Fat Cat Brewing Co.

A Unique Brewing Company

Brewhouse Mechanics

 
 

Check out our brewhouse tips and techniques:

| The Library | The Mash | The Lauter/Sparge |

| The Boil | The Fermentation | Storage and Aging | Toys in General |

| My Current Favorite Trinket |

| Fat Cat Brewing Co.'s Main Page |

The Library

Books and Mags
My first book was "The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing" by Charlie Papazian. It's a great book to get started with, and I think it's a law somewhere that you get this book whenever you buy start up equipment kits.

Next, I borrowed Dave Miller's "The Complete Handbook of Home Brewing" from the town library. I then bought his "Homebrewing Guide", which revised and updated "The Complete Handbook". His books are great for the jump to all grain.

I have since bought Greg Noonan's "New Lager Brewing". This book is chucked full of information to further abilities in all grain. It's heavy reading though...

My home library is rounded out with "Brew Ware" by Karl Lutzen and Mark Stevens. This is a fun book with lots of neat tricks for anyone who likes the concept of homemade and low cost/no cost equipment.

I have subscribed to Zymurgy and Brewing Techniques Magazine to keep up on all the stuff.

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The Mash

Mashing is done with custom fabricated stainless steel kettle with a copper bottom. This makes it easy to adjust temperatures with heat on the stove.  I mashed with or without an insulating jacket on the Mash Tun (kettle) and us heat to maintain temperature. I monitor the mash temperature with a remote sensor digital thermometer that I made to plans on the 'net (check out toys below).

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The Lauter/Sparge

The Liquor Tank
My liquor tank is currently a 14 gallon stainless tank with electric hot water heater elements in it on a tall stand. The water temperature is controlled with a digital thermometer built to Ken Schwartz's design.

My old liquor tank was an insulated 5 gallon plastic bucket. I kerfed some 1 " aluminum faced iso foam insulation lengthwise every inch, and kerfed for the ribs at the top of the pail as well. The pail handle was removed to make things easier. A piece of 2" iso foam was cut for the bottom to fit inside the side insulation (measure the diameter of the top of the pail as the pail is slightly tapered). I put the insulation on with duct tape, starting by putting a couple of strips on the outside of insulation then wrapping it around the pail and the bottom piece. Use the tape to hold the insulation once it is wrapped around the pail. I then wrapped duct tape continuously across the bottom to hold it in place. Next, I wrapped duct tape continuously around the sides from the bottom to the top tightening up the foam insulation in the process. The duct tape makes for a good finished surface for the pail. I cut an inch or so hole through the insulation at the bottom of the pail and drilled an undersized 3/8" hole about an inch above the pail bottom for tubing. Tubing is "friction fit" in the hole, and does not require any sort of tubing fitting. It helps to cut the end at an angle and preheat the tubing with hot water before pulling through the hole

The Lauter/Sparge Tun
I use my kettle as a lauter tun.

 

I used to   a bucket made the same as my liquor bucket. I made a false bottom from copper for it. I modeled it after the Phil's Phalse bottom, as I couldn't see paying thirty bucks for a piece of plastic when I could make one from copper. I drilled a whole bunch of holes in a piece of 16 ounce copper sheet that was cut to form a shallow cone. Once the holes were drilled I brazed the sheet into a cone and used a piece of 3/8" soft copper tubing for the runoff port ( aligned to the bucket tubing hole).

I cut the locking tabs off a pail cover to make a cover for my sparge bucket. A hole was drilled for a sparge sprayer in the center, and another to one to one side for a digital thermometer to monitor grain bed temperatures during the sparge.

My spray ring for the tun is two 3/8" pieces of soft copper bent in a circle from a "T" in the center of the circle.  Spray holes were drilled around the bottom . The "T" is soldered with silver solder. A compression fitting is used to connect the ring to a valve on the top outside the cover. The valve, a 3/8' ball valve is used to control water flow during sparging. I hold the spray ring at whatever height I want it to be over the grain bed with a pair of vise grips on top of the cover

My control valve for lautering is a 3/8" valve with 3/8" soft copper tubing brazed into each end for tubing connections (the valve needs to be taken apart for brazing). I flared the ends slightly to make a tight connection to tubing. I modified the top of the valve with a copper dial to adjust flow rates. The ball valve I used has part of it's handle bent at a right angle for stops. I bent this up to be parallel with the handle, ground the stop to a point for a pointer. After a few trial runs flow rates were marked on the dial.

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The Boil

The Boil

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The Fermentation

The Fermentation

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Storage and Aging

Storage and Aging

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Toys in General

Oh boy toys
a digital thermometer that I made to plans on the 'net by Ken Schwartz's .

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