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Topics - garyg

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General Homebrew Discussion / AHA Conference Seminars Sold Out
« on: March 31, 2010, 09:46:25 PM »
The seminars for the AHA National Homebrewers Conference are now sold out.  As of March 31, 3:30 Mountain Time, there are about 50 registrations left for the Grand Banquet.  Registration for the conference social packages is still available.  We will also be opening a la carte registrations for Club Night and Pro-Brewers Night, and the Banquet if there is any space left for the banquet, shortly.

Don't forget to vote in the Governing Committee Election, today is the last day to get your votes in!


General Homebrew Discussion / Homebrew Legalization
« on: January 21, 2010, 06:41:30 PM »
The AHA is currently working with homebrewers in AL, MS, and OK on homebrew legalization in 2010, check out my blog post on for more information.

For the latest update on Government Affairs issues in the beer world, see the Brewers Association’s January Government Affairs update at

Gary Glass
American Homebrewers Association

Kegging and Bottling / Draught Beer Quality Manual
« on: November 03, 2009, 11:54:43 PM »
For anyone who has set up or is considering setting up a home (or commercial) draught beer system, you should check out the Brewers Association Draught Beer Quality Manual.  It is very comprehensive, easy to read, and loaded with photos and charts.

1. Essential Draught System Components
2. Temporary Draught Disspense (e.g. jockey boxes)
3. Equipment and Configurations for Direct Draw Draught Systems
4. Equipment and Configurations for Long-Draw Draught Systems
5. A Matter of Balance
6. Preparation to Pour
7. Serving Draught Beer
8. System Maintenance and Cleaning

You can download the manual in its entirety, or by chapter, for free at

Pimp My System / Post a System
« on: November 02, 2009, 06:07:37 PM »
This board is for posting descriptions and images of homebrew systems and home-built gadgets. The AHA will select a new System each week to feature on the home page in the Pimp My System section.

Please include a photos of the system/gadget you are writing about.  Note, you cannot directly upload or attach images to a forum post, but you can insert an image that is linked from a website.

To include an image in a post:
1. Image must be linked from a website (such as flickr or photobucket or a private website), you cannot directly upload images to the AHA Forum.
2. Put the cursor where ever you want to insert your image.
3. Select the "insert image" icon from the editor tool bar, which will insert "[ img][ /img]" into your post.
4. Insert the URL for the photo you want to include in your post between "[ img]" and "[ /img]"

Homebrewer Bios / Posting a Bio
« on: November 02, 2009, 05:57:55 PM »
This board is for posting short biographies of homebrewers.  You may post a bio of yourself, or of a homebrewer you know that you'd like to share with the community. The AHA will select a new bio each week to feature on the home page as a Brewer of the Week.

Please include a photo of the homebrewer you are writing about.  Note, you cannot directly upload or attach images to a forum post, but you can insert an image that is linked from an website.

To include an image in a post:
1. Image must be linked from a website (such as flickr or photobucket or a private website), you cannot directly upload images to the AHA Forum.
2. Put the cursor where ever you want to insert your image.
3. Select the "insert image" icon from the editor tool bar, which will insert "[ img][ /img]" into your post.
4. Insert the URL for the photo you want to include in your post between "[ img]" and "[ /img]"

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Extract and DMS
« on: November 02, 2009, 04:53:15 PM »
In the process of making malt extract, wort goes through a boiling process (albeit a low temp, low pressure boil) to remove water from the wort and concentrate it into extract.  Does that process drive off DMS in the resulting extact?  In other words, does extract need to be boiled the same as all-grain wort in order to avoid DMS in the finished beer?

All Grain Brewing / Insulation For Mash Tun
« on: October 30, 2009, 11:00:43 PM »
I have a converted keg (legally obtained) mash tun. I'd like to add some insulation to the tun so that it holds temperature longer and more evenly.  I heat my strike water directly in the mash tun, so the insulation either has to be removable or fire proof.  Any suggestions?

Yes. To make changes to a post simply open the post and click on modify. You must be logged in to modify a post. You cannot modify anyone else' posts.

