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It was great seeing all the different all-grain rigs and racks in use at the Big Brew Day last weekend. It only made me more determined to move to AG as soon as the wallet and schedule permits.

I found this setup on eBay and was wondering what you think of it?

The shipping cost is pretty steep, but otherwise it seems fairly decent, although I'm wondering if the valves and tubes are properly dimensioned...?

I am of course also considering copycat'ing Martin's or Jeff's setups - simple and efficient, and the price tag sounded very attractive!

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

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Funny thing. I looked at that system myself when I was making the switch. You need to make some other decisions first. I will explain why that system isn't exactly the best for the money.

The biggest decision you need to think of is whether you want to "Batch" or "Fly" sparge.

I batch sparge. In batch sparging, you only need one cooler. In short, you dough in. Let it rest for 60 minutes. Drain the cooler, then add the sparge (rinse) water, stir it up, and drain the second runnings.

Martin Fly Sparges. This requires 2 coolers. One holds the sparge water and one holds the grains. Instead of draining the whole mash tun and refilling with the sparge, you continually add the sparge water as you slowly drain on the "fly".

So to answer your question. If you batch sparge, this is not the system for you. You can actually make a 1 cooler system for like $30-$50 bucks.

If you fly sparge, I don't think the square cooler with a manifold is the best for this. It could cause water channeling in the wort as you fly sparge. This would cause low efficiency rates. I hear round coolers with false bottoms (like Martins) work better for fly sparging.

I'm a nerd and like to build my own system too. It's my favorite part of brewing. Well besides drinking.

Whether to Batch or Fly sparge is a huge war. Everyone thinks theirs is better. Read up and learn yourself and decide. Here are some links.
Batch is better.
^ By the way, that's me sticking my tongue out. That's how I defend that batch sparging is better. No room for debate there.
Though Martins wirly bird fly sparge thing is cool.
That thing was pretty neat.... Okay, I've changed my mind. Fly sparging is better.
I prefer no sparge. Just add 40lbs of grain and use the first runnings. :) Nothing like an OG of 1.10

If you get a chance, listen to this...

Batch Sparging with Denny Conn

I remember the first time I heard this show. I was driving down the NJ turnpike and didn't realize how stressed out I was. As I listened to Denny talk about his brewing technique, I could feel the muscles in my arms and shoulders relax; the color returned to my knuckles as I relaxed the grip I had on the steering wheel. Hearing what he had to stay definitely changed the way I brewed.... and I was already batch sparging. What he made me realize was that I didn't have to obsess over every little detail during the brew.

Denny comes on about 28 minutes into the show but they have some technical diffuculties with the audio so don't really get into it until about 40 minutes in. He begins describing his process around minute 59. Even with all the audio trouble they have during the broadcast, I still think it's one of the Brewing Network's best shows.
That guy's a d*ck. Thanks for sharing, I'll have to listen to it!
Walmart by Oxford Valley mall has these 60qt coolers for sale for $26:

Was thinking of getting one or two today, seems like a decent price and useful for either batch or fly sparging, although Martin's "whirlybird " thing may not be completely suitable.
Just make sure it has a drain on it. I can't tell by that photo.

This is a good article on how to convert it.

This is better for batch sparging. If you want to do fly sparging, using a manifold would be better.
Thanks for the tip and the article. Yup, it does have a spigot, and the price is the best I've seen around (for a while) for 60qt coolers. And as a nice bonus, there are cup holders in the lids!!!

What are your thoughts on fashioning a false bottom. Better choice for either sparging method or not quite worth it?
It is a popular cooler and I bet someone has one premade out there. I batch sparge and have only cooler, so I don't need it.

The one thing I love about homebrewing is engineering your own equipment (at least when I have time). If you can make it yourself, do it. should be a fun project.
































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