Half barrel brewery with full triclover plumbing
The below picture is the most current version of my brew system which included full triclover fittings. What a difference these fittings make in the ease of the brew. I have a lot less spillage as I don’t have to switch tubing around, off and on nipple fittings, etc. It’s a bit more expensive though.
See the menu at the top to learn all about brewing-to-kegging on this system.
The beauty of this system is that you use all of the same plumbing you use to brew, but also use it to clean kegs and transfer beer – it’s all-in-one.
–> See ‘Cleaning and Disassembly‘
I currently use this system to brew 12 gallon batches to get a clean 10 gallons during kegging. Essentially leaving a gallon of trub behind at pumpout and a gallon of trub/yeast behind during kegging (makes filtering alot easier). I used to brew 15 gallon batches (maximizing the system). I had A LOT of boilovers. After trub and yeast waste, I actually only ever ended up with about 13 gallons at kegging. Also I found a link between 15 gallon batch sizes and a lower RDF (I was only fermenting out to 1.018-1.020) which was too high. I think it has to do with the geometry of the grain bed being so tall. I am still testing the theory. You will note that the big breweries have very wide mash-tuns compared to using a 1/2 barrel system. So even though I can stuff our mash-tuns full of grain for high-gravity brews or try to get it to 15+ gallons, it’s just too tall of a grain bed for efficiency…and if you add any rice/oatmeal as an adjunct, forget about a nice, easy brew day.
I also designed this system to do 2 and 3 brews per session. With this setup, you can overlap recipes to save time. After your first batch is sparged and pumped to the top boil kettle, you start heating up your water in the mash-tun for your second batch. Depending on your boil time for your first batch, your second batch will be mashing during pumpout of your first batch.
Older versions – and cheaper
Here is my second version of the half barrel system replacing many parts with 1/1.5″ triclover sanitary fittings (note that the sparge arm will attach to the ‘T’ that is hanging off of the topmost boil kettle). I am still using the very bottom ‘Grant’ as the RIMS gravity collecting tank which I have discontinued in the above system.
Here is my original system using mainly silicone tubing and stainless barbs:
When designing your home brewery, I would recommend doing a year or so with ‘soft’ plumbing…hose barbs, silicone tubing, etc. It may be messy, but it’s very flexible so you can figure out what works best with your particular style of brewing before spending more money to eventually hard-plumb it.