Category Archives: purchases

Brew Stand Brew Day

It’s all come together! It is, for all intents and purposes, done. There certainly is some tweaking to do and a few bits and pieces on my wish list but it works and makes a bunch of beer in one go.

My last brew day I took some pics to show the set up. Some of the line set up is not pretty but that is part of the tweaking. I’ll just have to have a few more brew days to figure it all out. 😉

This is generally what my driveway/brewery looks like on a brew day. The blue cooler is no longer a MLT but is now a bin to tote material from inside: scale, chiller, pumps, etc.

The Brewery

The Brewery

 

HLT set up for heating strike water. I recirculate the water as it’s heating just to avoid hot/cold layers. It makes the temp reading up top a bit more accurate. This is one place I could use an inline thermometer.

HLT

HLT

 

My fly sparge set up. HLT to pump to MLT. MLT to pump to BK. Flow adjusted so hot water into MLT is roughly the same rate as wort to BK. Works like a charm!

Fly sparge

Fly sparge

 

Top of MLT. Foil with holes just to avoid channeling in the grain bed.

Sparging

Sparging

 

Lauter line into BK. I had originally had the line with the tri clamp fitting as the lauter line and had that attached to the top port. This set up is better with the line going to the bottom of the BK. Less splashing, less foaming, easier to see volume when the wort gets near the top.

Lautering

Lautering

 

This is the set up for sanitizing the chiller. For the last 15 minutes of the boil I just recirculate wort through the lines and chiller. The line set up is not pretty and I’ll be tweaking that so that the moving of lines for cooling in and chasing wort with water is a bit easier and smoother. Using the MLT as a chiller stand was a last minute thought and works well. I had originally thought about mounting the chiller on the stand but knowing now how much back flushing is required it’s easier to have it loose for now.

Sanitizing Chiller

Sanitizing Chiller

 

Set up for cooling in. This basically works. The line from BK to pump needs to be on the other side of the keg the chiller is sitting on. Part of my waste water from the chiller is going back into the HLT so that when wort is done in the BK I chase the wort through the lines with the water from the HLT. This is another place I would use an inline thermometer just to adjust the flow and get the pitching temps right, or at least close.

Cooling In

Cooling In

There you have it! That’s basically a brew day on my new set up. Thanks to Clay for the build and thanks to Scott for the gas plumbing and pump box! Fantastic work!


Just add gas

Scott was at my house last night to start in on the gas plumbing for the brew stand. He has mad skillz in that regard. I held things. And took pictures.

valve and tools

valve and tools

Burners and pipe wrenches

Burners and pipe wrenches

Dope with pumps in the background

Dope with pumps in the background

Love the red handled valves. Such red.

Love the red handled valves. Such red.


Brew Stand Update

Got my burners today!

One big, one small

One big, one small

I have two of the large burners and one small one. I’m thinking one big burner for the HLT, small one for MLT, large one for BK.

Pumps are being housed and wired by Scott. He’s got a nice method using a metal tool box to house everything and have that mounted on the brew stand. It’s protective AND portable.

More updates to come…


Maxed Out

With the brew stand nearing completion one of the things I wanted to do was run my large volume equipment through a brew day. This is not my complete setup, I used only one of the large vessels instead of both and I don’t have my pumps hooked up yet.

My process is pretty common with this setup:

  • heat large volume of water in HLT but what will become the BK
  • mash in with portion of hot water
  • add more water back to HLT and heat up for sparge
  • transfer all sparge water to coolers and empty the vessel
  • sparge from coolers into MLT and lauter into BK

This gives me two vessels to work with and the need for only one burner. I actually use two burners in case of the need to heat the MLT. The second time I brewed on this set up I didn’t need to heat the MLT but the first time I did.

Here are a few pics of the process…

Mashed into a 50L keggle which according to my calculations would be able to hold 40lbs of grain. It did but it was completely MAXED out. No more room for anything! That was, in fact, my intent with this particular brew: max out every vessel to find out what my volume limits were. I found out. 😉

MLT maxed out

MLT maxed out

 

Tried a new technique for me this time: fly sparging. It’s just setting the flow of sparge water to match the flow of lautering. Not difficult it’s just that I had never been set up for that before. Discovered it’s the best thing ever! It’s just too easy and there’s really no babysitting of the MLT or much scooping of water involved.

My fly sparge setup.

My fly sparge setup.

 

I did heat my MLT half way through the rest to bring the temp back up. With the MLT maxed out there was really no room for much stirring so I really didn’t have an accurate sense of the temperature. After emptying the MLT I did see that there was a bit of scorching evident but I’m sure I’ll still end up with beer.

Scorch!

Scorch!

 

Lautering and boiling were just fine and got to about 80L or so pre-boil. Another new addition to my set up is the plate chiller seen in this photo on the work bench. (The pump and burner are courtesy of Scott.) Sanitizing the plate chiller prior to chilling was dead easy. I just hooked everything up in the last ten minutes of the boil and ran the boiling wort through the system. This dropped the temp a bit and halted the boil for a minute or so but I just kept running the system and the boil came back. Super easy!

Sanitizing the chiller

Sanitizing the chiller

 

The chilling and cooling in itself was super easy. Once the boil was done I whirlpooled and rested (manually, just by stirring the BK). My chiller was already set up from the sanitizing stage so all I had to do was get my carboys in place and fire it up. With this set up and the water turned on about a half turn on the faucet I was able to cool and transfer the full volume of about 80L in just 10 minutes! You can also see it’s reasonably aerated, not something I’ve worried about a whole lot but it’s certainly not a gentle transfer.

