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What would you do differently next build?

 
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Shock29



Joined: 30 Dec 2018
Posts: 1
Location: Ontario


PostLink    Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:35 pm    Post subject: What would you do differently next build? Reply with quote


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1st post. Searched but could not find a thread that covered this topic specifically.

I'm building a 20gal system. EbrewSupply 50A touch screen panel (just released), Brewhardware TC elements, Spike kettles (all NPT except for elements), Riptide pumps.

For others who have built EHERMS systems, what would you do differently/change/add next time around? For example:

- Put 3 way valves on pump outputs to reduce the amount of hose swaps required during the brew day...

- Add a Blichmann autosparge...

- Move my coupler/valve(s) to location X on the kettle so that they are not in the way of Y

- Go with a 50A panel so I could do back to back batches

- Go with a hop stopper in the BK

- Add an inline oxygen stone (details please)

- Move my panel closer to (or further away from) the kettles

- Add a stainless tee, elbow, or valve at location X to help with Y

Etc...

Thanks!
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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10135
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Hop Candy Jr, Scottish 70/-, Cali Common, Maibock, Helles, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen


PostLink    Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum!

I wouldn't change a thing from the instructions I've outlined on this site starting here: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/kettles-overview

Been using this setup for 10 years now with my BREW DAY STEP BY STEP process as outlined here: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/brew-day-step-by-step

I would buy Blichmann kettles again in a heartbeat as I find they do many things better than others, namely the false bottom and easy to clean sight glass. I find a sight glass incredibly handy to have - some kettles only have etched markings on the inside which I find don't work well when the liquid's in motion, plus you have to lift the lid to see. Etched markings also do not help you assess flow through the grain bed during mashing like the Blichmann one does: You can use the level a gauge of how well the flow's doing, if you're about to have a stuck mash (the level will drop). Without a sight glass you don't have this. Matching flow rates when sparging is also super-easy when you have a sight glass. See my above BREW DAY STEP BY STEP for other times that I find having a sight glass very handy.

I did add an inline sight glass to my boil kettle output about a year or so ago and have been playing with that. You can see it at the start of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8FdbS-Sz5I
Does it make things better? I'm not really sold on it yet. It's expensive and doesn't really give me anything I didn't already see/know.

One thing I would not do is use a proprietary touch-screen for the reasons I outline here as I feel you're painting yourself into a corner. Please read this carefully and make sure you're ok with the caveats (the biggest being that you may have a giant paperweight in the future): http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=25382

I basically want a system I can use for life that is always serviceable so that's what I designed and built. The parts I used are all extremely common. They've existed for dozens of years and they will continue to exist for dozens more because of the tens of thousands of (non-brewery related) industrial installations around the world running today that rely on them. Parts will always be available. I'm not married to one manufacturer. There is no specialized software. I would not want to be dependent on any one company to be around 10-20 years from now when sometimes dies (and it will, nothing lasts forever). There are so many companies that have built specialized brewing panels that have come and gone over the last 10 years since I built mine. Open source is (IMHO) the way to go.

Good luck!

Kal

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rivetcatcher



Joined: 21 Apr 2016
Posts: 119
Location: Thailand

Drinking: Timothy Taylor Landlord / Hop Candy Jr

Working on: Juicy Bits


PostLink    Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been looking at adding a couple of level switches to protect the heating elements as I almost burnt one out a few brews back... itís an easy install in the HLT as itís only water but I worry the hops etc could cause a the level switch to stick or clog in the boil kettle.
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dp Brewing Company



Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 658
Location: Midwest

Drinking: Black Sheep NEIPA, Rye Not Today, Kick of the Irish

Working on: RIS Barrel Aged


PostLink    Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I built my first setup following Kal's detailed instructions but I didn't purchase all at once or even the same parts he recommended. I was on a tight budget that I had to piece together stuff and build things myself. First I would say if I had the correct budget to start with I would of made a clone of Kal's system, with all the parts and brands he recommend.

With that said, once I decided to rebuild my control panel I changed things up a bit. I put two elements in the HLT and still one in the BK. I have a 50 amp system and can use either both elements in the HLT or just one in each of the two kettles. That seems to work really well for back to back batches and single batches that I want to get the HLT temp up really fast. I now have three riptide pumps and wouldn't go ever go back to just two. Makes it a lot easier to do back to back batches. I replaced my BK PID with an EZ boil controller. I find this controller superior to the standard PID. I plan on changing out my HLT PID to an EZ boil at some point. I also added more temp probs. I have one to tell me what the temp of the water coming in the house is and leaving the counterflow chiller. Is that needed, no but I enjoy seeing the values and keeping track of them. Oh, I also put my MT probe on a tee. This allows me to use that same temp probe to read other input/outputs if I want after sparging.

