Posts Tagged ‘glycol’

Previous glycol Posts

Brewery Expansion – Part II

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Part two of our brewery expansion blog post series. If you missed out on Part I, you can catch up here.

Phase VI
Expand glycol lines and install new fermentor

The first part of this phase involved Captain Chris driving the BT1 (Brewery Truck 1) down to San Marcos to pick up the new fermentor. This, of course, also involved staying down there for an extra night hobnobbing it with other breweries and having a few beers. Market research.

After we unloaded it at the brewery, it was time to use our good friend the rotohammer again and anchor the fermentor to the ground.

Then, we began Operation Frosty Pipes II and extended our glycol line down the wall with ports for several fermentors to come.

After we hooked our new fermentor up to the glycol lines, it was time to christen the new ferementor “Resi” right before we pumped our first batch over to her.

(pretty sure we’re still cleaning up glass after that)

Phase VII
Expand Brewery Barrel Program

With the increased storage over at the other location, we have the ability to store more barrels and expand our barrel aged beer program.


To start off we got 6 Jim Beam bourbon barrels, thanks to The Bruery ordering extra for us. We have four of these filled with Daniel Irons Oatmeal Stout, and one filled with Black Valkyrie.

What will we fill in the remaining barrel? At this point, only time will tell – but rumor has it, it could be an IPA.

Phase VIII
Acquire New Brite Tank from Ladyface


This was a surprise expansion phase for us. While some phrases are banned from the brewery like “accidental validation” or “unmarked chemicals” (safety first!), “surprise expansion” is not – and is in fact welcomed. Ladyface Brewery is currently upgrading the size of their tanks, and we were fortunate enough to be offered one of the 7bbl tanks they are replacing. So we stopped by one afternoon, picked it up and delivered it to the brewery.

picking up tank from ladyface

It is currently named “Tax Determination Tank #2” – however we do have a planned renaming and christening ceremony like all new tanks at Enegren Brewing. Stay tuned…

It should also be noted that Fireman Dave purchased a new and improved roto hammer which cut our cement drilling time down from 5 hours to 10 minutes. May we never speak of the old roto hammer again.

Phase IX
Embiggen Tasting Room Area

In an effort to provide even more seating than previously imagined in Phase IV of our expansion plan – the brewery crew got creative and smashed down the wall separating the office and the tasting room.

We had several options of how to tear down the wall. The first was the classic move from The Shining – only problem is it didn’t tear down the wall completely and was just a little creepy.


Our second option was to tear down the wall X-Men Juggernaut style – but we were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to stop before crashing into our brewery.


Our third and final option was to relive our childhood and attempt the classic Kool-Aid “OOOOHHH YEAAAAAHHH” wall breakdown.


After some debating, we decided to go for the Kool Aid wall breakdown – but it didn’t go quite according to plan. You can see for yourself in the video, but it turned out to be more of a cross between The Shining and Kool Aid.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of our Brewery Expansion!

Adventures in Fermentation: Glycol Chiller Blues

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Now that our first beer is out on tap, let us tell you a tale about the brew.

The only thing that kept us going through our 27 hour brew day was the awesome thought of creating a good tasting beer for people to enjoy. It’s the reason we we brew – to provide good beer to others.

But brewing doesn’t stop at the end of the brew day. There is the fermentation period where 1-2 degrees difference in temperature can change how the beer tastes. This is an important step that we were watching closely – hoping, praying nothing went wrong.

Now that the exposition is out of the way, let me tell you the tale. It is a tale of perseverance, bad fortune, witchcraft, love, revenge and awesomeness.

It all started on the Tuesday evening following our first brew. Captain Chris Enegren arrived at the brewery to find a large puddle of liquid on the floor. Having never fermented beer in a 6bbl fermentor, and seeing no beer on the floor, Chris thought to himself “Hmmmm, there is a lot more condensation on the floor than I would have thought. Oh well, everything looks good here, off to the hardware store.”

