I think one of these days I’ll start one of these posts without apologizing for it being so long since my last one but it is what it is! I’ve had the opportunity to brew a couple of times now but for the sake of documenting the journey I want to get some pictures and words up on the steps that I’ve taken so far.
After getting the panel setup and I wanted to run all the equipment through its paces with water before the actual brew day. Also it gave us a good opportunity to mark up the sight glass. Additionally before using the equipment we passivated the stainless steel as per the recommendations from Stout Tanks. We used a citric acid solution and barkeepers friend to get the job done. This removes any contaminants on the outer layer of the vessels and allows the chromium to re-oxidize and provides a protective layer for the stainless steel.
After that it was pulling out fittings, hoses and pumps to see if what the brew day might look like.
Didn’t get the pumps hooked up to the control panel properly but we made do!
Took some fenageling to get the pumps figured out and in all honesty still something I’m working on.
Get to see the sparge arm in action finally!
Had to check to make sure we have fittings for all the things that we need, so excited to ferment in stainless steel and in a conical fermentor.
Held on to this beer for awhile and decided it was time to celebrate with something memorable. Ale Apothecary makes phenomenally complex and delicious beer. Everything from their location to their process is unique and they have something special going on up there. If you get the chance to try anything form there don’t pass it up!
It has been another few (6) months but I wanted to give you guys an update on whats been happening around the farm. Mostly its been shopping which is pretty exciting! So far I’ve picked up a whole host of additional stainless steel fittings, tubing, a sparge arm, pumps and electrical elements for heating the hot liquor tank and the boil kettle. I also spent a lot of time researching different electrical control panel options and ended up settling on a kit from ebrewsupply.com.
I ended up deciding on going with a 50amp 4 element PID control panel. The panel will be able to select between having both elements on in the HLT or the BK and then single element in both vessels in case I decide to do back to back batches and need to heat water in the HLT while maintaining the boil in the BK. The panel will also control the two center inlet chugger pumps. After some shipping delays we have all the pieces and have started wiring up the control panel which has been quite the endeavor so far.
For the time being the plan is to get things setup for finally brewing some beer in the garage and as such we now have a 50amp service ran and will be ready to go when the control panel finally gets finished.
Getting all of the things pulled out and laid out was a task within itself. These pictures are a couple of months old as of finishing this post so I will post another update soon as the wiring is getting close to completion. Some of the customizing that I asked for has made this panel build a little bit more challenging. After several long weekends of my hands deep in wires I have often cursed the decision to not have the panel pre-assembled but I am hoping that this increased knowledge of electrical components and inner workings of my own control panel will be valuable in the future. Stay tuned for some additional control panel updates in the near future!
Sorry everyone I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything but I’ve had some exciting new developments and thought I needed to share with everyone! On Christmas I became the proud new owner of some new stout tanks 1 barrel kettles! My partners (aka my parents) surprised me with these shinny beauties on Christmas morning! From left to right in the picture there is the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT), Mash Tun (MT) and the Boil Kettle (BK). Also there is a pile of sanitary tri clamp fittings! There are extra ports in the HLT and the BK for installing hot water heating elements so this will be 100% electrical heated system. Everything will work on 1 1/2″ TC fittings. It is set up for reducing down to 1/2″ hose but we are going to look into possibly sizing everything to be 1″ and upgrading to butterfly valves instead of ball valves. Inside of the HLT is a stainless steel HERMS (Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System) coil. While mashing this gives me the flexibility to to change the temperature (or hold it constant) of the mash by pumping the wort through the coil while there is hot water in the rest of the HLT.Sorry for the blurry picture but this is the inside of the MT. There are 3 ports on top for recirculating wort and attaching a sparge arm. The sparge arm will sit above the grain bed and after mashing is done it will sprinkle hot water evenly over the grain bed to properly rinse and collect as much wort as possible. The bottom has a perforated false bottom for separating the grain and wort. I should probably not be so excited for the bottom of the MT but it has a center drain which will eliminate dead space and allow for more wort to be collected.
The BK has a fancy tangential outlet (the one on the side) that is used for whirlpooling. This allows for the wort to be pumped out and back through the tangential outlet that will cause the wort in the kettle to rotate. This whirlpooling helps clarify the wort before its transferred to a fermenter, its also allows for a great time to add more hops!!
Now that the bulk of the brewing systems there is a wide variety of additional things to get before the inaugural batch of beer can be brewed. Since there will be a electrical heating elements installed in the kettles components for a control panel need to be purchased so it will be easy to control the temperatures of the water and wort during brewing. There will also be pumps, hoses, chillers, fermenters, kegs, filters, fittings and a whole host of other things to purchase so stay tuned for more updates hopefully fully of shinny stainless steel Things. Cheers and happy new years!
So I thought I’d try to expand a little more on what I had in mind for Broken Oak Brewing. The plan is to start a nano brewery. The loose definition of a nano is a brewery that is 3 barrels or less. A barrel (bbl) is 31 gallons so a 3bbl system would produce 93 gallons of finished beer which is currently the size of system I’d like to start with. Now there is a lot of info out there that says this is a bad idea and most people will tell you that if you want to start a brewery (not a brew pub) it needs to be at least a 15bbl brewery if you want to be successful. If you want to open a brew pub then it drops to at least a 7bbl brewery but either way anything under 7bbl is a waste of time and money. The reasoning for statements like this is that it takes the same amount of work and time to make 90 gallons of beer as it does to make 500 gallons. With the assumption that you will be distributing your beer (or using a distributor), it is easy to see why people say going small won’t work.
The nano model works by having a tasting room to sell beer directly to customers either by the pint or by the growler and by cutting as much overhead as possible (small system, no bank loans, macgyver skillz, ect.). There are several reasons that I believe a nano brewery will be the best fit for my vision of a brewery. First, the biggest reason is, location. Oregon is unique in its appreciation for alcohol as well as getting that “local farm fresh” experience. Additionally the tasting room experience is something that Oregonians are intimately familiar with. The plan is to open the brewery at my parents’ house in Yamhill, Oregon. I am fortunate to have amazing parents that support and believe in me enough to partner with me in this crazy endeavor. The name Broken Oak refers to the broken oak tree that used to be an indicator where the driveway is. Just before the pavement ends turn left at the broken oak tree. The property, in addition to being in the middle of beautiful wine country, also has history as a large turkey and pig farm so there is a large barn that is begging to be used again.
Another reason to go the nano route is the flexibility it provides. It gives flexibility in brewing and flexibility in schedule. Part of the charm of going to a nano brewery is trying things you can’t get anywhere else and potentially tasting something that won’t be made again. Small batches of beer allow for experimentation and, if anyone knows anything about my brewing habits, than they know that I have a hard time brewing the same recipe more than once.
Lastly another reason to start at the nano level is to be able to start small and grow the brewery organically. Hopefully, maybe with a little help from friends and family, we’ll be able to open Broken Oak Brewing with minimal debt and lots of hard work. In the beginning I expect to continue working during the week while brewing and running the tasting room on the weekends. Also for more exposure I’d like to sell at farmers markets throughout the area. Hopefully as things start to take off I can extend hours and focus more on other brewery projects (hop farm, food, events, bottles, ect.).