Author Topic: Schematic  (Read 3980 times)

Offline gmac

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Schematic
« on: December 26, 2010, 11:36:57 AM »
Can anyone post a general schematic of an enclosed home brewing system?  I'm looking for ideas and am going to start compiling materials in a week or so (just need some bigger kettles for now but eventually they would go into the system).  I've been checking out the "Pimp My System" posts and they look awesome but it's not always easy to tell where product flows, what are hot zones and what are cold zones etc. 

Some general questions.
What is better, a horizontal system with pumps or a vertical system? 
I'm leaning towards an Igloo cooler type infusion process rather than step mashing just because it seems easier but since I'm starting from scratch, what's better?
I have this crazy idea of incorporating some load cells so that I can weigh grain and water etc as I add it.  Does it need to be this precise? 
In the boiling kettle, would you include a cooling coil as an integral part or have a separate one for immersing?  Is it a pain to try to stir with a coil in that can't be removed?  I can see how it would be but hey, it's one less thing to have to move around.
Aluminum or stainless kettles?  Does it matter?

General advice would be appreciated.  I have the advantage of having a good friend (and main drinking buddy) who owns a machine shop so making/modifying stuff isn't a big deal.  His son is also an engineer so I am sure he can provide some helpful input as well.  Danger in this situation is making something over engineered, not under. 
Thanks
Graham

Offline MDixon

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2010, 05:26:00 AM »
Here's the skinny...it all depends upon whether you want to sit in a chair and watch the process or whether you want to brew. Both make beer. Neither makes better beer than another, in fact many people have a learning curve when they go for a bells and whistles system with pumps and whatnot and their process suffers till they get it all tacoed out.

I can take a coil of copper, a stopper, and a bottling bucket spigot along with a cooler and some foil and end up with beer. I once had this grand plan and started purchasing pieces for a system. That was about the same time I figured out I didn't need them, so I still make it in a cooler with a crappy coil...in fact I have two coolers with coils and also a coil for a bottling bucket so I can make three brews at the same time.
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Offline oscarvan

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2010, 07:45:09 AM »
I'm with the KISS philosophy, at least for now. Building a gravity system. Pumps cost money, need cleaning and can break. Rather spend my money on good ingredients. The noob suggests you put a chair on a table and try a three tier gravity setup. See what you like.
Wooden Shoe Brew Works (not a commercial operation) Bethlehem, PA
http://www.woodenshoemusic.com/WSBW/WSBW_All_grain_Setup.html
I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline gmac

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2010, 03:45:10 PM »
OK, simple it is, at least for now. 
I'm probably getting in over my head but I've wanted to do all-grain for years and although I've only recently returned to homebrewing, I'm already thinking about going that way. 
I'll try the little table on the big table version in the basement and see how it goes.  One other question.
Does anyone use a square cooler instead of the Igloo type?  I have never seen the Igloo ones for sale around here but would a regular old chest cooler work instead?  I'm thinking just drill out that little plastic tap and put in a decent stopcock and screen.  You'd have to open the lid to sparge but so what?  Thoughts?
Thanks for the advice so far.
Graham

Offline oscarvan

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2010, 04:18:16 PM »
Denny uses a rectangular, I am following his lead. See the link to his website in his sig line....
Wooden Shoe Brew Works (not a commercial operation) Bethlehem, PA
http://www.woodenshoemusic.com/WSBW/WSBW_All_grain_Setup.html
I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2010, 04:29:21 PM »
I've had a 5 gallon round and 10 gallon round cooler and curretnly use a 52qt. Coleman Extreme (rectangular) and they all worked fine.  The round ones hold temp a little better but not a great amount better.  Every choice has positves and negitives but most anything works.

Don't worry about being in over your head, all grain isn't that much more difficult thatn extract.

Welcome back to the obsession.

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline gmac

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2010, 04:34:49 PM »
Thanks again.
I checked out Denny's site and that does look pretty simple although it probably won't get me onto the Pimp my System page.  I guess it may be more important to actually brew beer than look good doing it.

Looks like I am going shopping tomorrow for a cooler and some braided water line.  I still need to get a good big kettle instead of the one I'm borrowing from the local hall.  That's why I was thinking of starting to collect stuff now, because I need it.

