Documenting my build

Post #1 made 6 years ago
Building a single vessel electric BIAB rig. Finished the e-kettle (except for installing the temp probe). Next up is building the control box, then fabricating some type of stand to put it all on.

The kettle is a 62 qt aluminum from Bayou Classic with the steamer basket. I installed 2 weldless bulkhead fittings, one for the drain valve and one for the sight glass (the temp probe will be installed in the sight glass tee). The rig is fired with a 5500w/240v heater element (installed ala Kal's "The Electric Brewery" build).

from the front:
Image
from the side:
Image
down the barrel:
Image
Last edited by thughes on 11 Oct 2011, 09:41, edited 5 times in total.
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Post #2 made 6 years ago
Awesome, are you going to incorporate any recirculation?
Fermenting: -
Cubed: -
Stirplate: -
On Tap: NS Summer Ale III (WY1272), Landlord III (WY1469), Fighter's 70/- II (WY1272), Roast Porter (WY1028), Cider, Soda
Next: Munich Helles III

5/7/12

Post #3 made 6 years ago
Yes. I plan on using a pump (March, Chugger, etc) to draw from the drain and pump back into the pot. Still deciding on how best to send the return back in: simply notch the lid and stick the hose back into the pot, run the hose through a fitting in the lid into some type of diffuser manifold, use some type of whirlpool rig, etc. Suggestions? (K.I.S.S. is best!)

I just ordered most of the stuff I'll need to build the control box, will be a bit before the wallet recovers from that!
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Post #4 made 6 years ago
Its a tricky one.

The grain bed will form at the bottom of the bag. If you draw from the drain and you don't have some sortof manifold to support the bag you might find it clogs.

If you just return to above the grain its possible the wort won't mix properly and the returned water might find its way down the side of the mash... path of least resistance and all that.

I think this is one of the reasons why the braumeister uses a malt pipe and pumps the return UP the grain bed. The metal sides prevent the returning liquor from shortcutting
Fermenting: -
Cubed: -
Stirplate: -
On Tap: NS Summer Ale III (WY1272), Landlord III (WY1469), Fighter's 70/- II (WY1272), Roast Porter (WY1028), Cider, Soda
Next: Munich Helles III

5/7/12

Post #6 made 6 years ago
stux wrote:Check this out

http://www.aussiehomebrewer.com/forum/i" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ... t&p=826068

And here is a link to the same user's build log for the earlier part on this forum

viewtopic.php?f=53&t=1017

I saw that, thank you. I like what nala did and will likely either do a variation of that with PVC (instead of copper) of fashion a similar rig that will create a whirlpool effect. I'll be using the steamer basket lined with the bag so the grain will remain safely above the heating element, drain port, etc.
Last edited by thughes on 11 Oct 2011, 19:52, edited 5 times in total.
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Post #7 made 6 years ago
thughes, that is really impressive, very neat-looking work :thumbs:

Trying to work out how the sight gauge works - looks like a little tap. Is that going to be easy to keep clean?

Good on you,
PP
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Post #8 made 6 years ago
PistolPatch wrote:thughes, that is really impressive, very neat-looking work :thumbs:

Trying to work out how the sight gauge works - looks like a little tap. Is that going to be easy to keep clean?

Good on you,
PP
Thanks PP! As to the sight gauge, that "little tap" was just installed to plug the hole so I could test water tightness. The tap will be removed and replaced with a digital temperature probe which will plug into the control box.

I purchased a 2-shelf service cart last night and re-engineered it to become my brew stand (pictures soon).

Stage 2 (the control box build) should begin this weekend, I ordered a bunch of parts the past few days and they should start showing up in my mailbox late this week. All that is left after the control box build is to wire up a 240 volt circuit in my basement.

I will continue to document this project although I apologize in advance for not providing a detailed cost break down (I really don't want to know how much I end up investing in this "dream rig") :whistle:


---Todd
Last edited by thughes on 12 Oct 2011, 21:31, edited 5 times in total.
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Post #11 made 6 years ago
PistolPatch wrote:The pics keep getting better. Nice one Todd. Have fun this weekend :thumbs:
I did!

electronic parts pron:
Image
SSR and heat sink mounted on rear cover, switches mounted in front cover, terminal and fuse blocks mounted on bottom:
Image
220V side wired:
Image
110V side wired (minus the PID, which is the heart of the system):
Image
fired up for a test run:
Image
Last edited by thughes on 17 Oct 2011, 10:47, edited 5 times in total.
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Post #12 made 6 years ago
At full power it brought 12 gallons of water from 68F degrees to a boil in @ 30 minutes. No more propane!!! :party:

