Brewery Overview

The brewery tanks and vessels

The brewery tanks and vessels

The design of my little brewery is currently quite simple and is made to function like a real brewery to make beer from grain.

The brewery consists of the following main items.

  • A Hot Liquor Tank for heating up the water for brewing with.
  • A Mash Tun vessel to convert starches in crushed grains into sugars for the fermentation process.
  • A Copper vessel for boiling the brew prior to fermentation.
  • A Wort cooler to cool the boiled wort down to a reasonable temperature for allowing fermentation to commence without destroying the yeast.

As you can see from the photo here, The system has been designed to be gravity fed like a traditional brewery would be. With the hot liquor tank at the very top feeding into the insulated Mashtun vessel below.

The Mash Tun vessel is insulated so that the wort can be left in the vessel without any interaction and will keep it’s temperature within a degree or two for about an hour, The usual required time for a brew to finish converting the starch from grain into the required sugars.

Above the Mash Tun is a sparging arm, This is a rotating arm which allows hot water to be sprinkled over the top the grain after it has finished mashing. The water filters through the grain which acts as a filter and carries the sugars through with the hot water into the Copper vessel below.

The copper vessel is not really made out of copper, It’s just the name I’ve traditionally associated with a brew boiling vessel which in a real brewery could be made out of copper.

The copper vessel is used to boil the brewed wort, among other things this renders the wort free from any bacterial contamination.

After the wort has been brewed for an hour or so in this vessel, It now needs to be cooled down to allow the yeast to be added so the fermentation can commence. This is done with a wort cooler I have constructed. The boiled wort runs through a small diameter copper pipe located within the green pipe you can see in the photo. Cold water rushes up the green pipe in the other direction to the boiled wort and takes the hotness out of the wort.

The final cooled wort then flows into a demijohn which has the yeast added to it, When the demijohn is full it is placed into my fermentation cabinet which keeps the correct temperature for fermentation to take place.

After two weeks or so when fermentation has completed it is then bottled or put in a mini keg ready for drinking a few weeks later.

This is just a quick overview of the brewery I have constructed, Further posts on the blog detail more about each part of construction.



Hot Liquor Tank

Hot Liquor Tank

Hot Liquor Tank showing orange cable for temperature probe.

The hot liquor tank is constructed from a standard stainless steel cooking pot, At the bottom of the tank a hole is cut and a heating element screwed in, The heating element used is quite a low power one and is only 1kw. This is all that is really needed to brew on this scale and allows quite accurate heating control.

Incase you were wondering, Liquor is the term for water when used in brewing.

The filling and emptying of the tank is all done through a 15mm stainless steel connection at the bottom of the tank. The method of creating this connection took a bit of trial and error but basically consists of cutting a hole in the bottom of a tank so a stainless steel coupling can be pulled through. This makes quite a tight fit but is not water tight, To make the connection water tight the coupler is soldered using silver solder to the stainless steel tank.

The Hot Liquor Tank Lid, Showing the High Level Switch, Level Measurement and Temperature probe from top to bottom.

The Hot Liquor Tank Lid, Showing the High Level Switch, Level Measurement and Temperature probe from top to bottom.

The level within the tank is measured by a standard fuel level gauge level transmitter, The level gauge has a float which floats on the top of the water and switches several magnetic read switches inside the level gauge. This allows the system to accurate turn on and off at particular water levels but doesn’t give a very high resolution level reading. The read switches are placed at what appears to be 10mm or so intervals within the level gauge.

As well as the level gauge transmitter I have also placed an extra simple floating level switch at the top of the tank, This is so the system can automatically stop the water supply if ever high level is reached within the tank.

As well as measuring temperature the tank has a temperature probe inside it to accurately measure the temperature of the hot liquor. The probe is made from sealed thin copper pipe with a one wire temperature device, A ds18b20 chip located within it. I also put a little heat sink compound within the tube to allow for more accurate and faster temperature readings.

Although I currently don’t have this tank insulated, I will probably try and insulate the tank shortly by some simple method. Perhaps part of a hot water cylinder jacket around it.