Homebrewery Deluxe I

Like most of us, Scott Learey began brewing with a five-gallon bucket and a few cases of bottles. But after using a gravity-fed, three-tiered brewing system at The Reno Homebrewer, he knew his bucket days were over. A single man in those days, Scott had plenty of  time to learn the art of brewing and make his dream machine a reality.

Scott’s high-tech Brew Machine comes complete with everything he needs and then some: It has three stainless kettles with thermometers and stainless drain valves, a trio of 30,000-BTU low-pressure burners and a three-way gas manifold to direct propane from a single tank to the burners. It also has an on-board water distribution system for sparge water and filling kettles.    The frame can be easily disassembled into three parts, which makes the Machine portable. Scott takes it to events to spread the homebrewing message to the masses. Most people’s first reaction is “What the hell is that?” Their second reaction is “Where can I get one?”

Brew Machine
Scott put his Brew Machine together in about five weeks. He attached three 40-quart stainless vessels to the welded steel frame and equipped each vessel with its own propane burner. Much of his brewing equipment sits in the frame (which features wheels for easy transport), including his immersion wort chiller and an oxygen tank for wort aeration. Stainless-steel “quick-disconnects” make it easy to connect spouts for filling and remove them for cleaning.

Hot Liquor Tank
Scott’s hot liquor tank (sparge pot) is fitted with a copper filling tube (left) and a plastic sight tube (right). The sight tube was made from an old racking cane. Red marks in  one-gallon increments allow Scott to see the water level inside the sparge pot. The see-through tube also has a quick release so it can be moved to the mash pot to see how much water is needed for the grain bed. The quick-release sparge ring, made with 3/8-inch stainless tube, connects to the valve at the base of the pot. It sprinkles hot water on the grain bed below.

Hot Liquor Tank, Sparge Ring and Mash Pot
The mash pot has a false bottom, made of perforated stainless steel, that keeps the grain bed off the bottom of the mash pot. This keeps the loose grain from flowing through the mash pot valve into the boil kettle. When the sparge begins, Scott opens the valve at the bottom of the mash pot. From there, the wort runs through a long stainless tube to the bottom of the boil pot. This prevents hot-side aeration.

Kettle and Chiller
Once the wort is in the kettle, Scott disconnects the stainless tube and starts the boil.  His copper wort chiller has quick-release connectors and snaps on and off the water connections. It takes about ten minutes to cool the wort to 85° to 90° F. The cooled wort then exits the kettle through a stainless tube.

Pickup Tube
The boil pot has a false bottom (not shown) to keep the whole hops away from the drain. On the outside of the boil pot is a 3/8-inch out-take pipe going to the valve. The out-take pipe is 1-1/4 inches above the bottom of the pot. The stainless pickup tube slips into the out-take pipe and gets wort from the bottom of the boil pot and into the fermenter.

Aeration System and Fermenter
As the wort exits the kettle, it passes through a stainless filling tube, where it is injected with pure oxygen. Aerating with 02 minimizes lag time. A plastic fermenter is set up below the tube. The lid has a hole in the center for a screened funnel that keeps out any remaining hop debris.

Issue: November 2001