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General Category => Going Pro => Topic started by: wiley on January 26, 2012, 08:40:45 PM

Title: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 26, 2012, 08:40:45 PM
The specifics of my plan for going pro have changed slightly and I've come to the realization that it will benefit me in the long run to go bigger with the brew system. In light of this, I made a purchase!  ::)

I'm thinking I can turn this 324 gallon jacketed processing tank into a brew kettle -- either direct fire or low pressure steam. But I keep waffling back and forth. Presuming the jacket can hold pressure (which will need to be tested), steam seems like it would be easier to get inspector approval, but would be much more costly than direct fire.

I'm interested to hear any thoughts from the forum -- cheers!


(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-of1fOdWRwDI/TyXkjgBHliI/AAAAAAAAAO0/_ChONbSVYp8/s640/BK1.jpg)
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: a10t2 on January 26, 2012, 08:48:18 PM
Looks like a nice kettle for a 7 bbl system. As wide as it is, you'll have a lot of boiloff, so you may be able to get away with not using a condensate trap. It might be tricky to rig up an effective kettle stack though. I don't think I've personally seen one with a flat top like that.

Obviously it will depend on your specific economics, but the increased efficiency of steam will probably more than offset the cost of a boiler, even amortized over a relatively short timeframe.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 26, 2012, 09:22:33 PM
The boil off was something I considered. I've got a pair of 7 BBL FVs, so I figured that the 324 gallon with 10% headspace, 15-20% boil off and 5% trub loss would still give me a full 7 BBLs into the FV. I've been thinking about the stack and my thoughts have circled around cutting a hole (10-12") in the rear section, affixing a stack and venting through the roof. That way, I can keep the front section of the lid fixed for hop / fining / whirlpool spice additions.

What would you say is a typcial boiler size for something like this? Can I get away with a decently sized electric boiler, or is natural gas the way to go?
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: majorvices on January 26, 2012, 09:58:16 PM
Looks like a better mashtun to me. in fact it looks almost exactly like my mash tun. I'd work on moving that direction and look for a BK that can be steam stacked.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 26, 2012, 10:01:32 PM
What did you wind up doing for a brew kettle?
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: hamiltont on January 26, 2012, 10:01:58 PM
Looks like a better mashtun to me. in fact it looks almost exactly like my mash tun. I'd work on moving that direction and look for a BK that can be steam stacked.

That's what I was thinking too since it has a paddle configuration already in place. How are you going to get that monstrosity home Kyle?
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 26, 2012, 10:08:03 PM
Looks like a better mashtun to me. in fact it looks almost exactly like my mash tun. I'd work on moving that direction and look for a BK that can be steam stacked.

That's what I was thinking too since it has a paddle configuration already in place. How are you going to get that monstrosity home Kyle?

The tank measures 63" wide by 48" tall -- my pickup measures 65" wide above the wheel wells!

I'll have the tank palleted / skidded with a >18" skid to clear the wells, and strap that baby like crazy... It's going to be a good 7+ hour drive with the tank in tow, but it's worth it for the price I paid --
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: majorvices on January 26, 2012, 11:31:02 PM
What did you wind up doing for a brew kettle?

I ended up with a used boiler. They are cheap and available. I'll take some pictures and post them soon. But my MT looks almost exactly what you have.

also, I'd recommend staying away from steam if you consider yourself on any type of a budget. You will absolutely choke up your lunch when you find out how much it costs to install. I was all ready to go with steam until the estimate came in. Boiler was cheap, jacketed BK was cheap too. Installation was over 30K.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: majorvices on January 26, 2012, 11:34:45 PM
Looks like a better mashtun to me. in fact it looks almost exactly like my mash tun. I'd work on moving that direction and look for a BK that can be steam stacked.

That's what I was thinking too since it has a paddle configuration already in place. How are you going to get that monstrosity home Kyle?

Problem with the paddle configuration is you have to figure out how to work with it with the false bottom since the paddle attaches to the bottom. Not impossible but I haven;t worked mine out yet.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 26, 2012, 11:57:30 PM

Looks like a better mashtun to me. in fact it looks almost exactly like my mash tun. I'd work on moving that direction and look for a BK that can be steam stacked.

