Minor Surgery

My buddy from Hausler Bierworks dropped by today and we performed a little minor surgery on the pickup tube on this new kettle that he will be using for his small batch Brew in a Bag system. This is a sweet little setup. In a Brew in a Bag setup (henceforth referred to as BIAB) the kettle acts as both the mash tun and boil kettle.The grains are contained in a muslin bag, and are mashed in the kettle. Once mashing is complete, the bag is pulled out, allowing all the wort to drain back into the kettle, where it is boiled. My favorite part of my buddy’s setup is that the heat is provided by an induction plate. No open flames or heating coils are involved. The plate  creates a magnetic field which heats up the kettle itself. Here’s a shot of the kettle in its natural habitat.



The one minor problem with this setup was that the pickup tube left too much wort behind when the kettle was drained. Perhaps Mr. Hausler will comment here to tell us the total capacity of the kettle, his expected batch size, and how much liquid was left in the kettle after it was drained (he told me but I forgot.) At any rate, the amount of liquid left behind was considerable for small batch brewing.

Basically we rotated the pickup tube until it touched the bottom of the kettle and used a Sharpie marker to roughly approximate an area at its tip that would need to be removed in order to allow it to drain as much wort as possible. It ended up requiring that we cut the end of the tube off at a very acute angle. I was doubtful that a hacksaw would do it. The angle grinder was an option and would have made quick work of the cut. We opted to use a Dremel tool with a reinforced cutoff wheel, which took a little longer, but seemed to be a bit more precise. We ended up with a pretty close fit.



The newly trimmed pickup tube drains the kettle almost completely. We measured the liquid left in the kettle after draining to be right at seven ounces. A big improvement over the untrimmed tube. This should be a great system for developing recipes and I can’t wait to see it in action.


Is There a Cure for Brew Rig Envy?


IMG_2539So, I got to spend some quality time with this sexy beast yesterday. There’s no surer route to a serious case of Brew Rig Envy than getting your hands on a rig like this. Alas, no cure is known for BRE, save serious monetary outlay.

This is the Blichmann Top Tier brew stand and burners, fitted with 20 gallon kettles from Stout Tanks and Kettles, a single March pump, and Blichmann’s Therminator plate chiller. The Stout kettles feature Tri Clover fittings throughout, and the boil kettle has a tangential inlet for whirlpooling. It is a beautiful setup. I’ve been planning a single tier stand for my next rig, and seeing this setup in person has me on the verge of changing my mind.IMG_2532

My brew buddy whose garage it resides in has had the Top Tier for a while and just received the kettles and was kind enough to let me help begin setting up his brewery. If you are unfamiliar with the Top Tier, it is a modular system that allows Blichmann burners, shelves and other components to mount on a vertical mast. This modular nature means that you can configure the system to fit your needs. In this case, we configured it with a gravity fed hot liquor tank, and a single pump. The pump will circulate the wort in the direct fired mash tun as well as provide the whirlpool for the brew kettle, and circulate the wort through the plate chiller.

After considerable tinkering and test fitting, we established the height of the three burners and fitted all the ball valves and Tri Clover fittings on the kettles, pump, and chiller. A single gas rail will fuel the three propane burners, so a trip to Home Depot was in order to have the black gas pipe for the rail cut and threaded. I called it quits for the evening once the gas rail was assembled.

I got a report from brew buddy this morning that he had to take one of the burners back off in order to get the mounting brackets for the gas rail in place. That seems to be the nature of the Top Tier. It is a blank canvas, so the potential exists for a lot of mounting, removing, and re-mounting until an ultimate configuration is realized.

The next step will be installation of a sight glass for the hot liquor tank, measuring and cutting the silicon tubing, and a test run and leak check with water. Then we’re ready to brew, right? Not so fast there. Next step after the leak test will be calibrating the sight glass, measuring the dead space in the mash tun and boil kettle, and estimating the wort loss due to the liquid left in the tubing, pump, and chiller. Then we’ll take all those numbers and create an equipment profile for Beersmith. Then we’ll be ready to brew.

In the meantime, I’m having fever dreams about tri clover fittings and large stainless kettles. The condition is incurable. Where’s my checkbook?