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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SNB Brewhouse v3.5

Brewhouse v3.5
I’m so far behind on posts that this one is going to really cover three topics.  The main topic will be the construction and testing of my flat brewing surface currently known as SNB Brewhouse v3.5.  The other topics that will be lightly touched on are BSS aka Bitter Sweet Symphony Remixed and 35ish my annual “birthday” brew based on Kate the Great.  Grouping all these together actually makes sense as they are really all part of figuring out how to brew on a flat surface.

It had been almost 6 months since I’ve brewed a beer at my own house.  This was mostly caused by me stripping my previous system for parts for a new system while waiting for a flat brutus style stand to be built for me.  Almost a month ago I got tired of not being able to brew at my house so I jerry-rigged together a brewing setup (dubbed Brewhouse 3.5) using my old headboard and pieces from my various set ups.

Helping to pull valves
It was pretty fun building a new manual flat surface brewhouse. I’d been playing with pumps before to move water and wort to different places but always had the ability to use gravity for certain steps. Going to a flat surface meant learning how to move liquid exclusively with pumps.  To do this I needed to upgrade my hoses and connections to make moving wort more efficient.  On the connection side I looked into the one handed quick disconnects and triclamps but decided to go with cam & groove fittings similar to the ones Shawn uses. The side benefit is when I brew with him I don’t have to worry about modifying either setup to get them to work together! For this setup I relied heavily on Brewers Hardware for a great selection of fitting, included the wide bore 1/2" Cam and Groove Coupler X High Flow 1/2" Hose Barb.

The other thing moving to a flat brewing setup meant that I would need to finally transition from batch sparging to fly sparging.  I’ve been batch sparging as long as I’ve been all-grain brewing mostly because I didn’t have a HLT, well I had one (which will make its debut as a mashtun in Brewhouse 3.75) cut and drilled I just didn’t have it setup with the hardware.

Part of both learning to use pumps more efficiently in brewing and fly sparging meant valves valves and valves.  Whereas before I only had 2 I now have valves of all shapes and sizes. Using them all really gives the feel of working in a larger scale brewery.  It was also fun to get my daughter to help open and close valves.  Part of learning to use valves was learning where to put them in reference to pumps. Basically you never want to restrict the flow of liquid into the pump which means only placing valves after the outflow.

34th while brewing 35ish
The one disappointment about moving to new hardware was that the chill plate Bonnie got me for my birthday the previous year won’t work anymore.  It was designed to work with a hose barbs and a garden hose neither of which I could really adapt in my new system as you’ll see from the pictures.  I ended up selling it and a pump I only used for cooling water to my mom and stepfather.  I used the proceeds to buy a new larger 40 plate heat exchanger straight from Duda Diesel with 1/2" Male NPT to attach new fittings and a ball valve directly to it.

I still have some work to do in calibrating the new equipment and entering the values into BeerSmith for more accurate brewing.  I have been coming up a little short on my preboil gravity but making up for it in my boil at the cost of being under my post boil volume.  It would also help to brew some session level beers to help determine my new efficiency instead of the large beers I’ve been brewing.  I don’t want to spend too much time right now as my new brew (probably Westbennetteren 12 b3) will be on Brewhouse 3.75 (stand without automation) and I have a pretty good feel for how it is preforming in its 3.5 configuration

Before I jet, let me briefly talk about the two “calibration” beers BSS and 35ish.  BSS is the codename for Bitter Sweet Symphony Remixed which is a rebrew and retool of Bitter Sweet Symphony from last year.  I wasn’t happy with how it turned out as a lager so I switched it to WLP007 and changed the rice to brewer’s sugar. Currently it’s on a strange journey that I right now don’t know how it will end up.  35ish is my annual birthday brew based on the Kate the Great recipe.  It gains the “ish” this year as even though everything was set and ready to go on my birthday I wasn’t “physically able” to brew that day getting around to it a few days later on the 1st of January.  It’s currently in a keg for a long cold secondary.



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