Chris, like anyone starting a small craft brewery, had to go to the hardware store yet again. (A recurring theme in this blog.) So off he went thinking sweet things about the brewery and the beer, unaware of the demons he’d be fighting later that night.

While at the hardware store, Commander Matt arrived at the brewery. Like the Captain, he saw a puddle of liquid on the floor. But he wasn’t as quick to rationalize it to condensation.

He walked up to it and touched it. “Slimy” he thought. The word mulled over in his head for a bit.


His mind raced as he traced back through all the different liquids in the brewery. Water, not slimy. Beer, not slimy. Yeast…

And then mid-thought it hit him like a ton of malt. He distinctly remembered Chief Joe slipping and nearly falling on some glycol he spilt while filling up the chiller.

Panic set in on his face as he immediately reached for his phone and dialed Chris while simultaneously running toward the glycol chiller.

“Hello Matthew” Chris answered.
“Uh Chris, I think the glycol chiller is leaking.”
“No, it’s just condensation.”
“No, it’s slippery,” Matt said. “I’m looking at the pump right now and glycol is spilling out of it”

Chris’ response can not be shared on this blog.

Chris hastily paid and left the hardware store, thinking only of beer. He’d later admit that after the teller checked him out and said “thank you” he muttered “beer” instead of “you’re welcome” as he ran toward the car.

glycol pump downMeanwhile Matt was furiously removing the 12 screws that held the panel over the pump. He finished just as Chis got home.

What ensued was a healthy mix of panic and chaos. Panic and chaos only one would understand if they had just spent the last year of their life building a brewery, then brewing for 27 straight hours, then realizing that your first batch might fail because of a busted pump.

But out of the disarray, out of the madness, one thought remained clear. We would not let this beer down.

Taking a step back, Chris remembered that he had the cell phone number for Jim, President and CEO of Pro Refrigeration, makers of our glycol chiller.

He called it.

“Jim, our glycol chiller pump is leaking all over the brewery. We have our first batch of beer in the fermentor. What do we do?”

“Calm down son” Jim replied “It’s probably a pump seal that needs replacing. We can fix you up first thing in the morning”

“Awesome” said Chris in response to this excellent customer service. “However, if we wanted to take apart the pump and try to fix it tonight by ourselves, would we void any warranty or anything?”

“Nope, go right ahead and try.”

They barely had said their goodbyes when Chris hung up the phone determined to take apart and rebuild the pump.

This turned out to be a mistake. They had to take off the impeller. The Impeller was glued tot he pump shaft. Removing it cut up both Chris and Matt’s hands. They spilled glycol everywhere and, though not toxic, it stung their cuts like rubbing alcohol. And despite taking apart and putting the pump back together several times, it continued to leak.

They went to bed at 1am defeated, frustrated. They were covered in glycol and worried something horrible would befoul the beer.

However, as promised, Chris got a call first thing in the morning from Pro Refrigeration. They called just about every pump repair service station in the area and found a place in Ventura able to fix the pump. Chris took a day off from work and drove there to get the pump repaired. pump repair storeThe place took it apart, commented that everything looked fine, replaced the mechanical seal and put it back together.

Chris hurried back to the brewery wishing he was an ambulance, police car or something with a siren.

It was a hot day in Ventura with temperatures pushing 95 degrees. The longer it took to get the pump back online, the warmer the beer would get. Time was of the essence.

Chris got to the brewery and literally sprinted from his car to the brewery. Had he not been driving, he probably would have attempted one of those tuck-and-roll stunts out of moving cars you see in the movies.

It was a good thing he was driving. Such antics could have damaged the pump.

Chris mounted the pump with great speed, wired it back in, connected the pipes and took a deep breath as he turned it on.

Leak. One big fat leak. Glycol spilling everywhere.

Once again, some things were said that can’t be repeated here.

Chris called Pro Refrigeration again and explained the issue. They made some phone calls and found that the same store Chris was just at could build a brand new pump right quick.

Chris ran back to his car and drove to Ventura, this time wishing he had some sort of rocket jet.

