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My Professional Basement Brewery

About a year ago, and to commemorate my 1500th batch. I set out to construct a professional “German” brewhouse in my basement. While its not completely finished as of yet, it’s getting close. I still have the room left to finish, grain storage and delivery, and hop automation left.

I partnered with stout tanks and kettles to come out with a Low Oxygen Brewing specific kettle line, so others could buy these if interested. I designed theses kettles specifically to be optimized for my brewing. So this really is a from scratch build, all the way from designing the kettles, to them being custom built to my specs, etc.

http://www.lowoxygenbrewing.com/brewing-science-and-technology/the-system/ for a full photo rundown:

The Vessel specs:

26 gallon HERMS HLT
50ft SS herms coil
Tangential whirlpool inlet
100% tri clover, sanitary welded and mirror polished inside and out
Bottom Drain
On legs and wheels.
Gasketed and clamped lid
Sample Port

20 gallon mash tun
100% tri clover, sanitary welded and mirror polished inside and out.
Custom Lautering pipe
Custom hangers inside for a BIAB bag
Bottom drain
On legs and wheels.
Gasketed and clamped lid
Sample Port

20 Gallon Boil kettle
100% tri clover, sanitary welded and mirror polished inside and out.
Domed bottom, with trub dam
Tangential whirlpool inlet
On legs and wheels.
Gasketed and clamped lid
Sample Port

To control the system, I built a control panel from scratch using a 24" touch screen monitor. I 3d modeled the system from scratch as well, and use that as my background.

The Setup:
The system features roughly 24 electric ball valves
15 solenoid valves
5 proportional valves
4 pumps
8 flow meters
9 temperature sensors
2 Mirco motion mass flow meters, for realtime gravity in the mash tun and boil kettle
Each vessel has its own DO and pH probes.
Each vessel has its own volume sensors
Each vessel has it own Pressure sensors (for monitoring pressure in the vessels)
4 CFC chillers
Each vessel has a dedicated oxygen sensor for o2% in the headspace
Built in acid dosing, and auto ph logic
CIP
RO TDS and replacement automation

I have built the automation scripts from scratch, and as of right now it is nearly 100% automated ( minus grain delivery and hop additions, but thats in progress)

Once I click “Recipe Input”, it then goes about its way on brewing.

Which makes it very easy to start brew sessions early in the morning, or even from work, and time it to be home just for hop additions.

Stress free remote brewing:

When brewing is done, the fermentation automation takes over with a few stout conicals, and some SS brew buckets.

Again I 3d modeled everything and built the scripts to control it

Once fermentation is nearing completion and since I brew according to the RHG, the system will transfer the beer over to the serving kegs where its using some more custom scripting to “Auto Spund” the kegs based on their temperature and carbonation level desired. It’s all dynamic, and no human interaction is needed.

I built this brewery because the Continental macro brewers and their technology fascinate me. I have the strictest of standards when it comes to beer, and this system allows me to always reproduce the beer I set out to brew. Automation is one of my favorite things to do, and it allows me to have stress free, and always consistent product.

Edit: A lot of people have asked for specs on the vessels… here they are:
http://www.lowoxygenbrewing.com/stout-tanks-and-kettles-llc/

I have a bunch more stuff on FB and IG, and YT

Prost!

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Doesn’t get much sexier than this!

That is a pretty fancy setup. Haven’t seen you in awhile thought you started your own forum for German Brewers. I tried to do low oxygen brewing seemed like to much work for a miniscule benefit. I do like making German styles

X

What the…that looks just like my system!?! We could be twins!

No seriously, very cool!

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I like how you hung your brew bag

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Way freaking awesome. Nice set up.

Thats WAY over the top !! No-one will even hold a candle to what you’ve got there…
So your doing 16 gallon batches? I will assume you’re putting your brew in commercial kegs… Interested then, how do you do that piece of the puzzle. Sneezles61

Wow, just wow! I thought my brewery was over the top. Tough keeping up with the Jones’s now.

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Sweet!

That is a beautiful system. Well done Sir! I’m sure we would appreciate some pictures of it in action when you get it going.

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Very nice. If I had a basement it would be cluttered with crap. I’m equally impressed that yours is not.

