Small batch automated beer brewing

Last updated: (05-01-2017)

I enjoy brewing my own beer and I have had this idea for a project kicking around for quite a while to make the plans for a mostly automated brewing system like the pico brew but using industrial automation and 5-15gallon batch. Unfortunately at this stage in my life I will not be able to go beyond planning and specifications,  due to lack of space and funds so lets call it a thought experiment for the time being. (note: some of the documents are linked at the end)

So the Idea is this:

  1.  a 3 pot/vessel system first the HLT (hot liquor tun),  the Mash tun, and finally the boil kettle.
  2. all liquid movement and temperature will be controlled by PLC which will send data to temperature PID controllers via Modbus
  3. temperatures and time will be set at an HMI
  4. tanks will begin heating once heating element is submerged to reduce dead time.
  5. grain and hops will be added manually mostly to reduce some complexity (haha… ok might be a later project)
  6. there will be full manual control as well (jog switch)
  7. all pipes will be connected with cam lock fittings (this may change)

To Do List:

  • front panel layout(currently hand drawn)
  • internal panel layout
  • control power supply sizing
  • BOM’s (90% complete)
  • IO sheet (partially complete; need PLC selected for finalization)
  • programing
  • HMI design
  •  pressure transmitter selection

General brewing process:

  1. Sanitize everything
  2. fill the hot water tank
  3. heat the tank to striking temperature 160-180F (depending on the mash temperature you require 150F-168F and grain temp)
  4. fill mash tun with grains
  5. slowly transfer the hot liquid to the mash tun (doing it slowly prevents dough balls from forming that and stirring)
  6. refill the HLT and heat it to your mash temperature
  7. recirculate the wert through a heat exchanger coil in the HLT (see the PFD)
  8. let the tank recirculate for about an hour-90 minutes to convert as much of the starch as possible to sugars
  9. begin transferring wort to the kettle
  10.  transfer the HLT sparge water to the mash tun as the mash tun is very slowly  transferring to the boil kettle
  11. once complete bring the kettle to a boil for 60-90 minutes (depends on recipe)
  12. add your hops at recipe specified intervals (for bittering and flavoring) and other additives (Irish moss, sugars, spices, etc.)
  13. recirculate the cooked wert through a heat exchanger to cool it down to ~70F
  14. oxygenate the wert since boiling brings the dissolved oxygen to 0 ppm yeast needs it for early stage fermentation
  15. transfer to fermentation vessel like a carboy and add yeast.
  16. clean and sanitize everything (except the HLT)

Planing Documentation:

First my HandCAD™  PFD.

and my more detailed P&ID:

note: I am missing the hand shutoff valves that will be attached at each flange.

PLC Wiring Diagram:

my IO sheet:

name description type PLC register note
SS1 run/clean mode D I01
SS2 Auto/man D I02
PB1 Start D I03
PB2 stop D I04
PB3 jog/ack D I05
Estop D I06
TC1 pd540 alrm (HLT) D I07
TC2 pd540 alrm (kettle) D I08
LS104 level float switch D y01
LS105 level float switch D y02
LS204 level float switch D y03
LS205 level float switch D y04
LS304 level float switch D y05
LS305 level float switch D y06
LT121 HLT level transmitter A/4-20 A1 0-1bar
LT221 Mash level transmitter A/4-20 A2 0-1bar
Name Description direct/ relay PLC register note
PL2 Run d Q1 green
PL3 ready d Q2 yellow
PL4 clean d Q3 blue
PL5 hops addition d Q4 White (flashing)
CV101 input solenoid d Q5 1/2″npt
cv201 tank selector r Q6 1/2″npt
cv202 mash/ recerc select r Q7 1/2″npt
cv203 hlt/direct r Q8 1/2″npt
cv301 from mash/kettle r x1 1/2″npt
cv302 fill/recerc r x2 1/2″npt
cv303 recerc/chill r x3 1/2″npt
cv304 drain solenoid d x4 1/2″npt
pmp1 HLT/mash r x5 7gpm  CPSS-IN-1
pmp2 mash/kettle r x6 7gpm  CPSS-IN-1


Hardware selection (update):

Complete brew hardware BOM (everything directly attached to the tanks)

