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General Category => Pimp My System => Topic started by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 01:32:48 PM

Title: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 01:32:48 PM
This is my brewing system.  I put it all together myself w/ the help of a welder friend for the rack:

-14 Gallon hot liquor tank on top tier
-10 Gallon cooler as mash tun on middle tier
-14 Gallon boil kettle on bottom tier
-55K BTU burners w/ custom built propane lines

The best pic. I have now - I'll try to get a better one next time I brew.
(https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/188246_202584489761240_197041336982222_687138_4544615_n.jpg)

Another look at the mash tun & boil kettle (w/ immersion wort chiller inside).
(https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/198538_202584623094560_197041336982222_687143_5298753_n.jpg)

Hot liquor tank w/ thermometer.
(https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/188430_202584553094567_197041336982222_687140_2529375_n.jpg)

My burners (55K BTU):
(https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/190509_202436226442733_197041336982222_686246_6013917_n.jpg)

Custom made propane line assembly for both burners (hot liquor & boil).
(https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/198896_202584609761228_197041336982222_687142_8086442_n.jpg)

Another look.
(https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/200713_202584589761230_197041336982222_687141_7442930_n.jpg)

Phil's Sparger (I could use a new one - but they aren't made anymore).
(https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/198167_202436313109391_197041336982222_686250_2528053_n.jpg)

Out spigot on mash tun.
(https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/190612_202436296442726_197041336982222_686249_3122567_n.jpg)

Other stuff (Spare kegs, bottle tree, etc.).
(https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/200578_202584736427882_197041336982222_687147_366314_n.jpg)
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: bluesman on March 29, 2011, 01:45:06 PM
Very nice system!

Simple yet very practical. Well done.  8)
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 29, 2011, 03:24:24 PM
Phil's Sparger (I could use a new one - but they aren't made anymore).

The reason being that Dan Listermann said it was the most worthless piece of equipment he ever produced.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 03:31:24 PM
Phil's Sparger (I could use a new one - but they aren't made anymore).

The reason being that Dan Listermann said it was the most worthless piece of equipment he ever produced.

Lol  Really?  It works great for me - and I prefer it to the diffusion sparge attachments I'm seeing these days. 

Of course, I did have to replace Phils Phalse Botton in my mash tun w/ a stainless one.  I had a horrible experience one time where the amount of grain in the tun pressed the plastic false bottom to the bottom of the tun and I had hell sparging that batch/collecting my wort! 

What do you use to sparge? 
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: beersk on March 29, 2011, 03:31:50 PM
I think it'd be hard to lift a kettle full of water to that top tier, this is what I don't get about 3 tier systems.  Unless you pump it in, it seems to not be practical to me.  But it looks very nice, if it works for you, then great.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 29, 2011, 03:34:21 PM
What do you use to sparge? 

A toilet hose in a cooler...


www.dennybrew.com

Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 03:58:23 PM
Interesting.  Maybe I'll look into building my own sparger.  Perhaps a ring w/ lots of holes in it.....
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 03:59:21 PM
Very nice system!

Simple yet very practical. Well done.  8)

Thanks.  It works quite well for me.  The only 'issue' somewhat is the height of the hot liquor tank, but it's a very, very minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. 
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: JKL on March 29, 2011, 05:28:05 PM
I love it!!  I'm in the process of putting together my 1/2 barrel system and It'll look a lot like yours by next week when I get to finally take her for a test drive! 

quote author=beersk link=topic=6688.msg80443#msg80443 date=1301412710]
I think it'd be hard to lift a kettle full of water to that top tier, this is what I don't get about 3 tier systems.  Unless you pump it in, it seems to not be practical to me.  But it looks very nice, if it works for you, then great.
[/quote]

This is my main concern right now.  It was hard enough filling my 7.5 gal HLT on my old wooden 3 tier.  Now I'm going to be about another foot higher.  I'm planning on getting a pump soon but of course I want the s/s quick disconnects to go with it and might as well get a few new s/s valves to replace those old brass ones.  Wow Therminators sure are pretty. ;D
-J.K.L.

Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: tschmidlin on March 29, 2011, 05:29:16 PM
Interesting.  Maybe I'll look into building my own sparger.  Perhaps a ring w/ lots of holes in it.....
Check out Denny's website and consider batch sparging.  I don't, but a lot of people do with great results.  I'll probably try it in a few batches.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 06:09:16 PM
I love it!!  I'm in the process of putting together my 1/2 barrel system and It'll look a lot like yours by next week when I get to finally take her for a test drive! 

quote author=beersk link=topic=6688.msg80443#msg80443 date=1301412710]
I think it'd be hard to lift a kettle full of water to that top tier, this is what I don't get about 3 tier systems.  Unless you pump it in, it seems to not be practical to me.  But it looks very nice, if it works for you, then great.

This is my main concern right now.  It was hard enough filling my 7.5 gal HLT on my old wooden 3 tier.  Now I'm going to be about another foot higher.  I'm planning on getting a pump soon but of course I want the s/s quick disconnects to go with it and might as well get a few new s/s valves to replace those old brass ones.  Wow Therminators sure are pretty. ;D
-J.K.L.


[/quote]

I fill my hot liquor tank using a 1-gallon jug, so I can easily measure how much water I'm putting in for each step.  So filling it, even that high up, isn't really an issue.  That's what the step stool is for.  I never move/lift my hot liquor tank during brewing. 
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: beersk on March 29, 2011, 06:33:26 PM
Oh that's a good idea.  I have a one gallon pitcher that would work well for something like that also.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 29, 2011, 06:38:16 PM
Interesting.  Maybe I'll look into building my own sparger.  Perhaps a ring w/ lots of holes in it.....
Check out Denny's website and consider batch sparging.  I don't, but a lot of people do with great results.  I'll probably try it in a few batches.

Dude, am I gonna have to come up there and walk you through it?  ;)
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Bret on March 29, 2011, 06:50:31 PM
Phil's Sparger (I could use a new one - but they aren't made anymore).

The reason being that Dan Listermann said it was the most worthless piece of equipment he ever produced.

Why did he say this?  I have used mine for 15 years, and it works just fine.  I use a five gallon cylindrical cooler (blue) for a mash tun due to space constraints, so another (in addition to the two I use for well, coolers) big rectangular cooler and batch sparging don't work for me.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 06:52:37 PM
Interesting.  Maybe I'll look into building my own sparger.  Perhaps a ring w/ lots of holes in it.....
Check out Denny's website and consider batch sparging.  I don't, but a lot of people do with great results.  I'll probably try it in a few batches.

Dude, am I gonna have to come up there and walk you through it?  ;)

I guess I just need a link to the definition.  What is 'batch sparging'? 
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: gordonstrong on March 29, 2011, 06:53:38 PM
Oh, no.  You didn't go there.  Look out, below.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 06:54:10 PM
Lol.  Uh oh.  Did I just open a can of worms?   :D
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: gordonstrong on March 29, 2011, 06:57:09 PM
It's like saying to a wolf, "look, a steak."
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Hokerer on March 29, 2011, 07:08:15 PM
It's like saying to a wolf, "look, a steak."

"Werewolf"
"Werewolf !"
"There"
"What ?"
"There wolf... there castle"
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 07:08:56 PM
OK - I've read the basics.  The only down-side is that it can, apparently, affect extraction rates.  I've never calculated mine, so maybe I need to start...
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 29, 2011, 07:20:08 PM
I guess I just need a link to the definition.  What is 'batch sparging'? 

It's when you completely run off the wort from the mash, then add all the sparge water at once and run it off.  The full definition and technique is on my website at www.dennybrew.com .
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 29, 2011, 07:22:23 PM
The only down-side is that it can, apparently, affect extraction rates.

A canard...many things can affect extraction rates.  My average efficiency is in the mid 80s, so it's not too bad.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 29, 2011, 07:22:47 PM
It's like saying to a wolf, "look, a steak."

It's kinda like you know me.....
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 07:26:40 PM
It's like saying to a wolf, "look, a steak."

It's kinda like you know me.....

I just tink of you as David St. Hubbins - it's the avatar.

You workin on a sex farm?  lol
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Bret on March 29, 2011, 07:41:50 PM
Phil's Sparger (I could use a new one - but they aren't made anymore).

The reason being that Dan Listermann said it was the most worthless piece of equipment he ever produced.

Why did he say this?  I have used mine for 15 years, and it works just fine.  I use a five gallon cylindrical cooler (blue) for a mash tun due to space constraints, so another (in addition to the two I use for well, coolers) big rectangular cooler and batch sparging don't work for me.
???
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: beersk on March 29, 2011, 07:49:41 PM
It's like saying to a wolf, "look, a steak."

