Author Topic: Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?  (Read 4183 times)

Offline rkausch

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Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?
« on: January 12, 2012, 04:22:33 PM »
Ok, so, first things first, I'll admit, I'm a bit obsessive, and do some off the wall stuff, because I think it's fun.  No, this project isn't "necessary", but I'm getting a kick out of it.

So, I'm rebuilding my system, to make it easier to use on brew day.  I've decided to hard-plumb all the connections with solid pipe, and am having some trouble deciding what material to use.  My system is basically a 3 kettle system, in roughly the same layout as a Brutus 10, with all the kettles side by side, at the same elevation from the ground. 

The purist in me says "use stainless steel pipe", because that's what all of the connections, valves, etc are made of, and dang it, it looks pretty.  Problem is, it's not easy to find (unless I'm not looking in the right places), and rather expensive (IIRC, Grainger wanted to sell me a 10 foot length of Schedule 5 at around $40.00).

Well, the economist in me says "use copper", as it's most likely cheaper, and I can find it easily (home depot, etc). 

So, I know that copper kind of acts as a nutrient for the yeast if present in the boil kettle, which is a good thing, and stainless steel is easy to keep clean. 

So, are there any good reasons to use either approach? 

Thanks in advance!
Rob

Offline Gribble

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Re: Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2012, 04:44:50 PM »
I did mine with copper, sweat all the fittings and used 1/2" SS camlocks.  I found the copper easy to work with and the build went fairly well.  Cleaning isn't a hassle.  On the wort side I run acid 5 and pbw about every 3 brews and it stays just as clean as the day i put it all together.
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Offline EHall

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Re: Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2012, 10:35:32 AM »
SS would be the best way to go and definately looks great. Copper is safe... its in the plumping in your house! So either way will work, I think you need to shop around locally for SS tubing... any kind of welders or metal shops in your town?
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Offline rkausch

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Re: Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2012, 12:02:55 PM »
Thanks for the replies...

Quote
Cleaning isn't a hassle.  On the wort side I run acid 5 and pbw about every 3 brews and it stays just as clean as the day i put it all together.

Interesting note about the cleaning frequency.  I would have thought you need to clean with PBW after every brew.  Do you just rinse with water on the non-PBW cleanings?

Quote
any kind of welders or metal shops in your town?

I live in the south eastern Denver area, and have a couple of metal shops I've used over the years for standard steel box tubes (that's what I built the rest of the brewery out of).  I need to call around though for other sources. 

I can't claim credit for the idea on this, but I'm going to tie everything together with a "patch panel" with quick disconnects, so I can route any liquid source, through a pump, to any liquid destination.  Here's a pic of the patch panel as it was being built:


Offline Gribble

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Re: Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2012, 12:45:23 PM »
Quote
Interesting note about the cleaning frequency.  I would have thought you need to clean with PBW after every brew.  Do you just rinse with water on the non-PBW cleanings?


Sorry for the confusion, no pbw after every brew and acid 5 and pbw after every 3 for beer stone accumulation.

Nice patch panel.  Just make sure if you're using 809 March pumps I would install a bleeder valve on the outlet side to pop the air bubble.  Even with my pumps at the lowest point in the system I still have one hell of a time priming with no bleeder valve.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2012, 12:49:12 PM by Gribble »
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Offline another1

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Re: Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2012, 06:31:33 PM »
with the patch panel, wouldn't you be concerned about the amount of liquid loss, i.e. the shorter the pipe the more beer that doesn't get left behind?
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Offline Gribble

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Re: Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2012, 07:22:04 PM »
Yeah you'll lose a little bit, but depending on where your pump is and how long your pipe is the loss is minimal
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2012, 01:57:08 AM »
Bleeder valve?
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Offline Gribble

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Re: Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2012, 02:57:47 AM »
yeah.    even if the pump is at the lowest point of the system if you're pumping back up the air bubble can stick in the pump head making it extremely hard to prime, however on the outlet side of the pump install a t with a valve so you can bleed the air out of the pump allowing it to prime easier.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Hard-plumbing the brewery - Stainless Steel or Copper?
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2012, 03:24:42 AM »
yeah.    even if the pump is at the lowest point of the system if you're pumping back up the air bubble can stick in the pump head making it extremely hard to prime, however on the outlet side of the pump install a t with a valve so you can bleed the air out of the pump allowing it to prime easier.
Ah, cool! I had never thought of that. Thanks for the tip! I guess you just open it up until wort (or water?) comes out?
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