Pimp my system: Andrew’s Computer Controlled Homebrewery

This weeks pimped system is brought to us by Andrew from Boulder, His system includes a full control board as well as a computerized control and monitoring system! Andrew has also personally written a description on his amazing system for us. Enjoy!

I originally built this system so I could have good reproducibility and great control of my brews. I have to say, it has worked pretty well so far. The automated control of the brewery allows me to run under identical conditions every brew day if I need to. The single-tier system also limits the physical abuse on my body each brew day! With minimal lifting and shifting vessels around, my back thanks me. Not to mention, I think it is a little safer to have all of the tanks filled with scalding hot liquid stationary and set up below eye level in front of me!

lowell1I have a semi-automated, single-tier brewery.  All of the vessels on the brewery are converted ½ bbl kegs and I can produce up to about 11 gallons of wort from each run, maybe more if I’m feeling brave!  The stand is made of mild steel and has casters on it so it can be moved around quite easily. All plumbing on the brewery is ½” OD stainless steel tubing. The liquid is moved around the system by way of two pumps that are mounted on the stand and a series of valves that are opened and closed depending on the liquid route.  There is an in-line water filtration (charcoal filter) system that is hooked on to the back of the brewery as well. This allows me to feed the hot liquor tank with water by turning a valve and to run cold water through the plate chiller as well. I have propane burners under the hot liquor tank and the brew kettle, but not under the mash tun. The mash tun temperature is controlled through a RIMS (recirculating infusion mash system) system that uses a water heater element and a stainless steel tube. At the outlet of the brewery, I have a plate chiller and an in-line oxygenation system. I can also monitor the temperature of the wort coming out of the brewery with a temperature sensor and control the flow as needed. The cooled, oxygenated wort is then transferred into temperature controlled carboy fermentors, where yeast is pitched. I have set up the plumbing and valves so I can also run a complete recirculating cleaning process through all 3 tanks and all lines at the end of the brew day.

The brewery is controlled through a panel that is mounted on the stand. I have 3-way selector switches and indicator lights for most all of the components so I can run them manually or through the automated computer system. I have a BCS-460 control system (Embedded Control Concepts) for the brewery which is a web-based interface that runs off my laptop. In my setup, the 4 temperature sensors on the brewery feed into the controller and then the outputs (2 pumps, heater, gas lowell2valve, and igniter) can be controlled based off those inputs. The control system allows me to create programs for any step in the process.  For example, I can control the mash temperature at 150ºF by having the mash recirculation pump and heater element controlled by the mash tun temperature sensor, both turning on when the temperature drops below 150ºF and then turning off when the set point is reached. One of the added bonuses of the control system is that I installed a wireless bridge which allows the control box to be completely sealed.  Therefore, I can monitor/control temperatures and processes from the comfort of my warm living room while the brewery is running in the freezing garage!

Check out my website for more information!

As you Can see Andrew has but some serious effort and love into his homebrewery and he is recieving the reward of delicious brews everytime he uses it. Brew on Andrew!

If you’ve got a pimped out system of your own share it in on the AHA Forum under the Pimp My System category. Don’t be bashful; show off your creativity!  Who knows, you could be the next star of Pimp my System…

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