Many of you who have talked to me in person over the past year have probably heard me talk a bit about my new homebrewing stand.  Well, I’m happy to say it’s pretty much completed.  (Let’s be honest, is there ever going to be a time when you stop tweaking things on projects you’re working on?)

So here’s the rundown of the system:

  • Single Tier Brutus 10 Frame Design
  • Direct Fire HLT (Hot Liquor Tank) and Boil Kettle
  • 130k BTU Propane Burners
  • This is a HERMS (Heat Exchanged Recirculating Mash System)
  • PID controls the temperature of the mash as it recirculates.
  • 16 Gallon Boil Kettle
  • Polysulfone quick disconnects

The external exchange is probably one of the biggest differences from most HERMS systems.  I got the suggestion from my friend Pat Reddy who showed me Dennis Collins’ external heat exchanger (his site is currently down, here’s the Google cache.)

Why an external exchanger?  Because it’s more efficient.  By using your HLT as the exchanger, you’re forced to heat and monitor 10-12 gallons of water at a certain temperature.  This external exchange only uses 1.5 gallons of water, which makes heating and cooling the water much quicker.

I also only have a single pump on this system.  Why?  Because I’m broke.  Plus, I can pour my runnings into a bucket and pick the bucket up and just pour it into the boil kettle.

Also, I want to thank Mike Leahy for his big help on this project.  Mike did all of the welding and construction on the frame and kettles.  There is no way I could have done that on my own, so I really appreciate everything he did.  If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Update: Willie Nordmann had a few questions, thought I’d post the answers here as well:

Why Polysulfone QD not brass? Worried about lead?
Wanted something I could handle with hot liquids. They’re a little more expensive, but it’s nice to know I can grab something without being burnt.

Hows the burners? Can they be adjusted to a low temp?
They put out a lot of heat. I mean, a lot. Yeah, I can get them to a low temp without a problem.

Is the an electric starter on the burner?
It was. It melted away. Again, a lot of heat.

So the PID controls the Electric heating element on the HERMS?
Correct.

The pump is controlled by plugging it in and moving around the QD?
Correct.

Is the heat exchanger also the chiller?
No, I have a separate immersion chiller for that.

When are you brewing next?
When it gets slightly warmer. I’m hoping some time in March. Still have a couple of tweaks to make to the system.