Three Vessel Induction Brewing System

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I designed my very own induction brewing system that is based on a traditional 3 kettle system design. I wanted a way to brew great tasting beers, with the ease of brewing them in my basement. To do so I used 3 induction cookers and 2 pumps, powered by 3 dedicated electrical circuits run directly to my brewing area. I custom built my brew table from scratch since I couldn't find a table that matched exactly what I wanted. I also had to design a way that I could use the brew pots on the induction cookers without breaking them. I figured a brew pot full of wort or water would crack a standard 1800 watt glass top induction cooker. After searching the web for some ideas, on how to either build a base around the induction cookers, or how to mount the induction cookers in an area that was lower than the table top.
It all came down to building my own table because I couldn't find anything out there that looked like it would work. When I planed how to build my homebrew table I knew that I wanted the table to withstand weights over 300 pounds and also provide room for storage shelves. When I brew beer I like to have all of my ingredients and supplies close at hand, just like the chefs in professional kitchens. I made a crude design drawing of how I wanted to frame out the table top. I actually made a lot of drawings, before I figured out where everything would need to go. It took me several months of planning, designing and redesigning in order to get the final drawing to look exactly like what I had in mind.
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Finished table top without induction cookers or brew pots
I built the table top using a 72 inch length of 2X4 running down the center, to provide added support for the weight of the lower shelves and the induction cookers. The induction cooker shelves are recessed 2.5 inches lower than the table top. Since 2X4's are only 1.5 inches thick, an additional piece of 1 inch thick wood was used to make up the correct height. The corners were built from a pair of 2X4's made into an L shape. Originally I planned on using 4X4's but they would have been too big to cut using the tools I had. The lower shelves use support boards that run width-wise instead of the 72 inch length.
The four 2X4's were centered about 16 inches apart and provide the shelves with plenty of support. The 2X4's were cut 14 inches long, in order to allow clearance around the sides of the induction cookers. The cookers measured 12 inches wide and their instructions recommended leaving a 1 inch space all around them for proper air flow. If I were to build this table over again I would make the clearance even larger. Induction cookers produce a lot of heat and when brewing I now have to run fans in order to move around the hot air. I wish that I had previous experience brewing with induction cookers before I built my brew table. If I had known beforehand how hot the cookers would get I would have left more clearance around them.
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Finished table top with 3 induction cookers and brew pots
I included 2 shelves in the build that measured approximately 36 inches wide by 72 inches long, so that my empty kegs, yeast and other supplies could be stored in one area. Having a work area that is dedicated to storing brewing supplies saves a lot of time running around the brew room for looking for things. I was able to custom build the height of the table so I could easily brew on it without having to use a ladder to look inside the kettles.
I recommend having each of the induction cookers setup to run on its own separate 120 volt circuit. The induction cookers used in my build can draw up to a maximum of 1800 watts and the circuits they use should be sized large enough to safely handle the load. Induction cookers are very energy efficient and can create enough heat to produce a boil, but I think an 1800 watt cooker is best for brewing 5 gallon batches at most. I've heard that there are higher wattage induction cookers available, but in the United States 1800 watts was the highest powered cooker I could fine. When working with induction cookers the brew kettles must be magnetic in order for them to generate heat. Induction cookers will not work with non-magnetic pots or kettles, before buying yours make sure they are compatible for use with induction cookers.
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I put my mash water in the middle, and my sparge water on the end
When the mash water reaches my target temperature I transfer the water from the hot liquor tank to the mash tun and then dough in the grains. Making sure to stir the grains well so that all of the grains are wet and mixed well and that there are no hot or cold spots. I also like to stir the grains every 15 to 20 minutes during the mash to eliminate any hot or cold spots. The kettle I use for the mash tun has an all metal false bottom inside it, I also leave the induction cooker set on low during the mash, to keep the water hot.
Once I have finished sparging and have all of the wort collected in the boil kettle, I pump half of the wort into what was previously used as the hot liquor kettle. Using 2 induction cookers will get the boil going much faster when there is only 3.5 gallons in each kettle. A single induction cooker can take a long time to bring 7 gallons to a full boil and my idea was to divide full volume in half and then use 2 cookers to bring them both to a boil in half the time.
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Mash pot on induction cooker and view of storage shelves
My thought with having 3 induction cookers was to use one as the mash tun, and the other two as a hot liquor tank and a boil kettle. I plan to use 1 pot for heating the mash water and the other pot for heating the sparge water. After the mash and sparge 2 of the pots will be empty, they will then be used to split the total wort in 2 to speed up the boil. The induction cookers used are very energy efficient, but they lack the overall cooking power of propane burners, so it takes about 30 minutes before the wort begins to boil.
One of the nicest features of my new setup is the improvement it makes in wort chilling. Wort chilling was always kind of a pain for me before and it took a long time to do. I used to slowly gravity feed hot wort through a plate chiller, or use an immersion chiller to cool the hot wort, then use tap water to cool the wort down. My new design is similar to how the Brutus 10 works where the hot wort is pumped into the hot side of the wort chiller. Then using 22 pounds of ice for cooling, cold water is pumped into the cold side of the chiller, greatly reducing the time it takes to chill the wort. Please excuse my crude image, but it does provide you with the basic idea.
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Using ice to cool the wort greatly reduces the amount of time needed
I was able to get wort chilled down from boiling to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in around 20 minutes. I brew 6 gallon batches and I don't worry about running the wort at too high a speed when cooling it. I also put the hose connected to the pump outlet all the way down in the wort and there was hardly any splashing. The good news is I haven't noticed any off flavors at all in my beer.
Bio:
My name is Adam Best and I live in Ohio. I've been brewing for 10 years and also have a bachelors degree in computer information systems. I started home brewing using Mr. Beer extract kits while still in college. I later started brewing outdoors using a turkey fryer, but soon found an electric turkey fryer to use indoors. I currently enjoy brewing indoors on my custom DIY 3 vessel induction brewing system. I also enjoy bowling in my Tuesday night bowling league. I'm not the greatest bowler, but I am improving. To get more information on my current brewing setup, some great homebrew recipes and other equipment check out my website at www.brewout.com
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Thanks for sharing your experience with induction! I've been thinking about this myself for a little while. I like the idea of electric brewing but have neither the skills nor the resolve to dig into the usual hot water heater element approach. I like the system you put together. Cheers!
 

