The new brewery in action

By | July 21, 2014

Yesterday the brand-new Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System (HERMS) DBB Brewery Mark IV had its first tune-in run that while had a few problems, was still a success.

The new HERMS brewery

The new HERMS brewery

To ensure there would be as minimal problems with the actual brew day a dry-run (or rather, wet-run) was conducted where a few simple (and laughable) problems were found such as not tape-sealing threads and, um, leaving a tap wide open – luckily it was just water!

After some adjustments everything was cleaned up and prepped for the following day.

With a cold start to the day here in Canberra, the HLT finally warmed up to the needed temperature and I went to gather the grain needed for the American Pale Ale recipe and started the crush.

A few moments later a crack was heard and the spider coupler was in pieces. I knew there was a pre-bored replacement somewhere and after about 45 minutes of searching it was located, but then there was the not-so-easy job of removing the old one which was well stuck.

With a Dremel to the rescue it was sliced and removed from the stainless steel bar and the new one was placed on with the crush able to continue.

The mash was started and with bait

Crushing the grain

Crushing the grain

ed breath I turned the pump on to start the recirculation…and it worked, without getting stuck. Nice.

Although the pumps worked painlessly, the PID on the other hand was having a hissy fit trying to re-auto tune itself – or rather, the operator stuffed up and so the first 15 minutes of the mash was not where it ought to have been, so the beer and efficiency was not the best.

After that was completed, I started the drain to the kettle and started the boil after sparging.

Upon doing the initial pre-boil measurements I was shocked to see there was a liquid difference to what I was expecting by about 9 litres – not what I wanted to see.

However, the next day after I did a water-calibration test it seems I may have been using an old measurement sheet as it was actually on the money.

Post-boil numbers were a little off though, with more liquid and trub in the kettle than what I expected meaning I had less in the fermenter – no big deal really, the beer will just be an India Pale Ale instead of the American Pale Ale (a lot more bitter).

So, with everything done the beer is fermenting away nicely in the new Better Bottle fermenters and the brewery is cleaned up and ready to go again.

The broken coupler

The broken coupler

A few adjustments have already been done, a few more are being looked into and I’m currently adjusting the recipe software to take into account more liquid losses than initially expected.

Extremely happy despite a few short-comings but nothing unexpected with a brand new brew system on its first run.

We’ll have another brew day in a couple of weeks to dial in the next changes before its “official” opening in September.

More photos on Flickr.

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