We receive hundreds of questions every month about our Electric Brewery. Below are some of the more common questions with our answers.
- Who uses The Electric Brewery system?
- What were your main criteria in designing The Electric Brewery?
- How much will it cost me to build a brewery like this?
- How much beer can you make with your setup? What size kettles should I buy?
- Why do all three kettles need to be the same size? Couldn't I use a smaller Mash/Lauter Tun or Hot Liquor Tank?
- The voltage in my country is 220-240V. There is no 120V. Can I still use this setup?
- Do larger batches require more power? What do I need for 30+ gallons or more?
- Are there any scorching or caramelization issues with using this setup?
- Does your control panel use any special or proprietary parts?
- What sort of efficiency do you achieve with your setup?
- Your efficiency is really high! Do you have any tannin extraction problems?
- Did you get any of your stuff for free?
- What are the benefits of brewing with electricity vs. gas?
- What are the electrical costs to brew with electricity?
- How long does it take to heat with electricity?
- Where is your brewery located?
- What kind of beers do you brew? What have you brewed?
- Why does most store-bought beer all look and taste the same?
- Can you make Miller/Coors/Bud light with your brewery?
- How do you serve your beer?
- How long did it take you to build this brewery? How long will it take me?
- I don't have time to build this / I want to buy a setup like this. Will you sell me a setup like yours?
- Can you lend me some of your tools to help me build my brewery?
- I can't seem to have some of the items shipped to my location. What can I do?
- Why didn't you add more automation using a computer?
- Do you have any videos of the entire setup running?
- How can I know when new information is added to the site?
- Do you have a full schematic of your control panel available?
- Why didn't you use <some part name> instead? Wouldn't it cost less?
- How long does it take to brew beer with your setup?
- What kind of camera equipment do you use?
- Is it safe to drink beer in a hot tub?
- Have you written any guides similar to this one?
The Electric Brewery design is used in over 33 countries by homebrewers, nano/pico breweries, brew on premise shops, brew pubs, restaurants, industrial and entertainment corporations, and distilleries. Visit our Testimonials page for some examples.
Locations include Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, and the United States (including Hawaii and Alaska). By far the most remote location was the USS Carl Vinson Nimitz class supercarrier where one of our customers built the control panel while stationed.
Interested in talking to other brewers using The Electric Brewery system? Feel free to visit our discussion forum.
Want to see the brewery in action? Our Brew Day: Step by Step article includes many videos that show our setup running.
Our all-grain brewery had to meet the following criteria:
- 100% electric for indoor brewing
- Safe, easy, and enjoyable to use
- Not limit the brewer in any way
- Provide extremely repeatable and consistent results
- Use industrial quality parts that last (all stainless steel, limit the use of plastics)
- Use standard off the shelf parts to ensure long term serviceability (limit the use of special/proprietary parts)
Note that price is not included on this list. When we weighed price vs. performance vs. safety vs. convenience, price was considered as the least important factor. That is the complete opposite of what most home brewers consider when they put together a brewing setup. For most, price is always the overriding priority and sacrifices have to be made. That's completely acceptable of course as everyone has different needs, but this is not how our brewery setup was designed.
While cost savings were not the primary criteria in designing our Electric Brewery, we didn't (in our opinion) spend money for no reason. Every expenditure was a conscious decision of price vs. quality/performance/convenience. The Blichmann kettles are a great example of this as some consider them overpriced. We don't agree. Even if you could buy bare kettles and add on all the options to get to the same quality product, it would likely cost you the same amount in the end. The problem is you can't even do that. For example, we've yet to see any sight glasses as well designed, well protected and easy to clean as the ones Blichmann uses. Had we used different kettles with unprotected sight glass added on later, we would have broken them ten times over by now banging around the kettles as we clean them. Kettles are heavy, brewers are clumsy.
There's an old saying "Only the rich can afford to buy cheap things" (because you end up buying them over and over again). In designing our brewery we did not want to continually replace components because we were not happy with the performance or because the parts were cheap and broke. Buy once, use it a lifetime.
