Gordon's Brewery
Mash System


Overview Grain Mill Mash System Fermentation





Inside of the mash tun without the false bottom.

Inside of the mash tun with the false bottom in place.

The return manifold does a good job of keeping the false bottom from floating during dough in.

Return manifold detail

Return manifold in the pumpkin pudding
When I first started doing all grain brewing, I got a Rubbermaid cooler from Wal-Mart and a Phil's Phalse Bottom from Evergreen Brewing Supply. When it was time to upgrade to a 3-tier RIMS system, I didn't want to discard the cooler, so I extended the system around it. I went down to Cellar Homebrew and bought a 7 gallon kettle with a spigot (for a sparge tank), a ten gallon kettle (for a boil pot) and a couple of propane burners. I bought a pump and a bunch of fittings and tubing and such from Moving Brews. Bill Stewart of Moving Brews was really helpful and took the time to double check that the things I wanted to hook together actually hook together. Then it was off to Home Depot to buy the stuff to build the stands and all sorts of miscellaneous stuff.

To heat the mash and maintain temperatures, the mash is pumped from under the false bottom up through a coil of copper tubing that's immersed in the sparge water. A flame on the sparge tank controls the temperature of the recirculating mash. The mash is returned to the cooler via an H shaped return manifold constructed from 1/2 inch copper pipe, tees and elbows. At the top of the return manifold, there's a thermometer mounted in a stainless tee.

The pump outlet has a tee junction with a ball valve on each output. The one path leads up to the coil in the sparge tank and the other down to the boil kettle. Sparging is gravity fed with the pump turned off.

At first I was concerned about lost wort in the pump housing. Someone posted on the web (where did that page go?), that they turned their pump housing upside down to get it to go the right direction. It turns out that since all you lose to the housing is the tail end of the sparge, there really isn't any loss of sugars at all. It's better to leave the housing with the outlet pointed up so that the pump won't run dry as easily.

The place in the system where good wort is lost is in the heating coils. I'm thinking of revising my process by using a batch sparge. It'll be a matter of letting the grain bed run dry, dumping in a bunch of sparge water, recirculating, and repeating.

I cool my brew with an immersion copper chiller. For added chill, the boil kettle goes into a tub of ice while the chiller does it's thing. The nice thing about having an immersion chiller hooked up to the brewery sink all the time is that you've got the tubing there to make it easy to fill carboys and buckets with water.

Propane burners hiding under a tarp in the back yard.

Propane burners revealed.

Heat exchange coil in the HLT.

Yup, one of Dan's whirlygigs.