Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Brewstand rises with hidious glory

I admit the Curiosity rover is Ok. Sure, it traveled 150 million miles and landed on another celestial body, but it is not going to make beer like my brewstand.  Ultimately, what is more important?  Furthering the cause of science by learning about a place I will probably never visit.  Or getting me drunk.

On the other end of the spectrum is my brewstand.  Rising in my garage with cycloptian grace, it is a HERMS, two tier, double burner, pump driven, rolling brew station.

This was not what I imagined my stand would look like when I started this journey.  I had initially yearned for a tippy dump but there were several factors which led me to the ultimate design.   Dr. Frankenstein also never considered his creation a "monster" until it was finished and laying on the slab.  "Oh crap, I should have taken that home economics sewing class," is what he thought.
Most of the mashes I do are a simple single infusion.  However, I wanted the possibility of doing a step mash and all it took was a retrofit of an old wort chiller.  I can also use it on the cold end by filling my HLT with water and ice and running the wort through my plate chiller and then through the HERMS coil to get down to lager temps when my groundwater is too hot.

I liked the look of a single tier system, like a Brutus 10, but I only wanted to buy one pump.  I have seen three tier systems out there but they are bulkier than I wanted to deal with.

Probably the most daring feature of the stand is it is made of wood. I made this decision because I have all the tools to work with wood, I could make drawers and it is cheaper.  Now I will pause for the inevitable Natty Light drinking troll commenter to point out wood is flammable (Thank you Dr. Science!). 

The wood in questions is 14 inches from the nearest flame source and I don't leave a flame unattended for much longer than it takes to pee.  I've brewed on the stand six times and haven't seen any evidence of scorching.  If it appears to be a problem then a couple of pieces of thin sheet metal can form a heat shield. 

If the wood were to catch fire I'm not sure what I would do.  If only there were three large vessels containing 20, or more, gallons of water sitting on the stand.  To bad it is not as simple as just turning the valve on the hot liquor tank to have water come out. 

So far I am really pleased with my stand.  I have done step mashes and even a decoction and everything works pretty well.  I really like I can fill everything with water in place so I don't have to try to lift 9 gallons of water over my head.

However, everything is not sunshine and unicorn ejaculate.  I purchased the cheaper plastic quick connects from MoreBeer but don't really like them.  They don't seal really well and it is pretty easy for the pump to lose its prime, especially as soon as I dough in.  I would appreciate any tips from someone who knows how to prevent this.

The only other thing is the lag on a Ranco controller makes it pretty easy to overshoot your temps, especially if your hot liquor tank is really hot, so this takes a little bit of attention with cold water. 

Don't fear the wood.  As long as you take some fairly small precautions with set up and design, combined with a basic understanding of how fire works, you aren't going to torch your stand..

Here is the slideshow of more pictures:


Lewy said...

I have the Pro Flow stainless QC and love them

Cheap and great quality.

Ruth Bishop said...

I like home brewing but most of the times i make a mistake any ways ur post gave me much more information on brewing a good beer

Beer Glasses said...

I like home preparing but the vast majority of the times i commit an error any ways ur post gave me substantially more qualified information on fermenting a great malt beverage

Brewsavvy said...

Some day I will breakdown and buy/make a brewstand. Nice article..enjoyed the read.

Ryan said...

Love the stand. Would love to see some more close up pictures if you ever get a chance.

Eddie said...

I know after reading a few of your posts that I still have a lot to learn about beer brewing, but I am getting there sooner or later.
Thanks for sharing all this information.

showerbeer said...

I'm currently playing around with the idea of making a brewstand and thought your post was pretty helpful. Thanks for sharing the tips on the keeping the fire safe. Cheers.