It's been many years since we designed and built the Electric Brewery. We're happy to report that there's absolutely nothing we'd change if we had to do this all over again. Having brewed with it dozens of times, there's nothing we look at and think "We should have done that differently". We waited this long before publishing our build information as we wanted to make sure we were 100% happy with the setup, thus ensuring that others would be as well.
Our setup may not be for everyone, but those that do follow our instructions to build their own Electric Brewery, we think, will be suitably impressed with the outcome.
The number one question we get asked is "how much?". Below is an approximate price breakdown of part costs based on winter 2014 prices and 20 gallon kettles (as we use). You buy all the parts and assemble it yourself (as we did).
- Hot Liquor Tank: $865 ($430 Blichmann boilermaker kettle, $145 electrical, $290 plumbing)
- Mash/Lauter Tun: $620 ($540 Blichmann boilermaker kettle + false bottom, $80 plumbing)
- Boil Kettle: $652 ($430 Blichmann boilermaker kettle, $145 electrical, $67 Hop Stopper, $10 plumbing)
- Hoses: $325
- Brew Stand: $120
- Pumps: $915 ($790 pumps, $125 electrical and plumbing)
- Wort Chiller: $342 ($240 counterflow chiller, $102 plumbing)
- Temperature Probes: $145
- Control Panel: $1575
- Ventilation system: $292 - 1097 ($45-850 hood, $165 fan, $82 electrical and plumbing)
- Grain Mill: $140
Total cost: $ 5991 - 6796 USD, not including shipping/handling/taxes/duties
Also not included:
- Commercial stainless steel sink and wall-mount pre-rinse arm and faucet (approximately $600)
- Installation of a standard 240V/30A dryer outlet in the brewery (price varies)
- Tools required during assembly such as screwdrivers, drill bits, etc.
- Items required to use the brewery such as ingredients, cleaning supplies, scales, etc.
Remember, this is a one time sunk cost for a setup that will last you a lifetime. A brewer who already has some of the parts or components would of course be able to reduce the cost considerably.
Some are quick to point out that a lot of beer may be purchased for that amount of money. That is very true but that is not what this is about. Brewing for us is a hobby and a passion, not a means to save money. We enjoy the art and craft of making beer and being able to call it our own. We received an email recently from a fellow brewer that we think sums it up nicely. He wrote: "Your build is a prime example of the direction home brewing is going and definitely invites people to take a more serious interest in our hobby and craft."
The cost of the consumables required to make beer on an all-grain electric setup such as this is very inexpensive. All things added up (electricity, grain, hops, and yeast), a standard 12 oz glass of beer costs us approximately 8-10 cents to produce. We purchase our grain in bulk 50lb sacks to keep the costs low.
Everyone will use different criteria when designing a home brewery. What's right for one person may not be right for another. If cost savings is your overriding priority then you're in luck as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites that will show you how to make beer for the lowest price possible. Our setup is for the brewer who may have already "been there" and "done that" and now wants to upgrade to something more professional that offers greater control and will last a lifetime.
We've never run into any issues or problems with our Electric Brewery setup. We've never had a stuck sparge, missed a target gravity, had over/under temperature issues or had clogged valves or pump priming issues. Our setup just works. This allows us to focus our attention on recipe creation instead of worrying if the equipment will work correctly. Because of this, we really look forward to the days when we brew. Isn't a hobby supposed to be enjoyable, after all?
For the ultimate in flexibility, we recommend that all three kettles be at least twice the size of the amount of beer you wish to produce. This is to account for the various losses that occur such as evaporation/expansion/foaming during boiling, grain/hop absorption, chilling/fermentation sediment, racking/kettle/hose deadspace, etc.
Our Blichmann Boilermaker kettles are all 20 US gallons in size which allows us to brew between 5-10 gallons of beer per batch, regardless of style. If pushed, we can get to 13-14 gallons but most times we typically try and aim for 10 gallons of finished beer per batch. This is enough to fill two 5 gallon kegs. Whether it's a 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) light beer or a 12% barleywine, having 20 gallon kettles allows us the flexibility to brew up about 10 gallons of just about anything we can dream up.
