Friday, December 4, 2009

Brewery details

Recirculating Infusion Mash System

I thought it was time to publish details of how the brewery works as a few have asked.

Beer is made by taking sugars from Malted barley (and other grains at times) and then adding yeast to those sugars, fermenting it out and the by products are then  Beer and CO2. As brewers we call this the All Grain method of brewing.
To extract the sugars we must first mill the grain which strips off the husk,  then we mash the grain (make a porridge), which is the process of mixing your milled grain in with hot water at very controlled temperatures, and letting the mixture rest for a period of time.

Enzymes found naturally occurring in the grain are activated by the heat and water so that they begin to break down the starches within the grain into sugars.We then boil these sugar waters and add hops to create the unique flavors that starts the foundation of our beer, the yeast also adds flavors to the final beer, based on the sub type of yeast and the temperature it is fermented at.

The Zenzele Brewery is very similar to a full size brewery, other than the heating method. Big breweries either use steam jacketed kettles or direct steam injection (older style). I use direct fire method from below the kettle using Propane.

The brewery consists of three vessels on three levels - which can allow for gravity feeding but I do pump most of my liquids. At the top we have a Water Heating tank called the Hot Lauter Tank , this feeds hot water to the Mash Tun (48 Qt Igloo Marine Cooler) , and on the lower level we have the Kettle. The system also has a much smaller Heater in the Mash circuit which is part of the RIMS system, the basis of the system is to recirculate the mash water in a controlled way while applying heat, to do this we use a smaller heat chamber and in my case a 1500 watt heater element controlled by a PLC.

This is version 3 of the solution for me. Vers 2 used a free standing PID (proportional Integration) temp controller, which I was never happy with - either due to my lack of understanding of the unit or the fact it was far too cheap (ebay).

The BCS - 460 by Embedded Control Concepts  which I use today and helped beta - is a programmable logic controller which can be used for many functions, but I use just for heat control at present in the mashing cycle, I have started to build a HLT controller using Electrical heating so that I can wake up to Hot water for the mash in.

All piping on the brewery is 1/2 ID copper tubing, with soldered joins, this includes the RIMS Chamber too, which is a 1 1/2" Tube with 1/2 in and out, all the major systems can be taken apart using unions for extra cleaning and repair. I also built a clean in place fitting to flush the system with cold water, which is done both post brew as well as pre brew days.  The system is stored dry though, and a full HOT deep cleaning cycle is done after about 4 brews.

The BCS can be run stand alone or hooked up to a PC to see the interface and outputs.

I also have a motorized Grain Mill, which also provides Grain Storage underneath, as I decided if I was to use a footprint in the brewery I might as well , maximize the footprint , but going vertical.

So a typical Brew day consists of preparation the night before, weighing out grains and milling them, I also typically measure out the Mash water and fill the HLT.

In the morning I get up early, fire the HLT and go and have breakfast, it takes about 45 minutes to get to Mash In temp , which is calculated by the sw I use - Promash , Mashing takes about an hour , and it is at this stage that all the extra toys come into play, I start the pump, and recirculate the Mash water, keeping volume slow and steady, the BCS is programmed to the temp I need - typically around 148-154 deg F for most of the beers we do (low means dryer). I start my mash timer from Brewtimer a freeware program that I also helped improve with feedback in early editions, and go back inside where I can watch the temps via wireless connection to the BCS. I also have to fill the HLT with Sparge water and put onto a low heat, with expectation of 170 deg by the end of the hour of mashing.

Next part is Sparging, which is washing the grains, a method to extract as much extra sugar out of the porridge we made during mashing. Three methods exist to do this , and I use the lazy method - Batch Sparging, which produces very high % results and is being followed more and more by Homebrewers. I drain off the original Mash water completely into my kettle, and then taking half the calculated volume of sparge water (volume calculated to give me a final volume of 11.5 gallons after boiling) fill the mash tun and recirculate for just 5 minutes and drain off again.

At the same time I have fired up the kettle to start heating the wort towards the boil. I then perform a second sparge with the remaining hot water and drain off after 5 minutes.

Getting to Boil can take another 30-40 minutes with 13 odd gallons, at boil we have to be careful of boil over and I have started to use a silica based product Fermcap  that prevents that from happening. Hops are added to the boil based on the recipe, which can vary by qty as well as frequency. Typical is at boil = 60 min, for bitterness, at 10min for taste and at 2min for aroma.

During the boil, preparation is done for the fermenter to be sanitized, using Star San in my case , a No-rinse phosphoric acid sanitizer used in the food industry.

I use one of 5 types of Fermenters, 6 gallon buckets - the original method , 15 Gal Food Safe Plastic Fermenter , Glass Carboys, Stainless Conical - homemade, Stainless Kegs converted to Fermenters

The Wort is cooled via an immersion cooler and a counterflow cooler until, around 70 deg min, I try for 65 but not so easy except in mid winter as ground water is only in 60's around here . This is then pumped into the fermenter and yeast is added and sealed with a blow off tube immersed in Star San. The whole fermenter is put into the temperature controlled fridge for approx 1-2 weeks before racking off into a secondary - which in my case is always the serving kegs. Depending on the beer type , it could sit in secondary for between a week and 6 months. Higher Alcohol Beers take longer to condition, as do lagers which need 4 weeks min.
I dont filter any of my beer yet, but cold conditioning over time makes most beers very clear. Beers are then put on tap in one of the three Zenzele Brewery kegerators.

So a Brew day is typically about 4-5 hours long after clean up, but a lot of time is spent sitting around and occasionally sampling last brew days efforts , I often run chores or take kids to their events while brewing , except when the boil is more than half way - I remain at my post, as hop profiles are very time dependant.

I hope you have as much fun as I do. In taking this hobby far too far. Projects under way, using BCS 460 to drive the electrical HLT which would allow me to walk down in morning to water already at strike temp (Phase 1) , then adding a dump valve and mash stirrer (Phase 2) which would allow me to walk in once Mash is under way, ....... in addition I have been working on a two stage controller with the BCS to run both heat and cold systems for the winter fermentation, where we control the heat during exothermic beginnings of fermentation , but provide heat later when too cold. Right now I am upgrading the Propane burners and all the piping for those, but will post separately about that soon.

More details in picture format can be found here:

1 comment:

maheswari said...

Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow /Hey thanks man!! you are so good. I think this the perfect work.

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