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Master



Joined: 30 Jan 2016
Posts: 166
Location: Virginia Beach, VA

Drinking: Liquid Schwartz Schwarzbier, Stinky Porter, Spiced Apple Cider

Working on: AbbyNormal Glutton Free Framboise Lambic, Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse, Pineapple Cider


PostLink    Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Changes I would have made (cash being unlimited)

Probably go with 20g Blichmann or other high end kettles. I was able to do Keggles on the cheap (had one, got a second cheap) and recycle my HLT.

But the HLT is aluminum, I'm switching to RO water, so that's no bueno, and my HERMS coil is too fat diameter wise to fit in a Keggle if I go Keggle to do my SS HLT.

Also used a plate chiller because I was given one. Such a PITA to clean over a counterflow wort chiller.

I have side inlet Chuggers (LHBS had them on sale). They work but can occasionally be wonky about priming.

Control panel wise, I made a 50A BTB system, and am happy with the panel itself. Might have gone DIN components if I had to rebuild it from scratch.
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Master



Joined: 30 Jan 2016
Posts: 166
Location: Virginia Beach, VA

Drinking: Liquid Schwartz Schwarzbier, Stinky Porter, Spiced Apple Cider

Working on: AbbyNormal Glutton Free Framboise Lambic, Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse, Pineapple Cider


PostLink    Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Forgot to add: I went through 3-4 variations of false bottoms before I got what I liked to work with. Norcal's false bottom with 5/8 dip tube.

Boil Keggle eventually settled on a HopStopper after trying whirlpooling, various different pickups, etc.. Just went with 5/8 Diptube and a Hop Stopper.

ULWD Ripple elements mess with the making of a hop/trub cone too much. Gas fired keggle, works awesome.
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darkrabbit



Joined: 16 Jan 2019
Posts: 9
Location: Brampton, ON


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I JUST finished building it in basic form, I still have a few touch ups to do but immediately I have 2 regrets:

1) I wish I had gone with 20gal kettles. I went with 15 thinking in my brain I could do 10gal batches with it but now I know it would be a stretch. I do have back to back 50A setup so I can easily do 2 back to backs and pull about 15gal of beer out but if I want to do a 10-12 gal batch in one shot it would be ... a challenge. I normally do 6gal batches so it's not that big of a deal but if demand increases I'll probably feel the regret more Smile

2) I wish I had gone with a tri-clover setup for the heating coils. The way it's done 'here' is fine but there's a MUCH easier and low maintenance way to do it:

https://www.ontariobeerkegs.com/Univ_Heating_Element_Adapter_1_5_TC_x_1_5_UNF_p/ss-1.5tc-uni-heat-element.htm?Click=3715

With this, if you pop an element or want to clean it you just take off a TC fitting. Plus it looks better. Only downside is the size which does extend out more. But then you just put it at an angle near the back (at 1:30 / 10:30 from the back of the kettle)

I have a buddy who's a welder for breweries in Ontario and he does 304SS welds all the time. He pointed this out to me after I already made the holes heh heh.

He said if / when my heating element pops just give him a call and he'll weld a TC on for me. But what I'll likely do is... IF I find I want 20gal kettles... get the new 20's and have him TC fit those. Or I guess I could get him to SS weld a cover onto the existing hole when he does the TC...

Other than that, no other changes I don't think. I am young at electric brewing though (haven't even done 1 batch yet) so over time we'll see Smile

-J
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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10135
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Hop Candy Jr, Scottish 70/-, Cali Common, Maibock, Helles, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

darkrabbit wrote:
2) I wish I had gone with a tri-clover setup for the heating coils. The way it's done 'here' is fine but there's a MUCH easier and low maintenance way to do it:

https://www.ontariobeerkegs.com/Univ_Heating_Element_Adapter_1_5_TC_x_1_5_UNF_p/ss-1.5tc-uni-heat-element.htm?Click=3715

With this, if you pop an element or want to clean it you just take off a TC fitting. Plus it looks better. Only downside is the size which does extend out more. But then you just put it at an angle near the back (at 1:30 / 10:30 from the back of the kettle)

One downside of these sorts of solutions is that they are not CSA/UL approved. The parts used in the design found here uses all CSA/UL approved parts. The box, cover, etc are all meant for electrical use and would have independently been tested to meet those safety requirements.

