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Just starting to build my all electric 55 gallon, One Barrel

 
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ralex999



Joined: 18 Feb 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Phoenix, Arizona


PostLink    Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:01 am    Post subject: Just starting to build my all electric 55 gallon, One Barrel Reply with quote


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Well, this is the first post. I am just starting my build and in the planning process. I will post as I go day by day in the build. I plan to use Kal's entire guide, all of his recommended parts and bump it up to a One barrel system using Three 55 Gallon Stainless Steel tanks. I guess I should have started with a five gallon plastic bucket and home brew set up from my local Brew shop but after reading this site, I felt that even the impossible can come true. The first time I looked at Kal's site, my first impression was WOW...here's a home brewer on steroids. This was and is the ultimate site on home brew and believe me, I have viewed countless You Tube video's, hundreds of web sites and many catalogs on equipment to purchase and this leaves the rest in the dust. Kal's the man! I, like so many others, was at first concerned only with price. Big mistake. After reading the Electric Brewery site, I realize there are far more important things in life than what it cost. (Getting electrocuted by not having GFI comes to mind) Quality doesn't come cheap and I really don't have enough money to be buying the same things over and over again. Getting the best money can buy right out of the gate seems to be top of Kal's list along with safety and getting the job done.
My very first buy was Seven (7) Fifty five (55) gallon stainless steel barrels. I only needed three, but figured that I could use the other four to ferment in or maybe even make another system while I went along. Food grade, fifty five gallon barrels (they look almost brand new) are really hard to come by. I figured I had better grab them while I had the chance and went with the 16 gauge, 316 Stainless that weigh in at about 63 pounds each. Some of the guys posting have bought these off of ebay and have posted great results. I for one think they are the buy of the century as they have a weld about two or so inches above the bottom so they are seamless. I originally thought I would use propane or natural gas and wanted a heavy duty bottom to "cook" my wort and then of course, ran into the Electric Brewery site and it opened a whole new world. Even though I am going electric, I am still glad I went for the extra heavy duty barrels as they will last a lifetime, sort of like Kal's system. I plan to buy about ten more of these barrels to ferment in as I know there must be discussions between fermenting in Stainless Steel Vs. plastic containers and common sense tells me that Stainless has to be better. I think the only reason anyone would visit this site and pay the sort of price for Kal's recommendations is that down deep, you want to brew the finest beer possible and second best just is not good enough. I remember reading when I was a kid that "happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true." Making the best beer possible is a frame of mind. First you must visualize it and then go out and do it. If it was about cutting corners and saving money, I think most would just go out the the corner store and buy a six pack of papst blue ribbon, pop a cap and just lay back. But somehow, after stumbling into this site, it appears the guys on here are looking for something else. Something that escapes the average guy out there. A desire to brew something that isn't ordinary, or more precisely, something "extra-ordinary". For some, it might be to recapture an old lost art,. To others, it may be to make something that you can sit back and say "Hey, I made this. It's mine." Whatever the reasons that bring us to this site, we are not traveling this road alone. I can not even comprehend the help that is being offered here, freely, without recognition and without demand for anything other than a simple acknowledgement. The boards offer experienced advice and even some mistakes that are shared where others will not make the same mistakes. So the journey begins. I stacked three barrels on top of a table and now I start the build. I will share in future post some of my screw ups, some of my victories and hopefully, I will be able to share a beer with anyone that passes my way....
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 4250
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Amber Ale, Firestone Walker Double Jack, Electric Pale Ale, Russian Imperial Stout, Kolsch, Weizen, Irish Stout, Cream Ale

Working on: Pub Ale


PostLink    Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum! Looking forward to seeing some pics of the setup - especially those barrels - they sound interesting. Are you going to try attaching level gauges to them? Do the come with lids?

Either way good luck with the build!

Now where did I put that pint of Papst blue ribbon ....