If you only intend on brewing 5 gallon batches consider the smaller 10 gallon kettles. If you're thinking that 15 gallons is more your style consider the larger 30 gallon kettles. Want to brew 20 gallons or a full barrel (31 gallons) at a time? The massive 55 gallon kettles are what you'll need. The optional Blichmann 55 Gallon BoilerMaker Extensions may be added to the 55 gallon kettles to increase capacity to 100 gallons for a 2 barrel nanobrewery.
Not sure what size is right for you? Keep this in mind: The amount of time it takes to brew is (generally speaking) the same regardless of batch size. It takes about 5-8 hours from start to the end of cleanup. Most home brewers look for a good balance between how much work is involved, the amount of beer produced, and how long it's going to take to consume. This means that most home brewers stick to producing approximately 10 gallons of finished product per batch. It's the perfect balance between not having to drink the same beer for months on end and getting the most out of the work involved. Even 10 gallons of beer may seem like a lot at first, but once your friends and family find out what you're up to you'll be surprised how fast it disappears! Most brewers who start with smaller kettles end up upgrading.
We always perform full wort boils in order to produce the best quality beer possible. We do not dilute with water.
Why do all three kettles need to be the same size? Couldn't I use a smaller Mash/Lauter Tun or Hot Liquor Tank?
While technically different sized kettles may be used, we recommend that all three kettles be kept the same size.
Smaller kettles will limit the volume of stronger beers you are able to produce as the Mash/Lauter Tun may not be able to hold the amount of grain required, or the Hot Liquor Tank may not be able to hold enough strike/sparge water. Keeping all three kettles the same size provides the ultimate in flexibility.
Yes. Modifications to the design are required however to use our brewery in countries that run only at 220-240V. This includes most locations in Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia (to name few). See here for complete details.
Our standard 30 amp control panel is perfect for producing up to 15-20 gallons of beer as it uses 5500 watts of power in each kettle. For larger batches we recommend the 50 amp control panel for 30+ gallons that provides 9000-11000 watts of power in each kettle. See here for complete details.
No. We have never experienced any issues with scorching or caramelization of wort even with the most delicate lagers or wheat beers (3-4% ABV, 3-4 SRM). Some pro brewers using our setup have told us that they are experiencing less caramelization having switched from gas to electric heating.
The heating elements we use are ultra low watt density (ULWD) which means that the heat produced per square inch along the element is very low (50W per square inch). These elements are typically folded over on themselves in a zig-zag pattern making the effective length twice as long as a regular element.
There are no special or unique modifications we do to these heating elements to eliminate scorching or caramelization. These heating elements are used successfully by thousands of electric brewers worldwide. If any issues or limitations existed, we would not be using them.
No. We purposely use standard off the shelf parts to ensure long term serviceability.
We want our setup to last us for the rest of our life. We're more interested in the craft/art of brewing than tinkering with equipment. The intent was to spend a year or so designing something that could brew anything and then use it forever. One of our requirements was to make sure that if in one or two years (or even 10-20 years) we needed to replace a part that it be easy to do and possible. We did not want to depend on one specific company to do the work or that they still be in business. The parts (relays, PIDs, switches, etc.) used in our control panel are all extremely common parts. They've existed for dozens of years and they will continue to exist because of the tens of thousands of (non-brewery related) industrial installations around the world running today that rely on them. We're not married to one particular part or manufacturer.
Say, for example, a PID dies in 20 years. We can buy any similar PID from any manufacturer and drop it in as the functionality will be the same. There are hundreds of choices. It does not necessarily have to the same manufacturer at all. The hole sizes are all standard understood manufacturing sizes (1/16 DIN for PIDs, 23mm for switches/lights, etc.) because the industry that uses these parts demands easy and quick serviceability. Pull the old one out, put the new one in.
