Archive for December, 2013

eBIAB #4 – The build

First day of the build, having found the workshop in single digits, I dug out the heater and some stove pipe I found on the side of the road.  Rigged up, it took the chill out of the air… Just!


Because the build costs have been more than expected, we re-purposed an old computer.  Once we’d stripped it out and given it a bit of a dust, it looked OK.


After looking at the case, we decided the best way to deal with it was to lean it over on its side.  The top of it would become the panel, the back room for the plugs etc.  Here’s making sure we’re all square.


We added a 3 pin plug to make the sensor easily detachable.  Sadly, it turns out that the sensor I’d ordered (a PT100) wasn’t as expected – it was a K probe.  This caused a lot of confusion later on.  For all of the cuts, we used a dremel clone picked up from Lidl on the cheap.  It was not a quick process!


3You can see the main 32 Amp socket being rounded off.


I used a chassis mount for the 32A socket.


With plug


Pot box all fitted – I used an IP65 Aluminium box 2.5mm box – cost about £8 inc P&P.  The thickness of the box was too much and I went down the same route many others have gone.  Namely JB Weld and a stainless steel blanking plate.  I paid over the odds – twice actually because I badly drilled the first.  £5 from B&Q – just make sure you get a flat blanking plate.  I hammered the two screw holes flat and JB Welded it.  The Aluminium box had a 2.25 inch hole drilled into it and the steel plate 1.25″ hole.  It’s held in place by the element which has been tightened by a nut on the inside of the kettle.

We drilled the 32A lead into the rear of the socket, put on an earth and a drain hole in the base – just in case.


PID being wired.


Making a hop strainer (check out the special use of safety equipment and eye protection)


Rear of the computer case – SSR fitted with heatsink, sensor connector, 32A input and output (input is wire into grommet) and the kettle plug powers the PID separately.


Inside is being wired up on a wooden base.


Case and Pot.  It was at this point we found problems with the PID – first we thought it was bad soldering (I’m terrible with a solder iron) – The PID was reading -360-something.  Then we found it was in ‘F – a quick change to ‘C and we were -149’C.  Offsets wouldn’t let us get it up to temperature (9’c). Then after checking the resistance we discovered nothing added up.  I said I was concerned that the probe may not be as advertised – after checking, we realised I’d definitely been sent the wrong probe.  Sigh.

Anyway, we hooked it up and reconfigured the PID.  The K-Probe really didn’t do a great job.  Either that or water now boils at 80’C at sea level.


Box now wired up.


Element switched on! Look, bubbles!


To show how out the probe was, I took these pictures.  Manual, clearly showing 35’C


And the PID, 27’C – by the time we were boiling, the overall temperature differential was 15’C.  A fair difference when you’re trying to hit a temperature of 72’C.


Not far off a boil!  Ready now for the first brew!


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eBIAB #3

I got two bits of good news.  On Friday I found that the stainless steel NPT nut (yes the US is the only ones it seems to not use the BSP standard in pipes) had arrived from the US.  I’m glad I didn’t pay the £30 extra P&P to guarantee delivery before xmas now.

I seem to have everything I need – so very happy.   The 2nd bit of good news is the holes have all been made in the big stockpot.

I didn’t really want to drop £100 on a cabinet for storing all the electrics – though many do.  So I’ve decided to use an old computer case to do the same thing.

Now just to cleanup the garage so we can make the appropriate renovation.  Pics to come!

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eBIAB Build #2


Above is the pot, with sight glass attached.  Because Paul has only recently started offering stickers for sight glasses, mine was the first 70l pot to need one.  So he used mine to calibrate the sticker (breaking new ground in the pursuit of eBIAB)


Closeup of the pencilled up sight glass.


Ongoing discussions on the location of the fixed analogue thermometer.  Note: Sticker now applied!


Boiler is now almost finished – we’re awaiting the arrival of the 1″ chassis punch to make a suitable hole for the element.  Then it’ll be posted.