Wink

Kal

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ralex999



Joined: 18 Feb 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Phoenix, Arizona


PostLink    Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your reply and yes, I plan to add a sight glass to all three of the 55 gallon barrels. I really am not trying to recreate the wheel but looking to follow tried and proven procedures along the way. There are some excellent level gauges from various suppliers but I am not sure Blickmann sells them separately. The Internet is an unbelievable source to find things we need. The "Complete Guide to building your home Brewery" is a must have and I can not even imagine trying to build one of these things without it. Sounds like a commercial but not intended to be so. I needed a hard copy as well as a thumb drive on my lap-top to have this road map at the shop while I am building the system. As I am posting my reply, my printer is cranking out all three hundred plus pages (HP is loving it as my printer is eating print cartridges like peanuts) where I can have a copy on my work bench. I guess I am overly worried about the Electric Brewery site crashing or going off from lack of support but I could not even imagine if I turned on my computer and couldn't look up the book mark for the Electric Brewery "instruction manual" on how to build this thing. If it weren't for our fears, why else would we pay twenty bucks for a copy of a book that is given freely to us on a website? The answer is pretty simple, try building one of these things without it. The worst nightmare would be not to have the Compete Guide available and spending twenty bucks is indeed a cheap price to pay when you consider the thousands of dollars this build will take and countless thousands more if we do it wrong. Why risk it, buy the book! It's really hard not to just jump in and start construction of the project without reading the entire book first. I am going to try and refrain but busy ordering parts. I found a company called Bubba Barrels that sell lids for my open barrels. I ordered three. I also found several false bottoms as well as some screen used to strain stuff out of a bio diesel fuel plant that also uses 55 gallon drums. I plan to put a false bottom in (probably Blickmann's patented false bottom) but also want to try one of these suspended screen baskets half way up the side of the barrel for laudering. From the looks of it, the more efficient your system is, the less Barley you will have to use. 85% looks like a real winner but I wonder if you can't improve on that by 5-10% with having more area (two or three screens with less grain on each screen making a wider filter). That's the beauty of the Electric Brewing System is that there is no one right way to make beer and the fun in trying different ways to arrive at the same outcome. The key is to share the information with others and even if you are wrong, there is always someone else out there that had the same idea or thought and sharing our mistakes may prevent someone from making the same one. If it works, then you helped create just one more outstanding brew.
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 4250
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Amber Ale, Firestone Walker Double Jack, Electric Pale Ale, Russian Imperial Stout, Kolsch, Weizen, Irish Stout, Cream Ale

Working on: Pub Ale


PostLink    Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ralex999 wrote:
Thank you for your reply and yes, I plan to add a sight glass to all three of the 55 gallon barrels. I really am not trying to recreate the wheel but looking to follow tried and proven procedures along the way. There are some excellent level gauges from various suppliers but I am not sure Blickmann sells them separately.

They can't because the level marks are stamped right into the metal so their sight glasses will only work for kettles that are the exact same diameter and configurations as theirs.

When you buy an aftermarket sight glass it doesn't come with lines or marks on it (it can't) since every kettle is different.

Quote:
I plan to put a false bottom in (probably Blickmann's patented false bottom) ...

A heads up that you may have some problems getting that work if your barrels are not the same diameter as one of the blichmann false bottoms available and if you don't have a ledge on the edge of the barrel like this:



The Blichmann false bottom sits along this edge. It also has some feet spread out around the middle to support the weight.

Quote:
From the looks of it, the more efficient your system is, the less Barley you will have to use. 85% looks like a real winner but I wonder if you can't improve on that by 5-10% with having more area (two or three screens with less grain on each screen making a wider filter).

Correct. The higher the efficiency, the less grain you need. I get 95% of my setup which means I use about 30-50% less grain than the average homebrewer.

The biggest you can make the filter is to use the entire bottom of the kettle (like what Blichmann does), like this:



You want the whole area covered so that when you sparge (rinse the grain with water) the water doesn't favour some spots over others, leaving sugars behind. You wan tthe wort to be pushed out like a giant piston.

Good luck! Looking forward to pictures!

Kal

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ralex999



Joined: 18 Feb 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Phoenix, Arizona


