I’ve been brewing for eight years, starting out as an extract brewer and eventually graduating to all-grain five years ago. For the majority of that time I brewed in the confines of my condo kitchen with a flexible, modular set-up which could be easily assembled and broken down so that my kitchen could be used for its intended purpose of cooking. It was a pretty straightforward set up with a Home Depot cooler serving as my mash tun, an 8-gallon boil kettle which I powered with both gas and electric heat, and a centrifugal pump and plate chiller to quickly cool the wort at the end of the boil. But assembling, disassembling, and storing all my gear was a real tedious pain, adding at least an hour to every brew day.
So when my wife and I started looking for a new home in 2016, I knew that one of my must-haves for a house included a dedicated brewing space. After looking at no fewer than 40 houses over a period of two months I knew we had found “The One” when I laid eyes on this attic.
It’s currently in an unfinished state, but it has the bones and floor space to serve my brewery’s purposes. Since moving in last summer I’ve plumbed a water line and drain to the attic and added a sink. Next I plan to run 240V power and add a panel to power the HLT and boil kettle heating elements. Finally, I will need to install a roof vent to exhaust the boil kettle.
I began kicking around the idea of building a permanent home brewery years ago, during my time as a process engineer at General Mills. In a day job that consisted of designing, building, and running large-scale food processing plants which made everything from Nature Valley granola bars to Yoplait yogurt, I learned about everything from food chemistry to CIP systems, food safety best practices to HVAC design. I spent my free time designing a Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System (HERMS) home brewing set-up. Although I didn’t have the space, time, or money to build one in real life, I had the means to lay my vision out on paper:
It was during this time researching HERMS systems that I came across theelectricbrewery.com, the site which would serve as my guide to actually building the brewery I’m working on today.
Fast forward to this past winter. As I mentioned, my HERMS system is based on the design from theelectricbrewery.com, with some variations. I’ve sized it to be able to brew up to 10 gallon batches, and I’m using a 3-pump system. I started ordering components earlier this year, including my 20-gallon Blichmann kettles, valves, and fittings:
The sloped ceiling in the attic leaves clearances a bit tight (75” at the peak), but it’s enough to get the kettles in, with plans for a future ventilation hood.
I decided to go with Camlock fittings for all of my connection points, as they have worked well on my previous set-up.
The HERMS coil is in!
All of the kettles are now drilled and fitted up with all the inlet and outlet ports. I’m starting to work on wiring up the heating elements and RTDs, and the next big phase is to get some electrical quotes to get power to my attic. I’m hoping to have that done by mid-summer…