Grain Mill Video

August 31, 2011

Eats through 5kg of grain in 1 minute!  Yet drill speed is satisfyingly slow.

CFC Upgrade – Flow Control

August 31, 2011

The counter-flow chiller has been a great boon.  Not only does it lock in hop aroma wonderfully and permit zero-minute additions, it also means that I can dispense with hot-cubing and pitch straight away.

Ideally when pitching straight into the fermenter I would like to have my wort at the Fermentis-recommended temperature of 25-27C.  This gets the yeast going rapidly and ensures vigorous growth. Until now, controlling the temperature of the wort hitting the fermenter from the CFC has been quite cumbersome – I get the flow going and fine tune the final temp by varying the flow of cooling water.  This invariable means running back and forth to my garden tap, which is at the end of a long hose.  I don’t know if you’ve tried adjusting a garden tap finely, but it generally takes 5 or more trips to get it right. Annoying!

The solution – a flow control valve in the CFC…

Increasingly, my brewing hobby is looking like a poorly disguised ball-valve collecting hobby!

Mill Hopper

August 31, 2011

The bare-bones mill needs a hopper to hold the grain prior to cracking and a bin to collect it after.

Having used Dave’s mill, the features that I’d like to build into the mill are:

  • a design where the hopper can fit into the bin for neat storage
  • lightweight
  • easy access to the set-screws for gap adjustment
  • hopper large enough to fit a full 5kg grain bill
  • flow-control, so that grain can be stopped and started independent of the drill
  • fully enclosed sides so that grain can’t spill out from the rollers

My material of choice for building the mill is 12mm plywood.  I wanted to avoid MDF because it’s amazingly unfoodsafe and swells like a bastard when wetted.  I figured that everything I wanted to make can be built up out of laminations of ply.

I started by boxing in the mill…

I then cut a slot in the box above the rollers to allow grain to feed through, and routed the edges with a chamfering bit.

Next I built up some laminations to make the adaptor that would adapt from the circular hopper outlet to the long thin roller inlet…

Into this I cut the circular hole for the hopper with a hole-saw.   All the edges were also routed/dremmelled to ensure there are no horizontal surfaces for grain to catch.

The adaptor block also has a slot in it to take the flow-control slide.  You can see that my hopper is simply a 12L water cooler bottle.  I found it best to leave the red cap on, cut the end spout flush with a scalpel and then sand the sides of it parallel with a beltsander.  It’s a snug press fit.

The slide was fitted.  It’s simply a board with a triangular hole cut through it.  I used some aluminium channel screwed to the ends to make it captive and allow for its removal, should that be required.

I glued some circular locating feet on it so that it stays in position on the grain bin.  And lastly cut a lid to cover the mill rollers when it’s turned upside-down and not in use.

Crankandstein Mill

August 31, 2011

The latest addition to the ULCBP is a grain mill.  Although the brewshop will crack grain for you, there are clear advantages to cracking it yourself.

  • cracked grain deteriorates, whereas uncracked grain lasts for a year
  • longer lasting grain means you can buy more of it – 25kg sacks of grain are 1/6th the per kilo price
  • larger quantities of grain increase the likelihood of a grainsharing arrangement with brew-mates
  • keeping a supply of grains reduces the need to constantly drive to the brewshop
  • the husks are important in forming the grain-bed and storing cracked grain inevitably settles the constituent parts out into density

With the Aussie dollar looking so good I decided to take an opportunity to buy a mill from the USA while a friend was on holiday over there.  (Sorry Russ for the luggage allowance abuse!)

I selected the Crankandstein 2D Mill.  Its stand-out feature is detented adjusters for roller gap.  This means that it’s easy to keep the rollers parallel and return to factory setting when desired.

Of course this mill only comes bare-bones so you have to make all the rest of the mill, hopper, etc around the rollers!  Stay tuned…