PostLink    Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Kal and Thank you so much for the information. Like many others, I am planning on expanding my operation with time. Consequently, we all think bigger and better. Most start out with a 5 gallon container and quickly move up to a 10 gallon one. Then with time, we realize we can't brew a full ten gallons in a 10 gallon container and move up to a 20 gallon one. The number of letters you are getting for information on two heating elements per tank and a 50 gallon set up is a pretty good indicator that as we progress in our journey, we increase the size. In Arizona, we have a micro-brewery license called a Series Three that allows us to produce 5,000 gallons per year and up. I own a pub. We use 10 kegs a week. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize I am heading for larger production with time. Right now, we only sell about a keg a week of Craft beer. With time, the demand seems to be going up and up and up. Craft brewing is the fastest growing segment of the beer industry. The stories I could tell you about home brewing is incredible. One company out here called Four Peaks (that's a local mountain range just east of Phoenix) Brewing started in a garage and just purchased a three and half million dollar piece of property to build their fifth location in Phoenix. They paid cash for it. We all know the story of Koch and Sam Adams Brewing starting on a kitchen table. Adams Brewing is the second largest American Company now that Anheuser Bush sold out to the German's.
Small batch brewing is a must for new idea's, new recipe's and discovery of hundred year old recipe's that beg to be tried. 55 gallon barrels are a natural. I plan to add liquid level gauges but upgraded. There is a company called Babbit International out of Houston Texas. They make a really good site glass for oil tanks, chemicals and yes, beer. But they have an expansion capability that others don't have. Built into their float, is a magnetic strip that is used for alarms, remote monitoring, and controls. You can also record specific fluid levels at different times of the batch if you ever want to go back and repeat the exact same process that you made that once in a lifetime beer that your friends are bugging you to make one more time. To find Babbit, just google them.
The false bottom creates many problems but offers many solutions. There is a perforated Stainless Steel sheet made out of 304 and hole size of 0.09375 and traps even the smallest kernel of barley while allowing fluid to pass through without clogging. This can be cut to size and a thin piece of rubber hose can be cut along the seam and attached to the edge of the cut out perforated sheet to form a strong seal to keep channeling from occurring. The company that makes the perforated Stainless Steel sheet is called Onlinemetals.com I love the idea of a whirlpool that Brickmann uses but others I have seen use a rotating circular irrigation system applied from the top evenly. I am going to experiment with both. I think Brickmann is light years ahead of everyone and I really do love their products. If I weren't the adventurous sort, I would just order out everything already made from both Brickmann and you. I plan on buying the kit form from you to put together the control panel so I know precisely where everything goes and if something goes wrong, how to fix it in a flash.



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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 4250
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Amber Ale, Firestone Walker Double Jack, Electric Pale Ale, Russian Imperial Stout, Kolsch, Weizen, Irish Stout, Cream Ale

Working on: Pub Ale


PostLink    Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found the Babbit International level gauges here: http://www.babbittlevel.com/llg.html

Nice stuff. I'd wonder about cleaning them however. There doesn't seem to be a way to get a brush in there easily unless the vent plug at the top is pretty big.

You'll need some sort of 'translator' to go from their indicator in inches to gallons too.

Make sure to weld on some legs to support the perforated sheet you want to use as a false bottom.

Looking forward to seeing pics!

Kal

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ralex999



Joined: 18 Feb 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Phoenix, Arizona


PostLink    Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks Kal. It looks to me like the Babbit guage has about seven or eight nuts and bolts at the bottom for clean out. No question in my mind it will be far more complicated and more time consuming to clean than the Brickmann level gauge as a bottle brush would do it. I am hoping that boiling hot water is going to clean out most of it and also hoping that a commercial cleaner/Sanitizer will take care of a rinse cycle like the commercial plants use. It is my understanding that Babbit has one made up for 55 gallon barrels and the demensions are static at 35 inches tall by 23 5/8 wide with a ruler showing the exact volume of that sized barrel. I plan to build the perforated sheet in two pieces for ease of removal and cleaning with a hinge down the middle. I plan to use an X type cross member for support with a two inch raise. Photo's will be coming as I start my build. I am in the process of ordering parts now and locating suppliers.
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aproveau@gmail.com



Joined: 11 Mar 2012
Posts: 4



PostLink    Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:44 pm    Post subject: 55 gallon Brew Reply with quote

I am also looking into building a 55 gallon system but with the Blichmann kettles. I was wondering if there are any modifications to the electric brewery plans that need to be done in order to handle the larger size efficiently. (for example tube size, ball valve size, coil size, the use of 1 or 2 heating elements in each kettle, pump size ect,) Any input would be greatly appreciated!
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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 4250
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Amber Ale, Firestone Walker Double Jack, Electric Pale Ale, Russian Imperial Stout, Kolsch, Weizen, Irish Stout, Cream Ale

Working on: Pub Ale


PostLink    Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See here:

http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=24918

Kal

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ralex999



Joined: 18 Feb 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Phoenix, Arizona


