What is your most valuable piece of equipment?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by timjr2500, Jan 3, 2013.

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  1. ao125

    ao125 Aspirant (243) Dec 1, 2010 Virginia

    In descending order:
    • Wort Chiller
    • Igloo Mash Tun
    • Nexus 7 Tablet
    Next purchase is going to be some equipment so that I can start pulling yeast samples from commercial beers that I really like.
  2. kjyost

    kjyost Meyvn (1,224) May 4, 2008 Canada (MB)

    I don't get what's so tough about a normal siphon. I know I am much more relaxed about uber-sanitation than other people here and I have been known to use my mouth to start the siphon. Since I went to carboys though 90% of my siphoning is started with a carboy cap and me blowing into the carboy through the other vent.

    FYI I have never had an infection that occurred after I siphoned.

    And for the OP: Stirplate & flask. Makes propagation so easy, no more thinking about shaking. Just turn it on and leave it alone.
  3. premierpro

    premierpro Aspirant (266) Mar 21, 2009 Michigan

    I would have to say that keging has saved me alot of time.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  4. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Perhaps it's more about "what's so easy" with an auto siphon?
  5. mjsarch

    mjsarch Initiate (171) Dec 31, 2004 Wisconsin

    My Blichmann brew kettle. It was a substantial investment, but it will last as long as I do, and has made brewing far less hassle. No more boil overs, I can monitor strike water / wort temperature, and run directly into the primary after chilling.
  6. kjyost

    kjyost Meyvn (1,224) May 4, 2008 Canada (MB)

    If I am going to spend $10 it better be better. I have never had to replace my racking cane & hose. It sounds like autosiphons wear out fairly quickly and sometimes don't work. I have never taken more than 5 seconds to start my siphon, so how much easier could this be?
  7. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I would also say my brewing software...which is also a love/hate relationship
  8. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    It's probably "easier" in the sense that you don't need any physics / mechanical knowledge to try to "get" how to use the autosiphon. A complete idiot can look at it and pretty much figure out how to use it instantly. Again, while the regular siphon process is simple to begin with, the auto siphon process is no doubt easier. But when comparing 2 cents of "easy" to 5 cents worth, neither one seems that expensive :slight_smile:

    As for durability, I'm still on my first autosiphon and its been nearly 2 years now.
    FeDUBBELFIST and timjr2500 like this.
  9. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,965) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I was more specific about my autosiphon issues in another thread. My problem is mostly a function of some specific circumstances regarding my usage and were not meant to discount the general utility of autosiphones. Those problems are summarized below, but the main point that I wanted to (and failed to) make in my initial comment is that starting a siphon is just not that difficult, so I am surprised that autosiphon comes to mind as in a thread about the "most valuable" brewing equipment.

    My autosiphon problem: Basically, when I do a small batch, say, half a bucketful, something in the 2-4 gallon range, the autosiphon must pump the liquid higher from the level in the bucket in order to start the siphon. I usually can't get it to work under these conditions. If I have a full 5+ gallon batch, I usually do not have a problem. With a racking cane, I don't have this problem because I can use all the liquid in the tube to do the work of pulling the liquid from the bucket. Part of my problem could be that I do my brewing work in a cellar with a low ceiling. There is not enough clearance from my work surface to the ceiling to get full extension of my autosiphon (I get about 90% full extension). I'm pretty sure if I put my mind to it, I could overcome this problem (in fact, I think I just thought of a way to do so) so I'll quit whining about autosiphons, at least until the one I own breaks.
  10. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Wow whenever I use my autosiphon (regardless of how much or how little wort I'm transferring) I probably use 35-50% extension at most to get the siphon going. Makes me think your problem might possibly have a different source than the level of your wort. You'd know better than me of course but I figured I'd chip in my 2 cents for what its worth.
  11. PoopstainKilla

    PoopstainKilla Initiate (0) Dec 26, 2012 Michigan

    Free used freezer and temp controller I built. Works great. Also when I bought a 15" false bottom for my Keggle Mash tun. Made re-circulating/Lautering a ton easier.
  12. OldSock

    OldSock Zealot (575) Apr 3, 2005 District of Columbia

    Starting a siphon is not THAT hard, but it is an annoyance! If you are holding your finger over the end while it is filled with water you could also be contaminating the wort/beer. I like to pump it in a keg flushed with CO2 before transferring a hoppy beer to minimize oxidation. It's also invaluable for blending, when I might be taking beer from several carboys several times to make different combinations.

