I began home beer brewing about 1990 while I was attending college finishing up work on my degree in Computer Science and my minor in Industrial and Management Engineering. My first attempts were simple extract brews using nothing more than malt extract, sugar, and dry yeast. My first batch had a very strong alcohol taste and I was very disappointed with the results. This led to me giving up the hobby for other pursuits.
Around the year 2001, I began brewing again with a simple kit my wife purchased for me from a homebrew store in Boston via the Internet. After a couple of extract brews that had very passable results, I began to yearn for more information regarding the hobby. I studied many books and decided that my next option would be to delve into all-grain home brewing. I began by using a simple three bucket system that was entirely gravity fed. I learned much more about the process and developed a desire to gain more control over different aspects of the mashing, lautering, and sparging steps of all-grain brewing.
After much deliberation, I began to research many of the aspects of brew system construction including valves, pumping options, hoses, electricity versus propane, etc… I found many great resources on the Internet consisting of personal web pages, newsgroups, and bulletin boards.
I also had quite a bit of help deciding what would work best for my system as far as stand materials are concerned. I decided to try copper since I had not seen any one else use this material.
I also gleaned much information from major brewing publications available at the local brew store including a fantastic article regarding pumps in Brew Your Own. I studied several types of recirculating mash systems and felt that the Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System (HERMS) style best suited my needs and what I wanted to accomplish from the styles of beer that I wished to produce. This is not to say that other systems wouldn’t have yielded just as satisfactory results but I felt the HERMS system might be easier for me to construct and would minimize wort scorching. These factors led to the development of my current system.
My hope is that the information found on these pages will contain ideas that might spur on others who are contemplating building a similar system.