Next up is tuning the temp controller with the steamer basket and bag in place. Still need a few more things: some type of water distribution manifold....right now the pump return line is just shoved into the pot, and I'd like to mount a water filter to the cart so I can just hook up a hose and have water available right on the cart for brewing and cleaning. I think for now I'll just let the wallet recover for a bit. I'm going to be eating peanut butter and jelly a lot for the next couple of months.....but it's worth it!.
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Post #13 made 6 years ago
Wow - you have been busy! Do you need a special licence to drive it thughes? :lol:

Great to hear it is all working well. Good on you :thumbs:.
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Post #14 made 6 years ago
bling bling!!
"I like beer. On occasion, I will even drink beer to celebrate a major event such as the fall of Communism or the fact that the refrigerator is still working.”Dave Berry

Post #15 made 6 years ago
Man, I'm loving this electric thing. Push a button and the water boils; beats heck out of making sure I have propane, dragging out the burner, standing outside in the cold, etc. Got the system tuned pretty close, first brew is planned for this coming weekend.
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Post #17 made 6 years ago
thughes,

Quick question first regarding the steamer basket that came with your kettle: does it have holes in the bottom or only on the side? I'm assuming that it would be perforated on all surfaces.

I love your setup. I've been "drawing up" a similar design in my head for several weeks. I want to go all-electric. I would like to build a brew-station that has a little hoist/crane with which I lift the steamer basket containing the voile bag out of the kettle. I would like to recirculate in order to keep mash temps constant and have an automatic temperature controller.
Stux mentioned: The grain bed will form at the bottom of the bag. If you draw from the drain and you don't have some sortof manifold to support the bag you might find it clogs.

If you just return to above the grain its possible the wort won't mix properly and the returned water might find its way down the side of the mash... path of least resistance and all that.
I am interested in how you return the wort to the top of the grain in a manner that assures that it will go thru the grain instead of taking the path of least resistance and simply circulating around the strainer/bag combo. I'm thinking that having it "whirlpool" back into the top of the pot would send it towards the edge of the pot thereby making it more likely to go thru the little space between the strainer and pot. Perhaps, if there is a bit of space above the perforations to the top edge of the basket, the basket could be suspended into the pot such that a bit of rim is above the surface. That might redirect the wort back over the top of the grain bed making it less likely to sneak down the sides. Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing your observations. :think:

I do not envision myself ever brewing more than a 5 gallon batch, so I will probably do fine with my 8 gallon kettle. It is very likely that I will do a number of 2.5 gallon batches (Mini-BIAB) in order to experiment with various beers and keep a few different ones on hand for variety - as I only drink 1-2 beers per day.

Will you please post some pics of a brew session?

Thanks. I'm most definitely getting inspiration from this.
Keith
Last edited by kzimmer0817 on 21 Oct 2011, 10:56, edited 5 times in total.

Post #18 made 6 years ago
kzimmer0817 wrote:thughes,

Quick question first regarding the steamer basket that came with your kettle: does it have holes in the bottom or only on the side? I'm assuming that it would be perforated on all surfaces.

I love your setup. I've been "drawing up" a similar design in my head for several weeks. I want to go all-electric. I would like to build a brew-station that has a little hoist/crane with which I lift the steamer basket containing the voile bag out of the kettle. I would like to recirculate in order to keep mash temps constant and have an automatic temperature controller.
Stux mentioned: The grain bed will form at the bottom of the bag. If you draw from the drain and you don't have some sortof manifold to support the bag you might find it clogs.

If you just return to above the grain its possible the wort won't mix properly and the returned water might find its way down the side of the mash... path of least resistance and all that.
I am interested in how you return the wort to the top of the grain in a manner that assures that it will go thru the grain instead of taking the path of least resistance and simply circulating around the strainer/bag combo. I'm thinking that having it "whirlpool" back into the top of the pot would send it towards the edge of the pot thereby making it more likely to go thru the little space between the strainer and pot. Perhaps, if there is a bit of space above the perforations to the top edge of the basket, the basket could be suspended into the pot such that a bit of rim is above the surface. That might redirect the wort back over the top of the grain bed making it less likely to sneak down the sides. Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing your observations. :think:

I do not envision myself ever brewing more than a 5 gallon batch, so I will probably do fine with my 8 gallon kettle. It is very likely that I will do a number of 2.5 gallon batches (Mini-BIAB) in order to experiment with various beers and keep a few different ones on hand for variety - as I only drink 1-2 beers per day.

