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Old 10-23-2006, 01:52 AM   #1
Yuri_Rage
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Default DIY Brew Closet

AKA DIY Microbrewery...

Here's the latest in my series of crazy projects. SWMBO gave me some real estate on the porch, so this is what I'm doing. I'm going to use a RANCO controller with a window A/C and an as yet undetermined heating element (space heater, fermentation wrap/belt, etc) for temperature control. I built the shelf only as big as it needed to be for the fermenter because I want the entire closet to heat and cool (lagering in the bottom half perhaps?). A lot of my brew equipment will fit in the bottom, and it's as close to a 3-tier setup as I want to get. I have a March magnetic drive pump and a bunch of quick disconnects to overcome the issues posed by gravity. Eventually there'll be a door on the front with insulation all around. The board for the shelf is just temporary - it will fit later.



I wanted to finish this thing this weekend, but I just plain ran out of time. I was really hoping to brew today, but I'll have to steal a few hours during the week I guess.

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Old 10-23-2006, 02:21 AM   #2
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I was going to ask if you ever did any actual brewing...


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Old 10-23-2006, 02:24 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chairman Cheyco
I was going to ask if you ever did any actual brewing...


Soon, soon!!! I'm bummed because I've put so much time into upscaling my operation and have yet to use it! I almost brewed another 5 gallon batch just to get some beer into a fermenter of any sort. I'm in brew-withdrawal!
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Old 10-24-2006, 04:32 AM   #4
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I just converted my Kenmore 5150 BTU room air conditioner from thermostat switched to constant cold by bypassing the thermostat. I can post a pic of a similar thermostat and the simple jumper required to bypass it if you like.

I'm excited - this thing was putting out 42 degree air in my 71 degree house without recirculating any cold air. Also, 5150 BTUs is over 10 times the estimated 350 BTUs required to cool my brew closet. I should be able to get this thing nice and cold!

EDIT: Just bought this RANCO 2-stage controller - will control a heating element and the air conditioner to maintain a constant temp. I've been very happy with the ETC-111000 single stage unit that runs my kegerator.

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Old 10-29-2006, 08:21 PM   #5
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Finally, I'm getting around to brewing. I just need to finish up the sparge arm for my cooler conversion mash tun. I'll take pics along the way and post them as an edit here. Thanks for all the help along the way to big time AG brews!

EDIT - progress:
Mashed in - missed my target of 122 by 4 degrees (118).
Immediately began recirculating to increase the temp - I'm up to 146 now with nice, clear runnings.


Sparge (fly) went well - nice and clear, no problems. 15 gallons exactly (a little shy of my goal, but that's ok).
The burner boils 15 gallons of brew really well!



Well, it was a success for the most part. No major problems except for the hops screen in my brew kettle coming off of its barbed fitting. Made for a SLOW transfer to the fermenter. I'm blaming my grain mill for the crappy efficiency (20 points low at 1.036 corrected, shooting for 1.056). I think I had the gap set too wide, since there were a lot of intact hulls in the spent grains - should've checked that sooner! I also need to use a better thermometer. The Brewmometer doesn't have a long enough probe to get to the center of the mash. A digital check of the temperature usually differed by 20-30 degrees from the Brewmometer reading. I should never have drilled that hole in my cooler! I boiled up a few pounds of DME to raise the OG 7 points - hopefully it turns out well. Lots of lessons to apply to my next brew session!

A pic of the completed rig:

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Old 10-31-2006, 07:16 AM   #6
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Yuri, what is that middle picture with the wort chiller in it? Looks too clear to be wort. Of course, I haven't done anything lighter than an amber ale before, so I don't really know what lighter brews look like.

That pot also looks like it is too full to boil in. Why are the hoses disconnected from the wort chiller? Seems like you'd risk dripping water into your wort.

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Old 10-31-2006, 12:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beer4breakfast
Yuri, what is that middle picture with the wort chiller in it? Looks too clear to be wort. Of course, I haven't done anything lighter than an amber ale before, so I don't really know what lighter brews look like.

That pot also looks like it is too full to boil in. Why are the hoses disconnected from the wort chiller? Seems like you'd risk dripping water into your wort.
I'm guessing that the "wort chiller" is part of his HERMS setup and the pot is hot water to heat the wort passing through the coil up to his target mash temps.

I'd like to see more pics of this setup. Looks much more simple (in a good way) than some I've seen.
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Old 10-31-2006, 12:57 PM   #8
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wow man, very nice yet again.

How much lower to do you set the temp for the first couple days of fermentation? or do you even compensate for the the fermentation temps?

I like this.....gonna look into making one for myself.

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Old 10-31-2006, 02:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ian
I'm guessing that the "wort chiller" is part of his HERMS setup and the pot is hot water to heat the wort passing through the coil up to his target mash temps.

I'd like to see more pics of this setup. Looks much more simple (in a good way) than some I've seen.
Ah. I bet you're right Ian. I see a pump on the floor in the first pic.

Guess I'm going to have to go read up to learn what a HERMS and a RIMS is. I keep see ing references but have no idea really.
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Old 10-31-2006, 02:26 PM   #10
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All the speculation is correct - the thing that looks like a wort chiller is really being used as a heat exchanger to control the temperature of the mash. I recirculate the mash from the mash tun through the heat exchanger placed in the hot liquor tank and back. I can maintain or even raise/lower the mash temp with that method without adding water to the mash, and my sparge water is "built in." The disadvantage to this method is two-fold. First, you need a pump capable of handling hot liquid. Second, it can take a LONG time (15-30 mins or even more) to raise the mash temperature. If you do it "right," you never heat the HLT water above the target mash temperature. So, the temperature difference really shouldn't be that much between the mash temp and the HLT temp (20-30 degrees at the most usually). If you remember your physics (or a discussion about wort chillers), you know that the smaller the temperature difference in a heat exchanger, the slower the heat is exchanged.

To be honest, I didn't even know the difference between RIMS and HERMS until I looked it up this morning. This link describes it well. I was calling my setup a RIMS-type system because my AG "mentor" has a similar rig, and that's what he calls it. Apparently it would be more accurate to call it a HERMS system.

I'll post some more pics of this thing now that there's some interest.

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