Mike Tinker’s 10 Gallon HERMS System

This brewery had its genesis in my desire to upgrade my current 10 gallon HERMS system to an all stainless single-tier brewery from its current two-tier Igloo cooler form. As I was thinking through the work and expense of such a project, it dawned on me: I live in the Phoenix area—it’s hot here in the summer—wouldn’t it be nice to be able to brew inside? Thus began my research into all electric brewing. Based on a number of excellent designs I found online, I was able to devise a system that would meet my needs, which I had defined as follows:

  1. 120V (didn’t want to install a new service, plus I desired portability)
  2. No brass
  3. No disconnecting of any tubing during brewing
  4. Some form of mash temperature control
  5. Convenience in operation and storage

Thus was born the BrewKart. I decided to go with a Brutus 20-like system that incorporated a dual function coil for both HERMS mash temp control and chilling. My research revealed that with the largest 120V heater, the most I could really hope to boil was 5 gallons. Using this as my starting point, I scaled the system to make slightly smaller batches, and usually end up with about 4 gallons in the fermenter. It took me about six weeks to nail down my design, and another four weeks of building during what little spare time I had to complete the project.

I am very pleased with the results. I’ve run 4 batches through at this point and have gotten a good feel for the system and have dialed my processes in well. I now consistently get between 70-72% efficiency on this 2 vessel system, and brew days are a pleasure. The only disconnecting of anything I have to do is to clean out the mash tun during the boil so that it can be filled with ice and water to recirculate through the coil for chilling. I also recirculate the wort back into the kettle and can get the batch down to pitching temps in about 10 minutes. I do need a 20 amp outlet to run the system, but any kitchen or bathroom outlet meets that requirement, and I have a long extension cord. The size and portability of the brewery means that, not only can I use it in my office (the usual spot), but can also wheel it out to the kitchen or outside once the weather cools off. And, of course, I can also take it to local brew-outs as well.

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The BrewKart (more or less done)

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Simple control panel

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The BrewKart at its home in my office

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Mash recirculation

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                     Dual purpose coil        Brewday setup