ID description supplier cost note link qnty sub total
TK-100 16 Gal kettle Ontario beer kegs 129.98 comes with TI graduated 1 129.98
TK-200 16 Gal kettle Ontario beer kegs 129.98 comes with TI 1 129.98
TK-300 16 Gal kettle Ontario beer kegs 129.98 comes with TI 1 129.98
na 16″ sight gauge Ontario beer kegs 29.99 3 89.97
E-101/e301 4500 W 240V heater Ontario beer kegs 41.99 2 83.98
P001/P002 Chugger Brew Pump Ontario beer kegs 144.99 7GPM 2 289.98
E102 50′ SS coil 1/2″ Ontario beer kegs 109.99 1 109.99
F201 15 gal false bottom Ontario beer kegs 74.99 15.5″ diameter 1 74.99
na Si 1/2″ tubing Ontario beer kegs 2.19 30 65.7
CV 3way Lport control valve Amazon 372.55 10 pack 12v 1 372.55
CV 101/304 Solenoid valve Amazon 47.92 12v  2 95.84
shut off 1/2″ npt w/hose barb and bulkhead AliExpress 21.44 8 171.52
hose barbs 1/2″npt Amazon 24.99 5pack 1 24.99
T barb 1/2″ Ontario beer kegs 7.99 1 7.99
E301 30 plate wort chiller AliExpress 115.83 1 115.83
TT 111/311 4″thermowell AliExpress 14.7 2 29.4
TT 111/311 thermocouple k AliExpress 7.75 lot of 2 1 7.75
TT 111/311 1/2″ gland AliExpress 4 lot of 4 1 4
E102 1/2″ compression bulkhead AliExpress 18.67 2 37.34
LSX04/05 Liquid Sensor Vertical Float Switch float AliExpress 5.48 6 32.88
TOTAL 2004.64

At this point I have selected  most  of my control hardware.


ID description supplier cost note link qnty sub total
TIC112/312 XMTA-8pk AliExpress 77.49 2 154.98
R1-10 10 channel DPDT din mounted relay AliExpress 48.38 FY-2NG2G10C-24 1 48.38
Estp 2NC DPST AliExpress 2.56 1 2.56
PB2/3 start stop combo AliExpress 4.85 1 4.85
sw1/sw2 selector switches AliExpress 7.82 2 15.64
enclosure 16x16x8 220 1 220
din rail .5m AliExpress 9.47 5pack 1 9.47
PL2-5 22mm 12v 11.82 10pack mixed colors 1 11.82
PL1 22mm 120v 2.58 orange 1 2.58
power disconnect 26,_UL_508_Rated_Non-Fusible_Disconnects/DIN_Rail_or_Panel_Mount_(16-40_Amps,_SD1_Series)/SD1-016-RR 1 26
legend plates 4.5 7 31.5
circuit barker 6A dual pole Automation direct 36,_FAZ-NA_Series)/C_Curve_(0.5A-40A,_FAZ-CXX-2-NA)/FAZ-C6-2-NA 1 36
dinGND Gnd terminal block 15 10 pack 1 15
terminal blocks 22 100 pack 1 22
e101/e301 contractors 25A 24Vcoil 40 2 80
PLC SG2-20VR-D 150 8 in4a 8out modbus 1 150
expansion SG2-8ER-D 56 2 112
24v PS SG2-10PS-24 48 1 48
12V PS MDP18-12A-1C 28 1 28
HMI OP10N 119 1 119
wire duct 1″x1.5″x6ft 15 2 30
TOTAL 1167.78



(note the following section is out of date)

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Next were my motorized control valves which I managed to find a 10pack of 1/2″ NPT 3-way T valves  I need 6 but hey 4 spares for other projects can’t hurt.

Food grade stainless should be used for this but  since price is an object and $100+ per valve before shipping is a little out of budget so brass body and stainless ball it is. Each valve will be controlled via a DPDT din-mounted relay so PLC outputs can be conserved.


The transfer pumps are going to be 2 of these chugger 7gpm @4 ft of head centrifugal pumps  they  are rated food safe at 250F which should be just fine since I should mostly be working with sub 212F liquids and considering initially I will only be working with  15 Gal and less, 7gpm will mostly be too much so I will be throttling the flow rate with hand valves(which is why I chose a centrifugal pump) one of the benefits is they are magnetically coupled so bearing seals wont be a concern if it gets run dry.

as for my shutoff  solenoid valves I will  most likely use these  12v  valves  no special reason other than they should fit the need


I also haven’t decided on how I will be measuring liquid levels but I am leaning towards a low pressure transmitter since my tanks will most likely be around 20″ tall  so that equates to ~0.8 psi or ~ 58mbar

I have partially written the ladder logic in Teco’s LAD  IDE just to get a feel for it since my prior experience revolves around the old Siemens simatic S7 IDE and RSlogix   (I do miss some of the features that the S7 logic blocks provided).


PLC wire diagram-Layout1 P&ID-PID ANSI D Title Block BREW IO and BOM