AHA Messages, Forum Rules & FAQs / How do I include an image in my post?
« on: October 25, 2009, 07:11:57 PM »
To include an image in a post:
1. Image must be linked from a website (such as flickr or photobucket or a private website), you cannot directly upload images to the AHA Forum
2. Put the cursor where ever you want to insert your image.
3. Select the "insert image" icon from the editor tool bar, which will insert "[ img][ /img]" into your post.
4. Insert the URL for the photo you want to include in your post between "[ img]" and "[ /img]"

Pimp My System / The Scales of Justice Brew System – by Rick Treusch
« on: October 22, 2009, 08:58:27 PM »

The idea came from the need to transfer wort from one vessel to another without the use of pumps.  I got introduced to home brewing in the summer of 2006 by two of my brothers Rudy and Tony.  They told me what equipment would be necessary to brew my first batch. With that, I bought a 34 quart  turkey fryer from Sam’s Club for the kettle and burner, and built the mash ton out of a 50 quart cooler, some ½” copper tubing and some fittings.  We came up with a recipe and a brew date and I was hooked.

The first thing I learned after how much I love brewing beer; it seemed like a lot of work for a small amount of beer. (A labor of love for sure.)  So I asked why don’t we make bigger batches.  Tony laughed and said sure, we just need bigger equipment, and told me he could borrow a couple of Pico systems and we would brew again.

I invited a friend, Nick Pacquin to brew beer with us on the Pico systems.  Nick and I did a batch on one system and Rudy and Tony on the other system.  We did a 10 gallon batch of an Irish Red Ale and I immediately realized we could be doing a 20 Gallon batch with this system.  So I asked, why don’t we do a 20 gallon batch on this thing?  Tony laughed again and said sure you can, double the recipe, two more car boys and a little more work and you can do just that.

So back to the question, where did the idea for your brew system come from?

We had a great time brewing on the Pico that day, but Nick and I decided that the weakness in the system was the pumps.  They got plugged several times that day and it was a pain.  I thought that I could build a system like this to brew 20 gallon batches without the pumps.  So I mentioned to the boys my idea and they agreed, that would be great.  I asked Nick if he wanted to be my partner on the project and he enthusiastically agreed.  Big Brew Day was a week away and we decided we should have it ready for that so I drew up some plans that night. 

I was going over the plans later that night, trying to work out some details when another friend of mine (Steve Albreck) stopped by to visit.

My original plan was much more sophisticated than this.  It had the burners sitting on top of the lever attached at three points, two pivot points with the third keeping the burner level with a simplest of small levers and gears.  So when you moved the kettles they always stayed level.

Steve looked at my plan and in about two seconds said, that’s way too complicated.  Why don’t you make your fulcrum taller and hang your burner stands from the lever and it will level itself.  I agreed it sure would be easier to build, but I was concerned about the stability with the burners and kettles just hanging there and also the height.  The mash ton and one kettle would be taller and you would need a stool to stand on to look in the kettles.

Being I wanted to build it in six days, so it would be ready for the big brew day, simplicity of design won over possible safety issues and ease of use. In retrospect using a small stool is not a big deal and with reasonable care it has been reasonably safe to use.

I picked up the material for the system Monday afternoon made some calls to find some kegs, and Nick and I stated the project Monday night.   It was very convenient that Nick and his brother John own and operate a small shop (Laser Specialists) in Fraser, Michigan.  We had at our disposal a welder, plasma cutter, 3 axis and 5 axis lasers and plenty of room to work.  Awesome!

We worked very until 3 a.m. in the morning.  It was grueling, but we still had a lot of fun.  It was worth the effort.  We have brewed a lot of good beer on the thing.

Post-script: Having gotten confident with the system, we were recently brewing up a batch, and had begun to chill it. Both during the boil and the chilling, we move the brew back (we use two of the kettles as boil vessels) and forth to make sure it is well mixed, and, since we just have one wort chiller, it all get's cooled down to the desired temperature.

On this particular brew day, we had set up the system on some less than ideal surface (grass) that had experienced some rain recently, and we had a short water out hose (just a few feet). Well, as the water puddle under the stand, I looked out of the corner of my eye and I witnessed the stand starting to tip over and the upper kettle fell down, launching the previously lower kettle up and into the air.

If you are familiar with the French alternative to the catapult, the Trebuchet,

you then can imagine our shock at what transpired next. The kettle, with the 10+ gallons of cooling wort flew about 10'-12' into the side of a building. The kettle was destroyed, the wort lost and the building was, shall we say, the worse for wear. Lesson learned- this system needs a stable, solid surface for safety's sake. Fortunately, no one was in the way when this happened and no one was hurt. Startled, yes.

Pimp My System / Joe Gerteis Brewing System
« on: October 22, 2009, 08:11:57 PM »
Joe Gerteis Brewing System, SPHBC President.

