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Author Topic: Building an Electric HERMS System from kegs  (Read 96 times)

Offline DanJ

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Building an Electric HERMS System from kegs
« on: May 09, 2019, 12:41:20 PM »
I'm going to take on a summer project and build myself an electric brewery.  I have 2 50L sake kegs, and 2 58 L snake kegs to work with, and I was wondering if I could take into the knowledge base of the board to provide any helpful information in terms of the best way to set this up.  I already have a plate chiller and a SS Brewtech Chronical Brewmaster Edition, so I am covered for fermenting and chilling, but I'll need some input in assembling the single tier HERMS and where to purchase the best parts for the build. 

I may document the process and post some pictures here in the event that anyone else is interested in building the same sort of system.

Offline Roger

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Re: Building an Electric HERMS System from kegs
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2019, 02:07:19 PM »
I built mine the same way your planning except I didn't go the HERMS route. I didn't find I needed to. The only thing I have a hard time with is mash out but that doesn't bother me. I normally get around 80% brewhouse efficiency sometimes as high as low 90's.
I recommend not cutting out the tops of your kegs but flip them over and cut out the bottom. The the tops of the snake kegs where the spear goes is actually fits a 2" tri-clamp. Doing it this way you can drain every last drop from your mash tun and makes clean up a breeze. Also you can use the bottom you just cut out just drill a series of holes in it and you've got yourself a false bottom.
The control panel doesn't need to be anywhere near as complicated as you see on other electric breweries. I found that all the lights and alarms might look cool. But not necessary at all. My panel is very simple it has a PID, on/off switch, thermocouple and a plug for either HLT or kettle. There's no reason for me to keep the HLT hot while I'm boiling so I just plug in whichever vessel I need to heat.
This is how I did it anyways. I hope this helps a bit. Good luck with your project! Hopefully you find it as fulfilling as I did.  :cheers:

Offline DanJ

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Re: Building an Electric HERMS System from kegs
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2019, 03:45:42 PM »
Interesting thoughts.  So, a bottom cut mash tun, but a top cut HLT would work?  I can't really see any utility to having a triclamp on the bottom of the HLT  I think I'd like to get a commercial false bottom that I could solder to the bottom of the keg to give maximum drainage with minimal particles passing through.  I don't mind the small cost of adding the false bottom for this purpose. 

The control panel is likely something that I'll need the most assistance with.  I like the idea of only using one control panel as well. 




Offline Roger

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Re: Building an Electric HERMS System from kegs
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2019, 05:52:09 PM »
I've got all three of my vessels bottom drain. I find it just makes everything easier from draining to cleaning. If you feel more comfortable buying false bottoms that's great it was only giving you a suggestion about what worked for me. But I think soldering the false bottom into the vessel would be problematic for cleaning.
 :cheers:

Offline DanJ

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Re: Building an Electric HERMS System from kegs
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2019, 08:17:12 PM »
No, I appreciate the suggestions with the false bottom, I'd just be a little concerned that it wouldn't be as secure if it wasn't affixed to the bottom with something.  I guess it would be easier to clean from the bottom if you had access to the hole for the spear to flush it out from the bottom.

Offline Roger

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Re: Building an Electric HERMS System from kegs
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2019, 09:47:04 PM »
I doubt you'd need to worry about the false bottom moving around much. I've been using mine for years without an issue. But if that's a concern you can attach the neck from the spear to the bottom of your false bottom. That's what I've done with my kettle false bottom. Due to the element my normal false bottom wouldn't fit in and out.
Another thing I forgot to mention is I use a filter bag in my mash tun. Kinda like a BIAB but it's only there to aid in the grain removal.
I'm attaching a picture of my false bottoms just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. The one on the left from my Mash Tun it's the bottom of a keg drilled and the one on the right is for my kettle it's a peice of perforated stainless steel with the neck of the spear attached.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2019, 09:50:16 PM by Roger »

Offline DanJ

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Re: Building an Electric HERMS System from kegs
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2019, 09:03:04 AM »
I'm guessing that your element sits above the false bottom on your kettle?  I wasn't entirely certain how I'd like mine to be set up, but was thinking that it would be a lot cleaner to have the kettle element below the FB.  Also, are you able to whirlpool with your bottom drain BK?

Offline Roger

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Re: Building an Electric HERMS System from kegs
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2019, 02:09:58 PM »
Yes the element is above the false bottom otherwise you'd need a real tall false bottom to clear the element. I'm sure it could be done though.
The bottom drain is used only to drain and for cleaning.  I have a port in the side near the bottom for recirculating but the whirlpool doesn't really work on electric breweries due to the element and false bottom. It seems to agitate to wort too much and messes with the whilpool effect. You need a smooth interior to get a proper whirlpool. If you feel comfortable with welding/soldering on stainless you might consider a tangential inlet. That might increase the whilpool effect. My kettle has a false bottom that catches most of the hops and I use a screen above my fermenter to catch most of the smaler debris. I routinely use 6oz or more hops just during whilpool and once it's all in my fermenters I don't have that classic cone of hops and trub on the bottom. There's an even layer across the entire false bottom.

If you haven't already you might want to check out The Electric Brewery web site www.theelectricbrewery.com there's a lot of info there it helped me quite a bit while building mine.