This long term serviceability was an issue with many of the commercial brewing setups we considered and is one of the main reasons why we decided to design our own. Some commercially available systems use patent pending parts and programming to control the entire brewing process that by law nobody else is allowed to reproduce. What happens if 20 years down the road the setup fails and the manufacturer is no longer in business? The expensive system is now useless.
This website provides anyone building our brewing setup a complete list of parts, assembly instructions, and even wiring diagrams. Readers may download our book and effectively have an offline comprehensive service and maintenance manual for life. No other brewing setup comes with this level of detail.
At one point we considered using a flat panel ruggedized PC with I/O capture cards using specialized control software that we programmed ourselves. We had the same concerns: What if the software isn't kept up to date and in 20 years doesn't work on whatever version of Microsoft Windows or other operating system people are running then? Even if software backups are kept, what if hardware dies? Drivers for newer hardware may not work with an older operating system. What if the specialized hardware is no longer available? Think of the computer you were running 20 years ago. Had we designed a brewing setup back then with I/O capture cards it would have been done with ISA or VLB technology cards and/or serial/parallel port technology. None of these exist on computers today so the system would likely have to be redesigned using new hardware.
For standard gravity beers (3-8% ABV) we achieve a consistent mash efficiency of 95%* according to the software we use (Beer Tools Pro). By comparison, most large scale commercial breweries achieve 92-98%. Most home brewers achieve 65-75%.
Efficiency is how well your brewing system is able to take the starches in the grains (and other adjuncts) and convert them into sugars. The higher the number, the more efficient the setup. The more efficient the setup, the less grain needed. The less grain needed, the less money that needs to be spent in making beer.
For what it's worth, efficiency (in our opinion) is given far too much weight by home brewers. We consider consistent efficiency much more important than high efficiency. At the home brew level, a 5-10% efficiency increase is usually only going to mean a few dollars in savings on a typical batch of beer. Given the option, we'd rather have consistent, but low, efficiency all the time, than having higher efficiencies that vary from batch to batch. When we formulate a recipe for a 7% ABV India Pale Ale, we want it to be 7%. Not 6%, not 8%.
With careful attention to design, detail, and our brewing process, we've been able to achieve not only high efficiency but also consistent efficiency. The best of both worlds. This means that a sack of grain in our setup will make considerably more beer than on many typical home brew setups.
*It's important to note that the efficiency reported by different software packages can vary as much as 10% depending on how well their assumed grain maximum yield values match the actual values of the grain you are using. Every grain type is different, and grain can vary from year to year or even sack to sack. Not all software allows these maximum yield values to be modified and not all grain has this information readily available to the brewer. Estimates or averages are sometimes used that may result in different efficiency values based solely on the software package that is used, making efficiency comparisons difficult. We suggest you stick to one software package and find the efficiency value that works for you.
Some brewers believe that high efficiency will always result in excess tannin extraction. This is not true. We have not experienced problems with excess tannin extraction using our setup. While all beer will have some, with most beers we want to try and minimize tannins. Tannins have a tongue-drying astringent taste like over-steeped tea or strong red wine.
Tannin extraction is most noticeable with lighter tasting beers, the kinds that large commercial breweries produce (Miller/Coors/Bud Light/etc.). These macro breweries are constantly pushing to maximize their efficiency (often reaching as high as 98%) in order to maximize profits. Their beers do not show any issues of excess tannin extraction as they (like ourselves) pay careful attention to their brewing process.
We follow these steps in order to minimize tannin extraction:
- The grain is milled properly to minimize shredding of the husks
- Acid is used to keep the sparge water pH low (5.6-5.8 pH)
- The gravity is not allowed to drop below 1.008 while sparging
- Mash-out is done to only 168F (and not above)
We also allow the mash temperature to drop naturally as sparging progresses. By the end of the sparge the mash will have dropped approximately 20 degrees. This is intentional. A lower temperature near the end of the sparge helps minimize tannin extraction from the grain husks when it is most likely to occur (when the mash has less sugar and higher pH). By the end of sparging the mash has very little sugar left so the drop in temperature does not affect the flow.
For complete details on our brewing process see our Brew Day: Step by Step article.
