After missing my personal blog that I maintained for nearly 13 years, the untimely demise of natemc.com as my mainstay of life on the internet has lead me to launching this section of our site. I really miss building things and experimenting. So both of those things are coming back via this log.
First on the docket is building an all electric pilot system for the brewery. When we first launched I had 20 gallon kettles and 55 gallon kettles. After operating for 6 months I ditched the 20 gallon pots and figured that my time cost more than ingredients. Now I want to do a lot of small batch stuff to tweak things and be able to try exotic ingredients that would be cost prohibitive in a 1.4BBL batch of beer.
So now I've been procuring homebrew style gear off craigslist and from club emails and dropped them off with a buddy who is more skilled than I at welding stainless. Adding 1" NPT half couplers for electrical elements to thread through. Everything will be PID controlled using SSRs and PT-100 RTDs. Currently we use LOVE controllers in the production system and small 1500 watt electric heaters to pre-heat water for brewing 12 hours in advance which has saved us environmental costs of burning more LP gas and cost savings as we have a monumental increase in energy efficiency with electric. Cost to heat up 35 gallons of strike water and 45 gallons in our Hot Liquor Tank is around $1.25 in electricity. We also recapture all the water from the heat exchanger and use it to brew the next batch with, when doing this the next day after brewing the water is already 100F to 120F so less energy is needed to raise them to 165 and 180.
Tomorrow I pick up the modified kettles from my friend Erik and hopefully the UPS/USPS/FedEx/Lowest Bidder delivers my parts to start working on the controllers. Not something totally new to me, I've build PID systems for in use at the brewery before but never with SSRs or 220v power. Yes I am consulting with a licensed electrician to make sure I won't burn anything down or kill myself. Safety is a factor.