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Messages - bentwood

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1
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: November 26, 2014, 11:35:31 AM »
nice set up. Seems like your day job pays you enough money to add a glycol jacket on those fermentors (notice: it won't if you quit your day job and become a full time brewer. I opened a brewery in 2010 and am still waiting to make money. Just sayin'.) You can pick up a small glycol unit used to cool draft lines for cheap - $1200 new and probably half that at a used restaurant supply store. And one unit would cool two fermentors easily. Maybe even an additional BBT. You need to be able to very accurately control fermentation temps and you really need to be able to crash cool to be making the best beer possible, which with all the time, money and investment you have in this system I'd think you would want that.

If I keep this system long term I will consider doing that but I don't think it will be running much longer in its current location.  We are thinking of selling the house and moving to the East side of Seattle.  If that happens I would either start up a hobby brewery with a license in a small inexpensive commercial space or go bigger and try to do the day job a year or two before switching over.  We'll have to see how things go.  It's working well for now and I'm hqcing no issues crashing the beer over a couple days.  This little room can get it down to 40 degrees no problem. Maybe lower but 40 is doing a fair job of putting the year to sleep.

I haven't been getting notified about posts on this thread so thanks for the compliments guys.  :-)

2
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: April 29, 2014, 10:42:12 AM »
More on this.  I've only used it to crash fermented beer until now but temps are rising here and I have an ESB yeast in one of the tanks today that needs to stay under 70. It's low end range is 64.  I found that if I didn't disconnect the Coolbot even though it's set at 65 I was seeing temps down to 45.  For most ale yeasts you're going to want to disconnect the heater on the Coolbot from the AC thermostat.  The AC on its own is quite happy maintaining 67 degrees in the room but only after I disconnected the heater wire.

Have you contacted coolbot?  It sounds like the coolbot is not behaving the way it should be.  COuld be an issue with the electronics, or it could be the way you have configured your chamber.

No I haven't but I think realistically a room this small 3 x 5' which is not exactly a typical use for this product this is to be expected.  In a 10 x 12 room it wouldn't have near as much effect. It takes just a minute to reconnect these wires inside a foil wrap so not really a big deal more something to be aware of I think.

3
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: April 28, 2014, 06:44:35 PM »
More on this.  I've only used it to crash fermented beer until now but temps are rising here and I have an ESB yeast in one of the tanks today that needs to stay under 70. It's low end range is 64.  I found that if I didn't disconnect the Coolbot even though it's set at 65 I was seeing temps down to 45.  For most ale yeasts you're going to want to disconnect the heater on the Coolbot from the AC thermostat.  The AC on its own is quite happy maintaining 67 degrees in the room but only after I disconnected the heater wire. 

4
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: April 24, 2014, 04:34:04 PM »
Do you find that your Ferm room loses a lot of cold air because its not insulated?  I was looking at building something like this soon, but the walls where gonna be a LOT thicker then just a piece of wood.  Any thoughts and things you would od differently would be great!

Cheers,
Jeff

Hi Jeff. It loses some. It is insulated but only with 1" foam board. I have very limited space, just half a garage and anything thicker would have been too wide to fit my shelving. Better insulation would mean longer cold periods but since the cool bot works the way it does it still wouldn't cycle till that 10 degree difference. There's about 7 mins right now where just the fan is running before the compressor kicks back in.

It generates a lot of heat in the garage so if you can vent your unit that will be a bonus. I couldn't so I had to leave a gap and I sometimes need to open the garage door to cool things down on the hotter days.  Between this thing and the commercial fridge I can build up heat pretty quick.

5
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: April 24, 2014, 10:24:28 AM »
Now that I've been using the fermentation room for about a year and run some batches through it I thought I would give an update. 

The Coolbot will get the room down to 34 degrees but it seems that it won't kick back on until the temperature has risen roughly 10 degrees in the room.  Basically splitting the difference about the lowest it will hold temps at is 40. I haven't seen a conical drop below that during crashing so I am guessing that's the limitation.  Overall though this has given me a lot more control of my fermentation temps and my beer has gotten a lot more consistent batch to batch which is what we're all striving to achieve.  Not as effective as a jacketed conical but a lot less expensive. 

6
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: July 06, 2013, 08:15:49 AM »
Little temperature controlled fermentation chamber is nearly completed so I thought I'd share some pics.  This took me several weekends and I still have to insulate the ceiling and paint the floor with some heavy duty concrete and decking paint.  That and I'm on the hunt for electronic thermocouples to monitor conical temps externally.




7
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: June 12, 2013, 03:50:57 PM »
Upgrades


8
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: June 10, 2013, 09:51:14 AM »
Sorry, I meant cost for your entire setup.

About 8K for the kettles and pumps and automaton. Another 5K for the fridge. 3K for the serving tanks and kegs. 1k for all thee tapping filling and gas equipment. Another 3-5K in misc stuff like growlers, hose, fittings, pumps, grain storage, etc. Too much...

