Recently I completed the build out of a new 20 Gallon Electric Brewery System. It uses a HERMS recirculation system. For more details, the following link is to a public radio show where I was interviewed about my system.http://www.prx.org/pieces/99568-honey-i-burned-the-deck-again
The following publication article was written for our local homebrew club, The Music City Brewers
Quantum Leap by Jerry Buckley
The nameplate for Chris and Zea’s newly christened Germantown brewery says “Ones and Zeros Brewing”, but it could have just as appropriately been called something along the lines of “Quantum Leap Brewing”, since the pair has obviously leapfrogged over most - if not all - of the intermediary steps taken by the typical home brewer. I’m referring to the gradual step-by-step progression in automation and sophistication of the brewing environment and equipment. You of course, understand the normal sequence right? Step one finds us brewing partial mash kits in stock pots on the stove top, boiling over and mucking up the range; fermenting in a bucket, and then capping bottles ad nauseam. In phase two, most of us graduate to all grain brewing by mashing in a converted cooler and then man-handling brew pots on the turkey fryer, sweating it out on the patio; utilizing functional but inefficient immersion coolers to chill our wort. Then there are the wrestling matches with kettles and carboys; the hernias and wrenched back muscles; the dog-tired fatigue at the end of an arduous brew day marathon. Then perhaps, there is the advancement to large capacity spigoted brew kettles, plate chillers, kegging paraphernalia, and all the trial and error procedures involved in getting the right set-up and technique. And then - about the time you think you have it figured out - you feel compelled to “upgrade” your equipment, piece-by-piece with more efficient or larger capacity gizmos. Shall we call it the Gradual Progressive Model of home brewing? Not so with Chris's family, who are continuing (albeit accelerating) a family tradition of home brewing. A self described techno-tron, Chris went straight to the top shelf when he designed and special-ordered his all electric brewing system from Stout Tanks and Kettles to snug up the narrow confines of a utility room on the ground floor of their Germantown townhouse. The three tank, twenty gallon system was specifically designed to fit within the limited physical space; but what is lacks in bulk, it more than makes up for in brilliance. The project encompassed five months from inception to completion, and is the embodiment of Chris’s knack for planning and precision. The Stout system features a re-circulating hot liquor tank with Herms coil to insure precise temperature control throughout the process; the mash tun houses a false bottom, and is equipped with a vertically adjusting sparge arm to allow for a variation in the volume of the grain bill; and the boil kettle tag teams with pre-chiller and counter flow chiller to ensure a lightning fast cold break after the boil. Chris ordered the compact electric panel from TheElectricBrewery.com and the valves and fittings are from Brewers Hardware. A strategically placed box fan mounted in front of a louvered exterior window provide a cost effective yet efficient vent-a-hood, and a plastic conduit run through the exterior wall allows him to drain the works. A commercial grade faucet and sink set-up provides instant access to water and a cleanup zone, while a matching stainless Kobalt work table with precision sliding drawers provides a convenient work surface, utilizing the final centimeter of allotted space, alongside the cornered hot water heater. Stepping just outside the brew room, and just inside what has got to be the most organized garage in Davidson County, we encounter a four tap keg cooler, flanked by twin tower 14.5 gallon Stout conical fermenters. The perimeter of the garage is decked out with ceiling-to-floor rivet racks storing all the ancillary hardware, tools, and of course the boxed up Christmas ornaments. There is not one wasted square foot of space in the entire arrangement. The dynamic duo is most always assisted by Zea’s father Rich, who instilled in her a love for the craft, and still likes to keep a finger in the pie. Rich is a valued partner owing to his extensive background in engineering and chemistry. Zea generally functions as creative agent and prime mover in ingredient selection and strategy; while Chris fills the roles of brew master and quality control supervisor. Theirs seems to be a harmonious marriage of artistic and scientific acumens; a best-of-both worlds paradigm of progress, if you will. In all fairness to the rest of us wannabees, Chris has a distinct advantage in his quest for excellence. That is, he enjoys the luxury of a life partner who not only tolerates his hobby, but actively aids and abets it. There are not many among us who could get away with hi-jacking the laundry room and then throwing $12,000 into a brewing system. The whole rigmarole tends to draw the couple closer together, rather than to give any occasion for division or dispute. We should all be so blessed! Of course, the couple’s “all-in” commitment to brewing excellence begs the question, “Why?” Well, Chris confides that he is forward thinking toward ultimately making the transformation from amateur to professional brewer, thereby joining the burgeoning ranks of dedicated craft brewers offering up new and improved products to the legions of beer-loving citizens. If the crisp and clean American Lager I sampled is any indication, I’d say Chris and Zea are well positioned to make a strong run for it, whenever the timing is right.