Pump Stand in Action

Last week we showed the stand I built to support both my pump and my plate chiller during the brew session. This week I shot some footage of the whole thing in action during a German Hefeweizen brew session.

I had some trouble initially figuring out the best way to plumb the chiller. Primarily to the water supply for chilling. Once I had that figured out I felt like the stand was pretty functional. The height works well for priming the pump. The pump actually sits a few inches below the valves on my vessels. This allows for some inherent downward gravity flow to the pump when I am getting things started. Priming worked very well in this configuration.

The chiller is only 8-10 inches above the chiller which saves a bit of tubing when going pump to chiller. I only used a 20 inch length to loop up to the chiller. I am a bit concerned about how the chiller and the tuning is over the electronics. I don’t expect it to be a major problem during brewing, however the cleaning phase involves moving hoses and there is a lot of dripping, albeit to the sides of the pump.

I had covered the pump with a plastic bag just in case. At the end of my latest session the pump seemed really hot and I wasn’t sure if its because the bag is trapping hot air at the pump or not. But I can’t say I have ever felt the pump post a session. It might naturally run that hot.

Lastly comes the really point of this: How well did it chill? Well I chilled 5.5 gallons for wort from boiling to bout 85F in less than 10 minutes. Unfortunately, this is still a good 20 degrees above my preferred pitch temp most of the time. To remedy this there are two solutions: Run the wort through slower with the chill water at near full blast maximize heat liberation from the wort. Second, I could run the chiller in a recirculation loop into the kettle again. Thus monitoring the wort temp until I am ready to knock out to the fermentor. The later method allows me to hit my temp prior to the fermentor, but its likely to take more time than just running off to the fermentor.

Time will tell and the learning curve has begun. More videos to come as I continue to experiment and learn the best way to work the Shiron chiller into my work flow.



Chiller and Pump – Homebrew Stand Update

We mentioned several videos ago that I had purchased a Shirron Plate chiller to add to my brew gear. In order to really make the best use of it, I felt like it needed to be mounted to stand and lifted up off the ground and above the height of a fermentor that I’d be pumping into. Hence, the new combo chiller and pump stand:

This is a pretty simple little stand that I made out of some scrap wood. The primary features are that I can easily remove the chiller for cleaning or storage.

I planned to plumb it up with some quick disconnects but I found that I had all the brass fittings I needed to run wort through the chiller already. I have been using hose clamps and barbed fittings on the kettle, mash tun, and pump already and I really didn’t mind it much so I decided to use them on the chiller too.

Thinking about it, I decided that if I stuck with this set up, it was going to save me some money on parts and it will be better for brewing.

I still left the pump slightly lower than the kettle outlet to help with priming.

In the video, I know the pump is upside down. I forgot to flip the head over when I took it off the wood box I used to have it on. It was slung underneath the box and the pump was in the correct orientation there.

Well, the next steps are to attach it to the kettle and run some warm Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW) through it and rinse it well. After that, it will be ready to go into service.

Hopefully, the plate chiller speeds up my brew day some which will make it easier to squeeze a brew session in when I want.

Stay tuned to see the pump in action!


Nelson Sauvin Braggot Tasting

Some ideas sound great in your head. Some even make it to paper where they still sound good. Despite those two hurdles some ideas still don’t work out in reality… What does Nelson Sauvin, Braggot, White Wine and the Brew Dudes have in common…?  Roll film!!!!

Noting that Nelson Sauvin can have a white wine like character and that John has produced a couple; no several, great meads – he had an idea. “Can I combine the wine-like quality of Nelson Sauvin with wine yeast, honey, and malt and come up with a winey braggot?”

In this case, John completely hits the mark making a very white winey braggot. However, despite the perfect execution and the combination of the ingredients; in reality, it just doesn’t taste all that good. The winey character is too strong. Some of the honey is lost beneath the hops and the white wine yeast (Lavin D47).

John’s proportions are basically 75% honey to 25% malt. He pitched a good amount of yeast and got a good ferment.  Everything went as planned but there was a distinct phenol, maybe medicinal, aspect late in the palate of the braggot. Perhaps in the end, the flavors of a great white wine and a beer/braggot just do not play well together.