That's what I was thinking too since it has a paddle configuration already in place. How are you going to get that monstrosity home Kyle?

Problem with the paddle configuration is you have to figure out how to work with it with the false bottom since the paddle attaches to the bottom. Not impossible but I haven;t worked mine out yet.


As far as the budget for steam goes, that was my main concern. We’re 100% self-financed to this point, and I’d like to keep it that way for a while; I’m not sure we can attain that goal and go with steam – but, we have some friends in the industry, so it may yet be an option. Was it the labor or the materials that drove installation costs upward?

With regard to the rakes, there’s a thread on Probrewer I’ve been following (http://probrewer.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=23719&highlight=rakes (http://probrewer.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=23719&highlight=rakes)). The recommendations in the thread are that rakes are unnecessary until you get over 20 BBLs.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: majorvices on January 27, 2012, 12:30:31 AM
There was a certain amount of construction that went into the steam build that I can't recall now. But if you have any doubts, check pro brewer. There are a few posts about people being shocked at the cost of installation.

No kidding, the boiler we looked at was 2-3K and the BK we looked at was 5K. The quote for installation was 30K.

I am having the finishing touches  of my BK installation installed tomorrow. If it works I will post all about it. Basically for my MT and BK it costs us about 15K and installation was about 3K because we had to get larger diameter gas ran over to the brewing area.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 27, 2012, 12:41:32 AM
There was a certain amount of construction that went into the steam build that I can't recall now. But if you have any doubts, check pro brewer. There are a few posts about people being shocked at the cost of installation.

No kidding, the boiler we looked at was 2-3K and the BK we looked at was 5K. The quote for installation was 30K.

I am having the finishing touches  of my BK installation installed tomorrow. If it works I will post all about it. Basically for my MT and BK it costs us about 15K and installation was about 3K because we had to get larger diameter gas ran over to the brewing area.

No doubts about the steam costs! Danny at Caution mentioned they dropped some coin on their 'plumbing' bill, which included steam, on demand hot water and a nice little trench drain.

As far as the comments about the tank being a better MT than BK, just curious what's driving the thoughts. I'm not opposed to making it the MT, but just curious.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: majorvices on January 27, 2012, 01:08:19 AM
Baically because the lack of a steam stack and the type of manway. Looks like what you have would suit a MT perfectly but I think you could find a better BK. Is there a reason you would rather use it as a BK?
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 27, 2012, 02:48:39 AM
The stack makes sense -- I honestly haven't given a whole lot of thought to the kettle stack as most of what I've seen in the smaller brew systems don't use one and I'm a bit in the 'smaller brewery' mindset. Probably something I need to get away from a bit....  :-\

I did happen upon a Peter Austin brewhouse on www.soundbrew.com that they have for sale. The kettle was fitted with, what looks to be, an inverted hopper on the brew kettle, and I'm thinking I could cobble something together like that if a stack is truly necessary. Any thoughts on the necessity of one? I suppose the current flat top could pose some DMS issues with residual condensation.

The real reason for thinking of this tank as a brew kettle was a combination of economics and availability. I've been looking for a kettle for a while when I came upon this tank, but maybe I wasn't looking in the right spots for brew kettles. The tank is jacketed and insulated so fitting it for steam seemed pretty straight-forward. Also, some of the comments I've seen on BK design say you should have a relatively tight H:W ratio, especially if you're planning on a combination BK/WP.

As an additional point, I've got access to a nice sized dairy bulk tank that I was going to fit as the MT with a manifold (as opposed to a false bottom). The bulk tank would give me the ability to go up to a 1.100 wort on one mash -- that being said, I have yet to see the tank in person (it's my father-in-law's), and I don't know if the geometry of the tank would be best for a mash tun sized for typical 1.060 brews.

