I’ve brewed 12 times on the new brewery now. I’ve been tweaking the setup over the batches and ended up switching from a plate chiller to a counterflow chiller rather than fight the losing battle of trying to filter pellet hops, I added a valve to the boil kettle so I can recirculate the wort while it’s chilling to do whirlpooling before transferring it to the fermenter, added a quick connect to the hose in the mash tun to make it easier to remove for cleaning, shortened the hoses as much as I could and put 90º elbows on some valves to prevent hoses from kinking (and to make it more ergonomic to connect and disconnect them). The process and cleanup is becoming smoother for me.

My brilliant innovation is to use a shop-vac to clean the kettles in-place. After scooping most of the spent grain out of the mash tun I can vacuum up the rest. I can also vacuum up the hops from the boil kettle. I was worried that the vacuum would be clogged with grain and hop bits, but I end up vacuuming up so much soapy water that I use to clean the insides that the vacuum has never been more clean! I never have to disconnect a kettle or lug them to the sink and back.

It takes me 6-8 hours to brew: 1 hour to heat strike water, 1-1.5 hours to mash, 1 hour to lauter, 1-1.5 hours to boil, 30 minutes to chill and transfer to the fermenter, and cleanup. Doing this 3 days a week, making yeast starters and managing the fermentation and kegging/bottling has turned into a full-time job hobby! My weekends have been filled with trying to understand chemistry to figure out how the water affects the beer and I haven’t even started managing the yeast yet. Brewing is hard.