Sunday, March 31, 2013

Operation: EZmash - Brewing with a tankless water heater

Have you ever wished you could just fill up your mash tun with water and mash in? Me too...

Well today we hooked up our newest completely non-essential piece of brewing equipment. A compact LPG tank-less water heater. With this thing we will be able to cut both time and propane out of normal brewing sessions. In our process I figure we will save about 60 minutes a session. I am not sure what the propane savings will be, but it should be pretty great too.

Mounted to the side of the brewing stand

The hook up should have been easy, but of course we had a small hick-up. It turned out our propane pressure was too great for this thing. After 30 minutes of messing with the thing and being unable to get it to light, we turned down the gas and poof... it lit up just like it should.

The stand still fits in it's storage spot

The results were beyond my expectations. According to the documentation, this unit can do a 77 degree rise at 1.8 GPM. I didn't test the temp of my ground water, but I know it is under 70 at this time. And it will only get warmer until about early fall. At the documented rate I should get a max of 144 (less if my ground water is < 70). In our first test we filled the mash tun with 9 gallons of 160 degree water in less than 10 minutes! EZ-mash!!!

To install we tee'ed off our existing gas plumbing. So now we have a single tank that services 3 burners and a tank-less water heater! We have a few changes to make. For example we will hard plumb the filters to the water inlet. However the initial test is very promising! More scientific tests to come!

7/22 Update: 
I have brewed a ton of beer using the water heater including two big group brews with 40 gallons brewed each time. All the mash water came out of the water heater. 

A couple of brew sessions ago I took the temp of my ground water. It came in at 62 degrees and we were filling the HLT with 165 degree water! So we were getting just over a 100 degree temperature rise! That is with an unmodified EZ-202. There is a check/safety valve that can be bypassed, but I see no need.   

We are very careful with both the flow of water and gas. It will shut off if the water GPM is too low. It will not light if the gas pressure is too high. It will also shut off if the water hits ~176. Even then we are still careful. It seems you can melt this thing if you get too aggressive with it. But pumping out 160-165 strike and sparge water at 1.5 GPM is no problem at all!

So far I would have to say this is probably the best brewing equipment investment I have made. Saving an hour on each brew day for a mere $200 investment is a big win in my book.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Simcade Pale Ale Brew Day in pictures

Last weekend we brewed up a Pale ale with Simcoe in the boil, and cascade at flameout and in the hopback. The beer will also be dryhopped with cascade hops.

Mash in                                                                                          Mash out