"Werewolf"
"Werewolf !"
"There"
"What ?"
"There wolf... there castle"
"Suit yourself.  I'm easy!"
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 07:50:58 PM
It's pronounced: 'eye-gore'!
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 29, 2011, 07:54:23 PM
Phil's Sparger (I could use a new one - but they aren't made anymore).

The reason being that Dan Listermann said it was the most worthless piece of equipment he ever produced.

Why did he say this?  I have used mine for 15 years, and it works just fine.  I use a five gallon cylindrical cooler (blue) for a mash tun due to space constraints, so another (in addition to the two I use for well, coolers) big rectangular cooler and batch sparging don't work for me.
???

It broke easily.  It seldom spun like it was supposed to, although the spinning made no difference anyway.  It lost heat as it spun (if it did) and from the distance the water had to fall from it.  And mainly that there were far easier and more effective ways to accomplish fly sparging.

Why couldn't you batch sparge with the equipment you already have?
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Bret on March 29, 2011, 08:04:46 PM
Phil's Sparger (I could use a new one - but they aren't made anymore).

The reason being that Dan Listermann said it was the most worthless piece of equipment he ever produced.

Why did he say this?  I have used mine for 15 years, and it works just fine.  I use a five gallon cylindrical cooler (blue) for a mash tun due to space constraints, so another (in addition to the two I use for well, coolers) big rectangular cooler and batch sparging don't work for me.
???

It broke easily.  It seldom spun like it was supposed to, although the spinning made no difference anyway.  It lost heat as it spun (if it did) and from the distance the water had to fall from it.  And mainly that there were far easier and more effective ways to accomplish fly sparging.

Why couldn't you batch sparge with the equipment you already have?

Huh.  Mine did not break (15 years) spins as well as the first time, too.  Heat loss I hadn't considered and with 10-14 lbs.of grain in a five gallon cooler the falling distance is two to five inches.  Funny, it is what I first had and never had any issues that made me want to do it differently--I guess I'll have to think that over.

As for your last question, I would never let my beer anywhere near my camping coolers!  Let's just say the sanitization standards are a bit different!

Thanks for the reply, Denny. Cheers.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: gordonstrong on March 29, 2011, 08:11:58 PM
You can just fly sparge without the lawn whirlygig thing.  Leave an inch or so water on top of the grain bed.  Then who cares how the water gets onto it?  It's not like the sprinkling action is hitting the grain.  I just use the hose from my HLT pumped on top.  Run it in tangentially so it doesn't drill a hole into the bed.  It helps if you prep the grain bed before sparging by cutting channels into it with a thin spatula.  That was a Sierra Nevada tip.

Or you can do the Denny thing.  Both work.  It's just a means to an end.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Bret on March 29, 2011, 08:15:30 PM
But I like the whirlygig thing  ;D
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: gordonstrong on March 29, 2011, 08:21:21 PM
I did too.  But when you realize it's just a shiny object to distract you from the fact that your sparge water is actually 20 degrees colder than you expected, then you adjust your thinking.

They actually worked fine for me, as long as you were careful not to lose the little silicone stoppers from the ends.  I sold it off along with my 10 gal Gott cooler when I went to a half-barrel Pico system.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 08:21:58 PM
Thankfully, I haven't had any big issues w/ Phil's Sparger. 

It can stop spinning when my hot liquor tank is nearly empty, but I don't see that as an issue.  I generally don't have a problem hitting/holding my mash temp either. 

I also adjust the height above the grains as much as I can - so the water doens't have to fall too far before making contact.  Also, my setup means the water doesn't travel very far between leaving the hot liquor tank and exiting the sparger.  I'm quite certain I'm not losing anything close to 20 degrees. 

I guess I'll keep using it until I find something better or it breaks...


Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Bret on March 29, 2011, 08:28:15 PM
I did too.  But when you realize it's just a shiny object to distract you from the fact that your sparge water is actually 20 degrees colder than you expected, then you adjust your thinking.

They actually worked fine for me, as long as you were careful not to lose the little silicone stoppers from the ends.  I sold it off along with my 10 gal Gott cooler when I went to a half-barrel Pico system.

20 degrees??!!  :o It's toast!

