The concept for this project was simple: To achieve the ability to brew indoors without spending a fortune. For me, electric was the only option. I had a pretty good propane rig previously so I was able to reuse some of my existing components. I also kept things pretty basic operationally – no automation or pumps. I took my time scrounging for parts, buying online when I had to but also finding a good amount of parts and supplies from work or other places at low cost or free. The “build” aspect of our hobby is a great creative outlet for me and at times I even had to remind myself not to rush things in order to enjoy the process as I went along. But enough about me...
Power comes from the main breaker to a 50A spa panel then to my control box. The box came from the scrap metal bin at work and I fabricated the cover/front panel out of a piece of sheet metal. I designed the panel label in Photoshop then printed it and covered it with a clear matte Lexan label material. To control the heating elements I went with an inexpensive PWM control board. Since the PWM only goes up to about 95% “on” time, I installed a bypass switch which allows for full continuous power. I already had a nice remote thermometer to monitor HLT temp so I stuck with that method rather than going with PID. The element housing boxes are made from old industrial motor junction boxes that are welded to the elements. Only one element can be plugged in at a time.
My stand is a bit unique in that it has a lateral file cabinet as a base (lateral file cabinets are great for brew-room storage BTW). One work surface sits on top of the cabinet, the other is raised up a little above that and is mounted to the concrete wall. The exhaust hood above the BK is a used (but cleaned up) aluminum warehouse lighting reflector. A new Tjernlund M-6 6” fan does a super job of exhausting the steam to the outdoors through a 6” duct and dryer vent.
On brew day I fill my HLT in place with a hose that attaches to a quick disconnect on my water faucet hose. I mash in a cooler and batch sparge using my homemade “tippy dump”. The only lifting I do is to bring the full BK from the floor to the work surface. Cooling is accomplished by a gravity-fed CFC that also connects to my faucet Q.D.
The rest of my brewery is in the same basement room, including the sink, keezer, fermentation chamber, etc. The entire project was a big job because I had to resurface the concrete walls, run the plumbing, run the 230V, install additional lighting, etc. Not to mention the 6” hole through the 96 year-old house’s brick wall. It was also challenging coming up with a layout that worked in such a small room while still keeping my work-room stuff on the other half. There is a bar that runs part way down the middle of the room that I made completely out of old wood left over from earlier house projects – old trim, closet shelving, etc. In fact, the bar top is a single piece (not plywood) of yellow pine 22” wide and almost 6 feet long that came out of one of the closets.
I’ve brewed one batch on it so far and I absolutely love it. I couldn’t have done this project without all the great resources and posts here on HBT. Thanks guys!
Sink hooked up to CFC