Category Archives: Equipment

Final E-brewery upgrades

The final upgrades to my electric brewery are complete. I added a 25′ x 3/8″ HERMs coil to my hot liquor tank (HLT) this weekend and got a chance to test it out today on my 11 gal historical 1868 English Porter brew. The coil allows me to hold mash temps steady throughout the whole mash by pumping wort thru the coil – the electronic temp control in my HLT allows me to set whatever temp I want the HLT water and mash to stay at. I can also do step mashes now too, so I can add a protein rest to my wheat or pilsner brews, and also use the HERMs to raise the mash temp to 168 for mashout. Here’s what the coil looks like:

HERMS Coil in the HLT

I do like the fact that I can bring the mash up to 168 for mashout – it seemed to improve my efficiency as I got 86% efficiency in this batch – the best I’ve ever gotten.

The other new add-on to my brewery is the $10 stainless steel hop stopper I added to my boil kettle. It’s made from a jumbo stainless steel tea ball from Amazon. I used a small phillips screwdriver to force a hole in the side of the tea ball, and then stretched out the hole until it was large enough to fit my side pickup tube thru. Then I cut about 1.5 inches off my pickup tube so the hop ball would fit in along the side of the kettle, and also cut some grooves into the end of the tube. If the open end of the tube get pressed up against the side of the stainless screen and some hops block the screen, the wort will still be able to drain into the tube thru the grooves. Here’s picture of it before the brew:

My $10 stainless hop blocker

Here’s the grooves I cut into the pickup tube:

Grooves in the tube (click the pic to see a larger view)

Here’s what it looks like after a brew that used 5oz of leaf hops. It drained all 11 gal out quickly with no hops getting into the fermentor or plugging up at all.

Hop blocker in action

I haven’t tried it with hop pellets yet, but I don’t normally have a problem with pellets hops plugging up my pickup tube like whole hops do.

Overall I am very happy with the hop stopper, it only took a few minutes to build and it works as well as a $60 hopstopper you can buy online. Plus it’s stainless so it should last forever. If you use whole hops and need to keep your pickup tube from plugging – build one yourself!

EDIT: Here’s a link to my HBT thread about this, along with more pictures.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/10-stainless-diy-hop-blocker-289349/

No More Propane!

I’ve gone full electric with the brewery, so I’m finally getting around to updating this blog site. Checkout the My Setup tab for more pictures, but here’s the control panel, brewery and wiring schematic I used for the e-build.

The main control panel

The new electric brewery

Ebrewery wiring schematic

No more buying and running out of propane. Electric is much cheaper and much more efficient at heating water and wort than propane too. Plus I have exact control over the temps in my HLT – I can fill it with water, set the temp I need and go inside and take a shower. When I come back out the water is at the exact temp I need and the brewing can begin. During the boil the heating element in the kettle is controlled by the same PID controller, and holds a nice, steady rolling boil. Pretty cool!

What’s brewing in July?

Since the weather is ridiculously hot in July and August, there’s not too much going on in the brew shed. ¬†I currently have a Russian Imperial Stout in one of my primary¬†fermenters that will be transferred to glass carboy in a couple weeks for extended aging. I also have a peach mead in my fermenting bucket in the fermentation fridge. It has been fermenting for about 4 days and has already dropped to around 1.030 after starting at 1.100 (this is a measurement of the sugars that have been fermented by the yeast. As the yeast consume sugar and release alcohol, the gravity reading will drop). This will also need extended aging in a glass carboy.

Meads seem to be the way to go in the hot months, as there is no boiling wort and sweating out in the shed – everything can be done indoors in the cool air-conditioning.

With the downtime in the brewery I’ve been able to re-build my mash tun manifold to hopefully improve my efficiency with fly sparging (a method of extracting the sugars from the barley grains). The new manifold will hopefully allow the sugary wort to flow out of the mash tun from a larger area around the base of the mash tun, resulting in a high percentage of sugar extraction from the grain. This is how efficiency is measured when brewing beer.

Larry