Maybe in several months this expensive mistake will age out a bit and the flavors will mellow into something more drinkable. For now, we are left with the reality that sometimes even good ideas don’t turn out. (Although this was a great exercise in seeing a description about hops and then seeing it actually well executed in a beverage.)



Tasting Vienna Lager

John is quickly mastering the Vienna Lager style. His efforts have won him first place a couple times regionally in New England. This week, he received word that he won a second place award at the MCAB (Master Championship of Amateur Brewers). It’s a malty and robust brew to lead us out of the winter and into the spring.

Perfecting beer for competitions is about proactively reacting to score sheets. In previous competitions, John received comments that the malt seemed stale. He noted this issue in other beers too. To correct this problem, he was driven to getting a grain mill of his own. Previously, he had always ordered his grain online and asked for it to be pre-crushed. He also started buying his malt from retailers he felt had a higher turnover. That way, the malt would be fresher as well. Who knows if these two things really helped correct that issue, but a proactive approach in one area tends to amp up your approach in other areas.

This time around too, John pitched multiple vials of yeast due to time constraints for making a starter. I am convinced that this can work, but a little luck needs to be on your side. He likely had a couple really fresh vials which may have been delivered to the brew shop the day before. As always, YMMV with this technique, but getting to know how yeast is handled and delivered at your local homebrew shop is a critical path to success when choosing to go without a starter.

Interestingly, John turned this lager out to submit it to the competition in a two month time frame. Tasting the beer, it certainly will only improve with some bottle lagering but as is, it is great and the judges seemed to think so too.

Believe it or not, I have also made lagers in a two week time frame. They were very satisfying and clean quickly out of fermentation.

Did they get better with extending cold aging? Yes.

Tremendously so? No.

Again, this is an area that requires some care and effort on the part of the brewer. A good pitch of yeast and great temperature management throughout the ferment can push a lager process along even using standard lager fermentation and storage temps/processes. You don’t need to wait three months for your lager to be ready to drink. (On a side note, you could start brewing some lagers next month and be perfectly ready to drink them once the summer hits… if that’s your thing.)

Good lagers aren’t hard to achieve as long as you are careful, clean and pay attention to your yeast and fermentation.



Burner Control Parts List

This week we have a quick, but long overdue, video outlining the key fittings I used to plumb in the control valve on my brew stand. This video shows how the parts are connected together and I also outline exactly the part numbers for each part.

First thing first, I used teflon tape on every joint. This helps keep the fittings from binding together. It also helps seals the parts so no propane leaks out from all the connections. I used standard Watts fittings for most of my connections. These are common everyday brass parts available at the biggest home improvement stores, and certainly some smaller ones as well. Your local hardware store likely has the same thing or something similar to the Watts parts I used.

A couple things to remember about this parts list. First I used a standard 6 inch across cast iron burner. These are available lots of places online. I found that Bayou Classic Depot had great prices, quick delivery and excellent customer service. When I first ordered the burner the orifice was included with the burner (BG12 burner). But now you have to order the orifice separately, so I have included that part on the list below. I like these burners because the make a good balance between power and gas efficiency. I have never had a problem controlling the flame with these burners so that is why I chose to build three stations with this burner. You can certainly go to the larger banjo burner, but those burners really use a lot of gas. You can certainly heat things up faster, but I have never been sure if it can maintain a lower rolling boil once its going. Nor did I think that such a big burner would be good under my direct fired mash tun.

These parts are listed in order from the burner to the black pipe manifold in the back of the brew stand. All connected together in this order.

6″ Burner Bayou Classic BG12
Orifice Bayou Classic 5235
Coupling Watts LFA765 3/8″ FIP X 1/4″ FIP
Hex Nipple Watts LFA729 1/4″ MIP
Female Elbow Watts LFA727 1/4″ FIP
Hex Nipple Watts LFA729 1/4″ MIP
Control Valve Bayou Classic NV108P 1/4″ MIP X 1/4″ FIP
Bushing Watts LFA778 3/8″ MIP X 1/4″ FIP
Brass Craft Gas Supply with safety cutoff

It’s pretty straight forward or at least I hope it is. This list in conjunction with the video should give you the knowledge you need to head to your local parts store and piece it all together yourself as always let us know if you have questions.