My (small) Brewery

a simple tower brewery made of cheap obtainable parts

Dan's Home
The Database
My Brewery
· Overview (i)
· Overview (ii)
· Hot Liquor Tun
· Mash Tun (i)
· Mash Tun (ii)
· Boilers
· Fermenters
· Cellar Cupboard (i)
· Cellar Cupboard (ii)

Littleport Judo
I hope you enjoy this quick tour of my newly completed "super brewery"! The brewing process is pretty much as it's always been only now I don't have to carry loads of equipment in from the shed. Nor do I need any rubber hoses bodged on to the kitchen taps (which kept falling off). No more reprimands about damaged kitchen paintwork from the condensing steam either (thanks to the extractor system)! In fact the whole exercise is a little more convenient, tidy and well-controlled.

Overview (part 1)

This is it in a nutshell: Water is heated in the "hot liquor tank" (A) at the top. The water flows down to the heavily insulated "Mash Tun" (L) where it's mixed with malt and left for the starch to digest into sugars. It then flows down again into the boiler (not pictured here; it'd be sitting on the work top at right) where it's boiled with hops. Then it flows down again to the bottom level, the fermentation cupboard (T), where the cooler (M) is dunked in it to reduce the temperature to about 25°C. After that the yeast is pitched and fermentation begins. The beer is always flowing downwards by gravity so no pumps are needed.

Overview (part 2)

A slightly different view of the overall setup, which fits neatly into one corner of a box-room. The low L-shaped worktop forms the ceiling of the fermentation cupboard (T). The cupboard doors are made from two layers of multi-wall polycarbonate for good insulation. They're mounted on magnetic catches so that they can be removed completely on brew-day for ease of access. Note the digital thermometers (H) & (I) for hot water and mash temperatures respectively. Note also the magnetic whiteboard for notes and reminders, with centrally placed clock.

The HLT (hot liquor tank) and plumbing

In this photo the Mash Tun has been removed for cleaning so you can see the plumbing better. The fill valve (F) lets water flow into the HLT (A). The tank itself is just a 35-litre heavy duty polypropene Really Useful Box (as are the fermenters). To the right of the HLT (B) you can see the heater (cheapo kettle element) and thermostat (std hot water cylinder stat). Also inserted into the HLT is a copper sleeve for the digital thermometer probe (C). The thermometer display is at (H). There's a timer (N) so that I can set the water to pre-heat ready for when I get home. There are two valves letting hot water OUT of the HLT: the "doughing-in" valve (E) and the sparge valve (D). The latter is connected to a fine, adjustable spray-head (G) for sparging.

The Mash Tun (part 1)

The Mash Tun is made out of a 7 gallon brewing bucket fitted inside a giant builder's rubble bucket. The gap between the two buckets is packed with insulation (mainly closed cell foam carpet underlay). There's a tank connector in the centre of the bucket floor to drain off the wort. This is drilled so that there's hardly any "dead space" that can't be drained. The drain plumbing uses plastic push-fit fittings and valve for low conductivity. The temperature drop over a 1½ hour mash is barely detectable. I typically mash at about 65°C.

The Mash Tun (part 2)

Here's the Mash Tun with its double lid on. The inner lid is just the brewing bucket lid with a few layers of foam glued on. Above that sits a secondary "cosy" made out of closed cell foam and pipe insulation. The digital thermometer probe pokes through both lids to dip into the mash, which completely fills the inner bucket. The temperature display is at (I). After the first wort has been run off, the Tun is filled a second time (with slightly cooler water since the grain is now hot) and additional malt is added for the second beer. This is the ancient "Parti Gyle" system. The two beers can taste radically different. Usually only the last beer is sparged.

The Boilers

These are my two elderly boilers: a polypropene "Electrim" bin (U) and a venerable "Burco" boiler (V) that I've had since my university days (and it wasn't new even then!). They are pictured here underneath the two powerful extractor fans (Q) which carry away the steam. The boilers are filled by simply pushing them underneath the Mash Tun outlet tap. The Mash Tun has a 2-layer false bottom to strain the wort. The top layer is an old brewing bin lid with several hundred 3mm holes drilled in it. The lower layer is made out of a stainless steel mesh "spatter guard" (for frying) with the handle sawn off. Hops are plunged into the boiling wort, creating a glorious smell!

The Fermentation Cupboard

After boiling for about an hour the beer is run into a fermenter and the cooler (M) is immersed in it. Cold water flows through the cooler coil. The warmed water coming out of the coil can be collected (eg for washing up) via a valve (K). I use 35 litre square Really Useful Boxes as fermenters. They're roomier than regular brewing bins and offer a bigger surface area for carbon dioxide bubbles to escape so the froth doesn't "spill over" even with very strong beers. Three fermenters will fit in the cupboard (though the normal load is two). The cupboard is insulated and contains a small electric heating pad on a thermostat. A dial thermometer (S) displays the temperature.

The "Cellar" Cupboard (part 1)

When fermentation is complete the beers are racked into barrels. I use ordinary Weltonhurst barrels because they're the cheapest and just as good as anything else. This photo shows three barrels sitting in the insulated "cellar" cupboard (O) which is maintained at about 14°C by a peltier-effect cooler (W). The cooler was rescued from a discarded electric cool-box. A thermostat (R) controls the temperature, which is displayed on a dial thermometer (S). The barrel outlet taps are connected to the beer dispense pipework (P) with ½" tubing.

The "Cellar" Cupboard (part 2)

In this photo the cellar door is in place, retained by its magnetic catches. This is its normal position. It is only removed to change barrels or top up with carbon dioxide. You can still see the beer levels through the translucent polycarbonate. Ducts from the two extractor fans (Q) run behind the cellar and vent outside through flaps. The three beer lines (P) pierce the insulated floor of the cellar and terminate with washing machine taps. To pour yourself a beer you simply offer up a glass and turn on the tap!



AHot Liquor Tank, "HLT"
BHLT Thermostat and Heating Element
CHLT temperature probe (in copper sleeve)
DSparging ball valve
E"Doughing In" ball valve
FHLT filling valve
GAdjustable spray-head for sparging
HHLT Temperature Display
IMash Temperature Display
JAuxilliary Cold Water Supply Tap
KImmersion Cooler Water Valves
LMash Tun
MImmersion Cooler Coil
NHLT element timer
OInsulated Cooled "Cellar" Cupboard
PBeer Dispense Taps
QTwin 500m3/hr Extractor Fans
RCellar Cupboard Thermostat
SBi Metallic Dial Thermometer
TInsulated Fermentation Cupboard
UPolypropene "Electrim" Boiler
VStainless Steel "Burco" Boiler
WPeltier Effect Cooler & Circulation Fan