Friday, February 7, 2014

Brewery history

Here is history of the brewery and it's current status. I've been brewing since 2008 and I was reading a friends blog and it occurred to me I've done a lot of design work in the brewery. I wanted to capture it here.

System 1:
Kitchen with electric stove doing 5 gallon extract batch with 7.5 gallon pot. This lasted for 1 batch since the stove couldn’t produce enough heat to get a rolling boil.

System 2:
Outside turkey fryer doing 5 gallon extract batch with 7.5 gallon pot. This lasted 1 batch because I wanted to go all grain.

System 3:
Outside turkey fryer and a cooler mash tun to do all grain. Works ok. I wanted to be able to heat my mash tun and wanted a larger pot to prevent boilovers.

System 4:
Outside turkey fryer with converted kegs. Works better. Lifting heavy kegs with no pumps.

System 5:
Brutus clone without automation and with regular turkey fryer burners. I liked the single tier but the burners weren't great. This system lasts a while in this configuration. Brew outside in the weather. Wind affects boil off. Uses a lot of propane and temperature affect propane. Brutus was setup as a direct fire RIMS system. Then I converted the HLT and was able to use Brutus as HERMS system. HERMS was harder to control mash temperature due to the weather.

System 6:
I bought a used gravity top tier at a price I couldn't pass up. I liked the burners but I missed the pumps. This lasted one batch, then I modified the top tier to have 1 pump and built a control panel to control the pump. I liked the single tier setup better but the blichmann burners were really nice on this stand. Still brewing outside in the weather. Wind affects boil off. Uses a lot of propane and temperature affects propane. 
I used this system while I built the next stand.

System 7:
Electric Brutus: Modify Brutus setup to use electric instead of propane. Brutus runs as a HERMS system with Blichmann Boilermakers. I now brew in the garage out of the elements. I replaced the stainless elements that were showing rust after 9 months with a higher quality all stainless element. My control panel is attached to the stand via bolts, so I can remove from the stand if I want.  This is my current setup.

7.5 gallon aluminum pot - too small.
3 converted kegs with ss scrubie - kettle clogs. Heavy - volume losses.
3 converted kegs with center braided line - kettle clogs. Heavy - volume losses
3 converted kegs with center copper pickup and stainless perforated false bottom - works great unless you use copious amount of pellet hops. Heavy - volume losses
3 Morebeer pots with aluminum bottom and perforated false bottom. - Heavy - good pickups.
3 Blichmann boilermakers  - Nicest pot so far. Current setup.
Blichmann Hop blocker is kind of a pain to use but it filters well. But I can't use whole hops unless I bag them. Next test is to use a custom perforated false bottom above the kettle pickup tube. Not tested yet.

3/8" Copper immersion - tubing leaks, slow
1/2" Copper immersion -  hard connect - works good - turns dark and then shiny after using. Didn’t like the copper discoloration and stuff ending up in beer.
1/2" Stainless immersion - hard connect - works slower than copper but acceptable - easy to clean
1/2" copper counterflow - works good - pain to clean since it need to be recirculated to clean.
Blichmann Therminator - works good for ales, not good enough for lagers unless it's really cold out. pain to clean since it need to be recirculated to clean.
Pain to clean and maintain.
I actually prefer 1/2” stainless immersion chiller but I have counterflow and Therminator for different brews at times.

Batch sparge vs. fly sparge vs no sparge.
I find this argument all over the place when it comes to homebrewers and I don’t understand it. I used to batch sparge when I brewed outside because I couldn’t control the temperature when fly sparging.
I now fly sparge because I brew inside and can control temperature better. Sometimes I batch sparge when I don’t have a lot of time.  Sometimes I don’t sparge because I want a beer to taste a certain way.

I use glass carboys more than conical because I like smaller batches and usually pitch different yeasts.
I use 1 gallon jugs for cider experiments and for messing around with sour cultures.

As I replaced or upgraded components I sold the old components that I didn’t use anymore.

Electric Brutus Mashing
Electric Brutus Chilling

Electric Brutus Element Upgrade

Electric Brutus control panel
Electric Brutus control panel wiring
Serving: refrigerator

Conditioning: freezer with analog temp controller

Fermentation:freezer with two stage digital Love temperature controller

Fermentation: inside gfci outlets (1 on, 2 temp)

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