Cooling in

Cooling in

 

There are a few things that will be changing with this setup and moving to the brew stand: My pumps will be wired in, burners will be in place, less moving of vessels, more space for me to move around. All of this… Soon.


Brew Stand Update

Well, it’s in my garage!

Clay finished all the welding on the weekend and I was able to pick it up this evening. None of the hardware–Pumps, gas lines, burners–is mounted but most of it waits patiently. It certainly does a bang up job of holding all the vessels with a decent amount of space in between and VERY solid support.

Here is a gallery of photos courtesy of Clay. I wasn’t around for the build but he took some really fine pictures to show the various stages of assembly. Thanks for that!


GRAB Barrel Project

Another fun project on the go. This time in collaboration with a few people from my homebrew club: GRAB. We’re getting a barrel!

My good friend, Peter, alerted me to an offer that the Montrealers (Montreal’s homebrew club) were getting. It turns out the family of one of their members lives near a winery and the winery was getting rid of some used surplus barrels. For cheap!

Peter contacted me and with very little thought I went ahead and reserved one through him. He was kind enough to do all the logistics and is currently storing the barrel at his place until I’m able to get there for pick up.

Now it’s just a matter of deciding what to do with it. We’ll definitely do some sort of big brew into it with the members of GRAB and that is in discussion on our forum but one of the more important decisions is exactly WHAT to brew into it. Your input is welcome on this. We do know it was a red wine, Frontenac varietal, American oak barrel. Let’s go with that.

Here are a variety of pictures of what I bought with thanks to Peter Christensen and Sebastian Verreault for the photos:


New Project

I’m embarking on a new brewery project: A brew stand!

My friends Clay and Scott are rather handy folks with “mad skillz”. They have built a brew stand before for other friends of theirs and I’m in the market for something similar.

The basic design of the stand is very similar to this but we’ll be adding extras, of course. I’m looking into burners, a pump, chiller, lines, etc., all that to be figured out later.

I realize readership of this blog is a bit limited but I’ll ask both of you: What do you want in a brew stand?


Beer in China

I just returned from a 2 1/2 week tour of China with a brass ensemble I’ve played with in the past: Brassroots.

It was an amazing time seeing an entirely different part of the world than Canada. The sights, sounds, smells, people, architecture, all so different and new to me.

Of course the main point of the blog is brewing and beer so I would be remiss if I didn’t focus on that small portion of the tour here. In short, all the beer I had in China was macro international lager style. Extremely meh. I tried several different brands but they were virtually indistinguishable from each other.

That said, when it’s 39∘C outside with a humidex hovering around 50∘C I tend not to get too picky about my beverages (except the tap water in China 😉 ). A cold beer or two served with lunch or dinner was definitely a welcome break.

A couple of things about the beer in China: First off, it’s very low alcohol beer. The strongest beer that I had was about 4.3% abv and the lightest beer was 2.3% abv. Definitely not beer that will knock you on your ass.

The other thing about the beer (and many other beverages) is that it’s sometimes difficult to get it served cold. The Chinese apparently are not terribly fond of cold beverages. We found this with the bottled water (room temp.), warm milk, warm juice, hot juice, and often room temperature beer. Many places had beer kept in a fridge but they didn’t usually keep many there so with a group of about 20 adults we regularly cleaned them out of their cold beer.

Some fond beer memories:

  • Hotel near the airport in Detroit having decent craft beer on tap
  • Centennial IPA available in bottles near the Detroit hotel
  • We drank the flight to China dry of beer
  • Buying beer in China for the equivalent of about $.50 for 500ml
  • Many beers named with their degrees Plato prominent
  • Chinese beer festival (this deserves a separate post)
  • Best beer on the trip was a German Schwarzbier given to me by my friend

And a gallery of beer photos for you!


Cool Invention!

I’m a bit behind the times on this one but I just saw this video that someone had posted to Homebrew Talk.

 

While I don’t bottle much at all, and when I do it’s almost always from the keg, I thought this was an ingenious idea. Here is the link to the company’s website.

Just a brilliant idea (wish I had thought of that. 😉 )


The Beer Store

Caution: Soapbox

First off, I don’t support it. I can’t stand the place except as the building where I return my empties that I bought at the LCBO. They have very few brands of beer that I’m looking for and the experience is generally dismal.

I read the following couple of articles in the last little while:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1306249–cohn-why-ontarians-can-t-bear-the-beer-store-any-longer

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1304864–cohn-more-reasons-to-end-the-beer-store-cartel

They sort of got me going again. 😦 And then this letter to the editor in the Cambridge Times added fuel to the fire.

http://www.cambridgetimes.ca/opinion/letters/article/1555887–monopolies-like-the-beer-store-poorly-managed-inconvenient

I totally agree with what the individual is saying it’s just that he exhibits the common knowledge that The Beer Store is a GOVERNMENT run business. It’s not! It’s run by the brewers which are ALL foreign-owned.

I’m not pretending that I don’t buy foreign products or even that I don’t buy foreign beer but just go in with your eyes open. If you think that you’re going into The Beer Store as a government run monopoly and supporting Molson as a Canadian-owned brewery. You’re dead wrong. Sorry.

Thank you. I just had to get that off my chest.