Brewery build pt 7: putting it all together

The wait is over… my new brewery is complete:





This brewery is a unique take on the recirculating infusion mash system (RIMS) design. A single electric element is located in the boil kettle. This element is used for boiling the wort, as well as for temperature control during the mashing process. The brewery is a single tier system with two pumps. The boil kettle and the mash tun both have a capacity of 20 gallons. With this vessel capacity, the system can brew 15 gallon batches of most beers, and 10 gallon batches for strong Belgians, imperial-whatevers, and the like. Beer will be brewed with full volume mashing and without a sparge. Tri clamp sanitary fittings are used throughout the brewery, and it is entirely modular as a result. The electrical element and pumps are all controlled by a Raspberry Pi, in a panel I built myself, that runs Strange Brew Elsinore brewery software. Zero hose changes are required during the brew day.

Pretty much everything in this brewery has been customized in some way to meet my specifications. The dip tubes were cut to a custom lengths…




I modified an off the shelf false bottom to work with my setup… this started with Ontario Beer Kegs “grain defender” (upper portion only); the same false bottom I used with my previous brewery, but larger (reviewed here). The false bottom sits on an internal ledge in the mash tun (see pt. 6 for more details). Without modification, the fit in the mash tun was slightly too tight. I reduced the diameter slightly with my belt sander to make insertion and removal a bit easier.

I also had to position a hole in the false bottom for the dip tube to go through. The hole had to match the outer diameter of the dip tube very closely as to not allow grist through the gap. I chose the false bottom perforation closest to the centre of where the dip tube intersects the false bottom, then used a step bit to enlarge it to fit.




Inserted into the mash tun, with the pick up tube installed, the false bottom looks something like this:




Not much to say on the boil kettle, but with my (beautiful) stainless 5500 watt tri clamp element from Brew Hardware installed, along with the pick up tube and whirlpool arm, the interior looks like this:



The aspect of this brewery I have been most excited about has been it’s tri clamp plumbing. Without any hose changes, the plumbing is capable of performing bilateral and unilateral transfers between brewing vessels, as well as recirculation within each brewing vessel.

The bilateral transferring ability is utilized in the mashing process, where liquid from the mash tun is transferred to the boil kettle to be heated to a precise temperature (following some predetermined, beer specific mash schedule), while liquid from the boil kettle is simultaneously being transferred back to the mash tun, on top of the grain bed.

The unilateral transfer is utilized at the end of the mash, where the mash tun is fully drained into the boil kettle.

Recirculation within each vessel occurs while vorlauing, whirlpool hopping, and wort chilling.

Vorlaufing is an initial recirculation within the mash tun. This step establishes a grain bed, which is a natural filter of grain husks. The vorlauf is complete when runnings from the mash tun begin to clear. A sight glass is used to monitor this process.

Whirlpool hopping is a technique used in hop forward beers where hops are added while the wort is partially cooled, and recirculating (or whirlpooling, if you will). The intention of this process is to extract temperature sensitive aromatics from the hops. Perhaps the key in making a gold medal IPA…

Lastly, to obtain greater cooling efficiency, the wort is recirculated during the wort chilling process. An immersion chiller is used, and the recirculation of the wort over the chiller results in reduced water requirements and chilling time.

Additionally, all of the tri clamp fittings I use can be cleaned in place – meaning I don’t have to disassemble everything to give my brewery a proper full clean. The idea here was to spend less time cleaning… but due to my penchant for shiny things, I may end up spending hours keeping everything polished anyways.




Sanitary sample valves serve as bleeder valves, and are a convenient way of taking samples to check pH, conversion, and specific gravity.




That’s all I will say about my new brewery for now! You can expect a post after my first brew day with this thing, highlighting what worked well, what went wrong, how long everything took, and so on. Questions and comments below! If you missed any of my previous posts on my brewery build, here are links to parts 1 (control panel exterior), 2 (control panel internals), 3 (software setup), 4 (fermentation and kegging), 5 (pumps), and 6 (brewing vessels). Thanks for following along!

15 responses for Brewery build pt 7: putting it all together

  1. Norm Ryder says:

    Don’t forget to passivate your stainless before you use it after you sanded it smaller. It will be interesting to hear how you like it after honeymoon is over.

  2. Dave says:

    Looks beautiful! Best of luck with it!

  3. Chris Inch says:

    Truly a work of art! Can’t wait to see it in action.

  4. Jeremiah Fiegl says:

    From my experience, I found that butterfly valves are not well purposed for regulating downstream from the valves, the slightest setting is basically the same as a fully open ball valve. I re-installed the ball valves in my system post pumps for this reason. I did not seam to have any issue with the exit of the kettles though upstream from the pumps. I recommend a test run due to this reason. Hopefully you will have a different experience and you’ll follow up and I can copy your program. I assume the mashtun is on the right and the BK on the left?

    Great looking system!

    Figured I’d share mine too. I plan to automate with a BCS or raspberrypi at somepoint, but for now I’m just trying to finish wiring this up without eventually burning down the house.

    • Justin says:

      The butterfly valves (and everything else) are 1″, and I think this smaller size in comparison to the more common 1.5″ butterfly valves is bit better for flow regulation (though certainly not designed for it). Part of the reason I use these valves everywhere is because I got an awesome deal on the lot of 10. If they do not give me the level of flow control I desire I will use a couple diaphragm valves after the pumps somewhere – the most appropriate valve for this application

      Thanks for checking it out, and sharing your brewery as well. If you need help going the Raspberry Pi route let me know.

    • Justin says:

      Oh to answer your question, the mash tun is to the right, boil kettle to the left. I have completed a test run and everything worked as intended (including flow control from my early tests). One thing I’ll add still are bleeder valves – while they shouldn’t be necessary as long as the vessels are filled with water with all valves open – inevitably I will run into a situation where I wish I had them. I also need to run some supports on my brew bench for the pumps and plumbing. Everything can be supported off the vessels as shown here, but for ease of use and safety I do not want to rely on that.

  5. Brian Kent says:

    Nice work pulling the dimple for that element ferrule. I felt so cool when I did that for my 2″ ferrules. I’m still trying to get my head around how this all works, but it sure looks good.

    • Justin says:

      I wish I could take credit for that, but I left the tri clamp ferrules to the pros at Spike Brewing to install. They did do really nice work with them though, welds are perfect.

  6. […] I was designing my new brewery, I wanted to come up with something that would allow me to produce beers quickly and consistently. […]

  7. Dan Pauly says:

    It looks like OBK doesn’t ship outside of Canada, but in lieu of the Grain Defender has a very similar one at customizable sizes.

  8. […] mess: while the sanitary stainless steel plumbing on my new brewery wasn’t cheap, one advantage of how I’ve set it up is that I do not require any hose […]

  9. […] first brew on my new system wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. A learning experience to be sure. I had my concerns that […]

  10. Jacob says:

    Where did you source the 1″ dip tubes?

    System looks awesome btw!

  11. CJ Barnard says:

    Me and my dad are looking at building the same kind of setup, but a three vessels HERMS setup. Was wondering how you connected your temperature sensors to you piping? Looks like they are fitted into the lines with a tri-clamp, how did you make the housing for the temperature sensors to fit into the tri-clamps?

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