9
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: June 10, 2013, 09:28:45 AM »
So how do you manage to keep big fermentors cooled in a garage? Also, can you give us a cost range?

Up to now I haven't so this is the remedy for that. I estimate the cost for the enclosure and cooling system at around $650. I picked up the AC yesterday for $170, the Coolbot is $315 and then materials.

10
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: June 09, 2013, 04:22:42 PM »
Yes going pro would be interesting and its always on the back of my mind but I have a lot to learn about brewing off the stove top if you will.  So for now I'm enjoying the hobby gone wild scenario and having fun handing out samples.

I still have a couple challenges with my system. 
1) Cooling.  I think I have whipped this one by buying a second plate chiller.  I was 90 degrees into the conical on this last batch, still too hot but I think the second chiller will get me there.
2) Fermentation Temperature Control.  The temps are all over the place.  Anywhere from 65-80 on these last couple batches.  So after doing some research on the web I've come up with what I think will be a solution. 

I ordered two 55 gallon conicals to replace the 80 gallon I have now.  My plan is to build a 60"x72"x32" insulated wood box with cut outs for double doors.  Using a Coolbot and a 6K BTU window mount AC unit I should be able to control my temperatures within a few degrees and even crash the beer when it reaches target FG.  Here's a rough drawing of what I am planning.  Feedback is always welcome....  Has anyone tried what I'm doing using a coolbot and an AC?


11
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: May 23, 2013, 04:05:40 PM »
Have you thought about hooking up with a local Pub? There are a lot of Brew Pubs popping up around here. As long as they are serving food and being inspected there is no other licensing required. Not sure what they are doing to retail as some are selling growlers. Personally I think there is a market for 5 gal kegs. Could sell premium beer and still be aforadable

At this size there really isn't any money in it. You don't break even till you hit 7BBL and only if you serve food which means kitchen equipment and staff. Bottling or kegging the break even happens at 17 BBL. Tight now it's a hobby and I have a small but devoted following and all the beer I can drink. Life is good.

My wife and I are fully licensed by the feds and state for our brewery.  Right now, we are only brewing ten gallon batches, and the hobby makes us money.  Next month we'll be moving a 1bbl system, but still pretty manual.  And all our profits go right back into brewing toys.  We jsut recently build a walk in fermentation room with cooling and heating for good temperature control. 

Here is a samll brewery in Portlan, OR that brews on a 1bbl system and they've been in business for 20 years.  They must be doing something right. 

Depending on the salary of day your job, and your market, you've got everything you need to do it.  (except you can't brew commercially in your garage unless you block the door to the house, if connected. if that's a seperate building, you are golden)

Yes the garage thing is a problem and because I'm not commercially zoned I couldn't get a license from the city. The day job is also a factor an I live away from the brewery 4 days a week sometimes 5. Also a challenge as the commute is brutal. To seriously consider this it would have to replace my current income and it would take a big system to do that. Believe me I have considered it and maybe someday I will take that route but timing is everything.

12
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: May 22, 2013, 07:53:26 PM »
Have you thought about hooking up with a local Pub? There are a lot of Brew Pubs popping up around here. As long as they are serving food and being inspected there is no other licensing required. Not sure what they are doing to retail as some are selling growlers. Personally I think there is a market for 5 gal kegs. Could sell premium beer and still be aforadable

At this size there really isn't any money in it. You don't break even till you hit 7BBL and only if you serve food which means kitchen equipment and staff. Bottling or kegging the break even happens at 17 BBL. Tight now it's a hobby and I have a small but devoted following and all the beer I can drink. Life is good.

13
Pimp My System / Re: 1 BBL garage system with automation
« on: April 28, 2013, 08:22:52 AM »
So here's the result of batch number two.  A mostly trouble free batch and I would score the result at a 7, taking points for appearance as cooling issues led to some cloudiness and head retention isn't great.  Tastes great though :-)



The growlers are done finally.  I picked them up yesterday and have handed out a couple cases of samples so far with good feedback.


14
Pimp My System / Re: Finished 1BBL system
« on: April 14, 2013, 08:26:02 AM »
Looks nice.  How is that cooling rig working for you?  I went with a convoluted chiller and am not liking it. 
Who did you go with for the tanks?

I love it, it went from 210 to 68 at about a gallon or a little less every minute, What is a convoluted chiller?

It's a coil chiller where a convoluted (twisted) copper pipe runs through a larger coiled copper pipe which carries the water for cooling. Mine is nowhere near as efficient as yours and requires too much wort circulation leading to cloudy beer. Need a PC just not decided on which one yet

15
Equipment and Software / Midwest Supply Plate Chiller or alternative
« on: April 13, 2013, 03:58:56 PM »
Anyone tried this item?  They have only 3 reviews on the site so I'm hoping a few people here have some experience with this or can recommend an alternative. I need to cool 32-33 gallons of wort and am willing to buy a pair of plate chillers if needed but cooling has to be fast.
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/plate-heat-exchanger.html
Ideally I would like a gasketed PC but haven't found any that were reasonably sized/priced.

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