Brewery build pt 7: putting it all together

The wait is over… my new brewery is complete:

 

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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…

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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:

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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!

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