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soccerRef 12-10-2012 07:00 PM

Basement Brew Area Build
So last xmas my wife got together with my family and decided that they would all get me 'everything' I need to brew my own beer! [ I had been interested for a while, just not made the move] I haven't brewed nearly as much as I have wanted, time being the most limiting factor, but tied into that the amount of time to convert the kitchen to 'brew house' for the day, and back to kitchen again.

So fast forward to now... and I brewed a few beers a couple weeks ago, just kegged one last night and my wife was helping me out when she says, would this be easier if you had a place in the basement to do most of this?... well yes of course :) and to my surprise she says why don't we find a used gas stove on craigslist, a used countertop for a workspace and you can finally build that fermentation chamber that you said would be easier to use, and eventually even the lager chamber thing you "need". if that wasn't enough she continues talking about the kegerator I want to build ( old fridge has been in the basement for a year holding a keg with picnic tap) and she asks if it would be possible to run a PVC line holding the beer lines to the first floor kitchen, so when we have larger groups of friends over they wouldnt have to go to the basement where the kegerator is!

Of course my first question was and where is my wife? I mean she was always on board with me doing the brew thing, hell she helped get me the stuff... but I didnt see this coming!

This will definitly be a project being worked on over the next few months at least, as I don't really have the time to just dive in , plus I don't have an unlimited budget to work on, so I plan on putting a plan together, then as I find things on CL or other places piece my project together! but I figured I would start the thread now... take some "before" pictures soon, and get a plan started!

Basic set up will include the following
Gas Stove to boil on
Counter top to work on/ place mashtun etc / bottle on etc
fermentation chamber - custom closet type I designed, my basement doesnt get over 70 deg, but does drop to 50, so I really only need air circ, and heat
lager chamber - going to build using an old dorm fridge
kegerator - building from an old fridge/freezer the plan is for 4 taps
kitchen tap line - I plan to run 4 lines inside PVC, not sure on insulate/cooling yet, as the plan is just to use this for parties, if I don't insulate/have it hooked all the time I will get an extra corny keg to hook up after use to simply clean out the lines, so at party time I can just change the beer line quick disconnects from fridge taps to kitchen.. not 100% sure on this yet though
big sink already in basement
water lines - I plan to run water lines above stove so I can fll pots without moving them full... maybe a pump eventually so I can not have to move anything with liquid

NateLTB 12-10-2012 07:16 PM

Your wife is definitely a keeper! Congrats and be sure to post some pictures here of your build.

jCOSbrew 12-10-2012 07:17 PM

Don't forget ventilation and a CO tester for the gas stove.
Depending on what is available in the basement (gas line vs 220VAC) it might be cost effective to build an electric kettle.

dfess1 12-10-2012 07:22 PM

Congrats on the brew area! Looking forward to seeing the progress pics. Where in Rochester are you located?

broadbill 12-10-2012 07:33 PM

My comments:

You are going to need to very powerful gas stove to boil 5+ gallons. I'm not sure even commercial ranges will do this in a acceptable time frame.

A 70 degree basement is too warm for actively fermenting beer....70 degree ambient means 75-80 degree fermentation.

edit to add:I assumed you were doing all-grains, so its possible that you might be heating 8+ gallons at a time.

You might be OK with doing 5 gallon extract batches on a regular stove (I've never tried it), but going AG or 10 gallon batches you might be in trouble.

End comment: if you are going all-out on this, consider the future (that you might be doing 10 gal AG batches) and build accordingly.

jsv1204 12-10-2012 07:38 PM

Gotta similar project in mind and will be going electric with mine. Energy efficiency is better and ventilation requirements are much lower than with a big gas setup indoors. As has been inferred, you might want to reconsider the stove idea - it is tough to boil 6-7 gallons on a stove of any kind.

soccerRef 12-10-2012 07:56 PM

wow quick responses! thanks for the thoughts and ideas, all are very welcomed.

First as as far as CO tester, I already have them all over my house ( each floor, living areas etc so covered there)

Venting - I am replacing the basement style windows already, so I will be simply building in a venting system tied in with this.

As to not being able to boil water quick enough on a gas stove... I currently do this with no problems... in our kitchen we have your standard home use gas stove, and I get water up to temp for AG in 10-15 min, and into full boils in less than 25 min would electric really be that much faster/efficient? Part of my trick is that my hot water from my water tank is pretty hot... so It doesnt have too far to go, then another 60-70 degreees ( depending on temps) to get to boiling...

Im not against being efficient... but I don't plan on going ALL OUT in this setup... if I change to start doing 10 gallon batches I will need to upgrade to larger pots anyways... at which time I would think about going electric most likely. The plan for this is to do it on a pretty tight budget, hence finding pieces of CL and putting it together. also when I say old stove, Im finding 2-4 yr old stoves for great deals, so they aren't 15 y/o inefficient models...

dealing with fermenting issue... I do realize 70 in the basement is too high for active fermentation.. I wasnt going to get into great detail there, but if my basement hits 70 its an extreme max temp... I dont think it got over 65 last year, and if it did it was only during the day and for a limited amount of time, so the ambient temp is a bucket fermenting most likely would not have risen much.. but it does get cold, in the 50's... which obv needs to come up a bit. I was planning on getting a temp controller that does both warm/cool anyways, so maybe I will just design it to work with the lager box I make, and have a PVC insulated pipe with a small PC fan move cold air over if necessary.

are there electric heating elements that dont require me to cut into my pots ? meaning that just get placed in the boil pots? I do have access to 110/220 or gas.

and before anyone jumps in, I have prior experience in running all 3 types of lines, plus have relatives in the business that can do any of the work for me that needs to be done by a "certified" person of the trade.. i.e tying in the lines and testing for safety!

slakwhere 12-10-2012 08:04 PM

i would for sure go with either a gas burner (not a stove, a burner like so many other people use) or electric. i LOVE my electric rig. it's easy, quiet, emits no dangerous gas. they allow for bottom drain vessels (if you can do that with your pots/keggles).

you want a sink for cleanup, a good drain, a spray hose, a vent hood.

TuffToad 12-10-2012 08:12 PM

Before you start your basement brewing project, you might want to check out Kal's site The Electric Brewery http://theelectricbrewery.com/

I have to say I am very happy moving from gas/LP to all electric in my basement. This has been one of the projects that simplified my brewing experience rather than complicate it.

Good luck on your project and keep use posted,

/s TuffToad
Louisville, Ky

JohnnyO 12-10-2012 08:13 PM

Wow. You may want to keep an eye on your wife's shoe/bag collection. Her "support" of your hobby may just be a ruse.

Kidding. Have fun with the build!!

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