He got the pump, drove back to the brewery, wired the pump in, connected the pipes, took a deep breath and turned it on.

Leak. One big, huge, fat, gigantic glycol everywhere leak.

But wait a minute. WAIT A MINUTE. The leak was coming from a different area. The leak looked like it was coming from one of the drain nuts on the pump head.

Frantically Chris removed the nut. No gasket.

Luckily, thanks to our homebrew days we had extra corny keg gaskets. Chris found one, put it in, sealed the pump back together and turned her on.

Chris swears he watched it for 30 straight minutes to make sure, but there was no leak. The chiller was fixed.

When all was said and done, the beer temperature only increased 2 degrees. And now our beer is on tap and tastes pretty good if we do say so ourselves. We just hope we don’t have to repeat this process our next brew to get the same flavor.

Installing the Glycol System

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

With the fermenters and the glycol chiller in place and our glycol system design approved, we went to work installing the glycol pipes. You may remember, back when we designed the glycol system there was some discussion on what pipe to use. We decided Schedule 80 PVC.

First up was installing the unistrut wall mounts. Joined by the Chief’s brother, Peter Nascenzi, we got to work cutting them to the right size to mount on the wall.

cutting the wall struts

Next up, after laying all the pipe out, we began mounting it on the wall. This would have been seamless except we mounted one of the struts too close to a pipe already on the wall. So we had to remove it, remount it and try again. There may or may not be three extra holes in our wall that we need to fill.

mounting the glycol pipe

With all the piping installed, we decided to go ahead and hook it up to the chiller.

At this point, let’s take a break from this install story. We hadn’t made a large mistake in along time. In fact not since we accidentally turned the water on while installing the bathroom sink and water sprayed everywhere. We were due.

Though not a water pipe caliber mistake, it was a good one. We glued all the PVC pipes into the glycol system, and just when we thought we were ready to go to bed, we realized we connected the chiller supply line to the return line port. We could have gone to bed and fixed in the morning, but we were afraid of piping nightmares. So we sawed off the offending pipes and re-glued everything together then and there.

sawing pipe

With the pipe correctly installed, we pressure tested the system by hooking up our CO2 tank and pressurizing the line. No leaks and we were good to put on the insulation.

brewery glycol piping insulation

And so completed the glycol system installation.

Brewery Glycol System

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Our glycol chiller arrived at the brewery – it is a large and important piece of our brewery. The glycol chiller pumps cold propylene glycol through the cooling jackets on our 6 bbl fermenters. This controls the beer temperature throughout fermentation to ensure you, the reader, get a tasty beer.

The next step is to hook the chiller to our fermenters through a series of complicated piping. Needless to say, Chris was very excited that he had to draw some cool 3d piping models. It’s like Legos for adults he always says.

We ran the designs by the folks over at Pro Refrigeration who were extremely helpful. They also have an online glycol plumbing guide if you’re interested.

The last step in our design phase is to figure out what piping materials to use. There are several choices, each with some pros and cons:

  1. Copper: Really expensive and poor insulation. Shiny and pretty.
  2. PVC: Very cheap but not rated for low glycol temps temps… although tons of breweries use it with no problem
  3. ABS: Similar to PVC but a little more expensive. It’s rated for very low temps and is more durable than PVC.
  4. Cool Fit Plus ABS: Basically the most awesome (and most expensive) piping option. This is a three layer pipe with ABS, pipe insulation & then more ABS pipe. If Cool Fit Plus ABS piping was a car, it would be a Rolls Royce.

We’re leaning toward getting the ABS. Regardless of what piping we get, we’ll insulate it.

Here’s how our brewery glycol system is designed to work:
Glycol is pumped from the chiller down the long line along the wall through the pressure control valve (shown next to the gauges) and back to the chiller to complete the loop. When a temperature controller calls for fermenter cooling, a solenoid valve on the fermenter opens, allowing chilled glycol to enter the bottom tank jacket and make its way to the top jacket, then back to the return line. The system is set up in a way that the first fermenter on the supply line is the last to be connected to the return line.