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Old 04-20-2009, 01:53 PM   #1
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Default Anyone else brewing out of an apartment? (my story)

I recently got into home brewing with my brother and since we both live in relatively small apartments, but we make do with the space/utilities we have. Thus far, its actually worked out great, his apartment is in a nice luxury high rise just outside manhattan and we have access to the lounge kitchen which is brand new with a nice gas stovetop and endless granite countertops.

After a few extract batches, we've decided to go all-grain. I've built my MLT with a copper manifold and bulkhead valve, bought a 6gal SS brew kettle, drilled it out and added a weldless bulkhead, and picked up a homemade (nice quality) CF chiller on ebay. We brew this sunday, oatmeal stout, this time in my kitchen.

But I find it interesting the hoops that we have to jump through given our space restrictions. For example, tonight I will be installing an inline garden hose spigot into my cold water inlet for my kitchen sink faucet so we can hook up the CFC. Our 3 tier lautering system consists of my stovetop, a dining room chair and the kitchen floor. And all of our starters, primary and secondary fermenters will sit comfortably in my closet underneath my shirts.

Anyway, I just felt like ranting about my troubles. Hopefully my financee doesnt leave me after we make a colossal mess of our kitchen.

Anyone else working in these type on conditions?

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Old 04-20-2009, 01:57 PM   #2
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Buck up there fella, lots of folks need to go thru the same hurdles as you are. It's a badge of honor IMHO! Here's a thread where I show pics of my setup in our NYC apartment...

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/hooray-brew-day-pics-107671/

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Old 04-20-2009, 01:58 PM   #3
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Many of us do...If you scroll down to the similar threads box, you will see a handful of threads on apartment brewing.

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Old 04-20-2009, 02:17 PM   #4
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Yep, I do 8 gallon AG batches in my 2 bedroom apartment. I stop in the summer, though. Too friggin' hot.

EDIT: Forgot that I made some videos of this. For the 8 gallon batches, I'll do one mash and just boil and cool twice. It's a little bit of a pain, but I've started doing lots of dual batch experiments so it's the only way. Plus, more beer



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Old 04-20-2009, 02:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastricky View Post
Buck up there fella, lots of folks need to go thru the same hurdles as you are. It's a badge of honor IMHO! Here's a thread where I show pics of my setup in our NYC apartment...

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/hooray-brew-day-pics-107671/
:bowdown:

wow, great pics. I actually feel much better about the space I have. Couple questions for you:

1.) how did you hook up cold water to your wort chiller?

2.) more details on your sparge setup please

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Old 04-20-2009, 03:05 PM   #6
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I started brewing in a 1 room apartment. I took out the bottom slelf in my pantry to have a cool dark place to age my beer. After a couple of equipment upgrades, I had to order cary out for dinner, because there wasn't even enough room in the tiny kitchen to make a sandwich!

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Old 04-20-2009, 03:51 PM   #7
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Yeah been there done that! Started brewing in tiny 1 bedroom apartment. Just bought my first home, but when I was first looking at it with the realtor I noticed it had another full kitchen in the basement! That's when I knew I had to buy the house! Now I have my own brewing kitchen in basement and the wife doesn't complain about my equipment everywhere!

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Old 04-20-2009, 04:03 PM   #8
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I find the key to making a small space work semi-comfortably is organization and CLEAN UP AS YOU GO! It's so important to keep the clutter to a minimum so you can focus on the important stuff and not get distracted. Plus you need all the real estate you can get, so after I use say the sparge equipement, it's cleaned and put away while I'm waiting for the kettle to come to a boil. Etc.

My faucet has a thread on the bottom lip of it so attaching the chiller was a piece of cake. I guess yours doesn't? I'm sure you can get an inexpensive faucet to replace yours if that's the case.

Sparge setup is pretty standard. One thing that is key is the orange and blue towels you see are LARGE beach towels - very handy and I generally have them extended over the floor when transferring say, the hot water from the kettle into the sparge bucket, which of course is done on the floor. Working in a small space I find has a disproportionate amount of splashing and spilling for some reason, so in addition to the towels I have 4-5 dish towels to clean up stuff as I go.

Storage is fun. You have to be crafty as all hell. My fermenters are in nooks and crannies throughout the apartment. One advantage we have is our ceilings are tall (12') so there is a ton of usable space at the top of our closets and I use every square inch of it to store unused kettles, fermenters, etc.

Once you work out the kinks, I actually think this setup is preferable (!) You have everything at arms reach and all equipment, drainage, water, etc together. Most master chefs actually prefer a small kitchen and I can see why.

2 cents y'all!

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Old 04-20-2009, 04:08 PM   #9
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I currently do extract brews in my apartment. I want to move to all grain but SWMBO says "then where are we going to put all that stuff." I can't wait to get a house so I can have my MAN ROOM.

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Old 04-20-2009, 04:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastricky View Post
I find the key to making a small space work semi-comfortably is organization and CLEAN UP AS YOU GO!

Definitely. I live in a 1 bedroom upper apartment and am doing all grain batches and it's rather difficult. My MLT is propped up by two card table chairs when I'm sparging.

The unfortunate part at this point is my 3 gallon batch size limitation (I still do some partial boil 5 gallon extract batches). I'm working on getting a keggle setup finished but that'll be a task in itself since I'm in an upper and will have to be running upstairs all the friggin' time... still haven't figured out how i'm going to chill with that setup (no water outside, brewing area > 50' from apartment).

You gotta be creative with everything. Little tricks like storing your supplies in your MLT can go a long way in saving space on a day-to-day basis, too. I keep my freshly-bottled beer in the bathroom in case of bottle bombs. Stacking is everything, too. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/photo.php?pid=36123208&id=59500546

I also used a ton of towels to insulate the bottom of a closet that fits two buckets for fermenting... I use a bunch of old LME containers filled with ice to keep the temperature somewhat controlled.
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