    Part of the issue for me is redundancy. I have two mash tuns, two kettles, two chillers, a fermentation/lagering fridge, and a temp controlled room (barrels/bottles, and fermenting ales), I both keg and bottle. Hard to think of any one of those that I couldn't brew without, since I don't use them on every brew. The auto-siphon is probably the only thing that every single batch touches.

    Agreed, never had a problem even with small batches. Might be time for a new auto-siphon? Maybe the seal is going?
  13. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,965) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I was just surprised to see autosiphon mentioned in this thread. Seems like a minor thing to me, but sometimes it's the little things that make life such a big deal. We all have different perspective on brewing and I certainly respect yours.

    FWIW, This IS a new autosiphon; it's not the seals. I had a couple before and had similar problems when racking small batches, and I am convinced it is a matter of physics: energy required to overcome gravity. The hydraulic head of the liquid in the siphon must be raised higher, which requires more energy. If enough liquid doesn't round the hook, it falls back into the delivering vessel rather than initiating flow into the receiving vessel. But like I said, I'm sure the problem is solvable, and simply so, because I'm the only one who encounters it. (More vigorous pumping or quick double pumping? Maybe, but I broke an autisiphon trying to do just that. The incident precipitated my switch to a stainless cane. I reluctantly got the new autosiphon recently on a day that I was bottling several beers, including a bug beer, and was concerned about cross contamination. I use the stainless to rack bug beers, and later sanitize it in boiling water. Probably overkill. Anyhow, my LHBS had no racking canes. I can always repurpose my autosiphon as a plain old plastic racking cane if it comes to that.).

    As for the finger on the siphon hose starting an infection, sure, it could happen, but this is not a very realistic problem. I could avoid the finger stopper with a hose clip. But think about it. Do you handle your tube before you put into the keg or carboy you are siphoning into? Do you touch it? Does it then dangle in the wort or beer that is filling the receiving vessel? The risk of infection is likely very similar. Most of us don't wear sanitized gloves when siphoning. I've only had one batch with obvious infection and it was a bottle infection resulting from forgetting to sanitize my bottles. It very likely happened back when I was using my first autosiphon! My biggest infection fear has more to do with my receding hairline than touching my tubing. How many of my curly graying locks have found their way into my fermenters? Probably should get a hairnet for brewday. Let's speak no more of it.
    Naugled and OldSock like this.
  14. FarmerTed

    FarmerTed Aspirant (218) May 31, 2011 Colorado

    My back. The sob hurts after a brew day, but I need it to get my fermenter from the garage to the chest freezer in the basement.
  15. PoopstainKilla

    PoopstainKilla Initiate (0) Dec 26, 2012 Michigan

    Hey OldSock, I came across your blog over the summer. LOVE to read that! Keep it up. =)
    mathematizer and OldSock like this.
  16. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    My experiences with autosiphons:

    1/2" ones are harder to prime than the 3/8" (but soooo much faster)

    they work better if NOT held vertically...put in almost horizontally and make sure to keep suction below liquid level

    purge yor keg or receiving vessel first and you will not have to worry about introducing oxygen

    store cane and tube separately and occasionally lube with silicone (keg lube)

    last, but not least...avoid them whenever possible by putting spigots on your buckets or using your 6.5 gal bottling bucket as a fermenter.

  17. WeaponTheyFear

    WeaponTheyFear Initiate (0) Mar 9, 2008 Connecticut

  18. kjyost

    kjyost Meyvn (1,224) May 4, 2008 Canada (MB)

    That's what I was referencing when I talked about a carboy cap, except I don't use a filter, I just blow. That said that wouldn't work for racking from a bucket.
    pweis909 likes this.
  19. Oneinchaway

    Oneinchaway Initiate (120) Jun 12, 2011 California

    I actually have a mash tun and all grain system I've used for a year now. Was going to try BIAB this week for the first time to save some time for a smaller batch. Was your efficiency THAT much lower with the BIAB technique?
  20. Spaceloaf

    Spaceloaf Initiate (0) Nov 27, 2008 Oregon

    In my BIAB, I only get around 70% efficiency. I think the main weakness in BIAB is the sparge. There is no elegant way to extract all the extra liquid that the grains soak up (and it usually requires extra equipment whether it's an extra pot or a pulley system to drain the bag; sort of defeats the purpose of being cheap and simple IMHO).

