Sunday, January 12, 2014

Anatomy of an up-cycled Brew Stand

A couple of weeks ago I had a friend over for a brew session. He asked me some questions about my brew stand and about how much I have invested into it. I really had never added it up, but I figured it was much less than an off the shelf brew sculpture with similar specs.

There are a small number of commercially built brew stands out on the market. These come in various designs, but they are all pretty costly. They range from around $2,000 to $5,000. My favorite is probably Morebeers tippy dump system. In stainless with all the bells and whistles the price comes in at over $6,000 for the 20 gallon version.

I guess the main thing I would point out about my brew stand is that it is completely weldless. It is also pieced together out of a number of parts. The idea behind this post is to explain all of those parts, and try to put a price to them all.

The base of the entire stand is a heavy duty "Gorilla" rack from Costco. It was actually a gift, but I will list the price to include in the total. I use two shelfs, the bottom and top. For the third shelf I just run a single bar just below the level of the burners. It's maybe 7 holes up from the bottom of the rack. This is just to add some stability

The only real modification to the rack was a set of caster wheels I picked up for cheap at a local industrial surplus store.

For burners I used one Blichmann floor burner for the boil kettle. The burner and stand for both the HLT and MLT was originally a two burner cajun cooker cart. It was also found at a surplus store. The cart was actually two pieces. I basically discarded everything but the top section with the burners.

Here is what it looked like out of the box:

Everything else on the stand consists of gas piping, and 110v solenoids on the HLT and MLT. In addition there is a tankless water heater and three stage water filter bolted to the side of the rack.

Here is a good picture of the stand and the main components just discussed. The picture is a little old. At the time I was using a PID, and only the large boil kettle is still in use. In it you can see the blichmann and the remains of the cooking cart.

The burners are all hooked up to a single propane tank. The HLT and MLT also have standing pilots and needle valves to adjust the pilot size. Here is a close up look at this set up. You could forgo the main red valve since you have the normally closed solenoid, but I like it for a quick shut off ability.

My first attempt to add everything up I came in at just under $3,000 for everything except the computers (tablet, laptop) that I use to run the BCS since those things are not dedicated to the brewery. I also did not include my grain mill, fermenters, kegs, etc. It's just the items connected to the stand. This is not bad considering the size of the kettles and that it is completely digital.  It's half the price of Morebeers single tier digital 26 gallon set up.

Part Price
Heavy duty rack 150
Blichmann floor burner 150
two burner cajun cook stand 60
Solenoids 65
Gas piping, valvles 120
Hose, cam locks 100
Morebeer 26 gallon HLT, MLT,  Kettle, sparge arm 1300
March Nanobrewery pump 350
Plate chiller 80
BCS 460 180
Wiring, temp probes 100
Water filters, parts 85
Tankless water filter 200

Tankless Water heater
Pretty much my current setup.

UPDATE: Here are some close up pictures of my favorite brew gadget, the LPG tankless water heater.

Gas Connection to heater
Gas connection at heater
Flexible pipe connection


  1. Los Barbones BrewingOctober 16, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    Hey bro,

    You motivated to go tankless on my brew system. The EZ 202 is currently sold out, but I got a deal on a Noritz propane tank.

    The Noritz has a 3/4" male npt connection for gas. What does the EZ 202 have? Can you also share with me how you are running your gas line from the LP tank to the heater?



  2. I believe the EZ 202 gas connection is the same size. I have updated the thread and added some pictures of the set up.

    I run all of my burners, pilot lights, and the tankless all from the same lpg tank. I currently have one regulator directly after the tank. On the very far end the last connection is my tankless. I use a flexible gas line to get from low on my brew stand to where I have my tank mounted on the side of my stand.

    I do not know about the Noritz and built in safety features, but I went with the EZ 202 because it was pretty simple to bypass the safety feature to get really hot water. I have actually not needed to do that at all. I can max it out at 176C when the ground water is cool enough. I have found no need for higher temps.

    The only change I still need to make with mine is putting another adjustable regulator right before the tankless. It is really picky about gas pressure. It will not light if it is too high. Once it lights I can crank it up much higher.

  3. Thanks for the feedback.

    What regulator do you have? Low or high pressure? I'm having trouble getting mine to light. I talked to a Noritz tech and he said I might be feeding it to much gas and recommended a manometer. I'm not spending $100 for one. He was hesitant to give me any advice due to my use being outside of "recommended use and installation".

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. I use one similar to this since it has the ability to finely adjust the pressure: I dial it to almost nothing to get mine to light. Once lit I can really crank it up.