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Broken Chiller, Tanks Warming, A Brewer's Nightmare

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  • Broken Chiller, Tanks Warming, A Brewer's Nightmare

    Greetings all,

    Sad news from my little brewpub. After an 18 hr power outage, our chiller was tripping the breaker everytime we tried to turn it on. We found two burnt fuses & replaced those to no avail. We called some repair guys and have found out the transformer is also burnt. The tank temperatures are between 42-48 degrees Fahrenheit at this moment. It is the middle of the summer here so who knows how warm they could be by tomorrow. I guess my question is if any one knows at up to what temperatures the beers will still be salvageable? Im sure it depends on a number of factors regarding beer style.....alcohol %, hop quantity, etc.....No choice, but wait and get them cold as soon as possible and see how they taste from there.....right now we are at approximately 25 hrs without the chiller running.....anyone else have a similar experience that ended well that might put my mind at ease?

  • #2
    BTW all our beers are unfiltered......soo if fermentation starts again....
    not sure what kind of affects this issue might cause.


    • #3
      Just get on it soon. I've had a lager warm up to 80 when our chiller compressor went down during 100 deg summer (circulation pump still worked so pumped hot glycol through system heating everything)! It wasn't the smoothest lager! It was also unfiltered being in the unitank and there was some autolysis flavors from this amount of heat. I wouldn't worry about even mid 60s, but like i said, get on it soon!
      Jamie Fulton
      Community Beer Co.
      Dallas, Texas

      "Beer for the Greater Good"


      • #4

        Recently, after a hurricane, we lost 1 phase out of three. Strange, I know. It took 6 days to repair. We have a 10 hL system with 10 hL tanks. The central refrigeration wouldn't work but many other things in the brewpub did. (three pase vs. single phase). Including some single phase glycol decks.

        Long story short, on day 3, we managed to rent a huge mobile diesel generator to power the entire building (probably could have powered a small town). On day 1, we isolated each tank and adapted glycol decks (flash coolers, like these) to each active tank via the existing 1/2" glycol connections. Thank goodness we only had four active tanks. We then managed everything manually for the next few days. Those little units were cookin'.

        They worked pretty well though. Maintained everything. Wouldn't try to crash a tank with one. We had one deck already but, Randy, our draft services guy, scared the other three up for us as loaners. Cost us little. Had to think fast and get it done. Lost a lot of sleep though.

        Good luck.


        Liam McKenna


        • #5
          hot lager that ended well

          We had a very hot summer day and our chiller went out. Our lager made it up to 80 degrees at the end of its fermentation. Some said it was the best that we had made to date.....


          • #6
            You say a "little brewpub" so maybe running ice/water through the jacket would work. You'd have to drain the glycol of course, but if it's emergency mode, that might be an option.
            Nat West


            • #7
              I've run warm water through the glycol lines to heat up a beer that got too cold. You could probably just run cold tap water through there until it gets fixed. This time of year, the tap water runs pretty cold around here. Lots of wasted water though.
              Troy Robinson
              Quirk Brewing
              Walla Walla


              • #8
                Thanks guys

                We got it up and working again before any beer got above 50 so it looks like we'll be fine. The power outage burnt four different parts of the electrical. We got six 7bbl brites and 3 fermentors, so the running ice water through it was definitely crossing my mind as a last ditch effort. Also luckily there was a heavy summer thunderstorm the night before the power outage so outside temperature weren't above 80. Anyway, all back to normal...& now to look into emergency generators....cheers!


                • #9
                  Can you elaborate on how the power outage itself damaged your electrical systems and what possible actions you might take to mitigate such damage in the future? Thanks


                  • #10
                    Thers a good chance that it was the re-start of power, a surge, that did the dammage. Its always good to shut off all systems, and manualy restart when outages happen.
                    Brewmaster, Minocqua Brewing Company
                    "Your results may vary"


                    • #11
                      Agree with Ted completely. When you have an outage, turn everything off before the power comes back on. Both our brewery and the one down the street had multiple compressors blow out a few years ago when power was restored after an outage. There must have been a massive power surge when it was returned. It burned out the motherboard on our chiller. If it had not been for an over night package and a conference call with Jim from Pro Refrigeration we would have had a much worse time. Another time we had to rent an 800 amp three phase generator. That was ridiculously expensive.

                      The beers always depend on where they are in production. If the beer were crashed I have found once warmed up much at all they are much cloudier than normal during filtration.
                      Joel Halbleib
                      Partner / Zymurgist
                      Hive and Barrel Meadery
                      6302 Old La Grange Rd
                      Crestwood, KY


                      • #12
                        You might also think about adding a time delay to your motor starter panel of your chiller. An additional 15 minutes won't hurt a thing and allows for fluctuating power to stabilize before bringing your equipment back online.


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the info, guys. Makes perfect sense.

                          In that regard, I have seen control panels with a safe start interlock where the interlock cuts off power to the system if individual components are switched on before electricity hits the panel. The interlock will only allow power to the components of the panel if the component switches are off at the time of supply to the panel. Such an intercept would provide protection in these cases.