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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > 50 gallon system?
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Old 12-31-2009, 10:36 PM   #1
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Default 50 gallon system?

OK, I'll admit, I've been fantasizing lately - been looking at these 55 gallon brewpots:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewin...ew-kettle.html

I wonder, if one were to purchase one of these, how the heck would you:

1) bring that much stuff to boil? I'm wondering if you'd need multiple propane burners?

2) What would you use for an MLT? I'd assume you'd need 2 pots?

3) What would you use for a fermenter? I know you can buy a large conical (42 gallon) but could you use a 55 gallon plastic food grade barrel?

4) What would be the capacity of this system? Can you do a 50 gallon batch in a 55 gallon pot? Or does the 55 gallon pot equal the 42 gallon conical fermenter?

5) and a sorta related question - would this be almost a "2 barrel system"? I mean, when someone says they have a "15 barrel system" does that mean they are actually producing 15 barrels with each batch?

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Old 01-01-2010, 04:18 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by tranceamerica View Post
OK, I'll admit, I've been fantasizing lately - been looking at these 55 gallon brewpots:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewin...ew-kettle.html

I wonder, if one were to purchase one of these, how the heck would you:

1) bring that much stuff to boil? I'm wondering if you'd need multiple propane burners?

2) What would you use for an MLT? I'd assume you'd need 2 pots?

3) What would you use for a fermenter? I know you can buy a large conical (42 gallon) but could you use a 55 gallon plastic food grade barrel?

4) What would be the capacity of this system? Can you do a 50 gallon batch in a 55 gallon pot? Or does the 55 gallon pot equal the 42 gallon conical fermenter?

5) and a sorta related question - would this be almost a "2 barrel system"? I mean, when someone says they have a "15 barrel system" does that mean they are actually producing 15 barrels with each batch?
1)It depends on the burner. I use 2 SQ14 burners to get it going but once there I only run one and not all the way up.

2) I use a 55 gallon food grade plastic barrel with a manifold in the bottom and insulated with hot water heater blankets.

3) I use a mix of 15 gallon plastic barrels and carboys. Due to me brewing outside and fermenting in my basement I need to use things I can move around. You could use a plastic barrel but that much beer fermenting will make a lot of heat so it's hard to keep the temps in check.

4) I get 37 gallons out of mine. 55 gallon kettle gives me a 45 gallon starting boil (puts it within about 2-3 inches from the top) and I boil off 6-8 gallons per hour.

5) no it's just over a 1 BBL. The BBL count is what you have at the end.
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Old 01-01-2010, 04:42 PM   #3
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Ditto on what FSR402 said. My system is electric but otherwise we are identical. I brew 30 gallon batches but have done 35 gallon batches on occasion.
1 barrel = 31 gallons.

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Old 01-01-2010, 06:58 PM   #4
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When they say a "15 bbl system" it means that typical output is about 15 bbls. The brew kettle, fermenters, etc. are all sized a bit larger so that the final yield is in the 15 bbl range.

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Old 01-01-2010, 07:03 PM   #5
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I really just dont get it... why would someone want to do 42 gallon batches of beer at home?!

i like my little 5 gallon batches, I cant imagine committing myself to 42 gallons of a single brew!!

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Old 01-01-2010, 07:07 PM   #6
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You cannot reasonably get a 50 gallon yield from a 55 gallon kettle. You'd need to start the boil with 60-65 gallons of wort in order to net 50 gallons without topping up. Also, 50 gallons in a 55 gallon kettle would put the liquid level quite close to the top of the kettle. That's a recipe for disaster, IMHO. 40 gallon batches would make more sense.

The MLT would need to be about the same size as the boil kettle.

I'm with Pivot, though. I brew 15 gallons at a time, and that's quite a bit of beer. I really wouldn't want to brew more per batch without selling it (which is another topic entirely). Also, you could only legally brew 4-5 times per year with a system that big (I know, no one's counting...but the bigger the system, the more likely you'll draw some attention).

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Old 01-01-2010, 08:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Yuri_Rage View Post
You cannot reasonably get a 50 gallon yield from a 55 gallon kettle. You'd need to start the boil with 60-65 gallons of wort in order to net 50 gallons without topping up. Also, 50 gallons in a 55 gallon kettle would put the liquid level quite close to the top of the kettle. That's a recipe for disaster, IMHO. 40 gallon batches would make more sense.

The MLT would need to be about the same size as the boil kettle.

I'm with Pivot, though. I brew 15 gallons at a time, and that's quite a bit of beer. I really wouldn't want to brew more per batch without selling it (which is another topic entirely). Also, you could only legally brew 4-5 times per year with a system that big (I know, no one's counting...but the bigger the system, the more likely you'll draw some attention).
Sorry Yuri I must chime in;
To have the ability to brew a 15 gallon net batch is a need, want and a great feeling vs having to deal with a system with built in volume limits holding you back. There's no reason preventing a person with a larger system from brewing smaller 5 or 10 gallon batches with their larger systems. I found my limits right away on the last brewery when I tried to do a 15 gallon net with a big Stout, that's why that undersized MLT and BK system was sold. Yeah and it was already a 10 gallon system following a 5 gallon before it. I went ahead with free food grade steel drums donated to me that were internally coated as a cheap prototype brewery project. Weldless fitting electric heating. A cheap learning project with only labor and materials my out of pocket cost that I found out what needed to be changed before getting a step closer with building one out of costly stainless. You'll be surprised how fast 15 gallons gets consumed with a great Stout just adding a few friends over or taking a corny to a party. The MLT and BK must be able to handle the desired volumes with enough head space with a balanced system so that a three keggles reach max volumes together. This is my read or thinking about designing another brewing system volumes.

To tell someone 5, 10, 15, 40 of 50 gallons is too large is just your personal opinion which doen't help the person wishing to have a system of this brewing capacity. If you have the desire, equipment, heating ability and a large enough storage area for your larger system go for it. JMO's here. Oh , happy New Year fellow brewers and let the hops produce a big crop this year.
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Old 01-01-2010, 08:35 PM   #8
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There is a limit to how small a batch you can successfully brew in a large system. In multi-barrel system, the dead space alone might be greater than 5 gallons. Because I fly sparge, I brew at least 10 gallons at a time in my half barrel system. Brewing less creates a thin grain bed that is ineffective when lautering.

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Old 01-01-2010, 08:56 PM   #9
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There is a limit to how small a batch you can successfully brew in a large system. In multi-barrel system, the dead space alone might be greater than 5 gallons. Because I fly sparge, I brew at least 10 gallons at a time in my half barrel system. Brewing less creates a thin grain bed that is ineffective when lautering.
Yuri; what's the diameter of your barrels or you using converted keggles?
Granted too large of diameter causes a thin grain bed on small batches.
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Old 01-01-2010, 10:29 PM   #10
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I'm using 20 gallon kettles from Northern Brewer. They are 19 inches in diameter.

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