Installing Your BIAC Complete All-in-One Brewery

This video was made a number of years ago so information has changed, an updated brewery setup and installation video is available here. See the transcript below where updates have been added as noted. 


Transcript of the video:

In this video we will be looking at how to setup the BREWHA BIAC. While today we are setting up a 5BBL BIAC beer brewing system, most of the features and fittings are also found on the other models.

The first thing to set up is the hoist. On the larger models of the BREWHA BIAC, an overhead hoist is necessary to raise the Colander, and it makes dumping the grain out a very easy task. The hoist needs to be attached to something, and it is particularly useful if that hoist can be on a trolley, so that when it is raised, the Mash Colander can be pushed over to the side where it can be lowered and easily dumped. The setup we are showing here can do precisely that. This is a 1-ton adjustable height gantry crane that can be purchased from Harbor Freight for about $800. One can also purchase a 1 ton trolley that can move back and forth on the I-beam at the top, and a 1500lb 120V hoist that can be attached to the trolley by welding brackets to some square tubing. It is recommended that the ceiling height for using this gantry with the 5BBL system be at least 12’, and 11’ for the 3BBL and 1.5BBL BIACs. All in, this gantry setup cost about $1100 and it can be installed in about 1 hour. (Update 1: Installing the gantry and hoist, especially with the 4000lb gantry required for the 7BBL brewery system, is a two person job and having a forklift or some other lift to help safely position the parts while they are installed is strongly recommended. For ceiling height, refer to 'Combined Height' paragraph of the Dimensions section on this page.)

Now to set up the BIAC. Your BIAC will arrive in two wooden crates. The larger crate contains the 4-in-1 conical fermentor, and the smaller crate, the Mash Colander.

The crates opens up by removing the screws holding the crate together. Once disassembled, the fermenter can be lifted with the overhead hoist, and the stainless casters attached. If your floor is particularly uneven, you may need to shim the caster plates to level out the fermenter, or, if it is impractical to move the fermenter, the casters can be left off and the leg plates secured directly to the floor. Inside the Mash Colander are the fittings and accessories (the smaller models may have these inside the fermenter as well, or even in a third box).

With crates unpacked, and the fermenter casters installed, we will start by assembling the fittings and valves. Each vessel has a bag with fittings in it for just that vessel, and a packing list inside the bag, describes where the fittings go.

At the very bottom is installed the 1-3/8” bottom dump valve. (Update 2: The 1.5BBL, 3BBL, 5BBL and 7BBL systems all now have a 2" butterfly valve for the bottom dump port.) This is used to remove proteins after the boil, and trub that has settled out during fermentation. A 90 degree tri-clamp elbow can be installed in between the fermenter and the valve, however, wort should be circulated during the boil to ensure it is properly sanitized as the heat may not travel this far. (Update 3: All valves should be flushed with boiling wort during the boil to ensure they are properly sanitized as cold wort that holds bacteria may be trapped in the extremities.)

Beneath the valve, one can install the Yeast Harvester. This device can be installed late in fermentation to capture about 10oz or 300mL of yeast that is settling. It could be used multiple time to capture a larger amount of yeast. (Update 4: This is for Small to Large systems only. See this article on yeast propagation.)

Close to the bottom port are two ferrules. One enters the jacket and is for chilling water; this is the port that the TCV attaches to. The other is for a bottom valve that can be used for racking beer to kegs, or direct serving of beer to taps in your bar/restaurant once the trub has been removed out the bottom after fermentation and conditioning is complete. Using this port will ensure you remove the maximum amount of beer possible, while picking up the minimum amount of yeast that might be settling to the bottom of the fermenter. If you won’t be using this port, it can be capped with one of the supplied 1.5” caps.

There are two 1.5” ferrules remaining in the cone. One is for a valve for racking beer. The ferrule is above the trub level for most batches so trub might not normally need to be removed prior to racking if using the port. A racking valve with an arm that rotates to remove the maximum amount of beer can be purchased from many different suppliers. I myself have never used one but many stores offer them. The second ferrule is for the temperature probe—either the probe is inserted directly, or if not water tight, is placed inside a thermowell. (Update 5: A Racking Arm is now included with all tanks and I love them! :). All of our sensors are now liquid tight, thermowells are no longer used.)

There are two ports on the side of the tank. The lower is a tangential port that can either be used for installing a sample thief, or used for whirlpooling the wort to assist with chilling after the boil is complete. (Update 6: The tangential port was replaced with a straight ferrule, in order to reduce fabrication complexities and increase longevity of the tanks. Whirlpooling can be accomplished with the racking arm, but most brewers do not use it since with a conical bottom, solids will settle to the bottom of the cone where they can be removed.) Cycling the boiling wort through the hose during the last 5 minutes of boil will heat sanitize the hose and pump. The pump can be then used to circulate wort inside the fermenter during the chill improving the chilling efficiency and reducing the chill time. (Update 7: In subsequent testing, we have seen that circulation along does not reduce chill time much, but it does break temperature stratification in the tank—this can also be broken during aeration at the end of chill. But what does reduce chill time is increasing surface area through an external plate chiller. See Section 1 on this page for more information.) Wort can be withdrawn from the racking or bottom port on the cone, and returned to the fermenter either in the bottom port or the tangential port. At the top of the side of the tank is the exit from the jacket. Never restrict the exit from the jacket in any way as pressure could build up inside the jacket. Only an open hose, preferable a kink-resistant ¾” or larger hose should be used to ensure water can leave the jacket as quickly as it enters so that pressure does not build up inside.

