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Old 08-31-2011, 07:50 PM   #1
Oct 2010
Victoria BC
Posts: 58
Liked 6 Times on 4 Posts

I started planning / building a home brewery about a year ago. The concept was simple enough, I wanted a brewery that would allow me to make a 5-10 gallon batch of beer in my garage, with good repeatability. After a lot of research, I decided to go with electric elements, since they met my criteria, and would allow for a bit more flexibility in the future.

For temp control, I was tempted to go with one of the off the shelf PID controllers out there, however, I had a microcontroller development platform (Parallax BOE) that I purchased when I was in school, in a box in the garage and I though "this would be a great time to put that thing to use". The temperature monitoring is done using 3 LM34 transducers, and a MCP3204 ADC. The temperature control is done using 2x 240V - 40A SSR's that power The immersion elements. There are a few push buttons and an LCD display with a menu system for selecting the operating mode and adjusting setpoints / duty cycles. The Parallax board, temperature sensors, and LCD, get their power through a Lambda 9V supply that is connected to the main power.

When the unit is powered up, a menu is presented on the display. The modes available are: Mash - Boil - Chill. When a mode is selected, an initial screen displays the user entered parameter, along with a pre programmed value. At this point, the increment / decrement buttons will change the value, and upon pressing enter, the controller begins trying to reach the desired temperature. The display shows the set point, the actual temperature, and the duty cycle that it's running at. During operation in this mode, pressing escape will take you back to the initial setting screen so you can adjust the setting, and pressing escape one more time will take you back to the main menu so you can change modes. The Chill mode simply displays one of the temperature readings in big number mode on the 4x20 display. During this stage the temperature being monitored is the outlet of a heat exchanger that I am using to chill the wort.

All of the vessels are made from 50l kegs. I used a friends plasma cutter to take the tops out, and had another friend weld in the fittings for me. I considered weldless, but said friend happily works for beer, and I have a thing for pretty little TIG welds. The HLT and Kettle have 5500W 240V elements for heating. I got a few scraps of wedge wire from a local micro brewery, and made them into a very nice false bottom. I am using the HopStopper in the kettle as an outlet screen.

The brewery is plumbed to make use of the counter flow heat exchanger for both heating and cooling the wort. The HE is used for heating during the mash portion of the brew. During heating, water from the HLT is pumped through the outside of the HE, returning to the top of the HLT. While this is happening, wort is pumped through the inside coil of the HE and returning to the top of the Mash Tun. The circulation of water from and to the HLT will be enough agitation to eliminate stratification of the HLT. Recirculating the wort through the HE causes the grain bed to act as a filter, and catch most of the husks and fine material that washes through the false bottom. During cooling, the wort is pumped through the inside of the HE, and into the fermenter. Tap water runs through the outer pipe, and on exit is dumped into the HLT to be used as clean up water. Connections to the HLT are hard piped, as they never need to change, and the only thing in the HLT will be clean water.

The heat exchanger is made up of an outer shell of 1/2" copper pipe (5/8" O.D. - 0.527" I.D.) and an inner tube of 3/8" copper tube (3/8" O.D. - 0.311" I.D.). The coil is 10' long in total. The calculations I have done show that with 55 degree tap water, and 210 degree wort, flowing 6 gallons of each through the exchanger over 10 minutes should result in wort at 67 degrees and water at 195 degrees. I am interested to see how the real thing works out. I may need to flow more cooling water, and run the wort through a bit slower, which is not a problem - it just gives more washing up water. If the ground water is too warm, I am able to fill the HLT with water and ice, and using the same plumbing route as during the mash, circulate ice water through the shell side of the exchanger.

I am using 2 Chugger S/S pumps to circulate the wort / water. They have been working very well during testing.

I finished the build last weekend, and have been messing with the microcontroller and temperature control regime since. I haven't brewed yet, but I have run through the process a few times using just water. I still have some bugs to sort out, but at this point, brewing is doable. I'm sure I've missed some things in this whirlwind description, but between this and the pictures, I'm sure it gets the point across.
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:53 PM   #2
Oct 2010
Victoria BC
Posts: 58
Liked 6 Times on 4 Posts

The following pictures are pretty self explanatory. There are a couple shots of the false bottom, one with it on the floor, hinged up, and the other in the mash tun.
The schematic shows the connections and valve schedule for each step of the process.
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:55 PM   #3
Oct 2010
Victoria BC
Posts: 58
Liked 6 Times on 4 Posts

These pictures show the plumbing in it's finished state, and a couple shots of the complete system during testing. It's a pretty good feeling to finally get here after all the time in development/build. I am excited to start brewing on it.
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Old 08-31-2011, 09:34 PM   #4
hatfieldenator's Avatar
Sep 2010
Posts: 493
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Old 08-31-2011, 09:43 PM   #5
Mar 2011
Indianapolis, Indiana
Posts: 251
Liked 5 Times on 4 Posts

Very nice. Thanks for the sharing. Gives me some ideas for my build.
Bottled: Honey Wheat, American Wheat, Kolsch, Chocolate Porter, Oatmeal Stout
Kegged: Falconer's APA, Honey Brown Ale, Guinness Draught

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Old 08-31-2011, 10:44 PM   #6
kellzey's Avatar
Aug 2011
orlando, FL
Posts: 310
Liked 16 Times on 14 Posts


We're not worthy! We're not worthy!
Black Pug Brewing - Progress Thread

In the fermenter: Pugkin Ale, Apfelwein
In the keezer: Black Pug Coconut Porter, Black Pug Wheat, Black Pug IPA
Gone: Black Pug Blonde Ale

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Old 09-01-2011, 12:45 AM   #7
Feb 2011
North Central, Ohio
Posts: 509
Liked 31 Times on 22 Posts

Nicely done indeed!

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Old 09-01-2011, 12:48 AM   #8
Celticway's Avatar
Mar 2011
Lawrenceville, GA, GA
Posts: 333
Liked 6 Times on 6 Posts

Very nice.

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Old 09-02-2011, 08:42 PM   #9
Oct 2010
Victoria BC
Posts: 58
Liked 6 Times on 4 Posts

Thanks Guys, It's a great feeling to have things pumping around and steaming away. I wanted to see what the heat exchange was capable of, so I did a "Mash Tun Shoot out". I got the HLT to boiling, with cold water in the mash tun, then I flipped the pumps on and waited to see what the mash temp stabilized at. It got up to 180 degrees surprisingly quick, then took a while to get to 190. If I'd given it another 20 minutes I probably could get another 5 degrees, but I was happy at 190. I think that using this approach, I could do decent step mashes, cranking the HLT, and using the exchanger flow to control the temps.

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Old 09-02-2011, 11:13 PM   #10
BIAB Expert Tailor
wilserbrewer's Avatar
May 2007
Jersey Shore, New Jersey
Posts: 9,702
Liked 1462 Times on 1112 Posts

Very nice work Russ! I'm guessing you like to understate things calling your work a "5" gallon brewery. Ilike the dark stain on the wood as well.

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