So I created a custom and somewhat cost-effective partial mash system. I'm wondering if what I did is common or if it was my best option. First off, I brew outside on a turkey fryer with a ~7 gal pot. I bought a 2 gal cooler and outfitted it with brass fittings and a colander cut and hammered to form a domed false bottom. I also made a sparge system using an oak plank with a hole drilled in the center fitted with a wort aerator hose attachment. This system allows for ~6 lbs of grain to be mashed. I've used it twice and I'm still developing ways to make it better. So far I've made a coffee stout w/ cacao nibs and vanilla beans (all bottled up and is tasting amazing, save for a bit of a tinge from the roasted grains), and I just brewed an IPA yesterday with fantastic results (if I actually retain anything in this overactive fermenter, I will be transferring to a secondary and adding a big hop blend in a few days). Of course I have other plans for my equipment, and eventually plan to progress into an all-grain system, but I feel like this affords me a great opportunity to learn how to customize my beers.
2 gallon mash tun
Some of my brews and my IPA hop blend
I had other pictures but I don't know what happened to them. This is basically my setup. Questions? Comments? Suggestions?