Note: I intend to move this post to Pimp My System in a week or so but I thought I’d start it here to get more views and ideas from the many creative minds on the forum for solutions that I may have overlooked.
So my back doctor sez to me: “…and for three months following your surgery, I don’t want you lifting anything heavier than a glass of beer.”
And I’m thinking: “How the hell am I going to brew that glass of beer?”
Here’s what I came up with so far,
I’m sure Martin and others have said: “Good beer starts with good water”. But our well water sucks for brewing (TDS 380+ with some iron).
And I can no longer hump 5 gallon jugs of RO water from the machine at Walmart into and out of the car.
So I came up with this contraption. (Looking down sideways from above)
Ion exchange softened house water goes into a UV sterilizer (shiny thing on top w/yellow tubing) and then through an under-sink style RO device. It fills two 5 gallon carboys on a low roll-around cart. It takes about 24 hours to make 10 gallons. Cost for this set-up was about $260. I figure this will pay for itself in a year or so vs, buying RO water.
The cart is rolled out to the brew area and the jugs with rope slings between the handle and spout are hoisted using a ratcheting block and tackle to fill the brew kettle.
The block and tackle slides on a 2 ft. length of ½” pipe that is lag screwed to the overhead joist. The tackle can be positioned over the kettle or off to the side for hoisting water or dumping spent grain.
Over the kettle, the tackle supports the grain bucket while mashing in.
The heart of the brew set-up is a 10 gal. kettle on a low Blichmann burner. A center inlet, SS Chugger pump recirculates wort to a whirlpool port on the kettle or pumps finished wort to the fermenter on a tall roll-around cart.
Note the “valves”…cheap, functional and NO take-apart-to-clean.
Aside: I’m doing BIAB, but batch sparge folks could maybe use this same kettle and pump set-up. Put your mash tun on a table such that it will drain into the kettle. Put a smaller(?) cooler on a stool on the table (or a shelf) such that it will drain into the tun. Heat mash water and pump it into the tun. Then heat sparge water and pump into the upper cooler. Drain first runnings into the kettle. Then drain sparge water into the tun.
One kettle and one burner and no lifting!
Question: Could you also do a kinda-sorta decoction mash with that set-up?
The four layer Reflectix jacket holds the temperature fairly stable and the Blichmann flame can be adjusted low enough to add heat if needed.
Pulling and draining the BIAB.
Slide the bag loops around to one side of the SS hoop to collapse the bag and give it a good squeeze (wearing insulated gloves).
Slide the tackle and bag over to the side and dump the spent grain into a bin for the cows.
Pumping chilled wort into the fermenter. I have a fine mesh nylon bag clamped to the hose to catch hop bits and trub. I stuck it and the hose in the kettle near the end of the boil and pumped hot wort through. Hope that sanitized it.
With the cart tucked into (and under) the fermentation fridge, the fermenter can slide onto the shelf.
Edit: Somehow this got left out of the original post.
Time to keg the beer. And roll it to the kegerator on a fold-up, aluminum hand truck.
Bottling. (After pump prime bottle priming)
OK, now for the part that I haven’t quite figured out.
How do I get the filled cases of bottles from the floor to the bench for capping? And from there to the sink for a rinse and back to the bench for drying and putting in the case or ½ case boxes. And then from there to a shelf to carb. SWMBO has agreed to help with all that* but it would be great if I could come up with a way to do that myself.
*Note to self: Be extra nice to her this year.
Also, I’m betting that the creative folks on the Forum will come up with ideas for better ways that I could do things in other areas of this no-lift brew system.
But, for now…
Me, following doctor’s orders.