Note: This is one post in a series of posts on how to build a Brutus 10.
Now it's time for the liquid side of things.
We're talking water and wort. How it's moved around the system and what equipment is used.
I'm using three identical 15 gallon Blichmann Boilermakers that I purchased from Northern Brewer. The thing I like about Blichmann is that their kettles are made specifically for homebrewing.
Sure they are expensive, but when comparing to other options you need to factor in all of the bells and whistles they come with: 3-piece ball valve, hinged thermometer, stepped bottom, no-tools-needed removable pickup tube, heavy duty sight gauge (I've broken past ones), and of course their high quality construction.
They hold just 1/2 gallon less than my old keggles but are much easier to clean and are less bulky.
I love them.
Still, at about $1,200 for three of these plus a false bottom, if you are looking to save money on this build then this is the low hanging fruit. You could always build the stand, use cheaper kettles, then upgrade to Boilermakers eventually. One thing to keep in mind with that strategy is that you'll need to weld the frame to fit your kettles.
Tubing and Disconnects
A goal of the build was the keep everything moving quickly by using 1/2″ tubing. Just one bottle neck can really slow you down. 1/2″ silicone tubing is perfect for the job and can withstand temperatures up to 500°F. It also doesn't kink like the clear vinyl tubing. I bought 30 feet of it but could have gotten away with 25′. It's not terrible to have extra.
Originally I was going to use these stainless steel quick disconnects from MoreBeer, but they are $15 a piece! After some digging I saw that more and more people were starting to use camlock quick disconnects. They are also stainless steel but are only $4-$5 a piece. Easy decision.
I use three types of camlocks, all purchased from Bargain Fittings:
- Type B – Used on ends of tubing. 11 needed.
- Type F – Used on ball valves, SS Tee on mash tun, and lid returns. 10 needed.
- Type A – Used on Therminator. 2 needed.
You can see you need a lot of these suckers. Draw a diagram of your system to figure out how many you need. It was a miracle that my estimate was spot on.
One important thing about the Type B camlocks. You would think that I would use Type C to attach the tubing because it has a hose barb, but the problem is that hose barb tapers down to less than 1/2″ and restricts the flow. Instead, go with a Type B camlock. Dip the hose end in boiling water to loosen it up and then twist it onto the male threads on the camplock.
It's won't come off and you keep your 1/2″ diameter. I only had 2 small leaks, but a hose clamp on each solved that problem.
See the picture below from Bargain Fittings that shows what I'm talking about:
Next you can see my set up for the mash recirculation. By having a quick disconnect on the mash tun, I can easily remove the “Tee” set up to the boil kettle and monitor the wort temp while chilling through the Therminator.
The lid returns are one of the more ingenious parts of the Brutus 10 design. Instead of drilling holes in my precious Boilermakers, I just drilled holes in their lids. This also makes it super easy to drain the mash and sparge because all you need to do is move the lid from one kettle to another.
The hardware for the lid returns includes a Type F camlock, 90° SS elbow, rubber O-ring, and LocLine.
I'm so glad I heard about LocLine. You can bend it any direction and add or subtract length to it if you need to. It's much more versatile than copper tubing.
Pumps and chilling
There are two pumps used on the system and they are both the March High Flow Pumps from MoreBeer. They work great but take some practice to get the hang of priming them.
You could get by with one pump unless you want to 1)Fly sparge or 2)Recirculate ice water while chilling. I do #2 to save water and chill faster so I need two pumps.
For chilling, I use the Blichmann Therminator. Going from a 50′ immersion chiller to this saves a ton of space. It's amazing how compact it is and how fast it can chill. The downside is that cleaning it is tougher and you can't take it apart so you never really know what's lurking in there. So far though, it's been great.
So that's it for the build posts, but there is plenty more to come on actually using this thing. With any new system there will be kinks to work out and it takes time to refine your process. That's where I'm at right now about 5 batches into it, but let me just say that this thing rocks!
- 15 gallon Blichmann Boilermaker Kettle x 3 – $1, 124
- Blichmann Boilermaker false bottom – $80
- Blichmann Therminator – $200
- March Pump x 2 – $300 (MoreBeer H315GF)
- 30′ Silicone tubing, 1/2″ – $60
- Camlocks, SS elbows, SS Tee, o-rings, clamps – $140
- 2″ Heat shielded thermowell – $21 (Brewers Hardware part TWHS2)
- 1/2″ Loc-line sample kit x 2 – $18
- Total: $1,943
Total build cost with kettles: $3,562
Total build cost without kettles: $2,358