Author Topic: Brewing Setup Questions  (Read 109 times)

Offline BrewsAndViews

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Brewing Setup Questions
« on: March 27, 2020, 01:41:19 AM »
Hello fell beer lovers,

I am a working on building a homebrew system and am running into a few forks in the decision making and could use some extra guidance from the experts. 

I am ensuring that I build a quality system that will last me a long time, including satisfying increased skill levels down the road.  Currently I will be setting up equipment and brewing outside, and breaking down and storing when i'm finished, although in the future i would like to build a more permanent system when my living conditions permit.  I plan on doing 5 gallon batches for now, but will eventually want to be able to go up to 10 gallon, so I'm shooting for mostly equipment that could satisfy both.  I am going all-grain right off the bat and so far I have acquired:

1 15 Gallon SS Brewtech Brew Kettle
1 10 Gallon SS Brewtech Infussion Mash Tun
1 7 Gallon SS Brewtech Conical Fermentor
1 Blichmann Riptide Pump
1 Bayou Classic Burner

I wasn't quite planning on going to a HERMS or a RIMS system just yet, but as I look into wort recirculation more, it seems like it might be worth it to go straight to one of those mash recirc systems.  My original plan was to get the vorlauf/recirculation manifold fitting from SS Brewtech to clarify at the end of the mash and then use the recirculation manifold to sparge as well, just from a raised position instead of sitting on the grain bed.  (Please let me know if that sounds like a bad idea). 

I also haven't gotten a kettle for a HLT yet which is why I'm maybe reconsidering and jumping straight to HERMS or RIMS.  I've seen the 9.25 gallon Digi Boil Electric Kettle and figured the electric kettle might be convienient for Strike and Sparge water, but have also been considering getting another 15 gallon Brewtech Kettle (or possibly larger to accommodate future larger batches).  The thing I'm not sure of with the kettle is if I want to make it into a HERMS system, am I going to have to drill additional fittings, because I would rather just purchase an appropriate kettle to fit this need than make any modifications.

I'm also trying to decide which method of wort chilling will be best.  I'm partial to the plate chiller because of the small footprint and great results, but have read that cleaning can be a pain.  Is it mostly a matter of personal preference between immersion chiller, counterflow chiller, and plate chiller?

Thank you all for your years of experience and insight, I look forward to diving into this hobby and making some tasty beverages soon!  I will probably have many more questions along the way. 

Online BrewBama

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Re: Brewing Setup Questions
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2020, 02:46:19 AM »
I can tell you why I made the decisions I did. They may or may not apply to you or anyone else.

I decided not to get any equipment that wort will touch that I cannot disassemble or see to clean. In my mind, that eliminated plate chillers, counterflow coils, HERMS, etc. I just couldn’t imagine how I could physically clean those pieces.

Therefore, I went with an Hydra immersion chiller and a Brewhardware RIMS.  I hose off the chiller and disassemble and clean the RIMS (and pump) after every brewday.

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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Brewing Setup Questions
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2020, 11:31:15 AM »
Brew Bama has valid points, but I super deep clean about 4-6 times a year, breaking down what I can and have not encountered problems so far.  I use a SS counterflow chiller and a SS immersion chiller, 2 24volt TD5 Topsflo pumps, 20 gallon InfuSSion mash tun, and 9.5 gallon electric Herms/HLT, 18 gallon electric boil kettle.  Back up for 5 gallon batches is a Foundry system, which doubles as a sparge water heater for the big system. 

But sometimes I just make a batch with a white cooler and a propane burner with an old kettle.  The beer works either way and the drinkers can’t tell which way it was made.  I have a very understanding wife and a lot of garage space devoted to brewing....
Hodge Garage Brewing: "Brew with a glad heart!"

Offline denny

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Re: Brewing Setup Questions
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2020, 02:13:46 PM »
I have several different systems....cooler based, Grainfather, Pico.  They all work to make great beer.  It se3ms the one I gravitate to most is the cooler.  Maybe it's familiarity.  But my advice 2puld be to think carefully about how YOU like to brew and tailor the system to that.
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Offline goose

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Re: Brewing Setup Questions
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2020, 03:17:37 PM »
You can do well with a plate chiller since they are more efficient.  I have a Duodiesel chiller that is really a bit bigger than I need but I got it from a pro brewer friend for cheap.  I spent a couple days cleaning it with caustic followed by an acid wash because it sat for a few years in the warehouse without being cleaned.  It was a PITA as I had to do this process several times, but I finally got it cleaned.

During the brew day I clean it both ways with PBW while I am re-cleaning the fermenter (which which also serves as the cleaner reservoir during the chiller cleaning steps and because I am anal retentive cleanliness) and sanitize it with Saniclean (because it doesn't foam like Star San).  When done brewing and chilling, I run hot water through it backwards to flush out any hop particles and trub that may have made their way into the chiller and clean it again while I am cleaning the kettle.  I have never had a problem with this method and this is how the pros do it in the breweries I have worked in.  I have some local homebrewer friends here that love plate chillers and some that hate them because they haven't used the right methods to clean them.  You have to clean them right away after brewing!

Note: I do not whirlpool since my keggle boil kettle has a false bottom and I draw the wort out from the center.  But I do have an inline filter assembly (another acquisition from a brewery that was no longer using it) to capture hop particles etc. before the wort enters the plate chiller, and use a hop bag during the brew when using pellets.  If you whirlpool and draw from the side of the kettle you will accomplish the same thing.

Second Note:  If you opt for an immersion chiller, remember you need to swirl it around the kettle while chilling to prevent an insulating layer of wort from gathering around the chiller coils and slowing the chilling process.  Swirling will eliminate the insulating layer of wort and allow you to chill a bit faster and use less water.

Hope this provides some insight.
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