Kal

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darkrabbit



Joined: 16 Jan 2019
Posts: 9
Location: Brampton, ON


PostLink    Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kal wrote:
darkrabbit wrote:
2) I wish I had gone with a tri-clover setup for the heating coils. The way it's done 'here' is fine but there's a MUCH easier and low maintenance way to do it:

https://www.ontariobeerkegs.com/Univ_Heating_Element_Adapter_1_5_TC_x_1_5_UNF_p/ss-1.5tc-uni-heat-element.htm?Click=3715

With this, if you pop an element or want to clean it you just take off a TC fitting. Plus it looks better. Only downside is the size which does extend out more. But then you just put it at an angle near the back (at 1:30 / 10:30 from the back of the kettle)

One downside of these sorts of solutions is that they are not CSA/UL approved. The parts used in the design found here uses all CSA/UL approved parts. The box, cover, etc are all meant for electrical use and would have independently been tested to meet those safety requirements.

Kal


Ah, thanks for the explanation, makes sense! I didn't even consider that. On the same note I poured half a gallon of water right on the box today doing a test run (water only) and no shocks Smile so it definitely is safe.

-J
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Edward



Joined: 02 Jan 2019
Posts: 7
Location: South Carolina


PostLink    Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After building my own taking ideas from multiple designs throughout the interwebs, I can tell you that I wish I would have done several things differently now that I have used it several times.

Disclaimer...I dont have a HERMS.



A short list of things I would do again...

1) Still build it myself.....but I could build it 3x faster the next time around.
2) The Auber EZBoil. In the future if I may update my Inkbird ITC-106VH (controlling the HLT) with the EZ Boil.
3) Overbuild the system for larger batch sizes - I went with a 50amp system and dont regret it. Its just a little more money than 30amp. Going bigger than 50amp is where the price jump seems to be.
4) 50 amp GFCI built into the main panel. This was about $20 extra, but I got out of messing with a Spa panel box.


A short list of things I would change...

1) I went real cheap on the temperature probes/wires....I have now invested on better versions. The probes are okay on the cheap ones I got but the wires/connections are junk. Go for probe wires that disconnect on both ends from the panel and the vessel, my first ones had a disconnect at the pot but the other end was hard wired into the PIDs. The ones for sale by Kal are the best ones by far.
2) I dry fired one element twice in the first three batches....I have now invested on a new element. I'm seriously considering adding level switches.
3) Bigger pots. I have a 25 gallon and really wish I had a 30. I would only need it 2-3 times per year, but its annoying.
4) Add in an Amp meter. In my DIY setup I installed a 6000W and 6500W element on a 50A circuit, knowing I couldnt run them both at 100% at the same time (the elements alone would draw 52.5A) . I estimated the draw on the BK using the dial on the EZ Boil to prevent getting close to 50A. The amp meter will be installed before the next batch.

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KB



Joined: 06 Nov 2014
Posts: 210
Location: Manassas, VA

Drinking: Blackberry Wheat, British Pub Ale, Cream Ale, Hazelnut Brown Ale, Peach Mead, Pear Hard Cider, Raspberry Cream Ale.

Working on: American Wheat, Fuller's London Pride


PostLink    Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Use LCD instead of LED.
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jjjjfrench



Joined: 04 Feb 2013
Posts: 9
Location: Wyoming


PostLink    Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i built my system in 2013 and after ~100 batches (1000 gallons of beer?!?! Dear God I drink too much, or at least my friends do!) there is not much I would change.


Things I like:

I bought top quality pots. Definitely the way to go for the long haul...last week I did my yearly PBW wash followed by Acid#5 and everything looks just like it did on day one, save a few scratches.

50 amp system--I've only brewed 'back-2-back' once that I can remember, but having the ability to fire both elements at the same time simplifies my life. I heat my strike water in the BK while heating up my HLT. And I sterilize my chill plate with a few gallons of left over sparge water that I bring to boil during the brew session.

A big, ginormous sink with a spray arm for cleaning! I brew in my basement and this is a must (along with a floor drain!!!)

Building the system myself---I ordered most of the items directly from Kal, but assembly was all myself. Now when things break (which they don't, but if they ever did.....) I should be able to follow my own notes to fix them.


Things I'd like to or have tried to improve--these have less to do with the system design, and much more to do with the practicalities of my brewing style:

I have a big-a** chill plate, basically because at the end of the day I want my wort in the fermenter and I want to be done with the day. The problem is I like to brew big IPAs--1.5+ Lbs, of hops per batch. With Hopstopper (#1) I've run into issues leaving (lots of) wort behind...without the hopstopper I have little doubt I would clog my chiller. I'm looking at the hopstopper #2, but am not convinced that will solve my issue. I've talked with local brewers and think the best route might be to go with a chiller that can be dis-assembelled to clean.

Carrying ~22 lbs of (dry) grain (maybe ~35 lbs or more after mash/sparge) up the stairs to the ally to dump is hard on an old body! I would like to come up with an easy system for this. I've tried scooping into a bucket, but that is slow and is messy. Some type of easy dump system into a vessel that is easier to maneuver would be very helpful.

