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Old 10-07-2012, 07:17 PM   #1
weasello
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Victoria, BC
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Default My first brewery

Hey everyone! First up: Thanks for this forum. I've been reading it, the stickies, and the archives for a few weeks now and it's been really good for keeping me steeled against common mistakes. I probably would have messed up something if not for you!

Some background: I have none! I have never made a beer before, kit or otherwise. Many of my friends make beer though, and I decided to join the ranks with an all-grain setup, skipping the kit-step of my training.

I thought I'd post about my gear, in case anyone else just starting out wants to see how it came together. I'm happy to answer any questions and take any feedback or critcism while I'm at it! I'm located up in Canada so a lot of the online suppliers aren't really good deals; MoreBeer seems great but shipping can get nasty. I actually found HopDawgs in BC had most of what I needed; the remainder, some local suppliers, and used MoreBeer for a few smaller supplies like silicon o-rings.

My target was to do half-batches (one corny keg, 5 gallons) per brew.

And here's the rest of my gear, all on one convenient shelf in the garage:



Not pictured: two more kegs and a water filter.

Some of my more cherished items (the grain crusher, pictured above the fridge) were purchased from friends that no longer brew. A lot of the minor buckets, supplies, and hoses aren't really anything special.

I really like my thermos containers (the bright orange ones). My hot liquor tank is 5 gallons, my mash tun is 10 gallons. They were purchased as water-dispensers (the kind you see at football games) from Home Hardware on sale for about $50, and the water spout just unscrews and a spigot fits right in without needing any modifications! Wonderful. They retain temperature quite well and don't drip or leak.

For the mash tun I dropped in a screen that just happened to fit the inside radius perfectly.

I have two 6.5 Gallon carboys as secondaries, plus two more 5 gallon carboys. I'm not sure the 5 gallons will ever get used, they were a mistake! I might try to swap them for some 6.5ers. Pictured above: little red rubber/metal handles on the carboys. THESE ARE AMAZING, if you have glass carboys USE THESE and you can make handling them way easier and safer! Only a few bucks each!

For my brewpot, you can see in the above photo it's resting on a custom-built wooden frame sitting on top of an old set of office-chair wheels. It looks haphazard but it is quite solid, and way better than lugging around a vat of boiling water by hand! I can use this setup to wheel the pot to the drain at the front of the garage (and the filling hose there too). The height of the pot is such that I can gravity-feed into both the orange vats; the screw-top lids on the orange vats mean they're easy enough to safely lift back into position on the shelf. Because I'm a strapping young man with bulging arm muscles and I just love to lift 5 gallon tubs to show off.

The pot is also low enough that you can gravity feed into it from the mash tun so, hooray! Perfect height. (The adjustable shelving unit was so helpful here)

Here's a closeup of the pot:



It's came with a temperature gauge outside (it seems to read 3-5 degrees colder than an interior thermometer, unfortunately) and a spigot already on it, but I decided to go electric instead of propane. That way I could stay indoors in the dead of Canadian Winter and not worry about fumes or anything.

Inside:



There's a sheet metal shop in town that charged me $20 to punch some circular holes in the side of the pot. The elements are from Home Depot, they are standard 120V hot-water-tank heating elements ($40 ea). A friend helped out by slicing open some extension cords, wiring up the elements, and hooking up the ground wire. A single electric element can bring 8 gallons to a full boil in about 1 hour 45 minutes; two elements as I have here brings 8 gallons to a full boil in about 45 minutes.

I was shopping around for a chest freezer to modify for dispensing (I might still, someday), but a friend was moving and had to get rid of the fridge and I managed to snag it for free. Free is a good price! I can live with that! I've got a johnson temperature controller plugged into it at the back.

All in all, the whole kit cost me around $1000, the biggest single expense being the three kegs and the full giant Co2 cannister that I got off the local sites like Craigslist.

The only complication is two elements on any one outlet will blow a fuse in my house, so I've got to run an extension cord through my basement.

I've made my first brew already, but I'll save that for another post!

(hopefully I didn't mess up any of the technical names and haven't made some horrible mistakes. I'm new! Help me out )

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