This post is a continuation of the Process Lockdown: Overview post I put out last week. We will just call this Equipment List version 1.0, as I am planning on adding a few of fermentation related items and testing hardware during this year. Here is an equipment list that supports brewing and packaging beer in my home-brewery. It tends to be very eclectic, and I have not sourced it from one place. The bio-diesel websites have surprised me with the extend of quality goods they carry for homebrewing.
Bayou Classic SP10 High-Pressure Outdoor Gas Cooker, Propane – My first burner purchased in support of brewing pre-packaged beer kits from my local HBS, and from the online retailers. It served its purpose wonderfully as an extract and partial mash burner. I now employ it as a cereal mash cooker prior to the mash-in steps on my brew stand, and for decoction step mashes, where the wet malt needs to be removed from the mash tun and heated independently.
Stainless steel pot – 32 quart (8 gallon) – with lid and basket. – I don’t know the brand, as I purchased it from a friend for less than a few dollars. It is my first pot, used alongside the above burner for recipe kits, and partial grain brewing. Currently is utilizes as a utility pot, for heating water, cooking oats and other un-malted grains, decoction kettle, and cleanser or sanitizer bucket. If anyone is looking to purchase or upgrade, Adventures in Homebrewing has an excellent selection from 8 quarts to 55 gallons, and they can even punch ports and weld fittings for thermometers and ball-valves. Go here to take a look (Brew Pots)
Floating Thermometer – First used when I got into extract kit brewing as the thermometer that came with my pot was used for frying. I had trouble with the fry thermometer as the working range of mashing only used a quarter of the range, and I didn’t think it was sufficient to repeatedly control the mash temps. The floating thermometer is used only when I calibrate my other large analog temperature gauges. Temperature calibration is performed about every 24 months, and all of the dial gauges are set according to the reading of this thermometer. It will remain as the reference unit until I get off my lazy butt and purchase a NIST traceable unit. Floating Thermometers can be found here (Floating Thermometer)
Triple Scale Wine and Beer Hydrometer – Great all around hydrometer. Wide range covers everything needed for measuring gravities. Got this particular one with our first wine kit, and haven’t broken it yet. I usually do not pull it out on brew days, as it requires a temperature of 65 F to work properly, although it is my main go-to for ensuring fermentations have completed. I am still putting together a correlation between my Hydrometer and Refractometer for FG. I will post on this further as I get the data collected. Need one – Here (Hydrometer)
Dual Scale Refractometer – %Brix and Specific Gravity – This thing is awesome. I only need a very small sample drawn into a pipette to place onto the prism face to read my %Brix. With such a small sample needed, I end up measuring the sugar concentrations all the time. Starting with Distilled or DI water prior to using on brew day, and calibrating the prism, then every 30 minutes while mashing, at mash out, batch sparge, Pre-boil, post boil, and any liquid remaining in the mash tun after sparge. I am replicating a correlation study performed by Sean Terrell on using a Refractometer for measuring FG (Sean Terrel). It uses a lot of math that I would have trouble following if I was doing it on paper. If it proves out, I will post my results. You can find one here (Refractometer)
Stainless Steel Spoon – 24 inches – Replaced my plastic mash paddle after I accidentally melted it when placing it on the hot brewstand deck. This spoon is used on brew day during mashing and boiling. For mash, I use it just like a mash paddle, and to stir up the grain bed if I start to see a reduction in re circulation flow. During boil, I use it for skimming off the hot-break, and to take samples to put on the Refractometer – Link (24-SS-Spoon)
Stainless Steel Immersion chiller – 50 feet – garden hose connections – Utilized prior to building the heat exchanger. Now I dream of recycling it into a liquid coolant exchanger submerged into a 5 gallon bucket (or something) with a pump for cooling a run of tap lines. Link (50' SS Immersion Chiller)