All that being said, here's a few more pics to get the creative minds in the forum churning  ;)


(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-buoUv0cCL9w/TyXkk4c6cuI/AAAAAAAAAO8/qGn8E3kM-Jc/s720/BK2.jpg)
(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7_aRSUg2oWw/TyXkmj6zp5I/AAAAAAAAAPE/4of6_WJbOfQ/s720/BK3.jpg)
(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-5TfRxv1WoDs/TyXkoSqzocI/AAAAAAAAAPM/XHnlOqGjnvA/s820/BK4.jpg)
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: majorvices on January 27, 2012, 03:19:21 AM
You may have problems with the building inspector or the health inspector with that much steam in the building. Just depends on your local regulations and how strict your inspectors are.

I have my doubts as to you being able to get the jacket on that tank to pass code for a steam jacket, unless it was used by one before. I'm sure you know how dangerous a broken seam on a steam jacketed tank could be.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 27, 2012, 04:35:32 AM
You may have problems with the building inspector or the health inspector with that much steam in the building. Just depends on your local regulations and how strict your inspectors are.

I have my doubts as to you being able to get the jacket on that tank to pass code for a steam jacket, unless it was used by one before. I'm sure you know how dangerous a broken seam on a steam jacketed tank could be.

That makes sense about the ambient steam -- I'd definitely have to install a sufficiently sized Type 1 hood (I'm assuming), which may prove problematic.

Definitely some more discussions to be had, both with some engineering friends and inspectors.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: toddster on January 27, 2012, 02:44:23 PM
I wouldn't use steam on it for a boil kettle. I wouldn't use steam on it for a step mash. You don't know how they put the jacket on and what type of insulation is in there.

It would be really good for a step mash with a hydronic boiler.

My rant on steam boilers is: They are expensive to install and maintain. Yes you can find a good used boiler but to pay a fitter to install it is very expensive. Most states require you to have a boiler operator license with yearly inspections. The inspection requires you to tear the boiler down. You will also have to have an insurance on it.

Now for my opinion on direct fire. The best and cheapest method for up to 10 bbls. Hands down.

Good Luck Todd
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: majorvices on January 27, 2012, 02:47:38 PM
The only draw back I could see about using that tank as a MT is you would probably be slightly limited on the size of your mash. But my guess is you could easily pull off a 1.080 beer but you may need some sugar additions or DME to get much higher than that. I personally only rarely care to drink or brew a beer much higher than 1.080. On the current system I am running (about to become my pilot system) I have had to use DME a couple of times to reach 1.090. I didn't really consider it a problem.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 27, 2012, 03:26:01 PM
I wouldn't use steam on it for a boil kettle. I wouldn't use steam on it for a step mash. You don't know how they put the jacket on and what type of insulation is in there.

It would be really good for a step mash with a hydronic boiler.

My rant on steam boilers is: They are expensive to install and maintain. Yes you can find a good used boiler but to pay a fitter to install it is very expensive. Most states require you to have a boiler operator license with yearly inspections. The inspection requires you to tear the boiler down. You will also have to have an insurance on it.

Now for my opinion on direct fire. The best and cheapest method for up to 10 bbls. Hands down.

Good Luck Todd

I presume you're referring to high pressure steam? I completely agree with your (and previous) comments about the potential for some serious harm that could come as a result of a failed jacket and the difficulties associated with HPS. I actually have no interest in operating a high pressure steam boiler at this stage, and would have to seriously consider the implications of doing so in future expansion plans.

However, my thoughts were that if this tank was manufactured with glycol chilling in mind, the jacket would be rated for ~15 PSI and MIGHT be well suited for low pressure steam. Ensuring that the jacket could hold 15+ PSI is definitely worth testing before I make a decision one way or the other (if in fact I do end up using this as a BK). As far as the insulation type, that’s a good point and worth checking in to as well.

