Adventures in Homebrewing and Homebrewing.org are currently having a great promotion on All Grain Homebrewing Equipment.
Adventures in Homebrewing Coupon Code
If you are looking to transition from extract home beer brewing over to all grain brewing, you might want to check out the promotion that Adventures in Homebrewing currently has running. For a limited time you can pick up a homebrewing mash tun cooler and hot liquor tank cooler both for just $179.
This package deal from Adventures in Homebrewing includes 2 Igloo coolers with stainless steel ball vales. One 10 gallon cooler will be used as a hot liquor tank which includes a ball valve and hose for sparging while the mash tun comes with a stainless steel false bottom and a stainless tube, and ball valve. For more details on this limited time offer, click the following link:
I brewed a batch of Karamel Citra Session IPA over the weekend to test out the new RIMS system that I had built for my home brewery. Sometimes you can test as much as you want, but until you go live with an actually batch of beer, you just never know what is going to happen. Thankfully everything with this batch seemed to work just about perfectly.
There are a couple of things that I would like to make note of for anyone else who is planning on building their own RIMS setup using a similar configuration as mine. Initially the march pump did not seem to want to pass the wort through the RIMS heating chamber. To correct the issue I bypassed the heating chamber and recirculated directly back into the mash tun for a couple of minutes until the work began to clear a bit. After that it passed through the heating chamber with out any issues. Also, as a safety measure I wired my Ranco temperature controller so that the only way that it can be on is if the mash tun pump is active. I would recommend that you do the same in order to help reduce the chances that the heating element engages with out any fluid in the heating chamber. You will also want to check on your flow rate periodically to make sure that the march pump is transferring fluid at the expected rate.
How to build a Home Brewery \ Beer Brewing Stand \ Brewing Rack \ Single Tier Brewing Sculpture
I can not speak for everyone, but for me, once I had made the change from extract to all grain home brewing I began having visions of what I wanted my home brewery to look like. In a way, a big part of the allure of home beer brewing for me was making the best beer possible. For me that included building my own home brewing rack, doing my best to perfect the process and being as efficient as possible. I am not going to lie, there were a few times along the way that I questioned what the hell I was thinking and why I did not just buy a home brewing stand, but now that all is said and done I am a bit proud of what I was able to accomplish with my own hands. In hopes of helping some of my fellow home brewers out I am going to supply some general information on how I put mine together. If you need any specifics on something I do not list here, please feel free to drop me a line with what details you are looking for.
Home Beer Brewery
The dimensions of my brewery are 61″ Wide, 20.5″ Deep and 20.5″ tall excluding the wheels. The following is a list of parts that I used to create my home brewing sculpture, but many of the items such as the kettles, sparge arm and pumps can be traded out for other items of your preference. I am assuming that you have some basic welding experience (it is not that hard) and the required tools including a welder, cut saw, drill and grinder.
