15 September 2009

Brewery - Part 1

Building a new brewery... a 40litre system this time. I'm tired of hacking around with buckets in tubs of ice, so the aim is to "do it properly". Amongst my design goals:
  • Keep things as simple as possible to keep costs down for now
  • Keep the design as open-ended as is realistic. This is just "good OO design 101".
  • Budget limit R2500 (around EUR230/USD335 today).
  • Must be easy to clean/sterilise the dirty pots. (Having been party to a pretty terrible-tasting brew once before...)
What kick-started the whole affair was scoring 3 used stainless-steel kegs via a friend for R750. I could possibly have knocked the price down a little, but... new, half-sized kegs go for R1250 and up... and used kegs are like hens' teeth around here. So: a bargain at the price, especially as the kegs already had the tops cut our and various holes cut with threaded fittings attached. (Stainless-steel welding goes for around R300 per weld, so I scored R900-worth just in welds!)

My basic plan is a 3-tank system: The first is simply a Hot Liquid Tank -- the source of hot water for mashing, sparging and cleanup. The 2nd will be the mash/lauter tun, and the 3rd the boiler. I could get away with only 2 tanks, but I have definite intentions of converting it all to a HERMS system pretty soon for the extra control and precision it gives for mashing temperatures.

First stop has been to clear the shed nearest the house (just outside the kitchen door!) of junk, and to build a sturdy bench to accommodate the 3 pots, gas burners, chilller, etc. The shed was the most logical place for the brewery: electrified (for pumps) and plumbed (it houses the house-water pump) and close to the dam for cooling water. This much is pretty-much  accomplished. All that's left is to arrange a stand/support for the gas burner. I'm sticking with gas heating, since, sooner or later, we want to get off the grid, and then electrical water heating is a no-go. I also have some vague ideas of trying to build a wood-gasifier for heating at some later date...

Still to do:
  • insulate the pots
  • build a chiller -- immersion or counterflow still undecided and much-debated (input welcome!)
  • plumbing and pump
  • build a crusher
I have about a week or 10 days until some ingredients arrive. Can't wait!

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