Still fighting a little illness but hasn’t kept me from moving forward on the brewing system.
First advancement is finishing up the small coolers so I can get back to brewing some small batches while taking time to finish the Blichmann system. After a disaster with a “new” cooler thermometer from one of the big online home brewing website I have figured out a way to salvage a cooler with a hole in it and still have a thermometer in the mash tun that doesn’t leak. Learning experience about at least one of the large home brew websites, very disappointing customer service and reaction to a less than desirable but truthful product review. Makes me leery of those customer reviews since this company didn’t have the guts to post my review. Oh well lesson learned and example of buyer beware.
On a positive note I found a new website for a company just starting out making and selling stainless coils and brewing fittings. Stainlessbrewing.com is run and owned by Zach, a home brewer and a craftsman with great skills. Super helpful and amazing understanding of what you want. Approached him about bending a whirlpool inlet tube for the Blichmann boil kettle. I tried bending one myself and gave up. I shot Zach an email with my idea and some measurements and the next day he bent one up sent me a picture and bam! It was right on and priced less than I could buy just a piece of stainless tubing for. Visit his site and shoot him an email to say hi.
With my discovery of stainlessbrewing.com, and Zach’s great custom HERMS coils, I revisited my thought of making the Blichmann two-vessel system a HERMS-based system and after some serious thought I’m committed to doing that. By making my boil kettle a combination hot liquor tank/boil kettle with an integrated HERMS/chiller coil I eliminate the need of the RIMS tube and heating element. This also simplifies the BrewTroller controller and leaves me with only needing one heating element while giving me all the convenience of recirculated mash heating and at the end of the boil, using the same coil, I have a built-in immersion chiller. Recirculated mash to maintain temps during the mash and at the end of the boil a few hoses get swapped and wort gets chilled, high tech and simplicity all in one.
Well with the decision made it was on with designing the combo HLT/BK and how to mount the HERMS/chiller coil. After looking at what everyone was doing I decided to part from the norm and mount the coil input and output tubes through the side of the Blichmann but above the liquid level eliminating the need for a water-tight through the kettle wall mounting. By moving the fittings above the liquid level it opens up more mounting options. After some thought and talking with Zach and stainlessbrewing.com and Derrin at brewershardware.com I decided to play around with 3/4″ Triclamp fittings. I ordered one to play with from Derrin and I like the fit and look. Basically with a properly sized hole and washer it becomes a strong weld less fitting coupled with a 1-1/2″ Triclamp fitting on the outside that will allow quick and easy removal of the HERMS coil for cleaning or whatever, even with a kettle full of boiling wort.
Still a slow process because I want to do it right and make the system practical as well as simple, all while spending the least amount on parts as possible.
Well not all my time has been spent with mind racing with brewing system ideas, I recently visited the newly opened Iron Goat Brewery taproom and enjoyed a very fine Pale Ale. Love the daring passion of home brewers gone pro!