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Old 01-14-2012, 07:45 AM   #1
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Default All Grain Brewing Set-up

I posted this for a couple of reasons:
1. To share my process with people who might learn from any of it
2. To get feedback and learn from the people here.

As a brewer you never spend enough money and time trying to improve what you do. On my last brewday I jotted down a lot of notes on what would make the next brew day better. I got feedback from a lot of great brewers, a few of which I focused on. Few of those was getting disconnects and using my pump to its fullest. I was planning to brew this weekend, tomorrow, and developed a recipe i thought i would like and have a yeast starter going. Tonight when i was setting up my Camlocks in my system, my mash tun ball valve snapped off. Very sad, wanted to make the best of it by redesigning my system. I have 2 converted kegs for my HLT and BK and a 10 gallon round cooler for my MLT.

I've outlined my new plans for the system, mainly for myself to visually see what I need to do and thought I would share, and at the same time get feedback from pro's who have done this before. Pic explains everything. Need to fix my mash tun and get the camlock system working nicely to brew asap as my starter is bubbling away since yesterday.
Cheers.



By aussiebrewerincolorado at 2012-01-14

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Old 01-14-2012, 11:45 AM   #2
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Aussie,
I think this will be an interesting post. I agree that the right set up makes the brew day a little more relaxed and enjoyable. Here are a few thoughts from my setup (that I continue to try to improve):
1. The 4th hose is nice because it seems you always need it. The silicone hose does crimp at the disconnects as it heats up. The elbows do reduce this, but any sharp angle will cause a kink. Extra length sometimes makes this worse as the weight of the hose pulls on the angle.

2. I placed my mash tun in-between my HLT and kettle. Therefore, my liquid moves from left to right overall in the process. The exception being top off for final volume, but it is usually less than 1-2 qts in my system. This reduces the length needed for the hoses.

3. Plan ahead for a hop back.

4. The chiller and pump should be close. A plate chiller uses less space than mine, so you might be good to go. I now flow from kettle > pump > chiller > kettle(for whirlpool) or fermenter. Interesting, I no longer use a long whirlpool. I do for a few minutes to get a stable temp coming out of my chiller, then route directly to my fermenter. This shortens the chill time greatly and results getting the wort to my desired pitch temp.

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Old 01-14-2012, 10:50 PM   #3
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Thanks PlainJay! I have thought about putting my MLT in the middle but thought my banjo's would melt it. You don't have any issues with that? or rising temps in it while heating sparge during mash? I want to get another keggle for a mash tun but don't want to make that move until I have some sort of RIMS type setup to deal with the heat loss.

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Old 01-15-2012, 12:02 PM   #4
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Aussie, Actually I do have a small issue melting my mash tun. I did put heat shields (slab of ceramic floor tile) between it and the burners. So in ~20 batches, I have only softened the plastic twice (where it touched the shield). If I were to rebuild my stand, I would add a few more inches between them. But I still like it in the middle. I haven't noticed the burner actually heating up the mash contents, but I am running a herms system. I have thought about a keggle mash tun, but cannot complain with the cooler method. It holds temp amazingly well (even without the herms) and I have been using the one in the picture since about 1998, so it feels like family. If it cracks, I still think I will replace it with a square cooler to get a bit larger capacity.

Regarding hoses, etc. I have found that shut off valves after the pump and after the chiller are nice. I also valve my water flow thru the chiller to help control that variable as well. I have a thermometer (now a homemade thrumometer sytle-not the one in the pic) after the chiller and can dial in the temp fairly stable. I am convinced that recirculating during the mash and sparge helps with efficiency, even using batch sparging.

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Old 01-15-2012, 01:28 PM   #5
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My setup is like yours, just that I have the HLT and brew kettle switched. With the 90 degree street elbows and hose barbs I have not had any kinking of the hoses.

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Old 01-15-2012, 01:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ingchr1 View Post
My setup is like yours, just that I have the HLT and brew kettle switched. With the 90 degree street elbows and hose barbs I have not had any kinking of the hoses.

Great looking setup! That is the first thermometer in a cooler I've seen. How did you add that? I like the two piece setup rather than one all integrated setup. That way if you want to use the burners for cooking you aren't wheeling the whole thing around.
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Old 01-15-2012, 02:02 PM   #7
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My hoses crimp all the darn time! The elbows do help, but don't alleviate it totally. As was mentioned, a longer hose is more likely to do that, especially as it goes to the top of the MLT and makes the curve. The hot wort tends to make the silicon more pliable and it'll crimp a bit. I just have my system now where I "prop" the hose up against the stand and MLT as it returns. This is for my HERMS, and it works ok.

With one pump, a two-tier system works great as you can gravity drain to the BK with the MLT in the middle. Or you can batch sparge, but you have to change the hoses around a lot.

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Old 01-15-2012, 04:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lou2row View Post
Great looking setup! That is the first thermometer in a cooler I've seen. How did you add that?
Thanks!

I used one of these:

Cooler Bulkhead Kit

The inner cooler wall is drilled to the size of the nipple and the cooler foam and outer wall is drilled to the size of the coupling, so the inner wall is sandwiched between the nut/washer and coupling.

I did end up with a little leakage at first on the thermo port, probably due to not drilling the hole straight enough. As a fix I took it apart and used Aquarium safe silicone (Silicone) on the outside of the inner cooler wall and on the cooler foam. The service temperature of the silicon is up to 350F.

Here's the inside of the cooler. The fill tube was a bit too low so I have since re-aimed it to near the top of the cooler:

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Old 01-15-2012, 04:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlainJay View Post
Aussie, Actually I do have a small issue melting my mash tun. I did put heat shields (slab of ceramic floor tile) between it and the burners. So in ~20 batches, I have only softened the plastic twice (where it touched the shield). If I were to rebuild my stand, I would add a few more inches between them. But I still like it in the middle. I haven't noticed the burner actually heating up the mash contents, but I am running a herms system. I have thought about a keggle mash tun, but cannot complain with the cooler method. It holds temp amazingly well (even without the herms) and I have been using the one in the picture since about 1998, so it feels like family. If it cracks, I still think I will replace it with a square cooler to get a bit larger capacity.

Regarding hoses, etc. I have found that shut off valves after the pump and after the chiller are nice. I also valve my water flow thru the chiller to help control that variable as well. I have a thermometer (now a homemade thrumometer sytle-not the one in the pic) after the chiller and can dial in the temp fairly stable. I am convinced that recirculating during the mash and sparge helps with efficiency, even using batch sparging.
Thanks! I do have water control on the water in, but ball valve on wort out might be a good idea. Do you gravity feed into carboys or pump?
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Old 01-15-2012, 04:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ingchr1 View Post
My setup is like yours, just that I have the HLT and brew kettle switched. With the 90 degree street elbows and hose barbs I have not had any kinking of the hoses.

Thanks for sharing Chris. Any benefit to switching the BK and HLT or just the way you set-it up. I've had it both ways and can't see a big difference, only that my HLT burner is a little further away from my plastic cooler.
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