Thanks Gordon.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: dannyjed on March 29, 2011, 08:32:48 PM
I have to chime in.  I have a buddy who has a fancy tier sculpture with pumps and counterflow chiller that he made and constructed by himself and his brew day takes about 6-8 hours.  His beer tastes great.  I use the Denny / batch sparge method and my brew day takes about 5 hours.  I think my beer tastes great.  To each their own.  I'm just glad that I found this cheaper (and in my opinion simpler) method of all-grain brewing which I believe produces equal results because i was reluctant to get into all-grain thinking I had to spend thousands of $ for new equipment.  Denny states this better in the last Zymurgy issue, but anyway thanks Denny for helping this guy take baby steps in equipment upgrades and giant leaps in beer quality.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 29, 2011, 08:35:37 PM

As for your last question, I would never let my beer anywhere near my camping coolers!  Let's just say the sanitization standards are a bit different!

Thanks for the reply, Denny. Cheers.

:)  What I meant was that maybe you should think about trying batch sparging with your current setup rather than your camping coolers.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 29, 2011, 08:38:43 PM
thanks Denny for helping this guy take baby steps in equipment upgrades and giant leaps in beer quality.

(http://www.brews-bros.com/public/style_emoticons/default/cheers.gif)
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Bret on March 29, 2011, 08:40:23 PM

As for your last question, I would never let my beer anywhere near my camping coolers!  Let's just say the sanitization standards are a bit different!

Thanks for the reply, Denny. Cheers.

:)  What I meant was that maybe you should think about trying batch sparging with your current setup rather than your camping coolers.

Yeah, I knew that, I was going for the easy joke about my camping coolers.  And I will be batch sparging my next brew--an easy pale ale that I am very familiar with so I can gauge the difference. I can expect 115% efficiency, right?
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 29, 2011, 08:44:23 PM

As for your last question, I would never let my beer anywhere near my camping coolers!  Let's just say the sanitization standards are a bit different!

Thanks for the reply, Denny. Cheers.

:)  What I meant was that maybe you should think about trying batch sparging with your current setup rather than your camping coolers.

Yeah, I knew that, I was going for the easy joke about my camping coolers.  And I will be batch sparging my next brew--an easy pale ale that I am very familiar with so I can gauge the difference. I can expect 115% efficiency, right?

Yeah, and if it's a blue cooler, maybe even more than that!   ;D
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Bret on March 29, 2011, 08:50:22 PM
...gallon cylindrical cooler (blue) for a mash tun due to space constraints...

Oh yeah!
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 29, 2011, 08:50:32 PM
I did too.  But when you realize it's just a shiny object to distract you from the fact that your sparge water is actually 20 degrees colder than you expected, then you adjust your thinking.

They actually worked fine for me, as long as you were careful not to lose the little silicone stoppers from the ends.  I sold it off along with my 10 gal Gott cooler when I went to a half-barrel Pico system.

20 degrees??!!  :o It's toast!

Thanks Gordon.

My setup means the water doesn't travel very far between leaving the hot liquor tank and exiting the sparger.  I'm quite certain I'm not losing anything close to 20 degrees.  If I was, I'd never hit my target mash temp.  
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: gordonstrong on March 29, 2011, 08:56:18 PM
That's what it was on my system way back when.  But go ahead and measure it yourself.  Adjust your temperatures so that you hit the temp you want in the mash tun, not anywhere else.

You mash in using the sparger?  Isn't that slow?
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: tschmidlin on March 30, 2011, 05:21:38 AM
Interesting.  Maybe I'll look into building my own sparger.  Perhaps a ring w/ lots of holes in it.....
Check out Denny's website and consider batch sparging.  I don't, but a lot of people do with great results.  I'll probably try it in a few batches.

Dude, am I gonna have to come up there and walk you through it?  ;)
That might motivate me to make the change :)  I'll try it eventually even if you don't come visit though.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: beveragebob on March 30, 2011, 05:34:17 AM
"I think it'd be hard to lift a kettle full of water to that top tier, this is what I don't get about 3 tier systems."

Beersk,

I have three three tier gravity systems. I just use a hose that runs up to the kettle. Either from a GAC filter or straight in(when I use camden tabs). Only time it's a little challenging is when I'm using RO water but, I have brewing platforms I can stand on securely and "pour in". Not a big deal. I've had a pump that I hardly use being that gravity has not broken on me yet  8)
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 30, 2011, 01:09:22 PM
That's what it was on my system way back when.  But go ahead and measure it yourself.  Adjust your temperatures so that you hit the temp you want in the mash tun, not anywhere else.

You mash in using the sparger?  Isn't that slow?

