Sir Ballington Brewstand

This is an accounting of how I designed and built my epic brew sculpture . It started off with a few goals:

  • 15 gal batches.
  • All valve control, no hose switching.
  • 1 pump with fly sparge capability.
  • Propane burners.
  • Automated mash temp control with step mash capability (in progress).

From that list of goals I designed the geometry of the stand. I settled on a two tier design with the Hot Liquor Tank on the top tier so that the route from the HLT to the Mash Tun would be passive so the pump could be used to transfer from the MT to the Boil Kettle while the HLT was draining into the MT. This would allow for efficient fly sparging which requires wort moving out of the MT while fresh hot water it sprinkled on top.

I chose to line up the vessels with the MT on the left; HLT in the middle; and the BK on the right. Initially the plan was to seat the MT and BK under the HLT a little bit to save space. In the end that didn’t turn out to be practical. The BK and HLT would have been too close to the burner under the HLT and the stand wasn’t deep enough for this to really save any space. In the end my stand went from being about 4′ wide on paper to about 5′ wide IRL. It’s certainly not a problem but I do have less space under the brew canopy as a result.

The kettles were purchased from Basically the price worked out to be comparable to other SS pots of a slightly smaller size. I got two 18 gal pots for the price of two 15 gal and one 25 gal for the price of a 20 gal. Not a bad deal. In hindsight I wish I would have gotten two 25 gal pots for greater grist capacity in the MT. This works but I’m limited to about 1.077 OG with normal grist weight.

The plan for heating the brew is a bit complicated. 10″ Banjo Burners are mounted under the HLT and the BK. The mash is kept at temperature by the nature of large volumes contained in SS and a Heat eXchanger inside of the HLT. The HX is designed to take the pump output and run it through the HLT without mixing with the contents of the HLT. That means the wort that travels through the HX will come out at a temperature much closer to the temperature of the HLT. For example: on the debut of Sir Ballington I noted that the output of the HX was about 10 degrees below the temperature of the HLT; so the wort entering the MT was about 150 degrees when the HLT was at about 160 degrees. This dynamic can be used to maintain the temperature of the mash or raise the temperature (for step mashes or for mash out). In practice I’ve found that raising the temperature isn’t really all that practical. Perhaps with some refinement of equipment/processes this could work better, for now I’m a bit disappointed .

To put this all into perspective here’s a gallery of the construction and final build of Sir Ballington Brewstand:


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Space Shed Fermentation Chamber

I’ve always wanted to build some kind of space where I could ferment homebrew in a controlled temperature. I’ve finally made the dream a reality.

I got the taste of temperature controlled fermentation earlier this year when I had a dearth of homebrew. I used the free space in my kegerator to lager an alt that turned out wonderful. Coming from that experience my ultimate goal was to create something that I could lager in. Most importantly I wanted a space to control the temperature of multiple brews in our mild PNW climate.

With that in mind I jumped head first into this project.

The catalyst for this was an old AC unit that my folks gave me. It’s a decent size, we kept our ranch style house cool with it in the blazing hot Vancouver, WA summers. The most important feature was it’s analog controls which are able to be overridden with an external control unit. I installed the AC in the top of a two door wood shed. One half would be dedicated to beer storage and the other would be for housing the AC and other random bits.

The counter point to the AC was a heater. Initially I used a radiant oil heater. They work well in homes but for this project I found that it was prone to over heating. I swapped that out for a small heater fan which performs much better for this purpose.

Next I went to Lowes and found the thickest rigid foam insulation they had. It happened to have a foil covering which I think adds to it’s radiation insulation. I also grabbed foil tape to match the insulation. When I got home I set out to cover the inside of the shed with the insulation. I went nuts with the tape. I covered every crack on the inside and sometimes the outside and all of the places where bare wood was present in the cool space. It gave it a space age look, hence the name.

The last bit of the build came a week later when I got the temperature controller in the mail. It was the “eBay” type which meant that it was shipped from Hong Kong and came with less than fluent instructions. Installation was simple though. Basically I wired a two sockets to the controller. One socket was dedicated to cooling the other to heating. When the temperature is outside of the set range the controller activates the appropriate socket which turns on the AC or the heater.

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ElevationChart++: My first open source software project

Source Code and Documentation

While developing I needed to create an elevation profile for the routes. Initially I used the example provided by Google. That worked for a while but after I got a few big updates out of the way I decided to work on the elevation profile more. I had three goals for the profile:

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