I still have high hopes for this tank – I’ll be picking it up tomorrow, so I can post some additional pics / specs then.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: tschmidlin on January 27, 2012, 06:21:03 PM
The only draw back I could see about using that tank as a MT is you would probably be slightly limited on the size of your mash. But my guess is you could easily pull off a 1.080 beer but you may need some sugar additions or DME to get much higher than that. I personally only rarely care to drink or brew a beer much higher than 1.080. On the current system I am running (about to become my pilot system) I have had to use DME a couple of times to reach 1.090. I didn't really consider it a problem.
I think you could easily pull off a much stronger beer, just at a much lower final volume ;D
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: majorvices on January 27, 2012, 06:45:39 PM
The only draw back I could see about using that tank as a MT is you would probably be slightly limited on the size of your mash. But my guess is you could easily pull off a 1.080 beer but you may need some sugar additions or DME to get much higher than that. I personally only rarely care to drink or brew a beer much higher than 1.080. On the current system I am running (about to become my pilot system) I have had to use DME a couple of times to reach 1.090. I didn't really consider it a problem.
I think you could easily pull off a much stronger beer, just at a much lower final volume ;D

Good point. That is what a lot of commercial breweries do.
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 27, 2012, 06:48:24 PM
The only draw back I could see about using that tank as a MT is you would probably be slightly limited on the size of your mash. But my guess is you could easily pull off a 1.080 beer but you may need some sugar additions or DME to get much higher than that. I personally only rarely care to drink or brew a beer much higher than 1.080. On the current system I am running (about to become my pilot system) I have had to use DME a couple of times to reach 1.090. I didn't really consider it a problem.
I think you could easily pull off a much stronger beer, just at a much lower final volume ;D

Good point. That is what a lot of commercial breweries do.

Or double mash...
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: morticaixavier on January 27, 2012, 06:48:53 PM
The only draw back I could see about using that tank as a MT is you would probably be slightly limited on the size of your mash. But my guess is you could easily pull off a 1.080 beer but you may need some sugar additions or DME to get much higher than that. I personally only rarely care to drink or brew a beer much higher than 1.080. On the current system I am running (about to become my pilot system) I have had to use DME a couple of times to reach 1.090. I didn't really consider it a problem.
I think you could easily pull off a much stronger beer, just at a much lower final volume ;D

Good point. That is what a lot of commercial breweries do.

Pretty Things in Boston does a double mash when they want a higher gravity beer than the mashtun will allow. Mash half the grain, run off and then use the wort in place of mash water with the second half of the grain. just another option.

As Wiley says
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on January 31, 2012, 05:49:25 AM
After 16 hours on the road and almost 900 miles, the tank arrived safe and sound at the temporary / pilot location.

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-0G8tuTIU8_c/TyXkeYRrssI/AAAAAAAAAOk/YKzrfIk8__0/s800/2012-01-28%252013.39.58.jpg)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-5jqZkgtbQbE/TyXkg26Xo-I/AAAAAAAAAOs/_cRrVCVOqgU/s800/2012-01-28%252013.40.17.jpg)

The jacket on this bad boy looks solid from the outset (there's about 4" worth of jacketing and insulation between the outer shell and the inner kettle), but needs some rigorous cleaning and testing to determine if steam is the right route. Putting a kettle stack on the lid is going to be easy-peasy (check out the Frankenbrew DVD where the guy put a stack collar on a grundy), and after speaking with a local distillery about their steam setup, it sounds like this tank could be the ticket (looked remarkably similar to their column still setup). More to come on fitting and decisions....
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: boulderbrewer on February 01, 2012, 05:11:09 AM
Nice looking surge tanks in the back ground!
Title: Re: Cart before the horse? Maybe - meh...
Post by: wiley on February 01, 2012, 05:15:24 AM
These guys had some serious stainless!!

I found the coolest grant setup when I was there... I'll have to post some pics of it when I get a chance to snap a few pics. Until then...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT0VvPZSMIw (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT0VvPZSMIw)
Title: Bad news...
Post by: wiley on March 07, 2012, 03:40:40 AM
Major, I think you're right -- the future life of this tank is probably going to be a mash tun...

Two of the four jacket zones don't hold pressure. Looks like the old adage of "They don't make 'em like they used to" holds, but not in a positive light. It appears the material used for the jacketing is simply steel piping :-\

Any suggestions on where I might find a 7 BBL brew kettle?