Lol.  Whoops!  No.  I mis-spoke.  I was thinking about the mash rather than the sparge.  D'oh! 
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: ibru on March 31, 2011, 03:10:06 PM
Last Sunday I did my first batch sparge on a pale ale. I started at heating water and crushing grain at 1 o'clock. My wife came out to my mancave at six to see how it was going. The only thing I had left was to pitch the yeast. My extraction was about as good (~75%) as I get fly sparging.

I could really like this!

Only complaint is I got done too early, had to take the wife out to dinner....
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 31, 2011, 03:17:35 PM
Last Sunday I did my first batch sparge on a pale ale. I started at heating water and crushing grain at 1 o'clock. My wife came out to my mancave at six to see how it was going. The only thing I had left was to pitch the yeast. My extraction was about as good (~75%) as I get fly sparging.

I could really like this!

Only complaint is I got done too early, had to take the wife out to dinner....

Hey, I enjoy taking my wife out to dinner (but I enjoy cooking for her too).  :) 
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: dak0415 on March 31, 2011, 03:23:34 PM
Only complaint is I got done too early, had to take the wife out to dinner....

Showing her that you can take time to brew AND give her HER time - priceless!
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: denny on March 31, 2011, 03:46:44 PM
Only complaint is I got done too early, had to take the wife out to dinner....

Dude, that's called keeping the gun loaded with beer bullets.  You don't know it's empty until it's too late!
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: ibru on March 31, 2011, 04:32:31 PM
Quote
Only complaint is I got done too early, had to take the wife out to dinner....

Showing her that you can take time to brew AND give her HER time - priceless!
Quote


Yep, I did get a few points with her...

BTW Monger, your system is similar to the way I built mine. My hot water tank is directly below the mast tun (orange, like yours). I use a 2 quart pitcher to bail my water for mashing and sparging. I didn't have enough head room to be totally gravity.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: ibru on March 31, 2011, 04:37:46 PM
I haven't quite caught on to the posting quotes, bear with me...

Beer gun??? Guess I got room for it in my safe. Like the idea! You can never have too many bullets for shooting or cashing in....
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Beer Monger on March 31, 2011, 05:01:28 PM
Quote
Only complaint is I got done too early, had to take the wife out to dinner....

Showing her that you can take time to brew AND give her HER time - priceless!
Quote


Yep, I did get a few points with her...

BTW Monger, your system is similar to the way I built mine. My hot water tank is directly below the mast tun (orange, like yours). I use a 2 quart pitcher to bail my water for mashing and sparging. I didn't have enough head room to be totally gravity.
Have you thought about investing in a pump? 
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: ibru on March 31, 2011, 05:59:55 PM
I do have a pump that I use to move wort from my brew pot through my counter chiller into my conical that sits in a temp controlled freezer. I just starting using it the last two brews. I just haven't put the valve on my water vessel yet. I will also have to make a "dipstick" so I know how much water I'm adding. Guess I didn't want to add too much too fast. I also needed to build my beer inventory. 
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: oscarvan on April 04, 2011, 11:32:50 AM
Large (blue-ish) cooler..... batch sparge. Two short pieces of hose, on from the HLT to the MLT, one from the MLT to the BK. No whirlies, no pumps, no issues. Beer tastes good.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Bret on April 04, 2011, 06:19:47 PM
Yeah, Denny, I brewed the pale ale and tried the batch sparge.  Wort seems good--got a slightly lower gravity than expected, but this might be something else--I hadn't used the type of malt in a while.  My set up is a little small for it--hard to get the amount of sparge water in all at once, but 
I do think I am sticking with it due to the issues Gordon points out.
Title: Re: Rate my system!
Post by: Will's Swill on April 06, 2011, 01:48:28 AM
Large (blue-ish) cooler..... batch sparge. Two short pieces of hose, on from the HLT to the MLT, one from the MLT to the BK. No whirlies, no pumps, no issues. Beer tastes good.

Large (actually blue!) cooler..... fly sparge.  Two short pieces of hose, one from the HLT to the MLT, one from the MLT to the BK.  No whirlies, no issues.  Beer tastes good.  And it doesn't take any longer than batch sparging.  And once the input/output flow to the MLT is balanced (takes about 30 seconds of messing with two ball valves), I sit and drink a beer until everything has drained.  No reheating sparge water, no stirring, no re-vorlaufing.

Don't worry, I've batch sparged, too.  I prefer fly sparging, but only slightly and probably only because I started out that way.  Do what works best for you, obviously.