 brews the BIAB/no-chill method and would definitely recommend it.

One of the most important things to get right in brewing is fermentation temperature control. The favourite method is to use a fridge and tube heater with a temperature controller. You might struggle to get a 30L FV (fermentation vessel) in a fridge so you might need to consider a 25L. I'd suggest the money saved by not buying a mash tun or wort chiller would be better spent on getting temperature control sorted.

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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby Rolfster » Mon Apr 10, 2017 19:30

Phatfil and rpt both give excellent advice!

If it doesn't make sense ask! I fear we have strayed a little from the original question with good meaning advice.
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby PeddlerAndGroom » Mon Apr 10, 2017 19:52

All good advise guys, greatly appreciated.

I am tempted by the diy option. We have a book 'brew' by James Morton which seems fairly informative. I'll do some more research before committing.

If i were to do a few kits first before going all grain would i then need more kit for AG?

Many thanks,
Richard.
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby rpt » Mon Apr 10, 2017 21:18

PeddlerAndGroom wrote:If i were to do a few kits first before going all grain would i then need more kit for AG?

Yes. For a kit you only need a fermenting vessel and a means to package the beer. To do AG you then need to add a boiler + mash tun/BIAB bag + chiller/no-chill cube.

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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby Dennis King » Mon Apr 10, 2017 22:01

Where in the country do you live? Brewers tend to upgrade bits as they develop and will sell on redundant kit. There may be brewers in your area.
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby PeddlerAndGroom » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:01

Morning Dennis,

We're in Eglwysbach, North Wales (sits between Conwy and Betws-y-Coed).
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby sledgehammer » Tue Apr 11, 2017 16:39

i'm mid wales at the base of the black mountains
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby PeddlerAndGroom » Thu Apr 13, 2017 07:11

Thanks for all the advice. If purchased some cheap kit off Amazon which should arrive today which i'll supplement with some DIY items. I've taken your advice and gone for a basic set up initially before progressing onto the all grain.
Thanks for all the helpful advise and look forward to sharing my experiences with you soon (after a considerable amount of more questions!).

Enjoy your Easter bank holidays!
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby PhatFil » Thu Apr 13, 2017 08:59

the basic equipment needed to brew a kit can be supplemented by kitchen tools like jugs big spoons and scales to start with, the crucial bits are:
1) a brew bucket
2) thermometer
3) Hydrometer/jar, YES CRUCIAL!!!!
4) siphon tube
5) bottles, PB, cask or keg

in addition you will need cleaning and sanitation products.

get and USE a hydrometer, take a starting gravity reading before the yeast go in as a zero alcohol base line. ITS THE ONLY SURE FIRE WAY TO JUDGE PROGRESS!!
your brews may well bubble away noisily but not all do, and with the quiet ones a gravity reading is the only way you can tell its brewing..

enjoy both brewing and the results ;)
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Re: Kit recommendation

Postby PeddlerAndGroom » Thu Apr 13, 2017 19:12

Thanks PhatFil. I've got most of the items in your list, the rest i'll order this weekend.

Great advice re gravity reading before yeasting, i'll definitely be doing this!
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