For the frame of my single tier home brewing stand I used 2″ x 2″ steel fence post that I cut into the appropriate sizes. I made two large 61″ x 20.5″ rectangles for the top and the bottom, with a supporting vertical bar on each corner of the brewing stand. In between each of the 3 burners, I placed 2 bars for spacing and support. Even with all 3 kettles full of liquid, the beer rack is incredibly stable. Here is a link to the fence post available at home depot:
The burners are really an item of personal preference. I started with 54,000 BTU burners, but then later upgraded to a 210,000 BTU Bayou Cooker Burners. The smaller burners were more efficient as far as propane usage goes, but the larger bayou cooker burners certainly get the job done much quicker. I welded brackets onto the bottom of the top level of my home brewing stand to hold the burners in place. Initially I had a flexible line with a regulator running from each burner to a master regulator that was hooked up to the propane tank, but then later ran pipe with separate valves for each burner. The bayou cooker banjo burners are available here:
For the home brewing kettles I opted for the Blichmann 20 gallon kettles. They include a site gauge so you can easily see the volume in your kettle, a 3 piece stainless steel ball valve and adjustable thermometer. These stainless steel brewing kettles are one of the best buys that I have ever made and have no regrets about them. They have a variety of options including a false bottom for your mash tun, hop blocker for your boil kettle, and sparge arm. I opted for the false bottom and hop blocker and have been very happy with them. I do mostly 10 gallon batches, but could go as high as 15 gallons with these 20 gallon kettles. You will want to buy kettles that are appropriate for the batch size that you intend to brew. Blichmann currently offers 10 gallon, 15 gallon, 20 gallon, 30 gallon and 55 gallon kettles. You can find the kettles and optional items available here:
You will need to get 2 high temperature food grade pumps for your single tier home brewing rack. I placed my pumps in between the hot liquor tank \ mash tun and the other between the mash tun and boil kettle. With two pumps you will be able to conduct your sparge while also transferring wort from your mash tun to your boil kettle. I use high temperature rated march pumps with stainless steel quick disconnects. The pumps and disconnects can be found here:
As far as sparge arms go I have tried several. The best one that I have ever come across is the morebeer ultimate sparge arm. It is made of stainless steel, has a ball valve built into it to easily control the flow rate and can be used to recirculate or lauter your wort in addition to sparging. The ultimate sparge arm can be purchased here:
Lastly for my wort chiller I use a convoluted counter flow chiller. Much like the sparge arm, I have tried just about every chiller from immersion chillers to plate chillers and I have found the convoluted counter flow chiller to be the best. What I like most about it is that it is just about impossible to clog, it is compact, it cools wort incredibly quickly and it is easy to clean and sanitize. These convoluted counter flow chillers are also sometimes referred to as chillzillas. They can be found here:
Those are the basics on my home brewing stand \ single tier brewing sculpture. If you have any specific questions or comments, please leave a comment or shoot me an email and I will do my best to assist you. Best of luck to you on building your own all grain home beer brewing stand. If it seems like a little more work then you are up for, there are also some really fantastic pre-manufactured stainless steel home brewing racks and brewing sculptures available here:
Before purchasing the MoreBeer Ultimate Sparge Arm, I had tried a variety of other sparge arms including a halo style sparge arm, and a spinning fly sparge arm. I was intrigued by the Ultimate Sparge Arm because it is constructed of stainless steel, had no moving parts, and no pin holes to get clogged. And with a name like the “Ultimate Sparge Arm,” I had very high expectations for it!
Thankfully, I was not disappointed. The Ultimate Sparge Arm is very durable; the stainless steel is thick, and the welds on it are clean and professionally made. Additionally, it is a very versatile sparge arm. It has an adjustable height knob that allows you to set the outflow in a variety of positions to avoid hot side aeration. Since the Ultimate Sparge Arm does not depend on a rotating arm to disperse the water or wort, it allows you to set the flow rate at any level, which is a real benefit over my previous fly sparge arm. It also includes a stainless steel ball valve so that you can easily make fine adjustments to the flow rate. The Ultimate Sparge Arm also includes a mounting bolt that allows you to quickly and easily mount it to the side of your mash tun.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the Ultimate Sparge Arm is that it permits you to recirculate wort through it and use it in a RIMS or HERMS system, which is something that I would never have been able to do with any of my previous sparge arms. Using the sparge arm in conjunction with my march pump, burner and digital temperature gauge, I was able to easily convert my all grain system over to RIMS which made my brew day a lot simpler when it comes to regulating my mash temperature. The Ultimate Sparge Arm is one of the best home brew purchases that I have ever made, and I highly recommend it.
A false bottom is a perforated or slotted screen on the bottom of a mash tun or lauter tun that restricts grains from being collected with the wort when it is drawn from the mash in preparation for the boil. There are a variety of false bottoms available for home brewing.
