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Old 03-31-2009, 02:50 PM   #1
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Default City Dwellers, Urbanites, Apartment Brewers!

So, I live in Boston. If you've visited or lived here, you probably know that space is extremely limited. Like many Bostonians, I live in a small two-bedroom 3rd floor apartment. Basically, my living room and my kitchen are more or less the same place. I have an electric stove, a sink, and amazingly, a dishwasher (a rare commodity 'round these parts).

Seeing all the pictures posted here of fantastic setups that encompass entire garages or back porches sure makes me jealous. I always think, gee, if I had some land like that I could expand my operation by double! Unfortunately, this is simply not the case.

So far, I've managed to make things work in my humble little abode. My electric burner can boil up to 4 gallons which impressed me, my sink is an exact fit for cooling wort in my 6-gallon stock pot, and we have a tiny towel closet with just enough space to fit a 6.5-gallon fermenter. But, my hopes of having an efficient, expansive, and impressive multi-tiered setup is seemingly impossible.

So my question is to all of you city/apartment/minimal space brewers, how do you deal with your space and little to no outdoor options? What adjustments have you had to make for the process to be easier or more productive?

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Old 03-31-2009, 03:10 PM   #2
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Yeah, I was relegated to doing partial mash due to the exact problems you describe. Basically I mashed as much grain as possible, and added the remaining fermentables via extra light DME. Worked pretty well and with a 4 gallon boil you'll be able to get most of your fermentables from the grain for standard gravity beers. Even though it's not full AG you get to use the AG process and have a lot more control over your beer.

Luckily for me I recently moved to Cambridge and now I have a deck so I am going AG.

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Old 03-31-2009, 03:13 PM   #3
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I live in a small one bedroom apartment. I am lucky enough to have a dishwasher AND a balcony. I do all grain, so don't let anyone tell you AG is impossible in an apartment. Right now, my gas stove can do a good enough job of boiling ~6 gallons of wort. When it gets warmer, I'm going to use my propane burner. Its technically not allowed, but I'm on the 12th floor and nobody will ever know. I also figure that since they have gas stoves inside, a propane burner outside is much safer.

One of my closets is completely filled with brewing supplies. The biggest pain is that since I dont have a dedicated brewing space, all the equipment has to go up when I'm done. I have an ok kitchen, which is now home to my donated Son-of-a fermentation chiller. I use my bathtub to wash all the larger equipment. The high capacity of a bathtub faucet makes filling a carboy a breeze!

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Old 03-31-2009, 03:15 PM   #4
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If Boston is anything like Baltimore (space-wise) then I am familiar with the issues. My cousin has a two-floor two-bedroom place there and I've visited. Additionally, I am an apartment brewer with not much more space (just all on one floor).

Apartment brewing requires a lot of adjustment, mostly for space and boil amount. You can boil 4 gallons, that's great for making 5gallon extract batches or 2.5 gallon all-grain batches. For the longest time, my brewery was in the furnace closet (see pics in my sig). There was not much floor space, so I built up and managed to get my whole brewing setup in the closet (except my stock pot which was stored above the kitchen cabinets). The pictures are after I moved the bottles out into another closet, but I did keep two cases in that closet for a long time.

A little while later, I decided (with SWMBO's approval) to sacrifice some of the living room space for a keezer. The keezer takes up just a bit more space than 6 cases of bottles would and holds the same amount of beer. A mini fridge model would also work great in a small area.

My biggest adjustment in an effort to save money and brew better beer was to move to 2.5 gal all-grain batches. I got a 2 gallon cooler and converted it to a MLT. It works well for brewing normal gravity beer, which is what I make anyway. I now use my old 5gal better bottles as primaries and a 3gal BB for a secondary. A setup like this will give you that multi-tier setup that you want with minimal space. The only equipment I had to add was the cooler. I use my bottling bucket to catch the runnings and my existing stock pot to boil.

I really need to brew again so that I can take pictures of my setup.

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Old 03-31-2009, 03:51 PM   #5
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I'm on Mission Hill and have a decent sized kitchen with a porch. Our stove is gas so we don't really have a problem with 5 gallon batches. I use the tub to cool my wort, since our sink is too small. We dedicate a closet (my closet) to storing bottles and one carboy. I have some exposed copper piping in my room that we use to heat the primary when the apartment hovers around 55.

Our equipment is starting to take over the kitchen. Between brewing supplies and cleaners (white powders) and the solar powered hydrogen fuel cells my roomates are making for their senior design project (PVC pipe with endcaps), it is quite funny when realtors come through to show the place.

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Old 03-31-2009, 04:00 PM   #6
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I live in a two bedroom apartment on the third floor. I mash in my kitchen and Boil on my Balcony, My keezer is strategically placed next to the sliding door for my balcony.

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Old 03-31-2009, 04:04 PM   #7
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One of the guys on this forum lives in a 12th story 400 sq ft condo. He isable to brew 5G AG batches by splitting the boil. He has brewing stuff everywhere. I've had his beer, it's great.

No one should ever use space as a reason to keep from brewing. Adapt and overcome.

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Old 03-31-2009, 04:22 PM   #8
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Just remember, the Brutus 10 rig was totally built by a guy who lives in an apartment. All of his welding, etc was done right on his balcony/porch of his apartment. It can definately be done....

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Old 03-31-2009, 04:25 PM   #9
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... or you can just become friends with folks who have big rigs, hang out at their place and split batches.

Not saying to do that all of the time but we split up batches all the time in our club.

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Old 03-31-2009, 04:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edcculus View Post
One of my closets is completely filled with brewing supplies. The biggest pain is that since I dont have a dedicated brewing space, all the equipment has to go up when I'm done. I have an ok kitchen, which is now home to my donated Son-of-a fermentation chiller. I use my bathtub to wash all the larger equipment. The high capacity of a bathtub faucet makes filling a carboy a breeze!
My brewing supplies inevitably spill out of my closets and are stored on the floor in my bedroom. I use my bathtub faucet a lot, but it's very low, so I can't just turn on the faucet and walk away. I have to stand there and hold the tilted carboy or pail. My limited kitchen counter space is always loaded with pots and pans even before brew day. Stuff like that is a pain.
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