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Old 03-08-2009, 07:56 PM   #1
drayman86
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Default Electric Brew: George Westinghouse Woulda' Been Proud

After much research, design effort and work, my electric brew system is up and running! Here's the breakdown; all pics are clickable thumbnails:

A WORD OF CAUTION ! THIS SYSTEM DEALS WITH ELECTRICITY AND WATER, AS WELL AS SOMEWHAT COMPLICATED WIRING DESIGNS. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS TYPE OF BREWING UNLESS YOU ARE VERY, VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE IN AC CIRCUITS, ELECTRICAL LOADS, AMPERAGE CALCULATIONS, AND ASSOCIATED WIRING REQUIREMENTS.

Basic gravity set up: Coleman Extreme for the HLT, Igloo 10 Gallon for the mash tun, and a 15 gal aluminum stock pot for the boil kettle:




The heart of the system: heatsticks! The top two are 1500W, and the bottom is my 2000W monster:




A tighter shot of the heat stick. A huge thanks to Pete Calinski of Buffalo, New York who published his heatsicks article in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Zymurgy. It's how I learned how to build these things:



One of the great things about this system: I can heat the strike water directly in the Igloo Cooler mash tun. Here's the strike water being heated by 2 1500W heat sticks. Also seen is the false bottom and the temp. probe:

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Old 03-08-2009, 07:59 PM   #2
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Looks awesome! Just be careful you don't burn through the plastic with those heat sticks. Seems like a very simple and cheap way for people to get into AG brewing, I'm really impressed.

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I would never use a dead mouse in my beer. It's much better to use live ones. You could probably just steep a dead one, but live ones must be mashed. Actually, smashed and mashed would be best.
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Old 03-08-2009, 08:22 PM   #3
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Also need to get some sparge water heating while we heat the strike water in the mash tun. I use the 2000W unit for this. Coleman Extreme is the HLT:
(All pics are clickable thumbnails.)



OK, so we dough in and mash. That's thirsty work. How about relaxing in the Man Cave in the other room? We can watch TV, or relax at the bar with a homebrew.





Also need to weigh our hops. Here's the grain mill & hop weighing station:

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Old 03-08-2009, 08:24 PM   #4
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OK, time to sparge. Fly sparging works best with my equipment and besides, who's in a rush? Just more time to drink beer in the Man Cave that's in the next room. (All pics are clickable thumbnails.)





Now on to the boil. Installed an exhaust fan directly above the boil kettle station. I use all three heatsticks to keep 'er rollin' nice 'n strong.

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Old 03-08-2009, 08:30 PM   #5
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Nice rolling boil.



Exhaust fan:



After the boil, we cool w/ CFC, aerate, and pitch. Viola!



I chose this system for a couple of reasons:

1. Wanted to brew indoors, and propane was not feasible. Natural gas would be possible, but cost increased with extra gas plumbing, burners, etc.

2. Efficient use of energy. ALL my energy is transferred directly into the solution, unlike propane which wastes a lot of extra heat thrown off into the air. Electricity for a brew session is less than $2.00 ! !

3. Comfort. I can brew year round indoors. Warm in the winter, cool in the summer.

4. Ease of use. All my equipment is totally portable, easy to store, light weight, and takes up minimal room.

It's a great way to brew ! ! !

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Old 03-08-2009, 08:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by llazy_llama View Post
Looks awesome! Just be careful you don't burn through the plastic with those heat sticks. Seems like a very simple and cheap way for people to get into AG brewing, I'm really impressed.
Yes, absolutely! Very careful about that. Have hangers/retainers that keep the heat sticks in place when they're in the coolers.
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Old 03-08-2009, 08:42 PM   #7
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What brand/model heat elements are you using? For the construction of your sticks was this followed fully from the Zymurgy article or is this your own design?

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Old 03-08-2009, 08:45 PM   #8
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Post no longer relevant.

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Quote:
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I would never use a dead mouse in my beer. It's much better to use live ones. You could probably just steep a dead one, but live ones must be mashed. Actually, smashed and mashed would be best.

Last edited by llazy_llama; 03-08-2009 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 03-08-2009, 09:13 PM   #9
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Are the heat sticks 120V or 240V ??
Can someone point me to heat stick plans?

I'm currently brewing on the stovetop, but I'm trying to decide whether to go natural gas or electric.

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Old 03-08-2009, 09:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avaserfi View Post
What brand/model heat elements are you using? For the construction of your sticks was this followed fully from the Zymurgy article or is this your own design?
These are 120V elements purchased at Home Depot for about $10 each. Each heat stick cost about $30.

They Zymurgy article gave me the impetus; I followed the step-by-step instructions HERE.
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