Just back from filming in Canada for 3 weeks and thought I would share the brewery and equipment I built for the adventure. Because of the enormous challenge of fundraising, I had to build this whole system in 6 days (funds for the equipment didn't arrive until the last minute).
The goal was to brew historic ale from an 1852 recipe, 2000 miles away from home in the Canadian arctic, while riding a motorcycle and filming a documentary along the way. The concept was 3 motorcycles, two support vehicles and seven people.
The challenge was to make the beer in the elements on the shoreline of where the Hudson Bay meets the James Bay, and the very end of the northern road in Quebec; we actually crossed into the Nunavat Territory (considered the arctic). Produced the wort and then fermented the ale "in transit" all the way back to Pennsylvania.
To do this, I built a system that produced just less than 40 gallons per brewing session (2 days of brewing) and a trailer capable of keeping fermentation temperatures in the low 60's for the entire journey back.
Here's a photo log of the equipment I built to do this:
First I built a single tier brew stand out of 2" Stainless steel:
Then I took 3 -55 gallon drums and started welding fittings and added valves etc:
Leak testing and assembly:
I like a recirculating mash system and generally do a batch sparge most of the time, here is the mash tun:
Because of the limited space and the large footprint, I need to keep the HLT and the Mash Tun together and build a separate boil stand of the same size, when together, they all fit nicely, but are quite large. The brewery would have two 32 tip Jet type burners, one under the boil kettle and one under the HLT, the mash tun would have a smaller burner for maintaining mash temps.
Since I was brewing outside I needed to bring along a gas powered generator to supply power for the small march pump, and of course this whole system was fueled by liquid propane, for which I brought 4- 20 pound tanks. To keep things simple, there was not much automation, hand lit burners, and only an off and on switch for the pump.
Welding and testing the burners:
Next up, the trailer:
Standard Haulmark 6'X10', single axel:
Fermentation would be a challenge, maintaining proper temps and controlling the sloshing. I used two Blichmann 42 gallon fermenters, and added a 12-volt glycol-chilling concept;
Some of the parts used in the task:
1/4" copper circuit soldered to sheet metal plates allowed the transfer of cooling to the large surface of the fermenters;
Then I bolted the fermenters to the floor of the trailer and started on the glycol system:
The way the glycol system worked:
The pump circulated the liquid thru a cooler, which had a stainless steel coil, ice was added and maintained a reasonable level of insulation and fairly low level of melting. The PID's where connected to thermocouples into the fermenters, a range was set (I choose to ferment at 62-65 degrees) and as needed the PID's called for the pump to come on or not. I added a low level grant for adding glycol or purging air from the system. It took some time to prime the system but the grant helped and worked smoothly after it was all balanced and running.
The chilling circuit:
Power management and the way the system worked:
12 volts came from the Land Rover support truck battery and was charged continuously by the alternator. it fed a 12 volt power inverter (the 1000 w Black and Decker unit), plus the 12 volt water/glycol pump and 2 12 volt PIDs to monitor fermentation temps. But the power inverter also powered a 120-volt trickle charger, which charged a deep cell Marine battery.
The idea here was during the day while we traveled, the Land Rover powered the demand for the pump and PID's, when we stopped for the night, I converted power from the deep cell to keep the pump running overnight and at stops. As the battery would run down over night, it was recharged during the day, it worked flawlessly.
The control panel
The idea for the sloshing was pretty easy, connect the two blow-off tubes together with a tee and send them to a stout 5 gallon corny keg, the inlet when into the tube side (or the liquid out side) and the pressure from the fermenting beer came out the gas "in side, and was vented by another tube safely outside the trailer. Honestly after all the miles we drove, I lost maybe 1/2 gallon due to sloshing, because I mounted the fermenters directly over the axel of the trailer ( for weight distribution and minimal disturbance of the beer.)
I was amazed by how well this system worked, the pump barely ran at first ( we where in a colder climate, but by the time it was in the mid 80's, the beer stayed in the low 60's as planned.
(noted these pictures below are post trip and the tubing had become slightly beat-up and disconnected to the fermenters, it is critical that the tubing is in contact with the surface to be effective)
Here are a few shots of everything loaded into the trailer and ready to begin the long journey north:
So we brewed beer in the Canadian Arctic and brought home almost 70 gallons of ale:
This is the location, but we had bad weather (40 mph winds, 40 degrees and almost 5 inches of rain - all at the same time for 4 days), but we completed the session and brought home the beer.
Heavy weather brewing:
No troubles crossing the boarder into Canada, but coming back was difficult, and the ride was long and difficult on a motorcycle, 3100 miles in 3 weeks while brewing beer away from home while making a movie with 7 people in Quebec and the Nunavat. My filmmakers are from Moscow but speak English, but as far as I know, no one has ever done anything like this before and the look of the US customs people when I crossed the boarder was worth the whole trip. A team of Hazmat guys inspected the trailer and detained us for nearly two hours. Homebrewing in the US is legal and also in Canada, the beer is for promotional use only and not to be sold. They were literally puzzled by the whole affair and confused by why? ...very amusing, but not on film.