One of the biggest reasons I moved to electric, aside from the fact that its really cold in Wyoming 10 months out of the year, is that I didn't like carrying carboys (from my brew sessions) from my garage to my basement (where I ferment). So I thought---if I brew in my basement, problem solved! But maneuvering around ~10 gallon fermenters is still a pain, thus coming up with a 'best' plan for moving wort to fermenter to keg with moving vessels is something I still need to figure out.

After what seems like an eternity, I can still not figure out why my grain bed feels the need to float after I turn off the pump following the mash re-circ. I'm clearly getting air into the bed--stirring the bed reduces this somewhat..but it still floats. Yes, it will re-settle after ~10 minutes of sparge but there is no reason it should float in the first place! At this point, I can't pinpoint what I would change, because I haven't solved the problem. And in the end, I suppose it doesn't matter because it doesn't affect the final product...but dammit I just don't like it!!!!!

Hope these thoughts give you something useful to work with!

-Jeff
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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10135
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Hop Candy Jr, Scottish 70/-, Cali Common, Maibock, Helles, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen


PostLink    Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jjjjfrench wrote:
The problem is I like to brew big IPAs--1.5+ Lbs, of hops per batch. With Hopstopper (#1) I've run into issues leaving (lots of) wort behind...without the hopstopper I have little doubt I would clog my chiller. I'm looking at the hopstopper #2, but am not convinced that will solve my issue.

For what it's worth this was the biggest change for me from going from version 1 to version 2. I used to have to slow down the flow with #1 drastically to avoid leaving a ton of hops in the boil kettle, any faster and it would lose suction leave behind a bunch of wort. With #2 I don't have to do that at all.

Check out this video with 13 oz of hops: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8FdbS-Sz5I

CHeers!

Kal

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champ



Joined: 01 Jan 2018
Posts: 20



PostLink    Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My son and I love version #2. We get every last drop of wort at a very fast pace. No more stuck/clogged plate chillers at our brewery. Great product.
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jjjjfrench



Joined: 04 Feb 2013
Posts: 9
Location: Wyoming


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

champ wrote:
My son and I love version #2. We get every last drop of wort at a very fast pace. No more stuck/clogged plate chillers at our brewery. Great product.


I think my next purchase will need to be a hop-stopper 2.

-J
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GrumpyWally



Joined: 06 Mar 2015
Posts: 56
Location: San Diego, CA

Drinking: California Common, Schwarzbier, Roggenbier, Tripwire Tripel, Dubel, 2 Brown Porters

Working on: Tripwire Tripel, California Common


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jjjjfrench wrote:
I think my next purchase will need to be a hop-stopper 2.
-J


Do not wait, buy it before your next brew.

I used to struggle to get what I thought was a reasonable amount out of the BK into the fermentor - to the point that I know there is about a quart in the hoses/pump that can be recovered; even considered dumping what was left in the BK into a sanitized pitcher and then straining it into the fermentor like when I was stove top boiling and using a carboy. With the hop-stopper 2 that is all a thing of the past.
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jjjjfrench



Joined: 04 Feb 2013
Posts: 9
Location: Wyoming


PostLink    Posted: Sun Sep 15, 2019 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GrumpyWally wrote:
jjjjfrench wrote:
I think my next purchase will need to be a hop-stopper 2.
-J


Do not wait, buy it before your next brew.

I used to struggle to get what I thought was a reasonable amount out of the BK into the fermentor - to the point that I know there is about a quart in the hoses/pump that can be recovered; even considered dumping what was left in the BK into a sanitized pitcher and then straining it into the fermentor like when I was stove top boiling and using a carboy. With the hop-stopper 2 that is all a thing of the past.



HopStopper 2.0 is the SH*T!!!

1000 gallons of struggling with the original hopstopper, I took Gumpy's advice (and Kals and and Champs). I used a hopstopper 2 for the first time today...nothing too big, 3/4 lbs of hops (all pellets) in a 10 gallon batch. In the 'olden days' I would have struggled for the last half of the transfer and still left 2+ gallons behind. Now that I have entered 'the age of enlightenment', no struggles on the transfer, and left only 1/2 gallon of pellet sludge! Anyone considering making the switch from the original....don't wait!!! My best purchase of the year!

-Jeff
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Master



Joined: 30 Jan 2016
Posts: 166
Location: Virginia Beach, VA

Drinking: Liquid Schwartz Schwarzbier, Stinky Porter, Spiced Apple Cider

Working on: AbbyNormal Glutton Free Framboise Lambic, Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse, Pineapple Cider


PostLink    Posted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HopStopper 2.0 is a definite must.
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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10135
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Hop Candy Jr, Scottish 70/-, Cali Common, Maibock, Helles, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen


PostLink    Posted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very cool! Always good to hear others are loving Hop Stopper 2.0 as much as I do!

Kal

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