adamtbest

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It's a thin food grade silicone tubing I bought on Amazon. It is rated to hold up to boiling water. Being thin I've had a few problems with it and will have to replace it after a few brews.
 

unviewtiful

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The graphic explaining your chilling shows the hot water coming out of your plate chiller going back into the ice water. If that is accurate, you should either let the hot water run off or put it in your 3rd vessel to use for cleaning.
By recirculating the chilling water, you melt the ice and raise the temperature of your chilling water very rapidly, giving you a less efficient chilling cycle. You want the largest temperature differential between wort and chilling water as possible to cool your wort as fast as possible.
 

ScrewyBrewer

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@unviewtiful yes, I would just run tap water into the ice kettle, to make up for the cold water going to the chiller. then save the water leaving the chiller for cleaning. Especially good idea in areas where there are water restrictions too.
 

ArkotRamathorn

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@unviewtiful
True but on the other hand it's probably less wasteful on water. 22lbs of ice would probably soak up a lot of heat before it really drops in efficiency for cooling anyway, that's a ton of thermal mass.
 

ScrewyBrewer

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@ArkotRamathorn according to some brewing notes and memory for cooling the follow rule applies:
1 BTU equals the amount of energy required to move 1 pound of water through 1 degree Fahrenheit
5.50 gallons * 8.00 lbs/gallon = 44 lbs
212 degrees - 65 F degrees = 147 F degrees where 44 lbs * 147F = 6468 BTUs
To cool 5.50 gallons of wort from boiling to 65F, a total of 6,468 BTUs needs to be removed
Example: With a chiller rated @ 15,000 BTU/hr it would take 6468/15,000 hrs or 0.43 hours to cool the wort to 65F
 

podz

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Did you ever think about going with 230v induction cookers?
I have a Wilfa ICP2000 - 2000 watts at 230v = 8.6 amps. By comparison, your 1800 watt burner at 115v = 15.6 amps.
 

dogwalker

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Induction is a great way to go. I have a 3500 watt 240 volt Avantco induction burner that I run in the basement on a dedicated circuit. It simply kicks ass. Brings 7 gallons to a crazy boil, I got to turn it down. And everything stays cool (except the wort). Around $180 at Webstaurant
 

rdavidw

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@dogwalker I have the same Avantco 3500 watt and love it as well. I only wish I could hook it up to a temp controller. Other then that, its perfect.
 

Littlejoe

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I have brewed beer on a Nuwave induction cooker. It's not ideal but it got the job done. I don't know how many watts they are. Right now I live in a little tiny apartment with no stove. In a few months I'll be moving into my own house and might have to look the bigger induction cookers up for the brewery I want to put in my basement. Thanks for sharing!
 

lilleypad1

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Convinced me to move to induction. I bought an Avantco IC3500W induction cooktop and it heats up 6.5 gallons of water faster than my propane patio burner. Now I don't have to go outside to brew!
 

pinne65

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Nice!
I've been thinking about this too. Used to run a still that way in the ole country way back. I just can't remember how long it took to bring 25L to start evap. Will make for more expensive brew setup though. I still like it, but I wonder where the break even is if I brew 5G every 3-4 mo for 50 more years. I pull my mash/sparge water from my water heater and only use propane for boiling.
 

wishingiwasfishing

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A usually brew at my friends house. He's got a real nice 3 kettle induction brewery. He has a 120vac 1800watt burner for the HLT. For the Boil Kettle he has a 220vac 3500watt induction burner, which works great for boiling plenty of water for 5 gallon batches.
you can see an article written on his Swamp Bar and induction system here https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pimp-my-system/dan-hoffmans-swamp-bar-brewery/
cheers
 

jchambers

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Hi Adam, I loved this post. I had a wonderful dream about this type of setup the other day.
Just wondering what pumps you are using down there? In the market to grab one
 
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