Un-boxing and setting up of a three-vessel homebrewing system probably only happens once in a lifetime for most people and I am going to share my experience setting up my 10 Gallon Spike Trio system. The system I decided to order is the Spike Trio 10 gallon with Pipe Thread fittings and the counter flow wort chiller. I decided to go with the Spike three vessel system over other 3 vessel offerings because I liked the single electric panel and only needing to have one outlet to run the system.
The Trio system showed up at Perfect Brewing Supply in five big boxes about a week after I ordered it. The first box I happened to open was the one that had all the three piece ball valves and quick connect fittings, there a lot of fittings!!!! The other boxes quickly followed and there is no wasted space every kettle was full of parts.
The final piece I unboxed was the electrical control panel which controls the heating elements, pumps, and it has readouts for temperature of the HLT (hot liquor tank), mash tun, and boil kettle. The instructions from Spike say you should open the panel up to make sure nothing was knocked loose in shipment, check out how professional and organized the electric panel looks inside!
Plumbing and Kettle Assembly
Its time to take this collection of stainless pots and fittings and turn it into a brewing machine! Spike has a well written set of instructions (you can view the instructions here). There are a lot 3 piece ball valves and quick connect fittings on the outside and on the inside are push to connect fittings for the dip tubes and HERMS coil. Each kettle has a temperature sensor that also needs to be installed with pipe tape. The only problem I had through the entire process was putting the dip tube into false bottom of the mash tun was challenging. Spike tells you to install the false bottom then slide the center pick up into its fitting then pull on it and twist into place this didn’t work that well on this size kettle so after some finagling, I eventually got it into place. Everything else was smooth sailing and I moved on to electrical next.
Electric set up
The electric panel has threaded screw holes in it that is designed to work with Television wall mounts and that’s how I mounted my panel to the wall which is mandatory because all the electric hookups are on the bottom of the panel. After the panel is on the wall its just a matter of plugging in the twist lock fittings and plugging in the temperature sensors. One problem I did run into is the cord that goes to the boil kettle element is very short and with the way I wanted to set up my system the cord wouldn’t reach the boil kettle, so I had to order a longer one from Amazon. With everything plugged in it was time for the big moment turning everything on for the first time!
With so many fittings freshly assembled I decided it was a good idea to leak test each kettle by filling them with cold water. I wanted to do this so if there was a leak it was cold water and not hot wort leaking out. Nearly everything was leak free with the exception of the heating elements which I discovered you need to support on both sides while you put the tri-clamp on to avoid leaks. The other spot I found a leak was the push to connect fitting on the HERMS coil, I am really glad I ran this test because had I not run water through the HERMS coil with the HLT empty it would have been a leak that would be very hard to find.
The leak was at the push to connect fitting with the HERMs coil
Before your first brew day Spike recommends running the HLT through a process called auto tune where the system learns how to most efficiently keep your HLT at a specific temprature. After getting the water up to 150 degrees you push a few buttons and auto tuning starts and runs for 30 minutes to and hour.
What kind of a test would it be if I didn’t boil some water in the boil kettle. I pumped the hot water from the HLT over to the boil kettle and fired up the boil kettle element. In a little over 15 minutes I took 8 gallons of water from 130 degrees to boiling! I couldn’t be happier with how fast that went.
It took about a total of 5 hours start to finish to go from the system in boxes to boiling water. I tend to be pretty handy and am pretty good at following instructions so your mileage may vary. Overall I am very happy with how the set up went and cant wait to brew my first batch.