Will you please post some pics of a brew session?

Thanks. I'm most definitely getting inspiration from this.
Keith
Steamer basket has holes in sides and bottom.

As it stands right now, I just stick the return hose back into the kettle. I suppose I will design some type of distribution manifold at some point.

As to the concern regarding the recirculated wort avoiding the grain bed and simply running down the sides and around it? I am recirculating mainly to equalize the temperature of the water outside of the bag with the temperature of the water inside the bag, I still plan on giving the mash a good stirring at regular intervals with my mash paddle during the mash. BobBrews simply drains a bit from the bottom into a pitcher and pours it back into the top (that's where I got the idea, and also what I have been doing with my old set-up).

If you do not do some type of circulation, you will find that the bag can act as a heat barrier and there can be quite a temp difference in the liquid below the bag vs inside the bag.

As to Stux's, I believe he was referring to what I have already discovered when I was using my old system: When opening the drain valve to drain some liquid into a pitcher to pour back into the top (in an effort to equalize temps), the bag full of grain gets sucked up against the drain outlet and plugs it. I had to lift the bag slightly to get the grain away from the drain port.

I plan on brewing this weekend, will do my best to remember and take some pics for y'all.
Last edited by thughes on 21 Oct 2011, 21:14, edited 5 times in total.
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Post #19 made 6 years ago
thughes wrote: As to the concern regarding the recirculated wort avoiding the grain bed and simply running down the sides and around it? I am recirculating mainly to equalize the temperature of the water outside of the bag with the temperature of the water inside the bag, I still plan on giving the mash a good stirring at regular intervals with my mash paddle during the mash.
Thanks for answering the question about the steamer basket. I see your reasoning for the circulation, now. Since BIAB seems to be a continuous batch sparge, your wort recirculation is simply to maintain temps, not to make certain that the grain comes into contact with fresh wort. You stir it frequently in order to accomplish that. So even if the recirculated wort does go down thru the space between the sides of the basket and the kettle, it will heat the mash.

Where is your thermometer placed in order to send the proper messages to your temp controller?

I'd like to build two electric kettles: one for 2.5 gallon brew length and one for 5 gallon brew length. Each would have a ball valve installed such that they could be connected to a recirculation pump.

Thanks again for sharing this with us.
Keith
Last edited by kzimmer0817 on 22 Oct 2011, 10:30, edited 5 times in total.

Post #20 made 6 years ago
I use an RTD type temp probe to measure temp; it is installed in the sight glass fitting. Not sure if this is the optimal placement or not but my testing/tuning this week (with basket/bag installed) shows that after some tweaking of temp reading differentials within the PID setup, the temperature of the water in the bag as measured with a glass lab thermometer is within a degree of what the RTD probe reads.

I'm doing my inaugural brew on the system this morning, I will take pictures and make notes to report back here.

I, too, am thinking of converting my smaller system from propane to electric. I have a 5 gallon pot that I currently do 2.5 gallon test batches with, the addition of a temp probe and heating element (@ $35.00 total) will make that into an electric kettle that I can then plug my current control box into.


---Todd
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Post #21 made 6 years ago
Brew day report.

First, the recipe:

Cascade Hopburst
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Color: 8.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 32.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 62.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 76.1 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
12 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 85.7 %
8.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 3.6 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 3 3.6 %
8.0 oz Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 4 3.6 %
8.0 oz Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 5 3.6 %
1.00 oz Cascade [5.40 %] - First Wort 60.0 min Hop 6 17.2 IBUs
5.00 oz Cascade [5.40 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 7 15.6 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) Yeast 8 -


Mash Schedule: BIAB, Medium Body
Total Grain Weight: 14 lbs
----------------------------
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Saccharification Add 36.44 qt of water at 160.5 F 152.1 F 90 min
Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 7 min 168.0 F 10 min

I did make a few tweaks: I moved the 5 minute hops to the cube and I have a batch of Pacman yeast that I just received from a friend who works at Rogue brewery so I will use that instead of the Safale US-05.
Last edited by thughes on 23 Oct 2011, 09:16, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #22 made 6 years ago
grinding the grain:
Image
14 lbs of grain ready to go:
Image
basket hanging from skyhook:
Image
right after I pushed the "go" button, on our way to strike temp from 66 F:
Image
30 minutes later we hit 152 F and dumped in the grain. On our way to barley tea:
Image
mash complete, boil done, into the cube, and cooling:
Image

I'll pitch the yeast sometime tomorrow. :thumbs:
Last edited by thughes on 23 Oct 2011, 09:14, edited 5 times in total.
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Post #24 made 6 years ago
Observations/lessons learned:

Electric is waaay faster than my propane setup. Took 30 minutes to get from 66 to 152, 10 minutes to get from 152 to 168, and 15 minutes to get from 168 to boil.