    But if you look at BIAB as a "no-sparge" type of brewing then the efficiency is probably very close to a standard mash-tun approach. For small batches, you probably won't care that much if it's 70% or 80%, but in bigger batches or high gravity beers the weight of the extra grain becomes a limiting factor.
  21. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    I typically got extraction effeciencies in the mid 70's to lower 80's using a no sparge BIAB technique so I beg to differ. Also, I did use an extra bucket to help the draining, but that was certainly cheaper and easier than buying a MLT and HLT, then lautering, sparging, and lautering again.
  22. timjr2500

    timjr2500 Initiate (0) Jul 15, 2012 Texas

    It was about a 15% difference for me, may have just been lack of experience though. I was just using my boil kettle as a mash tun so I was losing a lot of heat/temp control was much more difficult. I also wasn't a huge fan of heating a mesh bag with my beer, I mean I doubt anything would come off of it but the fewer things I can put in my beer the better.

    I probably won't go back to BIAB now that I have a mash tun.
  23. nedvalton

    nedvalton Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2012 Alabama

    boil kettle. it aint hapeing without it
  24. kaips1

    kaips1 Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2011 Kentucky

    mash tun, kettle, bottle tree, auto siphon
  25. mathematizer

    mathematizer Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2006 Maine

    In defense of "auto siphon"...
    For someone just getting into the hobby, the auto siphon made it easy to move liquids... It helped me quickly move sanitizer, water, and wort (secondary to primary for bottling). Now that I have a pot that fits in the sink, moving water is easy. If the autosiphon fails for some reason, I probably will switch to a manual one... Done it before, but not enough to do it like a pro. The auto siphon helped me focus my first few brew days on the rest of the process.

    I expect a few other folks specifying autosiphon are in a similar boat - maybe with a basic set of equipment and a few batches under their belt.
  26. TheMonkfish

    TheMonkfish Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2012 Chad

    For me it's my tall dorm fridge + extension collar + Ebay temp controller. Having a fermentation chamber takes so much of the headache (and worry) out of the process - set it and forget it!
  27. nkeckhar

    nkeckhar Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2010 New York

  28. mountsnow1010

    mountsnow1010 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2009 Vermont

    From what I hear, OldSock is a total noob :stuck_out_tongue:
  29. mathematizer

    mathematizer Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2006 Maine

    Hah! I've learned so much from his site - great resource... inspirational. His defense of the auto siphon is coming from a slightly different angle than mine... Utility and use in all batches... He's got far more projects going on than I do. So his hassle is more with the sheer volume of siphoning he needs to do.

    I'm a bit more focused on the hassle of starting a siphon for a beginner... When there are many other elements of the process vying for attention.
    mountsnow1010 likes this.
  30. Oneinchaway

    Oneinchaway Initiate (120) Jun 12, 2011 California

    If you are ONLY making small batches 5 gallons or less and the ICE bath method isn't bothering you too much. I would DEFINITELY apply your money towards fermentation control. So many wonderful things you can make when you can control your temp.
  31. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,903) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I have used several methods over the years, and since there was no autosiphon when I started brewing, I use a technique I learned from a guy in the club, and is in the Zymurgy Gadgets issue. Use a secion of plastic tube or even copper tube, stick it in the hose, suck on the tube to get the siphon going, pull the tube out and put the hose in the receiving vessel. You mouth never gets near the hose or beer, very easy.
    mathematizer likes this.
  32. joshbrink

    joshbrink Initiate (0) Jan 9, 2012 Alabama

    Exactly what i did, except with electrical tape and a few twist ties! Works perfectly!!
  33. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Disciple (381) Nov 21, 2008 Texas

    The brew stand or my relay box. Brew stand was purchased. I assembled the relay box. I am also proud of my DIY RIMS tube because it was assembled with about $20 in parts and works great.
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