Don't cry over spilled beer... aka Brewery 2.0 christening

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thorongil

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For quite a while now... a few months at least, I have been planning Brewery 2.0. Taking many ideas from The Pol, I designed Brewery 2.0 to be a simple HERMS system that was both (somewhat) easy on the budget and easy on the storage space. I've been AG brewing for more than a year now, and I wanted a rig that could get me the consistency that I need to replicate my favorite brews time after time, while being simple to break down and store in our crowded 2 car garage...

For some background on my motivation, check out The Pol's excellent thread here.

I'm still finalizing my parts and price list, and will update this post once it is done. Basically, the rig came in at about $1200 or so for everything... not too bad...

The build was not too bad but I did rush a couple things that I would later regret. The chief problem came with drilling the hole for the HLT element inside the cooler. My drill was a tad too long to fit in squarely, so I had to angle the drill a bit to get it to fit. Bad idea. The resulting hole was only not round, but was bigger than the rubber washer that the element came with that was designed to seal it... Good thing I did a leak test with water only, cause boy did it leak. I was able to get to Lowes a couple of minutes before they closed and ended up with a rubber flange that I thought could be modified to give me a good seal. With the modification done (removal of the flange part so that I ended up with a big rubber washer) and a generous dose of silicone sealant, it was water-tight. Here's what it looked like - messy but effective:



That was the only leak, so I was ready to brew... I absolutely loved the American Amber recipe from Jamil's book, so I figured it would make a good trial run. Here's everything set up and ready to rock:

Inside of MLT:



Recirculating:



Top of the HLT. Normally I'm a directions guy, but I figured that I knew how the Johnson controller worked... Wrong... didn't know about the jumper to set it from cooling to heating... not too much damage done:

 
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thorongil

thorongil

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Here's how I have the MLT thermometer rigged:



Here's the innards of the HLT... pretty much like The Pol's but I built the copper coil myself from Lowes' parts:



When it comes to chilling, I use an IC with an extra attachment to recirculate the wort to keep things moving:



Close-up:

 
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thorongil

thorongil

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And, finally, the obligatory shot of the beer I consumed while brewing... thanks, EdWort, for the Haus Ale recipe!



All in all it went well. There were many "firsts" today: 1) first HERMS 2) first time using 5.2 3) first time with the keggle 4) first time using the modified IC 5) first fly sparge... and I'm sure there are others. I need to work on the sparge technique, because i noticed the grain bed was not level so I'm sure I had channelling and left quite a bit of sugars behind. Still got 77% efficiency, which I will gladly take for the first run of this system.

As to the title of this thread, my biggest problem was actually something I did not foresee at all - draining the kettle into the carboy. I had thought that I would not really need a hops filter in the kettle and would rely on one in the funnel on the carboy to take care of things. Well... I barley got a quart out before the whole works clogged and I had to resort to the old autosiphon. Got the job done, but as I was trying to get everything situated, the hose popped out of the funnel and sprayed wort everywhere. Probably only lost a quart or so... no shed tears...

Lessons learned: 1) silicone sealant is your friend 2) I need a hops filter in the keggle 3) preheat the MLT separately rather than with sparge water 4) this chilling technique works - cooled down to 120 in 8 min and to 70 in 25 min by pumping ice water through the IC the whole time.

That's about it... it was a fun process and a great brew day. Looking forward to next Saturday when I go for round 2!
 
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thorongil

thorongil

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Just a couple degrees. I expected 2 and that seems to be what I got. We'll see if that holds up next week...
 

G-E-R-M-A-N

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sweet glad to see another system like this running with pics.

I do have a question. Why did you drill the cooler from inside?
 

The Pol

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Cool rig! Glad I could inspire you! Yeah, I second the ?? on the drilling from inside?

It is weird seeing another BrewBeast v2.0 running out there!!

Mine was around 1200 bucks as well, until I did the electric kettle conversion and built the control panel. Now it is pushing 2k. But, it was worth it... you will enjoy your rig!

EDIT: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/bling-bling-electric-herms-conversion-93217/
 
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thorongil

thorongil

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I do have a question. Why did you drill the cooler from inside?
Good question... I guess I just assumed it was the right way to go. Usually, when drilling a hole in something, I'll switch sides after the pilot bit clears - that way you end up with a cleaner hole. Followed the same process here. Drilled the 2.5" hole from the outside bottom and used the pilot hole as a guide for the 1.25" hole on the inside...

What silicone sealant did you use?
Just the normal clear stuff for bathrooms/water lines from Lowes

Cool rig! Glad I could inspire you!
Inspire me you did, sir... And I will keep your identity secret from SWMBO in case she seeks revenge...

We expect to see you and your rig at the next BATF brewout.
Easy storage = fairly easy portability, so it should work out well...
 

G-E-R-M-A-N

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Good question... I guess I just assumed it was the right way to go. Usually, when drilling a hole in something, I'll switch sides after the pilot bit clears - that way you end up with a cleaner hole. Followed the same process here. Drilled the 2.5" hole from the outside bottom and used the pilot hole as a guide for the 1.25" hole on the inside...
You should go down to harbor freight, or local tool supply, and get a large step bit. I used this today with great success. (they have many uses in homebrewing) I just drilled from bottom of cooler through the other side using caution to not go to go past 1.25.

These bits give you a nice clean hole. LOL :ban:
 

kal

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Nice setup!

What silicone sealant did you use?
Just the normal clear stuff for bathrooms/water lines from Lowes
Check the label on that silicone sealant. It'll probably say it's not meant for food or aquarium use. It's not food-safe.

The food-safe stuff is very hard to find. McMaster has it however. See McMaster-Carr, item #7545A471. It's described as:

(102 , 103 , 108 , and 109) Multipurpose— For sealing, bonding, and gasketing. Thick for use on vertical and overhead surfaces. Bond metal, plastic, ceramic, glass, silicone resin, vulcanized silicone rubber, and wood. Begin to harden in 20 minutes. Temperature range is -75° to +400° F. Meet MIL-A-46106B, Group I, Type I. FDA compliant and USDA approved. NSF 51 certified for use with food equipment. UL recognized.
Kal
 
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thorongil

thorongil

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I brewed my 2nd batch on this new rig today, and it went very well. Got my temps dialed in well - the Johnson controller just needs to be set 1 or 2 degrees above the desired mash temp and it holds nice and steady. The fly sparge went very well too - I just put a tupperware lid on the top of my mash and the recirc and sparge water flowed off nice and even. I could probably slow the sparge down a bit though - hit 77% eff again which isn't too bad, but I think it could be higher.

I also applied the food-grade silicone a few days ago to make sure it was fully cured, so I have that covered now.

All in all I am extremely satisfied with this setup. I might go electric and add more control at some point, but for now this is a wonderful system that should give me the consistency that I'm looking for. If you are considering building system like this of your own, I highly recommend it.
 
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thorongil

thorongil

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Good to hear. I was following the tweets discreetly (while I was at work). Next time you have to brew cast it!
Definitely... just need to think through how to best accomplish that given how my house is set up. Should be pretty easy though, so stay tuned.

And I'm looking forward to trying the LWPA... :mug:
 
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