Author Topic: 2 Fives or 1 Ten?  (Read 5540 times)

Offline Imaarc

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2 Fives or 1 Ten?
« on: April 28, 2014, 10:02:47 PM »
My friend and I have been brewing 5 gallon batches and are now beginning to talk about bigger batches because we're starting to make some darn good brew...and frankly, we just don't have enough to drink and hand out to our friends.
The question is though, do we go buy another 8 gallon brew pot and just do two 5 gallon pots when we want to make a ten gallon batch? Or do we just go big and buy a 15 gallon pot so we can do it all in one? There are all sorts of questions that come up for both options, but I'm curious if anyone has had this dilemma and what your thoughts are?

Offline jtoots

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Re: 2 Fives or 1 Ten?
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2014, 09:31:30 AM »
I just made my move on this issue and went all grain at the same time... bought a 15 gallon Megapot and a 10 gallon mash tun.  boo ya!  :P

Offline all grain

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Re: 2 Fives or 1 Ten?
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2014, 09:56:30 AM »
if you stick to two pots you can split the mashes and do 2 beers with different hops, yeast, and boil times.
then again, you could just go all in and go with  three pots, man I have got to buy more lottery tickets.
both options have there benefits.   
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Offline Imaarc

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Re: 2 Fives or 1 Ten?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014, 02:34:41 PM »
Yeah, we like the idea of splitting the batches. If we get a 15 gallon pot we can do a 10 gal (work on our replication of good batches) and a 5 gallon (try a new batch). If we wanted to do two five gallon batches we could do that as well. I'm just wondering about any downfalls. Anyone out there have any regrets about either way? Efficiency, etc?

 

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: 2 Fives or 1 Ten?
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2014, 03:03:19 AM »
If I were going to be doing a lot of 10 gallon batches, I'd opt for even larger than 15 gallons.  You won't regret having the extra room in the boil pot.  For example, I have a 15 gallon pot and when I do a ten gallon pot, I'm up close to 13 gallons or more at the start of the boil.  I've come very close to boiling over!  If I had it all to do over again, I'd have went with the 19 gallon pot, instead of the 15 gallon pot that my wallet talked me out of.
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Offline tom_hampton

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Re: 2 Fives or 1 Ten?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2014, 06:17:23 AM »
Scott is right. To have complete freedom to brew any beer your equipment needs to have twice the volume of your batch size. Both your mash tun and kettle. 

A 10 gallon barleywine will need about 40 lbs of grain and consume 60+ qty of mash tun space.

As Scott pointed out, your pre boil volume on a 10 gallon batch will be close to 15 gallons. So, boil over will be a risk with a 15 gallon pot. 20 gallons is a much better size, because boil over becomes a non issue. 

Doing 5 gallon batches with this setup may be a problem, though. A standard 5 gallon batch will only use less than 1/4 if the volume.  You will probably have trouble holding heat in the mash. In the boil you will have a very shallow boil with lots of exposed surface area. This will increase Boiloff rate substantially, and make it difficult to control. 

The alternative is to compromise on the 10 gallon setup (keep it smaller, like you have specified).  But, then you have to realize that 10 gallon batches above an OG of 1.080 will be difficult or impossible without more equipment.  But, you can make a 5 gallon batch of anything. 

So, you kind of need to decide which batch size is more important to you. Then size your equipment so that batch size is easy to brew. No one wants to fight their equipment every brew day.

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Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: 2 Fives or 1 Ten?
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2014, 02:43:34 PM »
As Tom states, flexibility is an advantage.  He also states that in addition to being flexible, it is advantageous to have your main brewing equipment sized to your most common batch size.

I like being flexible with my mash, so I went with a 48 quart coleman cooler.  This is a perfect size for my 5 gallon batches, no matter what my SG is.  I have enough room to just barely hold my 11% Barley Wine or Russian Imperial Stout mashes, but it's not so big that I can't do a 1.040 or less session batch.  I have no trouble holding mash temperature on the high starting gravity batches.  I have a little trouble holding mash temp on session brews, because there is so much empty space.  I'll drop maybe 4 F during mash on my session brews.  I wrap a sleeping bag around my cooler on session brews and that allows my mash tun to hold temp.

To make 10 gallon, 15 gallon or 20 gallon batches, I have a second coleman cooler mash tun set up in series with the first one.  This basically gives me the equivalent of a 24 gallon mash tun!

For boil pots, I have a ten gallon and a fifteen gallon pot.  I haven't done a 15 or a 20 gallon batch yet.  I have done quite a few 10 gallon batches though.  On 10 gallon batches I have the option of splitting it into two 5 gallon batches between the two pots and boiling separately or boiling them all in the 15 gallon pot.  The 15 gallon pot is a tight fit at the beginning of the boil for a 10 gallon batch, but it works.  I wish it were a little bigger only 2 or three times a year.

Here are two photos of my mash tun set up.  I was draining into the fermenter, because I was making 10 gallons of wort and was going to boil them separately with different hops.  I mashed in both the top and bottom mash tuns with identical grain bills.  I brought both mash tuns up to 170F, by draining out wort and boiling and adding back in.  Then I drained down through both mash tuns, with all my sparge water going into the top mash tun.  These photos were taken when I was measuring out the first 7.25 gallons (boil volume).  I then put another fermenter down and sparged to get 7.25 gallons again.  I then blended them back and forth until the gravities were identical.

You can see how flexible this system is.  I can make two completely different beers at the same time.  I can make a 5 or 10 gallon batch in one mash tun, but a 10 gallon batch in one mash tun has to be 1.050 or less starting gravity.  I can make any starting gravity that I want to make, because of the extra room I have with 96 quarts of mash tun space.

I can mash them both at the same time.  Boil them at the same time.  The only things I can't do at the same time is chill and aerate.  I have only one chiller and one aquarium pump.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2014, 02:48:46 PM by Scott Ickes »
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline Imaarc

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Re: 2 Fives or 1 Ten?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2014, 10:59:23 PM »
Thank you so much for the replies! Excellent information. And thank you for taking the time to write, post pix and explain all different facets of this type of decision. It really is critical for us to figure this out carefully. Much of it having to do with the monetary investment, but really in essence of being able to continue brewing fine beer, exactly as we like it. Brewing two batches is exactly an option we are after. It'd be nice have a 10 gal batch brewing of one of our consistent batches while experimenting on a new 5 gal batch. Or brewing two 5's  for a doubley experimental day!

Thank you again. I love that I can hop on this forum and get replies from a brotherhood of great brewers.