After getting fed up choosing between dispensing chilled beer from the kegerator to using it as a fermentation chamber, I decided to dedicate it to serving beer, and move fermentation control to something else. I also wanted to move on from plastic buckets, so I looked into what stainless options there were. After comparing different offerings, I settled on going for the SS Brewtech 7 gallon Chronical, Brew Master Edition. Reasons for that choice?
- It had the internal chiller coil. The only other option in this department would have been the Grainfather FV which is jacketed.
- It would work perfectly well with my Inkbird controller, and the brew belt would be easy to fit
- It has a sampling port for readings during active fermentation
- Includes a dump port for easy yeast harvesting
- Decent headspace and blowoff means less mess for feisty fermentations
- TC connections means so much customisability
- It looks sexy
|Pump and chilled water testing|
So with new purchase arrived, all I had to figure out was how to hook up the chiller coil. I had the idea of reusing my old cooler box mash tun as a cold water store, and use a simple aquatic pump to push it through the coil. Freezing some fizzy drink bottles full of water and swapping them out as they melted meant I could keep fermentation temperature fairly stable, but it wasn’t possible to go any lower than about 15C. Considering I wanted to start brewing lagers, it wasn’t good enough.
|All hooked up|
A friend of mine who runs a brewpub had a spare shelf chiller that he let me use on long term loan. It took me a while to find the right fittings to connect them together, but in the end it was pretty simple. The shelf chiller hooks up using 3/8 beer line and John Guest fittings, but the Chronical chiller coil has barb fittings. They would not hook up directly.
|Hooking up the chiller|
The answer was to find a couple of stem-to-barb JG fittings from Amazon, and connect the two barbs together with some flexible tubing. With everything hooked up, I managed to chill 25C wort down to 10C in less than 30 minutes. Even with the groundwater at low winter temperatures, my immersion chiller could not hope to get to this level efficiently.
So now it’s all hooked up, my first lager attempt is currently fermenting away (a Munich Dunkel) and I’m looking forward to seeing how low I can get the temp for crashing. It should do 1C, so crystal clear beers may actually become a thing for me!
Thinking about what I could then use the cooler-box-pump gizmo for if it wasn’t going to be on cooling duty, I figured maybe a clean in place system. So now I’m considering the CiP addon as the next upgrade. It should hopefully reduce cleanup time as it can just run on its own while I carry on with other things.
|Adding the Brew Belt|