Month: February 2013

First batch on the new brewery

I finally got to brew on my new brewery setup today. 4 months ago I decided I didn’t want to brew outside anymore, I didn’t want to haul all the equipment outside and back inside, I didn’t want to stand around in the cold and rain and, most of all, I was convinced I’d never be able to brew the same beer twice with the equipment I had.

Moving everything into the basement was a great option except I didn’t feel comfortable using two 70,000+ BTU burners inside the house for 4 hours and worrying that the carbon monoxide would kill the wife and kids or, worse, me! To compare, a high-end residential kitchen stove gas burner is 25,000 BTUs, “normal” stove burners are more like 15,000. I also wanted to brew more than 5 gallons at a time, which was about the maximum for my equipment. Time to upgrade!

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Building the Home Brewery, Part 4

The home brewery is finally finished. Or, finished for the time being as I’ve already figured out that I will be changing and improving things as I find what doesn’t work well. After the last update, I installed the backsplash. I cut 4 inches off one of the table legs so that it could fit against the wall. It took me 3 days to install the ventilation duct and inline fan to vent the heat and steam outside the house. That was the hardest part of the job, I built it all twice! I tend to follow the carpenter rule “measure once, cut twice”.

I mounted an electrical box with a fan control and switch to control the speed of the vent fan to keep it quieter when I don’t need it to be 100% power, which is loud. Then I punched a bunch of holes in the kettles to install valves, a temperature probe and a coil of stainless steel tubing in one that acts as a heat exchanger. I mounted the pumps underneath the bottom shelf of the table. I drilled a bunch more holes in the wall to mount hangers to secure all the electrical cords.

After assembling all the pipe fittings and testing for leaks and making some hoses, I was done by Thursday, Valentine’s Day. I had wanted to be done by Tuesday and to brew a Chocolate Cherry Porter on Valentine’s Day, but I missed it by 2 days. Oh well. I ran through a trial brew day with just water to get used to controlling the system and was ready to brew my first batch on Saturday.


Building the Home Brewery, Part 3

The plumber removed the old 3-compartment cast iron sink and plumbed in the new sink yesterday. He still has to come back on Monday to run some more plumbing that I need.

The ventilation hood is built and was delivered this morning along with a 4’x9′ sheet of stainless steel that I’ll use as a backsplash. I installed lengths of unistrut on the ceiling and hung threaded rod, which suspends the ventilation hood. I was reminded of how hard it is to drill in the old-growth 100 year-old wood joists in this house!

The control panel I ordered from The Electric Brewery in November finally arrived today. My favorite builder, Schuchart/Dow, let me borrow their hammer drill so I could drill some holes in the concrete wall. I mounted unistrut on the wall and mounted the control panel to that.


I still need to install the backsplash, install the ductwork for the ventilation hood, modify the kettles and install the electric heating elements and plumbing in the kettles and do some other minor work. I hope to get all that done this weekend and then after the plumber finishes the plumbing, I’ll be ready to brew!

The Abyss vertical tasting

The homebrew club I’m in collectively had 6 years of Abyss bottles so we did a vertical tasting tonight. We had years 2007 through 2012, every year they made it except 2006. Our 2009 was also one of the famously Brettanomyces-infected bottles.

All were great, of course, but I liked 2010 and 2011 the best. They still had the distinct coffee and chocolate tastes I love in Russian Imperial Stouts. The flavors in the older ones were more blended together and the 2012 hadn’t developed enough. And I really liked the Brett 2009, it was very unique but not nearly as sour as a typical sour beer. They should make a Brett Abyss on purpose!



Whisky barrels

I got a tip from my homebrewing club that a distillery wanted to sell some barrels, conveniently sized at 6.5 gallons. Gay, Eva and I took a trip down to Sumner, WA to Parliament Distillery, a new small distiller, and picked up 4 barrels: 2 for me and 2 for the homebrew club. I can’t wait to age some stouts, barleywines, IPAs and sour beers in them!

I filled them with water to keep them from drying out until I have beers to put in them. The new brewery setup can’t happen fast enough.