Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Brewery Equipment: Completed Brewery

On Monday night we planned our first all-grain brew (which I will write about in another post) so I spent Sunday making sure everything was ready to go. I created measuring sticks for the mash/lauter keg, and the brew keg so I could figure out how much water was in them, and I got all the pieces together and tried to figure out how to get the gravity flow working since I don't have a pump (and am about tapped out of cash for a while).

We only have 2 burners, so during sparging we would not be able to heat the brew keg since both burners would either be in use or have full vessels on them. I have a wooden bench and a freezer that I could use to raise the hot liquor tank (HLT) above the brew keg, but neither of them are very mobile and the bench is flammable so that didn't seem like a good choice. I was looking around the garage and spotted my roll away toolbox base and it turned out to be almost the perfect height.

We boosted the mash/lauter keg up 6 inches (although we should have done 8") and it worked quite well.

My heat exchanger also worked well, it raised the temperature of the incoming water from ~50 degrees (F) to ~100 degrees (F), but I couldn't use it to fill the HLT like I planned since I forgot to create a measuring stick for it. So I made the mistake of shutting off the water without removing the hose and it melted the hose and blew a hole in it. My friend Ted noticed the problem before it blew, but it was too late. In the future I will be careful to remove the hose if the water isn't running.

The flow from the HLT to the Mash Keg was perfect, but I needed another 2 inches of drop from the Mask Keg to the Brew Keg. Next time I will add 4 more bricks.

The lack of a 3rd burner isn't that big a problem for 5 gallon batches since the brew kettle comes up to temperature so quickly. If we were doing a 10 gallon batch, we would need to raise everything up another 8 inches or so or, more realistically, get a pump to move wort into the brew keg.

We may also need a larger HLT if we go to 10 gallon batches, since we would need 10 gallons of sparge water and it can only handle 8, but we could also use the burner to maintain the temperature as we add more water during sparge so we may be okay as-is.

I am very happy with the brewery overall and I like that it tears down and fits on my bench so it doesn't take up too much space in my garage.


Rob K said...

Cool setup. I'm impressed with how you are figuring things out. I'm also looking forward to reading about how the first all grain brew turned out. Perhaps a photo to commemorate the finished product? BTW, my first brew is now bottle conditioning (stout extract). I'll be sure to bring some by.

Goose said...

This is impressive. Looks dangerous to me, having an untrained eye for such things. I can't wait to hear about the brew. Maybe I can arrange a boondoggle out there and come down and try a sample...

Eric said...

It does look a bit mad-scientist, but it isn't any more dangerous than having 2 gas grills in your garage. The only portions under pressure are the lines from the propane tanks to the burners. The rest is just open vessels full of sticky, hot water.

Eric said...

@rob k

My next post will include a shot of the fermenter and a description of the brew. I'll be happy to share once it is conditioned in about a month.


Once we have a batch I think is amazing I will send you a couple 22 oz bottles.