September 26, 2011

Brewery Tour

If I'm going to be talking about making beer it's probably high time I let people see what I'm working with.
This is the beginning of the obsession. Just a corner of basement jazzed up with some paint  and a few second hand stainless steel tables. At this point the mash- tun was still a cooler and we were boiling in a makeshift kettle that would come apart when the burner was run for too long. This version of the brewery didn't last too long, one big spill of water lead to tile floor, a floor drain, a walk-in cooler and automation for the brewery.

The boil kettle is just a standard blichmann 55 gallon kettle nothing special. The kettle is fired by a 180,000 BTU burner which was made out of a free stainless table, its hard piped natural gas controlled by an automated gas valve.

The hot liquor tank is a very nice piece of equipment. It holds about 25 gallons of sparge water, its heated by a water jacket with an electric heating element that is also automated.

The RIMS mashing system is by far the most complicated part of the brewery. It uses a 30 gallon blichmann kettle, false bottom and sparge arm. Mash water is recirculated from under the false bottom and back over the top of the grain bed. The flow rate is controlled by a flow rate meter and a gate valve. The system is automated with the use of an automated gas valve and temperature probe.

The automation for the system is achieved through a BCS-462, The unit controls the gas valves and takes temperature readings from the HLT, Mash, and all refrigeration spaces. It can be accessed online from anywhere making reading the data logs and changing fermentation temperatures very easy.
The unit can be accessed at  (user: admin, pass: beer) these are guest settings so feel free to visit without fear of changing any settings.
This system needs some more work, the digital temperature and analog blichmann thermometer don t agree and mash temperatures have been frequently missed. Next brew will see a new temperature probe placement which should resolve the issue.

The grain mill is a motorized MM3 monster mill. The extended hopper holds about 20 pounds of grain. This is another system that might benefit from a few small changes. The mill jams occasionally when grain gets behind the roller, also a gear reduction motor would allow the mill to be even stronger also reducing jamming. Also, This thing has zero safety features some yellow lights that turn on when the mill is running could be useful, maybe some scary stickers of a hand being crushed would be a nice touch.

The walk-in fridge is huge. It could probably hold 35 kegs easily  along with many bottles. It was made by sticking out the walls, adding a stupid amount of insulation, a vapor barrier and some finishing work. Cooling is provided by the guts of an old commercial freezer. Additionally the walk-in has taps coming through the wall with chalk board labeling system.
Fermentation takes place in a 27 gallon blichmann conical fermenter when its available. It lives in the seven-up fridge in the above photo. Soon the 42 gallon extension will be making an appearance hopefully in time for the run of assorted winter porters. Next upgrade for this system is a thermowell to monitor actual beer temperature and not ambient temperature.

Thats most of the brewery. I didn't bother showing the storage spaces because nobody really needs to see empty bottles and kegs stacked up. Here are a few pictures of the whole operation.


  1. you have a seriously sweet brewing setup

  2. Thanks James, its been a lot of work to set up but its really close to being perfect.

  3. Wow man amazing stuff! I really like your web interface too. Whats your professional background?

  4. No real professional background. Currently I'm a petroleum products distribution technician (AKA gas jockey) and my brother with who I brew is a mechanic. We did lots of research drank lots of beer and sustained many injuries to get this system up and running.
    Glad you like the interface I recently tried to simplify it a little as it had too much going on.
    Don't forget to follow the blog on Facebook or with Google Cheers :)

  5. WOW all that stainless
    I think I have seen it before

    Keep up the good work
    love ya