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Old 03-20-2012, 08:14 PM   #1
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Default Basement Brew room build out...

After a year of planning and gathering parts, I've spent the last couple of months putting together my take on Kal's awesome electric brewery although there's really not a heck of a lot difference between "The Original" and mine other than the plumbing. I still have a few bits and pieces to still take care of, along with finishing the room itself (drywall and floors are lower on the priority list than mashing barley for some reason!)





I initially started down the Brewtroller road with the intent to automate valves etc., but some of the parts I needed never seemed to come into stock at the OCSYS store so I took a step back and reevaluated what I really wanted from my system. In the end, while hooking stuff electronically has a certain "cool" factor, I decided that I didn't really need the all that extra stuff and it would be just one more "failure" point to worry about. Basically, everything was built pretty much in line with Kal's plans, so if you have any questions about the control panel etc., it goes without saying that I would recommend reading over all his stuff at The Electric Brewery. A HUGE thanks to Kal - without his excellent build information, I wouldn't be even close to where I'm today. My ampmeter is busted (or at least I think it is - it registers 0.00 almost all the time), but otherwise the control panel is an exact clone of Kal's (minus the handles which I may add later) and works great. For the control panel (a 20x16x8 box), a local water jet cutter cut the front panel for me which resulted in perfect alignment of controls - considering my anality, this was well worth the $50 minimum cost.



For the plumbing, I simplified things substantially over my initial plans by using 3-way "L"-type valves where possible. Of course, I did this AFTER buying a boat load of regular 2-way valves (so look for a number of those to appear in the classified section along with other bits and pieces left over). These valves are awesome and although pricier than setting up two 2-ways, I'd make this same decision again any day of the week and twice on Sundays. For those interested, the valves I got were from DirectMaterial.com (1/2" Type L). Instead of the Quick Disconnects that Kal uses on his system, I used Camlocks from BargainFittings.com (another awesome vendor BTW). One recommendation I have here is to avoid using Type C Female camlocks - the barb fitting on these is really restrictive. Instead I chose Type F and Type D camlocks and combined them with full bore high flow hose barb fittings from Brewershardware.com. The total for each connection was somewhat comparable to what quick disconnects would have cost, maybe a little more. (Yes - that's a Powerblock behind the pump - it's just holding down the pump stand until I bolt it down in it's final position).

EDIT: For those interested, the PDFs of the manifold design can be found here

So far, I've just done some basic tests with the system - basically moving slightly heated water (~120 degrees) around the system and the only change I may make is to add a way for getting water DIRECTLY to the BK from the HLT. Right now, it has to go through the HERMS coil and MLT before being pumped over the BK. However, this isn't really something I'd need to do very often (maybe for cleaning) and it would be just as easy to just disconnect one of the camlocks and connect in a new tube. Priming the pumps has not been an issue in my water tests which is a good thing, since adding in a vent valve above the pumps would have been a big PITA after getting the existing plumbing all lined up. Adding in the two valves at the very bottom for drainage has worked beautifully - although it pains me to see almost a gallon of liquid escaping from various places (thankfully most of this will be sparge water from the HERMS coil during actual brewing so it wort loss might not be horrible).

Of course, I'm not yet finished. Plenty of clean-up of the various cabling to be done and still to add (this weekend, hopefully) will be the cooling portion of the plumbing - I have a CFC from B3 to hook into the existing plumbing and test out. Finally, before I actually start brewing for real on this system, I need to build out the ventilation. I'm going to construct a hood out of 2x6's and FRP board like the one in Nattybrew's build and I already have the vortex-type fan ready to go. I just need to drill 6 inch holes in the cinder block & brick wall for the exhaust and make-up air - I'm not looking forward to that!

The very last thing will be coming up with a name for my brewery - I'm not at all creative in that aspect, and nothing I've thought of over the few years I've been brewing have stuck with me. I'm sure I'll think of something eventually, but right now, it's just a "Brewery Without A Name".

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Old 03-21-2012, 01:33 PM   #2
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Looks great! I can't wait to see a completed setup.

What size kettles are those? They look smaller than the 20 gallons.

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Old 03-21-2012, 01:48 PM   #3
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I'm really digging the valve manifold setup off the pumps! Nice setup there!

I thought about going the Camlock route also as that's the standard connection used in most of the Food and Beverage plants I do work in and really like them on big lines - 2"+.

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Old 03-21-2012, 03:20 PM   #4
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Looks great! I can't wait to see a completed setup.

What size kettles are those? They look smaller than the 20 gallons.
Thanks - as for the kettles, they are the 20 gallon ones. Maybe it's the stand that makes them look a bit smaller? The stand is a bit larger than the one Kal built - I made it 6' long to give me a bit more room between kettles. I accidentally ended up punching the hole for the top valve for the MLT too far to the right of the front of the kettle which makes joining to the HERMS coil require a bit more space. In the end, the 6' length worked out great because I was able to get a standard 6'x2' butcher block worktop from Sears for $100!
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Old 03-21-2012, 03:25 PM   #5
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I'm really digging the valve manifold setup off the pumps! Nice setup there!
Thanks... yeah, this part had me worried to begin with as I tried to figure out ways to attach the manifold to the stand and I was concerned with how well the plastic pump heads would support it if I went that route. However, in the end, the pumps appear to support the weight pretty well although I will definitely add some weight actually in the pump stand as it's a bit front heavy right now. If I do have issues with the pumps maintaining the weight over the long haul, I'll look to chuggerpumps who are supposedly coming out with SS replacement heads that will fit my March 809s.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:54 PM   #6
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Default Vent hood is now done... but problems appear

Okay, so I finally had a free weekend to work on the ventilation hood and do some final tests before the inaugural brew.

First here are some pictures of the hood and fan:





The hood design was based on the 2x6 approach NattyBrew used. The basement wall is externally facing so it's basically a 2-3 foot run of vent to the outside.

So today I went ahead and simulated a full brew-day on the new system just heating and moving water. Everything went pretty well and I learned a couple of good things (HERMS coil loop will get mash to within 2 degrees of HLT and boil-off rate in kettle is a ridiculous ~2 gallons/hr!). However, I ran into one BIG problem that I'm at a loss to figure out...

In doing the boil test to figure out my boil-off rate, I noticed that that there was a LOT of condensation/leaking out of the vent run as well as the fan itself. Of course this is leaking on to the top of the vent hood so over time this will just rot the wood, get moldy etc.

So the question out there before I do a full-on brew... has anyone had this issue and what did you do to stop it? I've duct-tabed the venting, but that doesn't seem to stop the leaks... any ideas?

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Old 04-29-2012, 08:30 PM   #7
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Your exahust is extremely similar to mine so I am a little worried about mine now. the only difference i can see is that you put your fan attached to the hood whereas I have mine at the outlet almost. The outlet seems to be what most people do. Maybe you can try rearranging it?

Here is my build thread. I can't say that my way is better because I have not tested it yet I just haven't heard of your issue.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f170/just-another-electric-brewery-build-thread-317746/#post3951391

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Old 04-29-2012, 09:53 PM   #8
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As much as we all want to get to brewing, it's going to suck to tear it all apart and pull it out of the room to finish the drywall, etc if you ever do now that you're just about ready to brew.

Looks great, otherwise.

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Old 04-29-2012, 10:37 PM   #9
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WOW - great looking setup - love it!

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Old 04-30-2012, 12:44 AM   #10
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+1 on moving the fan to the other end of your duct. I tried mine with the fan over the kettle with the same results as you. Switching it solved the problem although my duct is a good 15 feet long.

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