No. All of the equipment we purchased while writing the instructions for this website were purchased at retail cost from the various vendors we list in our Parts List for Building. We did not ask to be given parts for free nor did any of these vendors know that we would end up writing about them. In fact, in many cases we tried multiple parts before we settled on the ones that worked best and listed them on this site. We probably have enough spare or reject parts left over to build another small-scale brewing setup!
Some of our leftover parts after designing/building our brewery:
There are many benefits to brewing with electricity vs. gas:
- Easier precise control of temperature.
- Safer for indoor brewing: No poisonous gases, no emissions. Brewing indoors with gas requires more than 10 times the ventilation, making installation very costly. (read more)
- Absolutely silent: The bigger gas burners required for brewing sound like jet engines.
- Much more efficient use of energy: Our 5500W heating elements producing ~20,000 BTUs of heat outperform an 80,000 BTU propane burner.
- No tanks to refill.
- Cheaper to run: In most locations the cost to brew with natural gas is 2-3 times higher than electricity, while propane is 5-10 times higher.
We don't know of one brewer who, after switching to electric, wished they were still using gas.
It costs us about $1.60 in electricity to brew 10 gallons of beer, assuming we brew during peak electrical rates ($0.12/kWh). If we brew on the weekends or evenings when the rate is half the peak rate, the cost is about $0.80. $0.12/kWh also happens to be the average US national rate so most US brewers should expect similar costs. These costs do not include taxes, delivery charges, or other fees that your electricity provider may add.
Most of the cost comes from powering the heating elements. We use one 5500W element in the both the Hot Liquor Tank and Boil Kettle to brew 10 gallons of beer. The heating elements are used as follows:
- Heat strike water: 45 minutes at 100% power usage = (45 / 60) * 1 * (5500 / 1000) * $0.12 = $0.50
- Mash: 90 minute mash at 5% power usage = (90 / 60) * 0.05 * (5500 / 1000) * $0.12 = $0.05
- Mash-out: 20 minutes at 100% power usage = (20 / 60) * 1 * (5500 / 1000) * $0.12 = $0.22
- Sparge: Heating elements not used, minimal power usage.
- Bring to boil: 23 minutes at 100% power usage = (23 / 60) * 1 * (5500 / 1000) * $0.12 = $0.25
- Boil: 60 minutes at 85% power usage = (60 / 60) * 0.85 * (5500 / 1000) * $0.12 = $0.56
- Chill: Heating elements not used, minimal power usage.
While the pumps and the control panel are run for many hours throughout the brew day, they only add a few pennies to the overall cost given their extremely low power consumption.
A 5500W heating element such as the one we use will raise the temperature of 1 gallon of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit in approximately 1.6 seconds.
Some real world examples using our setup for brewing 10 gallons of finished product:
- Heat 20 gallons of strike water from 70F to 155F: 45 minutes
- Bring 14 gallons of wort from 150F to boil: 23 minutes
Unlike conventional gas burners where heat is applied from below, an immersed electric heating element is 100% efficient as all of the heat is transferred to the surrounding liquid. With a gas burner 50-80% of the heat bounces off the bottom of the kettle and is lost.
Our brewery was originally located in a basement cold storage room under the front steps of our house. Other than a vent or two, from the outside it wasn't obvious what lurks under those front steps. The brewery room was fairly small at only 5.5 feet wide by 11.5 feet long with a 7 foot ceiling, and was accessed through a door in the basement.
Our original basement brewery was located in a small cold room:
In 2011 we moved and shortly after started planning a basement with a dedicated brewery. This was completed in early 2013. We now have considerably more room to work in and have combined the brewery with fermentation, conditioning, and serving.
The new brewery uses identical parts and the same layout, but offers more room and uses stainless work tables instead of a wood stand:
Windows between the bar and brewery:
We've brewed various styles of beer from 3% Ordinary Bitters to 12% Barleywines. All our beers are brewed with fresh (sometimes organic) ingredients and are created to be full-flavoured. No shortcuts, no compromises.
