Category Archives: THE BREWERY

$12 Walmart Test Batch Kettle

As my curiosity of beer styles rose and available empty bottles declined I found myself wanting and needing to brew smaller batches. Forking out $100+ for a homebrew branded kettle put this idea was on hold…until a visit to Walmart. I found this 4 gallon stainless kettle for a mere $12. One hole punched in the lid later and I’m brewing it’s maiden Dunkelweizen.

I thoroughly love the output, control and function of my 12 gallon electric BIAB system but the plain simplicity of brewing a batch on this size is difficult to beat. It’s easy, low cost, quick, cleanup is only a few minutes..what’s not too love?

Brewdown $12 walmart brew kettle

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Switching to a Plate Heat Exchanger

Upon arriving at the fork of plate vs counter flow chiller, I opted for the hose wrapped,  copper tubing counter flow. Because A) I could make one and B) It was cheaper. It worked wonderfully! Wort went in hot and came out cool, what more could you want? Well, call me finicky but as someone who spends my paid hours designing parts that both work well and are easy to use, the trusty old coil HE fell short. It was chaotic to arrange, hoses everywhere, had to be leak checked frequently and for its purpose, took up too much damn space in a home brewery which strives to fit on a single rolling stand.

Brewdown Duda Diesel Plate Chiller Homebrew Heat Exchanger

 

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Whirlpool/Stir Inlet

Whether myth or fact, the thought of scorched wort while electric brewing gives me a bit of a shiver. So what’s one to do? Stir! 30 minutes of it while waiting for the boil sounds dull. Let’s put that pump to work.

Started with a piece of 0.5″ 304SS pipe. Bent the exterior bend, the outlet bend and welded on two 1.5″ TC caps. I designed the top to sit above the kettle to avoid adding another ball valve.

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The Carman – 12 gallon Pyrex Carboy

The craigslist gods have cast their light upon me! An original Pyrex 12 gallon glass borosilicate carboy. While more or less impossible to find used, they are available new – just get ready to give Amazon a month’s worth of rent.

 

 

One fermentation vessel down from two means less cleaning but what I’m most excited about is the increased exposed surface area for fermentation. The 6.5 gallon carboys I have been using have ~95 square inches of surface area at their widest while the carman has ~175. It’s maiden voyage will begin with some wheat, some barely, a bit of WLP300 and no stopper. Let’s see if we can get those esters cranking!

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Continuous Sparge Arm

After a little mishap that left my kitchen covered in wort I thought it was time to finally get the sparge arm built. With a bit of left over 0.5″ 304 tubing, a CIP ball, some 1.5″ tri clamp plates and an afternoon, I set out to get one made.

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Compact Control Panel

One unharnessed benefit of my electric brewing setup was precise temperature control. So I took a weekend off to fabricate a PID based control panel. I wanted something compact that could sit on the countertop and be stored away when not in use. This is designed to control only one of the two heating elements during mash as well as the pump.

 

Brewdown Compact Counter Top Electric Brewering Control Panel 6

 

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BIAB Kettle Stand

After a few counter top brews it was time to give the kettle some legs of its own. The stand was next in line for a few reasons. I wanted be able to see over the top, avoid slogging around 45 Lbs of stainless steel every time I needed to move it and provide a more stable base to 95 Lbs of boiling, sticky wort.

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Converting a Keg to an Electric BIAB System

While not the prettiest, it’s damn hard to beat the utility of a keg as a brew vessel. Thick walled, rigid and a fifteen gallon capacity.  My homebrewery will be based around an electric, keg built BIAB system with a 13 gallon output.

 

Purchased a defunct keg and set straight into cutting a hole in the top.

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