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Old 09-26-2012, 01:06 PM   #1
disney7
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Default Trying to decide what type brew stand to build (help!)

I'm trying to figure out what type of brew stand I should build... 1 tier or 3 tier.

Here is how I brew currently:

I heat my strike and sparge water in a 9 gallon pot that has a valve.

Once it gets to temp I pick it up and set it on top of a short coke machine in my garage and gravity drain the strike water into a rectangular cooler/mash tun. I batch sparge. The cooler is sitting on top of a chest freezer next to the coke machine.

When the mash is finished I drain/sparge into an 11 gallon pot (with valve) that is sitting on the floor.

Then I pick that pot up and sit it on a turkey fryer burner and proceed with my boil.

I use an immersion chiller and a march pump (for whirl-pooling) to cool the wort.

I then drain from the boil kettle into a fermenter that sits on the floor. The burner stand isn't quite high enough to gravity drain completely, so I either have to pick the pot up to help the last bit drain or use my pump (which worked pretty well last time).

So, I like the process I use (mostly gravity), I just don't like all the picking up and moving of pots.

I was thinking of building a 3 or 4 tier stand, with the strike water pot and burner on the left, then a place for the cooler to the right of that, then the boil kettle and burner, then a place for the fermenter a few inches from the floor or on the floor.

The problem I see with that setup is that I will pretty much have to be on a ladder dealing with the strike water pot. Not a huge deal since I basically just fill it up and drain it, but it might be annoying. Each tier has to be about 20 inches below the previous tier in order for gravity draining to work, so that setup would be pretty tall.

The other option I can think of is a 1 tier setup, but I'm not crazy about pumping everything around (though I could be talked into it). Seems like most people use two pumps on a 1 tier system, so that's another pump to have to clean and take care of. Also, I don't understand how draining and sparging work with a pump since you don't want to do that at a high flow rate. Do people just throttle the heck out of the pumps for that? Also, why are two pumps usually used?

Anyway, any input would be appreciated. Especially a good description of the brewing process on a 1 tier system and the pros/cons of each. Pics are also great!

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Old 09-26-2012, 01:22 PM   #2
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If you go 1 tier and stick with one pump, you will be restricted to batch sparging unless you manually ladle sparge water on top of the grain while you pump the wort out of the mash.

I think the most utility per cost (value) is to have at least one pump. Given that, the most flexible setup would be a two tier so that you can batch or fly sparge. Also given the pump, you can lower the whole thing even such that the BK cannot gravity drain to a carboy. You don't need gravity at that point because you can use the pump.

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Old 09-26-2012, 03:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Seems like most people use two pumps on a 1 tier system, so that's another pump to have to clean and take care of.
I single tier with 2 pumps. One pump never sees anything but hot water so cleaning it is not an issue.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:48 PM   #4
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I was in the same boat as you are right now. I pretty much did the same thing as you but didn't have a pump at the time. I used two coolers HLT/MT and a nice polarware pot for BK without drain.
I think I looked at just about every stand on HBT over what took a very long time. I started out wanting a 3 tier system cuz I saw a few being used at a local brew day that I really liked.
I started thinking about what I wanted in the future and I knew lifting 5 or 10 gallons of hot stuff wasn't what I wanted and climbing a ladder to stir or fill wasn't what I wanted in the long run... aka as I get older... It took me a long time to decide and now that I have it built and operational and have pretty much all the items I want (yeah right) I am very happy with my choice.
So, what I'm getting at is that it's your choice what to end up with, just think about the pro's and con's for you for each stand and what you want in the future. Once you have an idea what you want in the future, work toward that. You can always add items when they become availible to you, you already have one pump, you can make anything work between now and when you reach your fully finished stand.
Good luck.

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Old 09-26-2012, 03:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disney7 View Post
The other option I can think of is a 1 tier setup, but I'm not crazy about pumping everything around (though I could be talked into it). Seems like most people use two pumps on a 1 tier system, so that's another pump to have to clean and take care of. Also, I don't understand how draining and sparging work with a pump since you don't want to do that at a high flow rate. Do people just throttle the heck out of the pumps for that? Also, why are two pumps usually used?
I use one pump to recirculate my HLT to keep temp at set point, also same pump to move water to MT or BK.
2nd pump to recirculate MT to keep temp at set point and to batch sparge to BK.
I could also fly sparge from HLT to MT with pump 1 and from MT to BK with pump 2.

So really I have one pump for water and one pump for "beer".

and yes, throttling back the output of the pump to restrict the flow rate is how you adjust to the flow rate you want.
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Old 09-27-2012, 12:25 PM   #6
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I really like my two tier stand with one pump and you already have all the expensive parts.

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Old 09-27-2012, 12:33 PM   #7
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I like the looks of that!

Do you have any trouble with heat from the burner getting to the mash tun cooler while you are heating sparge/batch water?

I was thinking of building a Brutus 10 stand, not installing the center burner, and putting my mash tun there (Coleman cooler)... but I was wondering how I would keep it from melting while I heated the sparge water.

Looks like I could use your approach and add an extension to the Brutus design.

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Old 09-27-2012, 02:17 PM   #8
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I was planning on using a 3 tier with an electric PID controlled HLT and a pump for fresh water to the HLT, a rectangular cooler for the mash tun since they are shorter, then my 30 qt boil pot. For me height isn't the issue the footprint of the brewstand is, i am going to build it around a central column made of unistrut or superstrut (same thing).

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Old 09-27-2012, 04:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
but I was wondering how I would keep it from melting while I heated the sparge water.
I fabbed a simple aluminum heat shield for mine and it works great. I can have both burners running wide open and the cooler doesn't even get warm.
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Old 09-27-2012, 06:02 PM   #10
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I built a 3-tier, even though I have a pump. I use gravity to go to the MLT and to the BK, and I use my pump to go into the carboys.

If my pump ever breaks down on a brew day, it won't be that big of a deal.

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