The pictures show my garage brewery, which is still and always a work in progress.  For me, the brewing system had to be in the garage, and easy to move, disassemble, and store.  I only recently put in the heat resistant tile backer so that I can just keep it under the window (it opens up and I just hold it up there with a bungee cord -- poor man's ventilation!).  Maybe sometime I'll be able to move everything into my basement and pipe it into natural gas, but that will require more major work than I can put in right now.  So it's the garage for the near future at least.  

The first picture is the burners/stands and kettles.  I got the burners and stands from a company in Louisiana that sells them as crawfish cookers.  The tanks are new -- I used converted kegs with bazooka screens before.  You can see one of those kegs on the side.  The kegs work great but they are HEAVY and a bit of a pain to disassemble for cleaning.  So far these "Italian kettles" are great -- heavier bottoms would be ideal, but I like the dimensions on these.

The other picture shows my pumps and chiller.  Since all my kettles are at the same height, one pump is a necessity.  Two just makes life a little easier.  (The heavy-duty one is a March model AC-3C-MD, the other is a March MDX model with a threaded head unit that I swapped on, so sort of custom.)  I screwed the pumps onto some bits of pine board and put little rubber pads under the boards to help keep them stable and dampen the vibration while they are running.  The chiller is the normal Shirron plate chiller with an added coupler and disconnect for the wort-in side.  

I've upgraded elements over time as cash flow allowed.  Stainless valves from Northern Brewer on the kettles replaced cheapie brass ones.  I bought stainless reducers and valves for the pumps on sale online.  The other big upgrade besides the kettles themselves was the polysulfone disconnects.  For a couple of years I used a set of brass ones that I bought from McMaster-Carr.  They are really affordable and work fine but they get pretty hot.  The Polysulfone ones are great but I've managed to break a few, and they're a bit pricey.  

I have a secondary system (Rubbermaid cooler mashtun, smaller 8 gallon boiler) for kitchen brewing when it gets too cold for using the water supply hoses in the winter, but my stove is only just barely up to the task.  So I'm trying to figure a new way of running water lines out and back into my basement for the cold weather.  If I get ambitious I might try to use the extra welded coupler on the boil kettle to rig some kind of port for whirlpool...we'll see.

That's it!  

Pimp My System / Dion Hollenbeck’s RIMS Brewing System
« on: October 21, 2009, 03:54:44 PM »
I started brewing on my first RIMS system in about 1994, having read the article in Zymurgy by Rodney Morris on how to build a RIMS system.  I had an electronics engineer at work help me wire wrap the temperature controller circuit.  Since then, the system has gone through 4 major upgrades, all of which can be seen at my website  There are many more pictures and much more detail on this site.

My current system is made from 3 half barrel kegs (all obtained legally), a stainless steel stand which I fabricated and welded myself, a heater chamber containing two low density elements, a surplus magnetically coupled pump and an electronics control box, also fabricated by myself.  This system is housed in my dedicated brewery room in my workshop.  There is a 200 CFM exhaust system above the brewing stand, a 4”x36” floor drain and a laundry sink with an additional dedicated bottle washer.  There is also a hose with hot and cold water coming out of the wall next to the laundry sink.

Heater Chamber
The heater chamber is a length of 1-½” stainless steel pipe with T fittings on each end.  It contains two Grainger part #2E768 low density, nickel alloy heater elements.  These elements are designed to run at 6000 watts on 240 volts, but I run them at 120 volts, thereby cutting the watt output by 4 down to 1500 watts each.  Each element is about 22” long and folded over on itself twice, resulting in a watt density of about 15 watts per square inch.  A watt density of any higher than this can lead to scorching of the wort.  The heater elements are protected on each end of the chamber with 4” PVC pipe fitting “hats” so that no one can touch the electrical connections.  All of the electrical cords plug into dedicated GFCI outlets (2 - 20 amp circuits, one for each heater element).  The heater chamber is designed so that it can be completely disassembled and cleaned thoroughly after every brew.  This is necessary, as I found out the hard way, because some grain bills will leave a residue on the heater elements that if left on and wet will rot and create a horrible stench.  The thermocouple sensor that hooks up to the PID temperature controller is on the output side of the heater chamber.  The reason for this is that with the setpoint being monitored at the output, the wort which contains the majority of the enzymes in the mash will never overheat.  Yes, there is a small lag in the main mash getting to the same temperature as the circulating wort, but there is never any problem of denaturing the enzymes in the wort by overheating.