Heat Exchanger – This is a Frankenstein build of a chill Wizard. It once started off life as a full blown SABCO built Chill Wizard, but when I purchased everything from the brewery in Arizona, the parts had been scavenged and the only Items left were the little stand and the pump. After spending hour online trying to figure out a way to rebuild it, I modified the idea and decided to run an easier to source traditional Heat exchanger. I selected one I know are double walled food grade units. On the Wort side, the Hoses are all 1/2″ ID silicone with Cam and Groove disconnects on the pump and plate chiller. Hoses and fittings are sourced from here (Silicone Hose) and here (Cam Locks). I sourced the plate heat exchanger from here (Plate heat exchanger). I have abandoned the original design that has a O2 stone in the chill wizard, and use a medical O2 generator to introduce the oxygen in the actual fermenter. Perhaps one day I will figure out the plumbing needed to supply the O2 right in the chilling system. Here a link to a new model that has sanitary tri-clamp connections and stainless steel pump head on the SABCO website. (Chill Wizard)
Sabco Brew Magic V350MS – This is the Brew-stand purchased from a small brewery in Arizona – It runs on a touch screen Unitronics Vision 350 PLC. The PLC runs custom software and controls a RIMS tube within the system. This is primarily for maintaining a tight control on mash temperature. For bulk heating and boiling gas burners are utilized. When purchased it was setup for natural gas, but I have since converted it over to LP. I have kept all the orifices and pressure regulators and will convert it back once I run a dedicated natural gas line out to my home brewery (Garage). The Kettle, Mash Tun, and Hot Liquor Tank are all modified kegs, with 1/2 inch Tri-clamp connections, and the system runs on a standard 15amp 120 volt circuit.(Brew Magic)
(6) Sabco Fermenters – Modified kegs. These are numbered (actual mailbox numbers from homedepot) and I maintain a spreadsheet of their activity. If anything happens, I have a history of what happened and when. Fermenter number 6 is dedicated as the sour/funk/Brett fermenter. They have a 4″ tri-clamp port on top with a cap that contains two ports for various operations. I blocked off one of the ports with a beer-nut and a silicone covered nickel. The other port has a Micromatic shutoff ball valve with a blow-off tube. On the side of the fermenter is an analog dial thermometer attached via tri-clamp. Below the thermometer port is a 1/2′ tri-clamp port for a racking elbow and another ball valve. I enjoy these so much. I place a couple of gallons of water in it – steam sanitize during my brew day, use the steam pressure to steam sanitize the heat exchanger through my silicone brewery hoses. After the sanitize routine, the fermenter is locked down, and pulls a vacuum as it cools. When transferring the wort from the boil kettle to the fermenter – I do not need to run the pump – the vacuum in the fermenter pulls all the wort out. I keep the wort under vacuum until I am ready to introduce oxygen and pitch my yeast. (Sabco 15.5 Fermenter)
(8) Pin Lock Corny Kegs – There are 2 firestone, but I think of them all as corny kegs. All the kegs are used pin lock. I like having a mistake free solution when connecting the disconnects. All of them have been numbered with mailbox lettering like the fermenters, to track the batches through them, transfers, cleaning dates, repair/replacements, etc. These are my most recent addition, and I am still figuring them out. I first started by keg conditioning with yeast, but quickly moved from that to a CO2 tank solution. Currently I am trying to convert all the poppets over to universal, as it is a huge pain to try and keep the firestone poppets separate, and remember which post the fit into. I also like that the o-ring on the universal poppets can be replaced, instead of sourcing and replacing the poppets for each flavor (pin lock or ball lock). At approx $40 per keg, I plan on picking up many, many more. Link to the kegs (Pin Lock Kegs). Link to universal poppets (Universal Poppet).
I must give credit to Matt Chrispen and his website Accidentalis for the inspiration to write down my brewing process, and actually stepping out and starting my own website/Blog. I will continue expand on this Process Lockdown. Expanding on this post further, the future “to do” contains breakdowns of complex brewing processes (i.e. Fermenter prep, or brew-stand assembly). These future “how to’s” are my way of locking-in on the brewing process, and that the processes are successfully completed and consistently without variation. Mainly for my benefit in being able to trace a fault or failure back to a specific process step for improvement.