On the lid there are two smaller ports and one large diameter port (on 1.5-7BBL tanks only). One of the smaller ports is for a blow-off hose and later, once fermentation is complete, the gas in valve for injecting CO2 to push the beer into kegs against gravity. The second should be used for a Pressure and Vacuum Safety Valve. The large port is for inserting hops during fermentation. It is large enough to accommodate the BREWHA Hop Baskets which are great for containing whole leaf hops and can be dropped right into the tank for dry hopping. A cap is included to seal the port. (This port can also be used to insert CIP systems for hands free cleaning the tank.)

That completes the install of the fittings, now to install the accessories. Starting at the bottom, there are six 5500W Stainless Electric Immersion Heating Elements to install in the 5BBL 4-in-1 conical fermentor (there are 4 in the 3BBL conical fermentor, 2 in the 1.5BBL conical fermentor, and five 3 Phase heaters for the 7BBL conical fermentor). The elements are 100% stainless steel so they are no different than the walls of the vessel—they will not interact with the beer in any way. They are low watt density and will not easily scorch the wort. They come with short power cords and are connected to the main power source with 10’ extension cords that are supplied. When not brewing, the extension cords can be removed so they don’t present a tripping hazard. After each brew, the elements can be easily removed from the vessel; they should be inspected and cleaned thoroughly as sugars, yeast or sediment left on the element could scorch in the next batch and add off-flavor to the beer.

On the lower jacket port we install the Water Pressure Regulator. This is an adjustable regulator that should be set to 7psi on the heavier steel, commercial tanks, and 5psi on the homebrewing models. This regulator helps ensure that pressure does not climb too high in the jacket, damaging the vessel. The regulator can either be attached to the vessel, or more commonly, directly to the tap with garden hose type fittings. The TCV (or Temperature Control Valve) is a small solenoid that opens when powered, to let chilling water in. It is connected to the Water Pressure Regulator. If using chilling media other than tap water, the TCV might not need to be used as a pump may be turned on (instead of powering the TCV) when needed. If higher flow volume is needed (for example for faster chilling of the wort in the 5BBL system) a larger regulator can be installed on the main water supply line.

The temperature sensor is connected to the ETC or Electronic Digital Temperature Controller. This device measures the temperature in the vessel, and sends a signal to either heat or chill the vessel as needed. It can be used on the chilling side to power either the TCV or a chiller pump, and it can be used on the heating side to turn the PTC Control Box on, letting power through to the heating elements. (Update 8: The main Power Controller can be used for heating one tank during fermentation. With the Touchscreen Controllers, the ETC is not used to turn heaters on as these controllers have their own sensor.)

The pump comes with a shorter, larger diameter intake hose, and a smaller, longer exit hose. Its primary role is played during mashing but it can also be used during heatup or chilling to help distribute the temperature throughout the vessel. For mashing, it is generally best to connect the pump inlet to the bottom port, so that it can return grist that may have fallen through the Mash Colander, back up to the top of the grain bed. The pump also enables the most even circulation of wort through the grain bed, improving mash efficiency and ensuring more even distribution of temperature. The pump return hose is connected to the port valve on the side of the Mash Colander. The valve is necessary to throttle pump flow so that the pump doesn’t remove wort from under the Mash Colander faster than it can be replaced, potentially exposing the element. (Update 9: The Small-Large BIACs include a March 815 which has a 120V 5-15 plug already attached. The 1.5-7BBL BIACs comes with a powerful March 7S pump which needs the included power cord and cord end attached.)

Off to the side we have installed the BREWHA PTC Power Box. The PTC Power Box is simple, rugged, and dependable brewing controller in a water-tight enclosure for splash down environments, like your brewery. With a water tight box, and splash proof fan air intake and exhaust, and liquid-tight cord grips, accidental overspray when cleaning will not damage your sensitive electronics. At the bottom of the box are six receptacles for plugging in the element extension cords and there is a smaller 240V receptacle for the pump. The plug on the small power cord connects to the ETC that we have hung here on the wall. When the ETC senses that the wort is cooler than it should be, it sends a signal to the Power Box to let power through to the heating elements. We have kept the temperature controller separate, as this provides an easy means for controlling fermentation in multiple fermenters. You do not need multiple Power Boxes to monitor temperature in multiple fermenters, just multiple ETCs. The switch on the left side of the box is to turn the power controller and cooling fan on and off. The switch on the right controls the pump. The knob on the controller lets you select how much heat the elements will generate. At 100% output, with 240V all six elements will produce 5500 watts each. At 10% output, they will generate 550 watts, and so on. During fermentation, if using the power box to warm the fermenter, the output should be set at 2% or less, otherwise the elements could scorch the yeast and cause off flavors. The Power Box was intentionally built large to accommodate any additional electronics that you might want, for example, a touch screen control interface, a PID controller or a timer, it can all be easily integrated. The 3BBL box requires a 125A, 240V single phase service, and the 5BBL box requires a 175A service. (Update 10: The new Touchscreen Controllers integrate temperature sensors and control is through the touchscreen program, but functionally is the same. See 'Electrical Requirements' section on this page for power information.)

And that is it for the install. There are additional instructions on the BREWHA website for use of additional accessories as well as care and maintenance of your BREWHA equipment.

Happy brewing!


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