Myths About Electric Brewing DispelledSaturday, April 14th, 2012
Personally, it has been eight batches since the upgrade to electric. The electric brewery is just awesome. There have been zero leaks on my weld-less fittings and no problems with operation.
Going into the upgrade, there were a few myths I was concerned about. Let me tell you the facts:
You can only do dark beers with electric brewing because the element will scorch the wort.
This is completely untrue given the right equipment. My first batch was a 3.2% Hefewiezen came out perfect. Subsequent batches, including an American Lager (arguably the lightest beer in the world) also had no scorching. In essence, expect ZERO scorching using the HighGravityBrew elements. If you build your own controller, or use a different element, this could be a problem.
The electricity is expensive.
According to our calculations electricity reduces the energy cost by 70%!
Equation for electricity consumption in home brewing:
hours * (watts / 1000) * price/kWh = total cost
For an example, let’s say the the price is $0.12 / kWh, and a typical batch is brewed:
- 1 hour * (5500 / 1000) * $0.12 = $0.66 (hot liquor tank 5500 watt element)
- 1 hour * (4500 / 1000) * $0.12 = $0.54 (boil kettle 4500 watt element)
Total electricity cost for a standard batch of beer: $1.20
A 5 gallon tank of propane is around $20 to fill, and you get at best 4 batches out of it. That puts the cost around $4/batch with propane.
It requires an expensive computer controller.
Yes and no. You can ‘build your own’ controller out of parts for under $100. That would also require knowledge of electronics. The one from HighGravityBrew is a turn key solution. Most electric brew rigs also have fancy controllers to automate valves and pumps in addition to controlling the electric element. This goes way beyond the issue of switching from gas to electric for a heat source. Besides, at that point it becomes a labor of love. As long as you are having fun and your wife is okay with the project, go for it!
My submersion chiller won’t work.
This is true. I had to adopt my chiller to look like this so it would straddle the heating element. Cools faster and looks interesting. One online reviewer said it looked like the Flying Spaghetti Monster!
I was against upgrading to a plate or counter flow chiller. That style of chiller leaves a lot of hot wort sitting in your kettle while they are draining. This is not good. Plate chillers are also a bear to clean without using caustic solutions.
An electrician is needed:
Actually, this is true. Pay for a licensed electrician and get the permits to make sure your brewing area is safe. Don’t electrocute yourself or burn the house down! All you need is a dryer outlet on a GCFI’d breaker.