Once boiling, I can maintain a good rolling boil with the power output set to 60% (in manual mode).

Although the basket looks like Swiss cheese, it does not drain well enough. If I recirculate too fast, the liquid can not drain through the holes in the basket fast enough and the level in the pot begins to rise. I compensated for this today by closing up the valve on the recirculation hose to a tiny trickle. I think I will take a saw to the basket and hack the hell out of it. (Stay tuned for pictures)

I also need to tweak the PID controller a bit more but despite my best efforts to the contrary, I was able to maintain a perfect 152 F for the duration of the mash. I did have some trouble getting the PID to raise the temp to mashout (I know that hurt my efficiency).

At the end of the day, I managed to get 69% efficiency and 6.25 gallons of 1.055 wort into the cube. :champ:

I think crushing a bit finer, opening up the holes in the basket, and stirring a bit more will get my numbers back up to where they were with my old system (82-84%).

BTW, I have recently developed an interest in sour beers so I did a little experiment today. You can find out more here.
Last edited by thughes on 23 Oct 2011, 09:35, edited 5 times in total.
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Post #25 made 6 years ago
Thanks for the photos. It helps me figure out how this fits together.
thughes wrote:Observations/lessons learned:
Although the basket looks like Swiss cheese, it does not drain well enough. If I recirculate too fast, the liquid can not drain through the holes in the basket fast enough and the level in the pot begins to rise. I compensated for this today by closing up the valve on the recirculation hose to a tiny trickle. I think I will take a saw to the basket and hack the hell out of it. (Stay tuned for pictures)
I'm speaking from no experience whatsoever, but before you hack up your basket: have you operated your kettle, including the recirculating pump, using the bag without the steamer basket? IOW, rig up some kind of false bottom (the broccoli steamer as I've seen before) in the bottom to make certain that it's the basket that's slowing down the flow and not simply the bag.

Also, how fast do you need the water flow to be in order to maintain your temps? I wouldn't think it would be much (again, just pondering it without having experienced it). In your photo, there are 2 rows of holes above the level of your grain, so I don't understand how that many unobstructed holes won't allow your flow to drain out and around the basket rapidly enough to keep the kettle from overfilling unless it's the bag that's causing the most resistance.

I've been "imagining" and "designing" my own build in my head even before seeing your great idea. I had wondered about trying to find a correctly sized wire basket (like those in used to make french fries in the deep fat fryers) what would be more "hole" and less "metal". Sort of like one of these if you could find one deeper.

http://www.bayouclassicfryers.com/index ... tail&p=237
http://www.webstaurantstore.com/11-1-2- ... 7FB11.html
I also need to tweak the PID controller a bit more but despite my best efforts to the contrary, I was able to maintain a perfect 152 F for the duration of the mash. I did have some trouble getting the PID to raise the temp to mashout (I know that hurt my efficiency).
Is it possible that this might be due to the location of your temp probe - in the space underneath the basket and near the heating element? If the probe were stuck into your mash, might it work better? It's possible that I'm not fully understanding the process - not knowing if it's a problem with how the PID functions or a problem with sensing the temp.
I think crushing a bit finer, opening up the holes in the basket, and stirring a bit more will get my numbers back up to where they were with my old system (82-84%).
How fast did the bag/basket combo drain when you raised it compared to when you did BIAB without the basket? I'm just trying to save you the trouble of hacking up your basket (which isn't a cheap piece of equipment when purchased separately).

It is likely that crushing your grain a little finer will further impede the flow of wort thru the bag itself as well as the basket. I still wonder if slowing the flow in your recirculator would solve the issue without having to cut up your basket.

Respectfully submitted,
Keith - who's trying to do some "dry runs" in his head before actually doing it. :think:
Last edited by kzimmer0817 on 23 Oct 2011, 11:12, edited 5 times in total.
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