PostLink    Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello aproveau and I will try and answer your question as I know it. I was in your shoes and asking the same question. The answers you recieve on this forum and those on http://www.homebrewtalk.com/ are from hundreds of folks who border on Genius and have most of the right answers. when I went on, I was seeking solutions and considering all aspects of brewing, even the wrong ones. Of course, as a Child, if I had listened to my parents, teachers, and the like, I would have made far fewer mistakes. But I learned from my mistakes and I grew. Same in brewing. Sometimes, part of our education is screwing up. I screwed up many times and learned much. If you want the right answers on how to build your system, you need to ask the guru and that would be Kal. If you want to find out some of the things you are thinking that you shouldn't be thinking, then I guess it would be OK to ask me; for I am a screw up. I will answer some of the biggest modification questions you will need to know and hopefully, the smart guys will step forward and answer a few also.
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ralex999



Joined: 18 Feb 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Phoenix, Arizona


PostLink    Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aproveu: the singles biggest modification you will need to make is weight. 55 gallons is ten times the weight as a five gallon brew pot on your kitchen stove. One pound of wet grain is 42 ounces. If you make Barley Wine in your system, you will be using Three to four times the amount of grain as most recipe calls for. Can you imagine dumping a 150 lbs of grain into your Mash/Lau tun and trying to get that out wet? Clean up is a night mare. Keep in mind though, this is not a question about Blinkmann (arguably the best ever built), it's a question about if you are a hurcleon weightlifter and have a gold medal from the Olympics. Since you are using a Blickmann, you will have to go here to get an idea of the stand you will need to build to handle such a weight: http://picasaweb.google.com/115444918296041688974/Bluto555FrameBuildPhase1?gsessionid=GlHJrOMYTsSCIgSQNrFqig#
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 4250
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Amber Ale, Firestone Walker Double Jack, Electric Pale Ale, Russian Imperial Stout, Kolsch, Weizen, Irish Stout, Cream Ale

Working on: Pub Ale


PostLink    Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wet grain for a 1bbl batch will most certainly be heavy, but there's no reason why it needs to be problematic. A tippy dump like you have in the pictures is one option and certainly the fastest, but you can also scoop by hand if you like. It takes me about 2 minutes to scoop out the grain for me, so it should be about 3 times longer if making ~31bbl. There's certainly no need to lift the whole mass of grain at once.

Once you get larger than that you're usually looking at a mash tun that has a door on the side so that you can shovel out the spent grain, like so:



Kal

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Last edited by kal on Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ralex999



Joined: 18 Feb 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Phoenix, Arizona


PostLink    Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aproveu: Here is where I get stupid. All my friends told me that they could build me a stand like the above for a couple of hundred dollars. I spent hours researching out the best in the business to build my stand. Instead of spending a couple of hundred, I spent over Two Thousand Dollars and built one that would hold the Titanic from sinking and easier to clean up with a dumping system. I would email this guy (he's the best there ever was in designing stands) and see what he comes up with. kurt@brewsteel.com
and look at his web site for his stands: WWW.BrewSteel.com
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ralex999



Joined: 18 Feb 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Phoenix, Arizona


PostLink    Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again, Kal would be right. You could scoop out your grain by hand. Some even use a Shop Vac and are very successful in their clean up. I personally like my dump system but other ways can work also.


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ralex999



Joined: 18 Feb 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Phoenix, Arizona


PostLink    Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there are so many ways of brewing really great beer. A guy called Sam Calagione started his brewery using Propane and a 15.5 Keggle system he bought from Brew Magic for Six grand. I thought to myself, stupid guy, I can build one bigger and cheaper. He did over Fifty million dollars in business last year with his little company called Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and he started it with propane. Can you imagine what he could have been if only he would have listened to us? I am being sarcastic and I apologize. All we hope to do is show you the way we did it and it may or may not be the exact right way. It's just one in many different ways of getting to the same results which is brewing terrific beer. Some guys will tell you that you do this by a constant sparge. Others will tell you don't sparge at all or use a parti-gyle system. Some will say you need to sprinkle over your mash, others will say the big boys use a rake. However you do it, just remember there is no right way or wrong way. We all use different recipes. We all have simular but different systems. But in the end, it's the beer that matters. Hope I can share with you the ways I do it, the right ways and of course the wrong ways and hope you can improve upon it.
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