Below is short list of some of the beers we've brewed. We typically brew about once a month.
- American IPA (6.5% ABV, 55 IBU, 12 SRM)
- Organic Premium Lager (5% ABV, 17 IBU, 4 SRM)
- [clone] Fullers London Pride (4.3% ABV, 30 IBU, 11 SRM)
- Ordinary Bitter (3.3% ABV, 29 IBU, 10 SRM)
- [clone] Fullers ESB (5.6% ABV, 40 IBU, 15 SRM)
- Munich Helles (4.8% ABV, 17 IBU, 4 SRM)
- Vienna Lager (5.0% ABV, 23 IBU, 11 SRM)
- American Pale Ale - 100% Cascade hops (5.4% ABV, 38 IBU, 7 SRM)
- [clone] Pliny the Elder (9.0% ABV, 260 IBU, 7 SRM)
- Hefeweizen (5.0% ABV, 11 IBU, 3 SRM)
- American Barleywine (12% ABV, 101 IBU, 16 SRM)
- American Wheat (4.8% ABV, 11 IBU, 3 SRM)
- Electric Pale Ale - All late addition Amarillo/Centennial (6.0% ABV, 37 IBU, 6 SRM)
- [clone] Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (7.2% ABV, 58 IBU, 9 SRM)
- American Amber Ale (4.8% ABV, 33 IBU, 14 SRM)
- Organic Blonde Ale (5.2% ABV, 21 IBU, 3 SRM)
- Cream Ale (4.4% ABV, 11 IBU, 2 SRM)
- Janet's Brown Ale (6.8% ABV, 63.8 IBU, 18.3 SRM)
- The Electric IPA (6.9% ABV, 58 IBU, 8.6 SRM)
- [clone] Green Flash West Coast IPA (7.3% ABV, 90 IBU, 8.9 SRM)
- [clone] Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA (6.6% ABV, 55 IBU, 12.3 SRM)
- Standard American Lager (5.0% ABV, 15 IBU, 2 SRM)
- Kölsch (4.9% ABV, 21 IBU, 3 SRM)
- [clone] Bell’s Hopslam (Imperial IPA) (9.9% ABV, 161 IBU, 7.3 SRM)
- English Pub Ale (4.4% ABV, 18 IBU, 5.8 SRM)
- Electric Hop Stand Pale Ale (5.5% ABV, ??? IBU, 7.5 SRM)
- [clone] Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (7.0% ABV, 55 IBU, 5 SRM)
- [clone] Pliny the Younger (10.5% ABV, ??? IBU, 6.5 SRM)
(ABV = alcohol by volume, IBU = bitterness level, SRM = colour where lower is lighter, [clone] = a clone of the commercially available beer)
Some of our favourites can be found in the Recipes section of the website.
Fresh whole hops. Hops are used in beer to offset the sweetness of the malted grains.
To quote Worth Brewing Company:
In the late 1800s, thousands of small breweries were making beer to satisfy their neighbourhoods and small towns in the USA. By 1970, Prohibition, post-war mass marketing and transcontinental transportation had whittled the number of breweries down to 40, with a handful accounting for 90 percent of the beer. This trend was anti-consumer, leaving the market with only a fizzy, bland product. The home brewing and craft brewery movement of the past 25 years has reinvigorated the industry and once again provided a choice for discriminating drinkers.
Yes you most certainly can. You can make any type or style of beer imaginable with this setup. The principles we apply are identical to what a major brewery would use. The only noticeable difference is that we do not use any highly processed ingredients and typically limit the use of adjuncts like corn and rice (done by major breweries to keep costs down and keep the beer extremely light tasting). We also do not use any additives or preservatives.
Most brewers who go to the trouble of building such a home brewing system however are not interested in brewing these light beers. They may start off as Miller/Coors/Bud drinkers but upon discovering that beers with interesting flavours and aromas exist, most never go back to making these run of the mill varieties.
That said, we do try to keep one lighter style of beer available on tap at all times to keep all of our visitors happy. Even our lightest beers are (purposely) made with more flavour than most mass-produced beer, however.