Pump & Couplings & Hoses
I was very fortunate to get a few surplus March pumps many years ago.  They are magnetically coupled, with a 1/8hp motor and a stainless steel impeller housing.  These pumps are worth about $1500 each, but I obtained them for $40 each used.  Yes, 1/8hp is way larger than necessary, but I use a speed control to slow down the pump during recirculation.  Every fitting and hose on the system is connected with Hansen brass hydraulic quick disconnect couplings.  This makes it very easy to disassemble and clean after every brewing session.  The pump inlet has a manifold with two valves so that the input can easily be switched from mashtun to hot liquor tank.  The hoses that are input from the mashtun and hot liquor tank are semi-rigid Teflon with SS overbraid.  This very hefty material prevents any collapse from occurring under heat and suction.  All hoses on the output side of the pump are food grade vinyl with the internal braiding.

Control Box
I fabricated the control box from plywood and scrap nylon sheet.  There are input and output grills on bottom and top, and a small 110V muffin fan to bring air through the box while in use.  Two 10 gauge cords bring power into the box.  One cord powers one heater element and the pump, and the other cord powers the other heater element and the PID temperature controller.  Each cord is on a dedicated 20amp GFCI circuit because each of the heater elements draws 11amps.  The pump speed is controlled via a commercial ceiling fan motor speed controller.  The PID temperature controller is an Omega CNI16D22-EI, which is a 1/16 DIN controller with two displays, two SSR outputs and an Ethernet interface with embedded web server.  The PID cannot switch the 11 amp draw of the heater elements, so it instead triggers two 25 amp solid state relays which do the actual switching on and off of the heaters.  There are two red indicator lights in the front panel of the cabinet which are wired in parallel with the heater elements so that it is easy to see when they are on or off.  The pump control also has an indicator light.

The mashtun is a converted half barrel keg with a SABCO full width false bottom.  The pickup tube is fabricated from ½” SS tubing and Swagelok fittings.  There is a T fitting and two valves on the outlet of the mashtun so that the output can easily go either back to the pump or down into the boil kettle.  The mashtun is at the highest level of the system so that the head for the pump is as much as possible.  The return to the mashtun from the heater chamber is through the wall of the keg at the top.  This allows the pump to have a very high head feeding it by gravity, since a magnetic pump is NOT self-priming.  The returning wort goes through a silicone rubber hose and down into a 6 outlet copper return manifold so that the returning wort will not create channels in the grain bed.

Boil Kettle & Hot Liquor Tank
The boil kettle and hot liquor tank are both half barrel converted kegs.  The hot liquor tank has no false bottom, and the boil kettle has an ABT false bottom that looks like an upside down pie tin with holes in it.  The liquid pickups on both kettle and HLT were fabricated out of ½” SS tubing and Swagelok fittings.  All of the sanitary welding on the mashtun, HLT and kettle was done by Jeff’s Stainless Solutions in San Diego, CA.  I am capable of doing structural welding on the stand with my MIG welder, but doing the sanitary welding correctly required both a TIG welder and years of experience welding SS, which I do not possess.

Stand & Burners
I fabricated the stand myself from ½” SS square tubing and angle.  The mashtun sits at the highest point and gravity feeds into the kettle.  The kettle gravity feeds down through a coiled counterflow chiller and into a fermenter (I ferment in corny kegs).  The hot liquor tank is at the lowest level and all sparge water is pumped up from there to the mashtun.  The burners are fed through a dedicated 15psi propane line which is hooked up to the 250 gallon propane tank which we use for our house heating.  No running out of propane in the middle of a brew for me!  Between the 15psi propane supply and the burner manifold is a pressure regulator.  The manifold is ½” black iron pipe with three burners attached, one for each of mashtun, kettle and HLT.  The burners on the HLT and kettle are 55k BTU burners with a 4” ring of flames.  However, the mashtun burner is only a 30k BTU 10” ring burner.  All are fitted with SS wind screens from MoreBeer, which is also where I got the burners.  The reason I have a burner at all on the mashtun is that sometimes I have a huge grain bill that would cause the upward ramp time of the mash to be too slow even with the two heater elements.  In those rare instances, I turn the burner on under the mashtun as well while ramping from protein to sacchrification rest and then on up to mashout.  This also saved a brew on the day when my PID controller decided to die on me just as I was coming up to mash-in temp.

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