I am a new brewer and have gotten a lot of helpful advice from this forum and ideas from viewing other peoples rigs. I finally figured I would post my own.
The Key to brewing in an apartment is upgrading the large stove coils to "Canning coils". they ROCK! Here is a pic of one of them installed, its the rear coil in the pic. Not only do they heat the water very fast, they are raised higher then the standard coils as well as are reinforced to hold large amounts of weight.
My last brew session i timed everything to be able give people an idea what stove top brewing is like.
In the following pictures I am using my 6 gallon stainless pots to boil in, I have recently switched back to using my 5 gal aluminum pots because they heat the water faster. I will update this next time i use the stainless steel pots just for comparison.
Time Trial with Aluminum Pots, using 4.5 kg 2 row, .5 kg roasted barley:
Started with 150 Degree F, 7.6 gal tap water.
0:07 Water hits 170 F, started Mash, turned off stove
1:07 Mash completed, removed mash bag, temperature of mash is 180 F 6.4gal water, 1.028 gravity
(1.056 after temp correction to 68 degrees F)
1:37 Temp reaches 210 F, Boil starts
3 hop add ins at time intervals 60 30 10
2:27 Put a mash bag in one pot, put the immersion chiller in second pot to sterilize them
2:37 Boil Finished, 5.5 Gallons left, starting cooling each pot using one 20 ft of 1/2 inch immersion chiller
2:43 First pot hit 90F
2:50 Second pot hit 90F, Put mash bag in sanitized 6 gallon pot, dump both pots into 6 gallon pot. sterilize hands and squeeze wort through bag. after having many spills in my kitchen, i now make this transfer in the tub, that way if i spill its not a big deal. I also put a cutting board under the 6 gal pot so it doesnt scratch the paint on the steel tub.
Here is a pic of the left over trub from straining through hop bag, and yes it tastes just as ****ty as it looks haha:
I made two batches this day so this picture is actually 10 gallons worth of trub.
2:57 put pot in fermenting fridge which is set at 65 degrees F.
Done! 5.25 gal, 1.058 at 90 deg F
(1.061 adjusted to 68 deg F)
Here are some pics of my fermenting closet.
I have two digitally temp controlled fermenters on the left and a statically controlled fridge on the right. The fridge was set by getting a glass of water to the temperature i wanted the fridge to be set at, then immersing the thermostat into the water and adjusting the thermostat adjustment internal set screw til the main dial was within the range i wanted the fridge to be.
I thought that I would have major overheating temperature issues with all these fridges in one closet, but I just leave the door open. Even with the door closed, I was suprised on how little they heat up the room.
Each fermentation fridge is controlled by a Johnson 419 temp controller and easily holds 2 x 6 gallon fermenters. If i want I can seal the fermenters using a 15" oring, binder clips, large drilled holes and plugs with blowoff tubes. But I find that beer really doesnt need to be completely pressure sealed, so I usually just put the lids on and cover the blowoff holes. The two fermentation fridges also have collars installed behind the seals, much like people do with freezers. Without these collars I cant fit in two pots due to the compressors in the bottom of the fridges.
One day I will install shelves but 2x4's seem to do the trick for now.
Add Yeast next day when wort is a expected temp
Interesting side benefits:
Since i am using a pot to ferment in, i can easily just sanitize my hydrometer and stick it in my pot as shown here:
I like to remove the krausen after about 3 days of fermentation. Some people say its bad to mess with the beer, but I have noticed that the beer tends to taste cleaner by removing the krausen and straining the trub after cooling. But then again, I have yet to have a keg last 2 weeks past it finishing fermentation so maybe straining and removing krausen is pointless if you let your beer age? Hopefully one day I will be able to find out.
5 and 6 gallon pots are perfect for washing in the sink! they barely fit under the faucet and are easily fillable and washable.
I am a big fan of the digital temperature probes, they sell them at XScargo here in london for 10$ each. They allow you to set time alarms, temerature alarms, and allow u to get a temperature at a glance anytime you want. I just "mentally" calibrate them to my johnson temp controllers. Everyone I have checked, they always seem to read exactly 2 degrees F high, wierd.
Hope someone finds something in these ramblings useful haha
If anyone has any questions, comments or advice, I am always interested!