Where to Start?

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Where to Start?

Postby brewhaha » Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:40 pm

Ok, so I want to start by gathering my needed equipment for my first brew.
What is the general consensus for brewing pots, aluminum or stainless?
I have an old 30 qt aluminum gumbo pot, it is very well used. Will a pot like this influence the flavor of the beer? Also I do not have a lid for this pot is that critical?

I found a kit on line by Brewer's Best it comes with an extensive list of equipment. Is this a good kit company, do any club members have any experience with their products? Are Brewer's Best kits available from Marcello's or do we need to look online? Additionally, does the club have an equipment library to loan out items to newbees?

Thanks,
Bob
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Postby Mob_Barley » Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:49 am

Let's see, first off is using aluminum pots. The consensus is that they are alright as long as you don't use an acidic or caustic cleaner which will corrode the aluminum oxide coating which basically protects the pot. Some say it's alright as long as you only rinse the pot thus leaving the oxide layer in tact. An acidic wort may leach some metallic flavors in the beer so you have to keep an eye on the pH of the wort and don't let it get below 4. You don't need a lid except to cover the pot when chilling the wort. You can use just about anything else, a towel for example, to keep the little beasties from getting into the wort while you stir or recirc through an immersion chiller.

There is also a lot of controversy about Old Timer's disease and aluminum in the diet. Most homebrewers start out by buying a stainless turkey frying setup from Walmart. The only problem there is that it usually only holds about 9 gallons and that means you will have to watch your pot closely for boil-overs. That said, I have an extra stainless turkey frying pot you can use till you can get one of your own. Let me know.

It's always best to buy from your local homebrew shop when possible. Kevin at Marcellos only stocks the good stuff. I'm not sure what he has in stock as far as a beginning set-up. Here is a page I wrote about beginning extract equipment.

http://www.winning-homebrew.com/Extract-Systems.html

Take a look at that and see what you already have, gather those pieces up and then take a look at this page on all grain systems:

http://www.winning-homebrew.com/All-Grain-Systems.html

Most of us started with coolers, and in fact I still brew with 10 gallon Gott coolers. Many have graduated up to full blown mini-breweries using converted kegs and digital automation controls. Save that for later. Find a couple of cheap 10 gallon coolers and either make your own or buy the conversion kit. You can also make a slotted pvc or copper manifold or a braided stainless hose to use in place of a false bottom. Many people have great luck with the braided hose. If you need instructions on how to make the manifold or hose for the mash tun, put a post here and you should be able to get quite a few answers and possibly someone to help you.

Keep us informed on your progress and what you still need, maybe someone has extra equipment lying around they'd sell or lend.

Good luck and welcome to the club.

Mob Barley
"Reality is an illusion caused by a lack of good beer."
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Postby aleguy » Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:21 am

You can use your old gumbo pot to make beer if you want to, just don't give me any of it. Honestly, stainless is the only way to go, and 30 gallons is a bit large for starting up with. I used a 7 1/2 gallon pot for years with no problems so a 9-gallon turkey fryer will probably be just fine. Kevin does sell starter kits with everything you need except kettle and sanitizer. He also sells extract kits, which are a good way to get started.
When you are ready to step up to all-grain, a picnic cooler works just fine. You don't need one of those round beverage coolers. In fact I would recommend against one. Several members have had problems with them that just don't affect the rectangular tuns. I currently use a 48-quart rubbermaid cooler with a copper slotted-pipe manifold that I made myself and have only had problems when I put a lot of gooey sticky stuff in the mash. (pumpkin.)
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Postby yeastmeister » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:09 pm

I've used aluminum before with no aftertaste for one of our club brews just to prove to people it could be done. A lid is not necessary. Aleguy apparently read your numbers wrong, so your 30qt aluminum pot measures the same as the 7.5 gallon pot he used for years. Its definitely something that you can use to get started. I have a 9 gallon kettle (with spigot attached), and an immersion chiller that I loan out to people to get started. Budrock and Firstbeer used it for a couple of batches to get started. Your pot will work fine, but one with a spigot and a chiller will make things a little easier.

If you use yours, you just need to get a bucket to sit the kettle in after the boil and run cold water around the outside till it cools. At that point, you will want a lid of some sort, but you can just cover it with aluminum foil. Then you can use the siphon that comes in the kit to transfer it to the fermenter.

A kettle, burner, a brew kit, and an ingredient kit is all you need. The stuff Kevin at Marcellos sells is nice stuff, and your a member of the beer club. Mention that at checkout, and you get a 10% discount on brewing supplies and ingredients. You can walk out of Marcellos with 2 boxes and use your kettle and be ready to go.

Let us know, and if you want, we will try have one or 2 of us show up for your first brew to help you out.
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