We were frustrated with our set up the last time we brewed. What annoyed us? Clean hoses on the ground, pump on the ground, unstable set up for our gravity sparge system, and a large amount of water used/wasted to cool our wort were just a few of the things that got under our skin while we worked. So the following purchases were made: Blichmann Top Tier Modular Brewing Stand, a centrifugal Chugger Pump, a sparge arm, a whirpool paddle, and other miscellaneous supplies (tubing, quick connectors, gaskets, etc). Our first brew with the new equipment is detailed here.
The new system still needs to be optimized, but overall it was a fantastic brewing experience. We were able to move almost everything off of the ground with the Blichmann stand, and only needed to re-purpose a patio table for our ice bath. The sparge arm is over-sized for our mash tun, so the only option is to get a larger mash tun! The second pump expands our capabilities to easy adjustment of temperature of the wort to allow for rudimentary temperature program mashes and a more effective mash out. The addition of the second pump also allowed us to recirculate to an ice bath to chill our wort. This significantly reduced our water usage and time to cool the wort to fermentation temperature. The whirlpool paddle was another fantastic investment. The result was a well formed trub cone and bright wort.