Sparging is a brewing process that involves passing heated water through the grain bed of a mash to extract sugars from the crushed grains and adjuncts. Sparging is typically conducted at approximately 167° F to 170° F; if the temperature exceeds 170° F, the brewer risks extracting excessive amounts of tannins from the grains. If the temperature is too low, then the sparge will be ineffective at liquefying the remaining converted sugars from the grains. While the sparge water passes from the hot liquor tank to the mash tun, or lauter tun, via a sparge arm, the extracted sugars and water are being drained from the base of the vessel and relocated to the boil kettle in preparation for to upcoming boil.
This mash is being sparged at 168° F, while the beer is being transferred from the false bottom at the base of the mash tun over to the boil kettle.
Sparging in the mash tun, while wort is transferred to the boil kettle.
Mashing is the process of mixing and infusing crushed malts, unmalted grains, and adjuncts with hot water from the hot liquor tank. As the grains and adjuncts mix with the hot water at specific temperatures, enzymes from the malt activate and convert the starches into sugars. At the same time that the starches are being converted to sugars, color is also being extracted from the grains, which is the primary determining factor of the beer’s final color. The mashing process takes place in a brewing vessel called a mash tun.
Below is a photo of crushed grain being stirred in the mash tun during the mashing process.
A home brewing sculpture is another term for a home brewery. Most home brewing beer sculptures consist of a hot liquor tank, mash tun, and a boil kettle. The brewing sculpture shown below is a single-tier sculpture that utilizes pumps to transfer liquid from one tank to another at different stages of the brewing process. Each tank has a separate propane fueled burner beneath it to apply heat when needed.
If you are interested in purchasing a prefabricated home brewing sculpture, there are a wide variety of beautiful stainless steel single-tier and multi-tier models available here:
The hot liquor tank or HLT is a brewing vessel used to heat water for different stages of the brewing process, including the mash and sparge. The hot liquor tank is typically heated by either gas, steam, or an electric heating coil. Depending on brewery configuration, the hot liquor tank may hold water at temperatures as high as 170° F or possibly even higher in cases where a boil is conducted to modify the mineral composition of the brewing water in order to remove bicarbonate
The photo below is the brewing configuration that I use. The hot liquor tank is the rightmost kettle, and I utilize a march pump to transfer the heated water to the mash tun at different times in the brewing process. Additionally, at the end of the boil I fill the hot liquor tank with ice and cold water and pump the cooled water through the counter flow wort chiller to cool the wort more quickly.
A mash tun is a brewing tank used for converting and extracting sugars from grains and certain types of adjuncts. The crushed grains are loaded into the mash tun and then mixed with temperature controlled hot water. The hot water causes an enzyme reaction in the grains that converts their starches to sugars. The sugars are then rinsed from the grains with hot water that helps liquefy the sugars so that they can be more easily extracted from the grains. Many mash tuns are fitted with a raised perforated false bottom that permits the sugars to be extracted from the grains without requiring the grain husks to be transferred to the next stage of the brewing process.
The photo below displays a mash tun in the WestCoastBrewing.com home brewing sculpture/beer rack. The mash tun is in the center with the hot liquor tank to the right and the boil kettle to the left.
Infusion mashing is the process of regulating mash temperature by injecting heated water from the hot liquor tank into the mash tun at specific times.
When conducting a step infusion mash, differing temperatures and quantities of water are infused in the mash tun from the hot liquor tank at specific intervals or steps in the mash process to control sugar conversion and extraction.
When conducting a single infusion mash, the room temperature of the grains is compared with the desired mashing temperature and mash water volume. The hot liquor tank is then preheated to the appropriate temperature and the mash water is infused with the grains all at one time. The mash is maintained at a constant temperature until the mash out or sparging sequence begins.
RIMS or the recirculating infusion mash system is a mash infusion system that either utilizes a pump to recirculate the fluid in the mash over a secondary heat source (outside of the mash tun) to maintain the mash temperature, or constantly recirculates the mash onto itself while direct heat is applied to the mash tun to regulate temperature. The fluid is pumped at a rapid enough pace to keep the temperature of the mash at an equilibrium and prevents the wort from being scorched or overheated.