Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Brewing Equipment - Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel (SS) brewing equipment is the dream of all homebrewers, it's shiny, it looks cool and it looks semi-professional, all things that appeal to us brewing geeks. However the major draw back is the cost! All of my all-grain equipment (fermenters, kettle, mash tun) was sourced or made with a total outlay of about €200 (approx. $300). Here is a quick comparison of the costs:

BoilerMaker Brew Kettles, the
Rolls Royce of home brewing.
My kettle is a converted 33 ltr plastic fermentor that has been fitted with two kettle elements, a hop strainer and a tap, this was a DIY project and cost me about €60. An 8g SS kettle with tap, thermometer and false bottom will cost a minimum of €150, the really good ones (like boilermaker) could cost three times this amount.

My mash tun is a converted 28 ltr cool box, I bought this already converted at a cost of about €85. An SS mash tun with tap, thermometer and false bottom starts at about €250.

My fermenters are all plastic, I have both bucket and carboy types, each costing €10-15 each. An SS conical fermenter will cost you in the region of €700-800!

My DIY Kettle.
Living in Ireland adds another layer of cost as these products are not available in Ireland and so you will also be paying to ship them from the US or UK.

The reason for my post on this topic is that I have been considering switching some of my equipment to SS. Initially I think I will look to replace my kettle, I have found a US eBay shop that has 8g SS kettles with thermometer and tap for about €180 (including postage). I will then use my current kettle as a hot liqueur tank (HLT). The next step after this will then be to replace my Mash Tun with SS and then finally (probably in the very distant future) I will look at investing in a SS conical fermenter. All of this is further complicated by the fact that the switch to SS in my boiler will mean that I will also need to invest in a gas burner and some form of stand, as my current set up is all electric.

Whoever said that home brewing was cheap? It may be cheap to get into, but once it has it's talon like claws in you it will drag you down the route of wanting the cool equipment, however it will probably pay for itself in 20-30 brews :-)

For your viewing pleasure here are some links to some shiny brewing equipment:

BoilerMaker Brew Kettles
Hop & Grape SS Mash Tun
Blichmann Conical Fermenters

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