BYO Magazine November Issue

Thank goodness! BYO really stepped it up this month, not only was the lead article really cool but the rest of the magazine flushed out nicely.

BYO Magazine November Issue

I just renewed my subscription to BYO so I guess I really couldn’t have been that disappointed with it, but they were really lacking any meat recently, so to read this issue was a nice sigh of relief. The cover story grabbed my attention right away, how to build the Brutus Ten, sweet! In short, the Brutus Ten is a semi-automated single-tier ten gallon homebrew sculpture designed and built from scratch that has gained a huge internet following and many copy-cat systems. The gentleman that built it actually sells the blueprints and advice on the system on his website for like $25, so to see that they were going to cover how to build and use this system in this issue was huge. I’m assuming the information he sells on his website is much more thorough, but this gives anyone a very good starting point to try to duplicate a similar system.

OK, so that’s what I knew before I read the article, then I got to reading. The article was good, it was written by the guy that designed and built the system, Lonnie McAllister. This is Lonnie’s tenth Brutus design and system, thus the Brutus Ten, and was designed in 3D CAD so you know this shit was drawn out properly. He says this system is able to be built for approximately $2300 and a lot of quality hard work, obviously you could tweak things on his system to make it more and less expensive or more and less extravagant, but this would definitely be a good launchpad. The system I say is semi-automated in the sense of it will do all of the temperature control for you with the mash tun and the hot liquor tank (HLT) but pretty much everything else is manual; the whole kettle side, the pumps, and the cooling. He does have things set up so that it would be super easy and probably more fun to use than the tradition (back-breaking) methods. I like his cooling set-up with a double-recirculation-whirlpool-counter-flow-chiller (CFC). Basically he pumps the hot wort through the CFC and pumps it back into the kettle in a whirlpool while simultaneously pumping iced-down chill water stored in the HLT through the CFC the other way and back into the HLT. By doing this he cools the wort down very fast, saves water that can be used in other applications, and has a much larger percentage of not getting cold break in his fermenters. I think if he was using whole hops and a false bottom with this system he could probably just recirculate the wort minus the whirlpool and have crystal clear wort.

If I were to use this design (which is awesome) for my own system I would look into making at least a few changes. I would be interested in incorporating electronic ignition for the burners instead of using pilot lights. I think it would look cleaner and be easier over all, but of course more expensive. I would want to keep the system as basically a ten gallon system, but I would look into how much larger the stand would have to be to accommodate the footprint for kettles to make twenty gallon batches too. Of course a twenty gallon batch is never necessary, it would just be nice to be able to do it if you wanted to. And finally I think a Tippy Dump mash tun would be nice, which is essentially where your mash tun is cradled in a locking pivot so that you can just swing the mash tun forward and dump the spent grains. I think he has one awesome system there and and I give him mad props for sharing it with the homebrew community through BYO Magazine. Another sweet and similar system I’ve been eying up for years is over here at MoreBeer, I’m pretty sure these two are the kind of style I’ll be focusing on in the future.

Another article in this issue was called Ancient Brews Two where they explored the modern versions of thousands of year old alcoholic beverages, quite possibly beer.  The two they really talked about and explored there history some were the two Dogfish Head (DFH) recreations Midas Touch and Chateau Jiahu. Both “recipes” were micro-biologically taken from pottery shards found in tombs. The Midas Touch information came supposedly from the tomb of King Midas in modern day Turkey and was over 2700 years old! The Chateau Jiahu information came from a providence in Northern China over 9000 years old! Crazy! BYO talked to Bryan Selders (head brewer at DFH) to get the skinny on these recipes and then broke them down to a homebrew level in case any of us would want to try our hand at an ancient brew. I’d consider the Midas Touch, but the Chateau Jiahu is a little out-there for me to want five gallons of it.

Not that the rest of the magazine was fluff, it was actually quite good, but I’ve already rambled a lot here, so just go get a copy yourself. But there was also a good article on Black Patent malt (the malt that makes stout what it is), and a good article on choosing the right metal for different pieces of equipment, and how these metals react with that is going on in each process of brewing. There was also a weak article on building your own hopback, which is a devise that you can fill will hops and pass the hot wort through after boil but before chilling to extract the most (in the sense of an aroma addition) from your late addition hops. I thought it was weak because I thought it was a stupid design, period. Followed by a pretty weak article on using conical fermenters in the Advanced Brewing section. This was supposed to be the Advanced Brewing section, not the please tell me something I don’t already know section, thanks Chris Colby. Nuff said.

2 Responses to “BYO Magazine November Issue”

  1. Garrett Says:

    The other aspect of the Brutus Ten system design which makes me really uncomfortable is the direct heating of the mash for temperature control – its not HERMS or RIMS… its hitting the mash tun directly with gas heat, which seems like it could lead to scortching or something.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d feel better if it were a dedicated heating loop (either HERMS or RIMS).

  2. Brian Says:

    I hear what your saying, but actually I believe he does run it as a pseudo-RIMS system. I think the way the mash tun works on the Brutus Ten is that the liquid in the mash tun is continuously recirculated through the mash tun via the pump (liquid taken from the bottom of the mash tun through the pump and returned on top of the grain bed). The false bottom retains the grains and the liquid is pumped from bottom to top. During recirculation the liquid (theoretically at least a gallon+ below the false bottom) can be heated via direct fire gas burner to compensate for heat loss and should never really be “turned on” for very long to raise the temperature a degree or two (unless we’re talking about a step-mash and then there is a whole new set of issues). I agree that scorching could be an issue, but I feel that in a typical single-step infusion mash it would probably be a non-issue.

    This is the way he describes it on his website, “This system employs a direct-fire (very low heat RIMS) mash tun, slowly recirculating the mash from the bottom back to the top of the tun while the ASCO valve controls the amount of heat applied to the bottom of the tun. Temp readings for the recirculating mash are taken at the outflow of the mash tun. This has proven to be the best method. The output is closest to the heat source. If the direct heat source is set at 150 degrees, the whole mash can never go over this temp. As the 150 degree recirculating wort is returned to the top of the mash, the mash as a whole will catch up to the output temperature. This is how I control the mash. It is very accurate.”

    I think a HERMS is a safer bet, but I think under normal conditions this system would work well.

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