Author Topic: Advice on Building a brew system  (Read 1022 times)

Offline cakey

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Advice on Building a brew system
« on: November 22, 2013, 01:36:36 PM »
I've been brewing for a year now and currently use a cheap 12 gal ss brew pot with a lot of scorching problems. After looking around I decided i like stout tanks equipment and intend to buy one of their 15 gal kettles. Its expensive but i don't want to buy another kettle that is just a step up. I want a kettle that can do everything i might ever want to. This got me thinking that before buying anything I should plan out the entire system that i would like to build and buy the pieces as i go, working towards that end.

My first big hang up was manufacture, I've decided on stout tank for a number of reasons non of which relay pertain to my current conundrum. What i cant decide is wither to go HERMS or RIMS. I would like to be able to do step mashing which I know both systems are more than capable of doing however the RIMS system seems to have the advantage. I do like the idea of duel use of my HLT in HERMS though. My decision to go HERMS or RIMS will also be affected by the controller i choose.

I want a controller that has a high degree of precision and a fair amount of automation. i do not want to take the skill out of my brew day but i want to be able to add a level of consistency in my brewing that is current out of reach with my current system.

For now I am just a hobbyist but I want a system that is of a high enough quality that it could be a pilot system in a brewery. Not that it ever will be but i like the pipe dream

Any input is welcome, i recognize my lack of experience and knowledge and am just requesting honest information and opinion from the more knowledgeable and experienced. Thank you.

Offline micsager

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2013, 03:59:26 PM »
I was in your exact position a few years back.  And I have but two words of advice:

John Blichmann.

(and having done both, I prefer RIMS)

Online troybinso

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2013, 04:24:33 PM »
I would consider getting a slightly larger kettle if you are thinking about making 10 gallon batches. While you can do it in a 15 gallon kettle, it can get pretty full and boilovers are common. In my system I shoot for 14 gallons preboil to end up with 10 gallons of trub-free and yeast-free beer.

Offline cakey

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2013, 04:47:37 PM »
i relay like Blichmann products but what won me over to stout tank is that their set up for whirlpool already.  I do intend to do 10 gallon batches and was leaning towards 15 gal pots but nothing set in stone.  i can see the benefit of stepping it up to 20 gallon pots though.

Offline thebigbaker

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2013, 05:08:18 PM »
I got to watch a brew session at my LHBS on learn to Homebrew day and they were brewing on a Blichmann top tier system.  The really cool aspect of it was that they were using the Blichmann tower of power.  I was really impressed w/ the tower of power and how easy it was to use and control the mash and sparge.    I don't personally own one but if I go an automated route, that's where I would go. 
Jeremy Baker

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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2013, 05:15:58 PM »
Would be fun to see one in action up close. I'm thinking it would be way too much tech for my little brain. Also seems like you need a bunch of money

Offline thebigbaker

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2013, 05:18:34 PM »
It actually looked very easy to use...and expensive to own!
Jeremy Baker

"An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You should never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience." - Mitch Hedberg

cornershot

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2013, 05:28:28 PM »
Cakey, why are you having scorching problems? Are you scorching mash? Wort?

Offline cakey

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2013, 07:52:07 PM »
i'm scorching my wort.  i use a very thin and cheep pot, and it seems to be a compounding problem.  The first time it happened was my own fault.  I put the immersion chiller in 20 min before flame out but when i did i smashed the hop bag against the bottom of the kettle thoroughly burning it and leaving a black burn mark on the kettle (the beer ended up tasting like burnt pantyhose).  since then every brew trub and hops seem to collect and burn on that spot.  its getting incrementally bigger every brew.

Offline quattlebaum

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2013, 08:18:04 PM »
http://wildhops.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=13136712

I have enjoyed my "HERMS". It was inspired by the electric brewery. com.  It was a fun project for me i like to build things. Was a pretty penny though, $3000. That does include the "chillzillia" which is not in the pic. It's a 20 gal HLT and 15Gal MT and boil kettle. It is pushing it to do 10 gal with that size boil kettle. I do mainly 5 and 8 gal batches. I dont have probs with scorching the wort with the element and i dont use a hop bag i just whirlpool for a few min and let sit for 20 30 min chilled and transfer with no issues.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2013, 08:23:33 PM by quattlebaum »

Offline Jeff M

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2013, 09:04:01 PM »
Cakey,  Ive gone down this same road.  IMO your first choice is how to power your brewery.  Gas or Electric?  I chose electric because its technically cheaper and more efficient than propane.  after looking around at multiple electric options i opted to go with an electric brewery setup.  while it is costing me quite a bit ti will last me a LONG time and is upgradable to larger batches for my future needs.  IF you choose to go Gas its hard to argue with Sabco's option.  the people i have seen talking about their systems on the AHA forums seem to love them.

After you make this first critical decision it should all fall in to line with some time and money:)

Cheers,
Jeff
Granite Coast Brewing Company.
Building a clone of The Electric Brewery to use as a pilot system for new recipes!

Offline majorvices

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2013, 08:39:35 AM »
I was in your exact position a few years back.  And I have but two words of advice:

John Blichmann.

(and having done both, I prefer RIMS)

Blichmann makes some very good equipment but I've also had issues with a lot of their stuff. I like some of the quality but others, such as the false bottom on their MT, have left me scratching my head as to why the design didn't work better.  I ended up hating their 42 gallon conicals after a year of using them and couldn't wait to get rid of them. Anyway, there are other products out there that are as good or better that may be at a more accommodating price so definitely look around.
Keith Y.
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Offline AleForce

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2013, 09:02:48 AM »
I would encourage you to take a look at the BCS-460 and BCS-462 fromwww.embeddedcontrolconcepts.com...  Using a web browser and the BCS you can control the temps of your vessels and RIMS/HERMS equipment.  I've been using it for 3 years and it is setup for RIMS... and it can also be used to control your lager chamber or freezer full of kegs.

When I started brewing 6 years ago I was using 5 & 10 gal. Orange coolers, then decided to move up to Blichmann 20 gal kettles for my Mashtun, HLT and Boil Kettles.  If I would have waited a little longer I would probably have purchased kettles from Brewers Hardware instead because I use alot of Tri-Clover fittings in my setup ... http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/community/pimp-my-system/show?title=pimp-my-system-ale-force-1

I have a friend who purchased kettles from Stout Tanks and is happy with his purchase.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2013, 09:25:43 AM by AleForce »
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Offline Gribble

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Re: Advice on Building a brew system
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2013, 10:31:03 PM »
Myself I prefer the HERMS style of brewing mainly because I can use the heat exchanger for hot and cold.  I really like Stout Tanks products and use their 23 gallon conical fermenters.  John at Stout Tanks is also really flexible if you need something custom made.  If you want to check out my system go to http://www.facebook.com/greatnorthwesternbrewbaron
Low Mo Brewing Company
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