Offline MDixon

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2010, 06:23:15 AM »
It all depends on your goal. If you like to drive around town in a top of the line Mercedes to go eat at the fancy restaurant and have to go into credit card debt to pay for the meal, or if you want to go there in your Ford and pay with your credit card knowing you can pay for the meal in cash if you wanted, or if you want to just get there however and be able to pay for the meal with cash. Either way you get a great meal...others just cost more ;)

I think my page is still linked in my sig, you might find some tidbits there. EDIT - over to the left, the thing that looks like a globe.
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Offline mthogan1997

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2010, 07:16:47 AM »
Several years ago I built a RIMS that was completely push-button. The only thing I had to do was put in the crushed grain and turn it on and then clean up. After about 6 months I realized that I hated brewing beer and dreaded every brew day because I only did the 2 activities that I hate -  crushing grain and cleaning.

I dismantled my system and am happily doing everything the hard way and enjoying the hobby again.

Offline seajellie

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2010, 07:35:47 AM »
If you haven't picked up your new cooler yet, be sure to check the dimensions of the plug before you buy, because it affects how you modify it.

MY 5 gallon round cooler has a weldless spigot on it, cost somewhere around 30$.

My 72 Q chest cooler has a thick wall which actually helped modify it. It uses a number three stopper and a plastic inline valve. Cost, somewhere around two bucks!

Offline MDixon

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2010, 09:52:24 AM »
My 72 Q chest cooler has a thick wall which actually helped modify it. It uses a number three stopper and a plastic inline valve. Cost, somewhere around two bucks!

My kinda conversion!
It's not a popularity contest, it's beer!

Offline lazydog79

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2011, 07:22:08 AM »
I'd have to agree with the consensus here - KISS.  My setup is pretty rudimentary (here's a pic http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=640758&l=10df47a663&id=1077800222).  Like MDixon said, it's about how much money you want to lay into it.   Like a lot of hobbies, you can sink as much money into brewing as you want.  Sure, if I had a spare $4K laying around, I'd lay down a helluva pimp system.  As that's never going to happen, I'm going to stick with my system, which makes pretty danged good beer, if I do say so myself.  What really matters is the brewer running it.  It's like when I worked at a golf course in college.  This guy would come up with a brand new set of clubs - Calloway woods, Ping irons - probably dropped at least a grand on his clubs.  He would spend the whole duffing the ball 50 feet at a time.  Then, some old guy with a nasty old set of Spalding clubs comes up and annihilates the ball.  I'd rather be that guy!    8)

Offline dbarber

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2011, 10:49:10 AM »
I'd have to agree with the consensus here - KISS.  My setup is pretty rudimentary (here's a pic http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=640758&l=10df47a663&id=1077800222). 

It's nice to see someone else who uses saw horses in their brew setup.  ;D
Dave Barber
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Offline lazydog79

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2011, 11:00:56 AM »
Some general questions.
I'm leaning towards an Igloo cooler type infusion process rather than step mashing just because it seems easier but since I'm starting from scratch, what's better?

In the boiling kettle, would you include a cooling coil as an integral part or have a separate one for immersing?

Aluminum or stainless kettles?  Does it matter?

FWIW, I like my chest cooler - holds temp for a 60-90 min mash just dandy.  If it's cold out, I will take the insurance and wrap it in a blanket, just to be safe.  I still do step mashes - just with infusions.  One of these days, I'm going to get around to converting my 7.5 gallon boiler (which I screwed up buying - should have gotten at least an 8 gallon) into a direct fired MLT, but I doubt I'll do that anytime soon.

I use an immersion chiller.  Never thought about building one in.  Easier to clean that way.  Mine works just fine - down to ferment temp in about 30-45 minutes with a pre-chill.

IMHO, Stainless is the only way to go.


And yep, the saw horses do the job!  I keep thinking I might build a fancy platform, but why waste the time?  Seems to work just fine right now.   ;)  That just like my efficiency.  I awhile back, I became obsessed with getting it higher, but I decided to leave well enough alone.  76-78% isn't all that bad after all; I almost never get a stuck sparge, and I'm consistent.  I hit my gravity targets within a point almost every time.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
« Last Edit: January 03, 2011, 11:23:52 AM by lazydog79 »

Offline dano14041

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Re: Schematic
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2011, 01:22:41 PM »
I'd have to agree with the consensus here - KISS.  My setup is pretty rudimentary (here's a pic http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=640758&l=10df47a663&id=1077800222). 

It's nice to see someone else who uses saw horses in their brew setup.  ;D


Saw horses are great! I got a little fancy tho, and threw on a piece of plywood.  :D
http://www.flickr.com/photos/15193128@N02/5320733233/
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