Our beer is kept in stainless steel Cornelius kegs (old soda kegs) that are popular with home brewers. The beer is served on Perlick taps and stout faucets in our basement bar where we typically have eight styles on tap at any given time. Tanks of CO2 and CO2/Nitrogen blend are used to dispense and carbonate the beer. (More information)
Approximately one year (on and off) was spent researching, designing, and building our Electric Brewery. The entire process was photographed from start to end. 60-70% of the time was spend on research and design, 20% on the photographing, and then less than 10% on the actual building. Documenting the build process after the fact has (so far) taken many months of work.
If we had to guess, if someone had all of the parts laid out in front of them it would probably take them two to four weeks of working evenings to assemble a similar Electric Brewery based on our instructions.
Purchasing the electrical items pre-built and tested by us (such as the control panel) would greatly reduce this build time as these components are the most complex. They represent 90% of the work in building your brewery. The rest is straight forward and involves buying the kettles, pumps, and chiller and attaching a few pieces of plumbing to each. Anyone handy with a screwdriver and wrench should feel right at home following our instructions and be done in a few evenings.
Work goes faster (?) if you have helpers:
I don't have time to build this / I want to buy a setup like this. Will you sell me a setup like yours?
Not everyone wants to build their own or source their own parts, so we've teamed up with an experienced US-based manufacturer to offer products in both assembled and kit form. Assembled products are carefully hand built, tested, and calibrated right in the USA. For complete details please see our Products page.
Currently we offer the harder to build items pre-built and tested such as the control panel, temperature probes, and heating elements (to name a few). These items take the most time and are the most complex. They are 90% of the work in building your brewery. The rest is straight forward and involves buying the kettles, pumps, and chiller and attaching a few pieces of plumbing to each. Anyone handy with a screwdriver and wrench should feel right at home following our instructions.
New products are continually being added to our Products page so check back often.
Don't see something listed that you're interested in? Email us and let us know. We are continually working to bring special products on board at discounted prices.
No, sorry. (We get asked this question quite a lot). While we've never met an untrustworthy brewer, this is not something we want to get into. Given the high cost of shipping to and from Canada, it would likely cost more to ship the tool back and forth than for you to purchase it outright using the links on this website. You may always ask in the Buy/Sell section of our brewing forum to see if anyone close to you would be interested. Another option is to purchase the tool and then offer it up for sale in our forum to recoup some of your costs. Some stores also have a tool rental section.
Some of these parts are nearly impossible to source at locations other than the ones we list on our site (we tried) and unfortunately some sellers do not ship outside the USA anymore. If you live outside the USA (like us), we recommend using a forwarding service such as Shipito.com. We've used them to ship to Canada. The good news is that shipping within the USA is very inexpensive or often free. You then simply pay a small forwarded fee plus the cost of whatever shipping method you choose (USPS, FedEx, etc). They will even consolidate multiple packages into one to save on shipping. We recommend USPS whenever possible to minimize brokerage fees.
At the end of the day, we don't see any added benefit.
Semi or complete automation is actually something we never wanted for our Electric Brewery. Some people have asked if it's because we didn't know how to do it or because we didn't want to spend the extra money, but neither is the case. We wanted to keep things 'simple' with what can best be described as manual dials and controls. We still want to feel like we're doing something on brew day. It's a hobby and we want to be part of it. Having a computer adjust some or all of the controls for us just wouldn't be the same.
We do use automation however: The PIDs we use are automated in that the brewer dials in the temperature and it is automatically maintained. That sort of automation makes sense to us. We let some components maintain certain control aspects of the system where it would be difficult for a human to do it, but for actually controlling the process steps, we want to be pressing the buttons and turning the valves ourselves.
We also feel that the time required to program the automated steps at the start of the brew day could or would likely take just as long as 'manually' changing certain settings when needed. For example, with today's highly modified malts, most times home brewers (including ourselves) are mostly brewing with single infusion mashes (a single mash temperature is used) so no special process steps are needed. On our setup, we simply set the mash temp and then an hour or two later when the mash is done we press the "up" button a few times to go to mash-out temperature. An automated system could automatically do this after the one or two hour period but what exactly is that saving?