The above/below is the bag in which the BIAB happens.  The big handles are to allow me to hang the bag from a pully when removing it from the mash.  It’s one of the compromises we have to make with BIAB – the removal of the grain bag is hard work and is what limits the size of batches.  For a 10 gallon brew, the grain will be 10kg when dry, it’ll probably absorb at least its weight in water making it very, very heavy.  You can see where Paul has doubled the material over the fabric strip which gives the bag its strength.

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I’ll keep you advised of the progress as it continues!

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eBIAB – The Electric Brewery

Yet again, the summer harvest means all of a sudden I go quiet!

Well, the nights are drawing in, I’ve already made the mistake of forgetting to spike chestnuts and had explosions in the kitchen.

As ever, a week doesn’t go past without another project rearing its head.  I’ve decided to become somewhat self sufficient in beer by brewing my own.  I’ve always used kits in the past, but after spending a whole day at the London Hackspace ( with the all grain brewers I fancied building my own gear and having a go.

When I lived back in Norwich having read the free ‘How to Brew’ by John Palmer, I bought a very large stock pot (about 19ltrs) because this would be enough to do both full extract brewing and all grain if I so wished.

I’ve seen several different types of brewing – mostly using gas.  Then a few years ago I came across the electric brewery.  Warning, viewing that site may make you buy expensive matt black control panels.

Unfortunately I don’t feel my current pot is really big enough for me as I want to do brewing in a bag, with an electrical element in built.  The last time I tried to do a full extract brew in it & hopping it myself, the pot melted the electric cooker, so doing stove top again fills me with fear. Putting the element in removes that fear, but then I can’t put the bag in easily without it touching the element – a false bottom will keep it separate but I loose too much volume.  A user on Jims beer kit pointed out I could do mini-BIAB or maxi-BIAB.  My main reasoning for going down this route is I want to brew large all grain, but with as little hassle as possible.

On this site, they use electricity instead of gas to heat up the vast volumes of water required.  This appealed to me because gas is very expensive and not very efficient, especially in a draughty garage and I don’t much fancy carbon monoxide poisoning by shutting the door.

Last year I got an ARC welder and this is not the sort of thing you can run off a normal 13A socket.  Though that’s exactly what I have done by limiting the number of amps so I don’t melt my wiring.  To run the ARC welder safely, it really needed a dedicated 32A supply.  So whilst installing a line like this would normally not be cost effective, I bought the parts and ran the wires and my friend Allan wired it all up.  I now have a switched industrial 32A socket and a new consumer unit  in the garage.

I’ve scavenged a sink from a neighbour and I’m lucky I have a waste pipe in the garage I can put a pipe into and hopefully run a nice new cold feed from the adjacent outbuilding toilet.

Some people go for the slightly cheaper option of having two Asda smart price 2.2kw kettle elements mounted in a plastic bucket, but I didn’t want to do this by half and worry about the safety later.  So I’ve taken the plunge and advantage of my Christmas list by getting relatives to help out with the costs.

Paul at has a number of fairly cheap 70ltr stock pots.  He’s drilling the holes for me so I don’t need to invest in a bunch of expensive hole punches which I’ll likely as not never use again.  I’ve bought a 2 piece ball valve tap, 5.5kw low what per inch camco element from the US, had a stainless steel shim custom laser cut off ebay (£5), temperature gauge, sight glass, temperature probe, 40A SSR, Auber PID for temperature control.  All of this has been fairly pricey, but with the exception of the PID/SSR & Camco element, exactly what you’d normally buy for all grain. (There’s a few bits I’ve not included, thermal grease – about 99p inc P&P, a SSR heatsink £8 inc P&P, a Stainless Steel nut from China for the element which I hope fits 99p, high temp silicon o-rings, and a project box to put this all in, I’ve not found where that is yet…)

I did initially approach my wife to get a bag sewn for brewing, but in the end we went with Paul again from Angel Homebrewing.

So after Christmas I hope to chronical the build, take you through my first brew step by step from grain to bottling.

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