HERMS Improvement – Bypass Valves

My first few batches with my HERMS setup (even before I built the sculpture) had me messing around with the temperature of the hot liquor tank and swinging through a pretty wide range on my mash temps. That’s the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve so I did some hunting in the forums to see if there was an easier way to do it. Eventually I’d like to get to a digitally controlled, propane fired hot liquor tank that keeps everything on target but for now I’m willing to go a little more hands on. The pragmatic engineer side of me says to figure out what I’m want to achieve by doing it manually for a while then figure out how to automate the process.

The solution came to me in the form of some bypass valves ahead of the heat exchanger:

HERMS Bypass Valves

You can see that the two valves allow me to control how much of the continuous flow goes through the coil in the hot liquor tank and how much bypasses. The left side is a flow coming from the mash tun and the right side is wort returning to the mash tun. In this picture I’ve got the two valves half open so I’m getting some through the heat exchanger and some bypassing. The net result is that my setup is less sensitive to the exact hot liquor tank temperature and I can make gradual adjustments more quickly.

On a mostly unrelated note I’ve added a Celebrator Bock to my brew stand per Jamil tradition. Mine’s not blessed by the pope but it did help me have a nearly perfect brew session on Sunday:

Lucky Celebrator Bock

Happy brewing everyone,


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Brew Sculpture Details

Let me kick off by saying that I don’t condone people building this brew stand themselves. The fabrication involves cutting, welding, plumbing gas, and some electrical work. If you don’t know how to do those things then I’m not going to be able to teach you through this website. If, on the other hand, you’re simply curious how I made my stand then you’re in luck.

I had numerous responses to my previous post taking me up on my offer to make my cutlist and SketchUp files available. Well here they are:

  • Cutlist – Microsoft Excel file with two worksheets covering the metal cutting list and the other parts I used.
  • SketchUp PlanGoogle Sketchup model of the sculpture I built. You can use this to drill in and get any measurement you are interested in.

By the way, I don’t claim this design is at all unique. I pulled from lots of freely available information on the internet and then made some adjustments for my own situation.

Hoppy Brewing,

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New Brew Sculpture

All the major construction on my new brew sculpture is complete. It’s based on the MoreBeer 1550 except it’s equipped for 5 gallon batches with Blichmann Boilermaker kettles. Also, since I was going for a smaller size I skipped the complexity of the tippy dump mash tun.

Here are a few pictures:

Sketchup Model

New Sculpture
My New Sculpture. Three 10 gallon Blichmann Boilermakers, a 1×2 metal frame, plumbed propane, levelers, and hose rack

Covered Sculpture
A Smoker BBQ Cover Fits Nicely

I still have a few things to complete this week:

  • Attaching the March pump (it’s currently in my ammo box setup but I’ve got a nice stainless mounting bracket)
  • Putting together the silicone hoses with quick disconnects
  • Installing the third burner (just waiting on it to arrive from George)
  • Upgrading the regulator (it’s currently a fixed pressure regulator that’s way under what I need. I’ve ordered an adjustable 0-30 PSI one.)
  • Mounting the Ranco temp controller

The overall height is just perfect as I planned it so I can easily see into the mash tun.

Some time in the future I plan to upgrade the following:

  • Add a control panel to hold my temp controllers and perhaps a float switch
  • Add automatic ignition for the burners
  • Upgrade to an ASCO valve on the HLT so I can control the burner with a temp controller

I did all the construction myself. Total cost without the pump and kettles was roughly $300 for all materials and consumables. Of course that assumes you’ve got access to a MIG welder and chopsaw, the skills or willingness to learn, and roughly 12 hours.

I’ve got a cutlist and a Sketchup file of the sculpture. Contact me if you’d like copies. Updated: I’ve made a follow up post with these docs: http://www.slobrewer.com/2008/07/29/brew-sculpture-details/


Giveaway iPhone 7 Plus

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Busy Brewing Not Blogging

There’s been a bit of a delay in getting things posted on my site as I’ve been busy brewing, studying for and taking the BJCP exam, and working. In the next few months you should see a flurry of updates here as I get back into putting information online.

My focus right now is on building myself a brew sculpture. I’m initially thinking that I want a HERMS setup in roughly the form factor of the More Beer 1550 sculptures. Right now I’m experimenting with various techniques and configurations before I start any serious building. I have acquired two 10 gallon Blichmann BoilerMaker kettles for my mash and boil and will likely pick up a third for my hot liquor tank. Do I need those fancy kettles? Heck no but they do make the process nice and I did want to upgrade to something over my current setup of coolers and aluminum pot.

Happy Brewing,

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Affordable 7 Gallon Conical

After hearing about the flurry of people scrambling to get their hands on a $220 conical from Brew 4 Less through eBay, I couldn’t resist. I picked up first one and then recently another so I could do all my regular fermentations. The two will allow me to switch back and forth and brew about one beer per week while not having to transfer out of the conical to secondary except for a few beers that take longer.

Conical Farm

I did some modifications by replacing the valves with nice three piece break down valves for easier cleaning. Then I did some very careful measuring and figured out what modifications I had to make to get the conical into my Sanyo fermentation fridge. Basically I cut the legs as short as I could so there will still be room for the dump valve (removing about 5 1/2 inches.) With that it fits perfectly with no modifications to the fridge. There’s even room for an airlock.

Conical in Fridge

I had good luck with my first batch through the conical so far. I dumped the trub on my Firestone Pale Ale clone at about 36 hours. It’s ready to put into a keg so I’ll report back soon.


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