Every other operation in a brewery requires disconnecting/re-connecting hoses so we have to go into our brewery for a few minutes regardless. Even this could be automated with valves and controllers but in our opinion that would be a lot of design/implementation/testing (plus added costs) to save only 5-10 minutes of work on brew day. It just doesn't make any sense to us and results in a more complex setup, which means it's just more things that may cause problems or break.
Feel free however to experiment and build your brewery any way you like using as little or as much automation as you feel is necessary. After all, it's your brewery!
For more information see our 'Control panel with discrete PIDs or computer/automation' thread in our forum.
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We do not. Sorry! We did not follow any schematics or instructions when we built it as it was our own design. The wiring is actually really straight forward so there was no need for us to draw up anything beforehand. The simplified wiring diagrams on our site are provided so that others without Electrical Engineering experience can understand how to do it. We appreciate that a “real” schematic would probably be easier for someone with electronics experience but at the same time someone with this experience should find the build very straightforward.
The best way to understand why we designed our brewery the way we did and used the parts we did is to read the corresponding 'Building your Brewery' articles. We provide detailed information on the design choices we made and often compare our choice to the other options available.
Remember as well that (within reason) cost was the last factor we considered. Functionality, ease of use, safety, and durability were placed before cost.
We firmly believe that a properly designed system using quality components will far outlast one made with cheap components and end up costing less in the long run.
Similar to other all-grain home brewing setups (gas or electric), it takes anywhere from 5-8 hours to produce the sugary-sweet malt/hop liquid called 'wort'. This is what our Electric Brewery produces. Yeast is then added and left to ferment this wort into beer (1-3 weeks typically). The beer is then kegged and left for 2 weeks to carbonate under pressure from CO2. Lagers and stronger ales may be left to age or condition for a month or more to smooth out the flavours. Every beer is different.
See our Brew Day: Step by Step article for complete details on how to use our brewery, including many videos that show our setup in action.
We used a Canon 30D digital SLR camera with a variety of lenses to take most of the photos you see on this website. This is an older discontinued model that has been superseded by the newest Canon 60D for the same price. The lenses we used the most (from most to least used) include:
- Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM prime lens (for narrow depth of field aka 'fuzzy background', or low light work). We absolutely love this lens. It's on our camera 80% of the time.
- Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM wide angle lens (for wide angle shots). The perfect lens for taking indoor pictures and getting everything (and everyone) in the shot.
- Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro lens (for taking extremely detailed close-ups).
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM zoom lens (a general purpose zoom lens).
An external Canon 420EX flash (superseded by the newer 430EX for the same price) with a Gary Fong diffuser was used to flash fill for certain shots. The tripod is a Manfrotto 055XPROB with a Manfrotto 322RC2 head. All photos were shot in 'RAW' format and then developed using Phase One Capture One Pro 5 software for ultimate control of colour balance and exposure. Some post-processing work was also done with Adobe Photoshop.
Moderate your intake while in a hot tub. Many hot tub manufacturers recommend never drinking alcoholic beverages before, during, and/or after soaking in a hot tub. Alcohol expands your blood vessels and increases your body temperature. So does your hot tub. The combined effect may raise your body temperature too much, leading to a stroke or heart attack.
The beer spa at Landhotel Moorhof in Franking, Austria. Soak in beer while drinking beer. Mmmm, beer.
(A somewhat off-topic question but I couldn't resist including this great photo).
Yes we have! We're big home theater buffs (we drink most of our beer in our home theater) and have written a guide that helps you get the absolute best picture out of your TV/projector called ChromaPure Grayscale & Color Calibration for Dummies. This is a free guide meant for beginners with no prior knowledge or understanding of what display calibration is or why it may be required. It works on any TV or projector.
If you're curious, give it a read by clicking on the banner below:
You may read more at our CurtPalme.com Home Theater website.