Something to be proud of for sure! Well done sir!

I think he left the building

No I am still here… Just forgot my login!

Thanks all!

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Dazzled us with all that bright SS… I can hardly see! :dizzy_face: Sneezles61

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This is epic! I specialize in industrial automation and process controls, so this stuff is always interesting to use outside of work. I’m very jealous, your system puts my “beginner” home electric brewery to shame! You have given me plenty of ideas to build upon though.

Can I ask where you got your electric ball valves? I have been looking into these for a while but I can’t find a supplier in my budget. I’m assuming your budget was like 50x mine, so I may be outta luck. I am slowly working on automated transfers and such, so a controlled valve would be needed.

Update for those who care.

Still tweaking and adding stuff. Hardware wise only 3 things are left… On the list is Hop additions, grain delivery, and grain storage. I plan on working on these things in that order.

Whats new?

Added pressure sensors to the brewing vessels to monitor pressure for purging and vac.
Added N2 tank solenoid
Added HLT Boil valve
Added BK Boil valve
Added Mash Bypass valve
Added Fermenter volume sensors (x4) (in anticipation for auto fermenter transfers)
Added more spunding setups (x4)
Added co2 tank monitoring with high pressure sensors, created a dynamic script showing % left (based on temp and pressure), and alarm notifications for leaks and low tanks (x3)
Closed up the Panel
Revised some scripts
Modified my brew buckets for larger valves (x2) (in anticipation for auto fermenter transfers)
I am sure there is more I am forgetting.

Panel Completed:

Revised Brewing Interface:

Revised Fermentation interface, Tank volumes in top right

Fermenter Modification

Some beers are finally starting to fill the pipeline. They are not quite ready, but close enough to start drinking.
Festbier:
72% Barke pils
20% Barke vienna
8% carahell
24ibu

Marzen:
80% Barke Munich
10% Barke Pils
5% carared
5% caraaroma
2oz sinamar (for color)
24ibu

Keller Pils
80% Barke Pils
20% light Munich
45ibu

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Thanks! I don’t specialize so I had a bit of learnin’ to do. I spec’d and had them built in china. I can’t remember quite how much but I want to say $20-25 a valve for the straight open close variants. I have spent much less than folks think, many many ebay, and surplus equipment auctions and of course paitience. I am easily under 5k.

That’s even more amazing! I’m super impressed. At the moment I have an electric kettle with temp control. I used a heating element from a hot water tank, it gets really hot and works amazingly, but there is no true control. I can only turn it on and off, which is fine but it’s not great at analog control.

I also built a 2-tiered wooden stand, to put my HLT and MT on to let gravity do my sparging, and I have a chugger pump to attach to the outlet of the MT for vorlaufing.

Lastly, I modified a sump-pump that I sit inside an ice bath. At the flip of a switch, the pump acts like a pre-chiller and sends the ice water through my immersion chiller.

I want to keep modifying. I have a Siemens PLC and use Siemens everyday at work. I can build an HTML/Java website that will allow for control from any PC, so that can save me on buying a touch screen. I need to work on getting more pumps to aid in transferring out of the boil kettle, possibly to aid in cooling but also to transfer to my fermenters, which may or may not be in an ice chest with temp controls. Unfortunately for now, my fermenters are just buckets and carboys, but I want to move to SS conicals soon. I have a plan to build/weld a SS conical in the future. I really would like to add controlled valves next so that I can replace the manual ball valves I currently have. I also want to investigate feed screws/augers, a big one for grain and little ones for hops maybe, not sure if that would require load cells to make sure I put in enough of everything. Maybe I could just put everything in a solenoid-controlled box that opens up into the wort when activated… that way all I have to do is pre-load the box with boil additions, and then it will open at the proper intervals that I set in my software.

Overall, I love brewing and I love designing/building these systems… but thanks to budgetary discussions with the wife, I have to do it in phases. I have probably spent about $375 on my system so far, and probably 12 hours building over the course of 6 months.

Who did you contact in China to have the valves built? Domestic controlled valves all cost over $200 a piece (that I can find), and even just buying the actuator to retrofit onto my existing valves is about $200 too.

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