Building a Brewery

In the spring of 2009 I started constructions of a new brewing system to replace my old brewery. I purchased burners a couple years back, but procrastinated building the actual system. I had been using one of the burners cobbled with anything I could find in the garage to mimic a gravity-fed 3-tier system. I called it the Duct Tape Brewery. It worked, but I was moving too much hot liquid around, and it was only a matter of time before a spill or scalding.

It worked with a single turkey fryer and a metal stand with a bunch of blocks of wood placed in positions to get the HLT to the right height for a gravity feed to the mash tun. The boil kettle was positioned on a piece of plywood on the floor. With only one burner I had to move hot kettles 3 or 4 times for heating. Having a frame, or sculpture, with multiple burners would save time, be safer, and save my equipment (I dented my PolarWare mash tun).

I finally came to the conclusion that I wanted to build a flat/horizontal sculpture with pumps for hot liquid transfer.

System Needs

  • A flat setup won't necessitate climbing on ladders
  • I should be able to see into the kettles, to look for clogs and frogs
  • Stability, not having such a tall system
  • I should have an easier time storing it in the garage
Rather than reinventing the wheel I found a pretty cool system on internet forums - Lonnie's Brutus 10. Plans were available in the Feb ’07 issue of
Brew Your Own (BYO), and directly from Lonnie. I wanted to build a clone of Lonnie's Brutus 10 system.

After 3 1/2 years of talking about it, I started. I've gathered parts, ordered steel, and my welder neighbor was ready to begin. I had never used a MiG welder prior to starting the project, but Jack just handed me the wand after the first couple of spot welds and I was welding.

Here are the first two pieces cut, we used the pot for visualizations.


Here is the frame fully tacked together. We used the Brutus 10 plans and altered them to fit my gear. It's a little longer than Lonnie's design, to make room for wider pots and handles. We miter cut the top of the frame so we would have to weld caps to close up the system.


My next step was to admire the frame and think about how I was going to brew with it. If we needed to make changes to the design, I wanted to find out here before finish welding. I'll got guidance on the gas (propane) plumbing from an engineer neighbor. The pumps were not mounted directly to the system frame, so they can be stored out of the way, and used away from the heat-aura of the Hurricane burners.

Jack and I discussed options to mount the Hurricane burners. Whomever designed the Hurricane burner had mount points at 45 degrees from what would be though of as square. Fellow homebrewers said the Hurricane works best with a three inch gap from burner to kettle. My solution was to create fins that would be mounted to the the frame, burners could be mounted square, and allow for height adjustments.

Shown above are all three of my burners with fins, looking like models for Star Wars. They are upside down to help level things out while tightening the bolts. The damn bolts were metric, so I had to run out and buy a 10mm metric wrench.

After measuring over and over holding the burner mounts up to the frame, it was time to weld them in place. I went ahead and welded the rest of the frame solid.

I ground down the top welds, and test brewed a Kölsch. Brewing was a breeze, and cleanup went very smooth. This system probably shaved 90 minutes off my brew day.
 
I've given up completing the system for the summer. Instead I brewed up a storm! Continued...