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kate 02-17-2009 08:30 PM

Total Newb
Hi all,

I'm an engineering student and for my design project this year I'm designing/building an in-home brewing system. This forum seems to be the best place to get some answers to my questions if you all wouldn't mind helping me out.

A quick introduction to me: I'm in my third year for mechanical engineering and I work at Boeing in Philadelphia in Manufacturing Research and Development over the summers, which basically means I help them solve problems that come up when building the aircraft rather than problems with the aircraft itself. What got me into beer was working in a pizza place with a take-out window that sold over 90 types of beer because the owner's son was really into it. From him I learned of all kinds of local brews and the different types of beers, though I'm still a total amateur, which I'm sure will be apparent in any further posts I make. I think the best way to really know beer is to make it yourself so you can truly understand it through and through. The last new (to me) beer I tasted was Seadog Blueberry Wheat (anything wheat is my favorite) from Mass. which I immediately fell in love with.

Okay, so maybe that wasn't so quick, so I'll get to the point.

As people that have maybe bought or built their own in-home brewery, what would you say are the essentials to a good system? Do you have any aggrevations with your current system you would look to avoid when getting another one?

Thanks in advance

Bert 02-17-2009 08:33 PM

I think "building a brewery" makes it sound a little more grandiose than it is. At minimum all you really need is a couple plastic buckets, a cover, some tubing and a decent sized kettle.

McKBrew 02-17-2009 08:37 PM

I'd recommend trying a couple of extract brews on the stovetop before making any major commitments. If you decide that brewing is the hobby for you and you have the financial resources to do so, I'd get the equipment that you know you will want for a few years. There is nothing wrong with building up if you don't have the cash, but more than a few brewers have bought a pot or mash tun that was too small because they were in such a rush to get things that they didn't really think it through.

Hope that made sense.

Hugh_Jass 02-17-2009 08:38 PM


There's a plethora of information about design/build different aspects of the beer obsession. Check out the DIY, and Equip/Sanitation threads.

I didn't read that you've actually brewed beer before, but there's quite a number of experieced and award-winning brewers on this board.

The search function is a good place to start for any questions you might have. Beyond that, feel free to ask.:mug:

Got Trub? 02-17-2009 08:44 PM

Welcome Kate. If you look around here you will see many ingenious solutions to building a brewing system. Some are built out of necessity (ie only so many $ to devote to the hobby) and others are as automated and fancy as one can imagine with a (virtually) unlimited budget.

In my mind a "good system" is one that is readily repeatable. A good brewer can brew on just about anything. It is experience and understanding of the process that are more important than the hardware they use.


CBBaron 02-17-2009 08:52 PM

To the people replying above me: Kate appears to be interested in building a brewing rig for a school project, so it is not the normal situation where you would normally start out with a basic starter kit and brew a few extract beers for the experience.

To the OP: First lets start with some requirements. Namely price range and expected build hours. Home breweries range from the $100 starter kit of a couple buckets and assorted other tools and a decent sized pot to multi-thousand dollar, stainless steel, partially automated, brewing systems with SS conicals. and everything in between. I have a very basic system for brewing beers from grains that includes a modified cooler and a turkey fryer in addition to the basic starter kit. A "system" might be a multi-tiered stand with several burners for the stages, or a "system" with 1 or 2 pumps to move the wort and water between the kettles.


bernerbrau 02-17-2009 08:57 PM

You're not as noob as this guy...

albannach 02-17-2009 09:10 PM

For help understanding the process: How to Brew - By John Palmer - Introduction

If you build a kick @** :rockin: brew rig for your project or come up with some new inventive idea/system, please share! :D

kate 02-17-2009 09:11 PM

wow didn't expect such quick replies. thanks to jass, trub, and cbbarron, i now know that i have my work cut out for me, since i don't know what half the things are that you're talking about haha. but really though, that's just what i was looking for, thank you.

and thanks albannach for a good place to get started. i'll keep you all updated on the project, so please be prepared to criticize!

Irish1225 02-17-2009 10:12 PM

here's a "nice" setup. check the video at about 2:30

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