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Old 04-18-2011, 12:51 PM   #1
Mar 2009
Posts: 506
Liked 34 Times on 27 Posts

I wanted to post my 5G AG rig. I call it the 1550 "lite", because it is based on the B3 1550 and uses the same staggered 3 tier set-up, as well as the 1 pump + gravity fly sparge technique. It is about 4' wide, 2' deep, and as you can see, only as tall as 2 5 gallon collers stacked on top of one another. I would say the top of the mash tun is about 4-1/2' high, and I can easily see into it and stir with no ladder/step required.

The "Lite" moniker is used, because unlike a real 1550 sculpture, which is built from steel, mine is made out of wood. Additionally, I only required 1 burner, and I was able to integrate my SQ 14 right into the rig. Using 1 burner requires one extra pump transfer (sparge water is brought up to temp in the kettle while the mash is resting and transfered via pump to the blue HLT), but eliminates a huge fire hazard.

The first set of pics show parts of the rig that I feel are a bit unique, and the second set shows connections for three key brew day processes.

Part I

Pic 1 - the rig
You will notice the kettle and burner on the left, and the orange MLT and blue HLT on the right. The pump, the water filter, and the GFCI are also visable.

Pic 2 - EZ Prime Pump
I have not seen another pump plumbed like this. We all know how difficult it is to get these things primed. By adding a SS tee to the inlet, I was able to add a third (and 4th) valve. Before I run the pump, I open all the required valves for the transfer. That third valve (on the left of the tee) is opened slowly before the pump is turned on, and I allow the 5' of vinyl tube to fill with liquid. Once filled, I elevate the vinyl tube, driving liquid back through the system, forcing out all of the air. The pump and silicone tubing are now completely void of air, and it runs great, every time. Hence - EZ Prime.

Pic 3/4 - Mash Tun
I tapped the top of my tun with an extra valve. I have seen this on kettles, but never before on a round cooler. This is where liquid always enters the tun. The extra valve allows me to regulate strike water at dough in (so hitting mash temps is controlled, rather than an "Infuse and Pray" method). Additionally, the valve is used to control the fluid dynamics of the mash during the 10 minute mash out recirculation. Wort can only leave the tun as fast as I allow it to re-enter, so I avoid compressing the grain bed during recirc by controlling the fluid at the point of re-entry. Also, the tubing at the top of the tun promotes a gentle whirlpool during the recirc and the sparge - no need to "rain" water down on the mash. All bulkheads and taps are made using the Blichmann Style "O-ring inside washer" method. It is completely leak free, and I never have to worry about torquing against an o-ring or over tightening/compressing. It is completely different from the sealing concept used on any of the other bulkheads on the market. See Kal's electric brewery or my thread about "Blichmann Style Bulkheads Made Easy" for a better description. Finally, I just upgraded to a SS false bottom I purchases from Ed at BMW. I had some reservations because people mentioned difficulty clearing the wort, but those reservations dissapeared yesterday. I brewed with it for the first time and worked better than advertised. I can see how it would be easy to compress the grainbed using a false bottom, but I am sure that with a little experience, anyone can have great success with it. And from a filter standpoint - the false bottom/braid is only there to seperate the liquid from the grain; it is not the filter. The bed filters itself. With a good crush, and a 10 minute recirc, I had crystal clear wort. So please, stop blaming the false bottoms.

And here are the pics that illustrate the above descriptions.
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Old 04-18-2011, 01:17 PM   #2
Mar 2009
Posts: 506
Liked 34 Times on 27 Posts

I also wanted to show three process connections. In order for these to work, you have to be pretty careful about measurements when building the rig.

Pic 1 - mash/recirculation.

Mash time. The first order of business on brew day is to get the mash set. Once that is out of the way, I immidiately start on the sparge water. I used to try to measure out a volume that once drained through the mash, would result in exactly my desired pre-boil volumes, but I found this method failed me more often than not. I started just heating as much sparge water as my HLT can hold (5.5 Gallons). Over the 60 minute mash, I heat 5.5 gallons to ~185 (to allow for the thermal mass of the HLT) and transfer it to the HLT via the pump. There, it is sealed up and sits hot until I am ready to sparge. Typically, I leave about a gallon of sparge water in the kettle. After 60 minutes of mashing, I turn on the burner and bring that gallon to a boil. This is the only lifting I do on brewday; I dump the 1 gallon of boiling water into the MLT, give it a good stir, and begin the recirc. You will see that connection below. As I mentioned in the previous post, the inlet valve on the MLT controls the speed of the recirc - all other valves are completely open. I avoid a stuck mash (that you would typically get when opening the MLT outlet valve all the way) because I am regulating the flow rate at the inlet on the MLT. I am basically treating the system like 1 giant ball valve.

Pic 2
Circular fly sparge.
This is my favorite part. It is kind of a pump/gravity hybrid. I used to balance buckets in three tiers, but I do not miss those days. Sparge water starts in the blue HLT, and goes down to the inlet on the pump. It shoot back out of the top of the pump and up into the inlet valve of the orange MLT. I connect the outlet on the MLT to the inlet on the kettle. The hook here is that the outlet valve on the MLT has to be higher than the maximum volume level of the kettle. As long as the MLT's valve is higher than the wort in the kettle it will continue to fill. I have a mark on the kettle to represent 25 qts (which is my predetermined pre-boil volume), and I just close off the valve on the kettle once that volume is achieved. If there is hot sparge water left in the HLT, it gets a dose of PBW and waits to be used during the clean in place step at the end of brewday. The other nice thing about this set up is that once I have an inch or two of wort collected in the kettle, I can start the burner. It dramatically reduces the time it takes after the sparge to bring 6 gallons of wort to a boil - big time saver on brew day.

Pic 3 - Jamil - o - chiller.
Sadly, this is pretty much the reason I built the rig. What good is a pump without a rig? I love this thing because of its ability to rapidly chill wort, as well as generate a very nice hop/break cone in the kettle. It also affords me the ability to conduct hot whirlpool hop additions (but that debate is for another thread). You can find a great tutorial on the site.

Pic 4 - SQ 14
Explains itself; just shows how I built the SQ 14 right into the rig, in case anyone was interested.

Let me know if any questions - if not, I am just happy to finally share!

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Old 04-19-2011, 05:53 AM   #3
Feb 2011
Hatboro, PA
Posts: 211
Liked 4 Times on 3 Posts

interesting setup I'm in the process of building my rig for 10 gallon batches which is similar I went with a space saver 3 tier design I worked out my self.

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Old 04-20-2011, 08:14 AM   #4
Apr 2009
Posts: 248
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Nice write up - thanks for posting.
You've given me some things to think about to improve my set up.

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