Brewing has been going really well. I’ve got about 10 batches under my belt and did 15 gallons of Hard Cider last fall that turned out great. Recently I got a couple friends to start brewing and we brewed a Porter and added Vanilla and some Bourbon soaked Oak bourbon-barrel chunks to the secondary. It’s looking great and tasted awesome before transferring to the secondary.
After brewing the last few batches, I’ve wanted to make the jump into All-Grain brewing. I had some equipment that would work, but there were some things to be desired from the system, and I wanted to use electric elements for brewing instead of propane.. I decided to sell all of my brewing equipment and upgrade.
The first upgrade was a 7.3 gallon Conical fermenter from Stout Tanks. I found one on Craigslist locally and went to get it from a guy Brian nearby. We had a long chat and he mentioned I should join Oregon Brew Crew. I joined and ended up meeting some great people. I’ve only been to 1 meeting and a Christmas party, but it has been great. The funny thing is, that the person I sold my old brewing equipment to was in the club too, and was good friends with Brian. They’ve been very welcoming and I even brewed a double batch of beer with Brian last weekend.
The second upgrade was to replace my kettles with something purpose built. I looked around at Stout Tanks, Colorado Brew Systems, Blichmann, Spike Brewing, Brewers Hardware and Bru-Gear. Lots of emails to and from each of them and I finally decided that for the features and value, Bru-Gear was the best choice.
The Bru-Gear has nice tri-clover fittings on all of their kettles. I got the electric version which has an additional 1.5″ fitting in the rear of the kettle, as well as a 1.5″ recirculation port at the top of the kettle. This allows me to get 3 of the exact same kettles and use for the MLT, HLT and BK. Another piece they offer is a HERMS coil that is mounted to the lid. I really like this as it allows me to use for a HERMS coil, but also as an immersion chiller after the boil in the BK. The kettles also come with thermowell/thermometer, ball-valves, clamps and TC barbed fittings. I ordered pickup tubes for all three as well as a false bottom for the MLT.
I ordered and got them just before Christmas. The welds are nice, the equipment looks well made, and I’m impressed with the system overall. Just missing a couple pieces, but Bru-Gear has been in contact and should be able to send me the fittings I need. I still need a few more fittings like some 90 degree elbow barbed TC, whirlpool fitting and something that would allow me to attach a Blichmann Auto-sparge to the inside of the MLT.
So the overall idea is to put together a 10-gallon Electric HERMS system and build a brew controller to control the elements and pumps and also monitor the temperature. I’ll post more on that in another post.
Here’s some pictures of all the new Bru-Gear and Stout Tanks equipment: