the tankless water heater is a great idea! I had been wondering if I would just keep water hot on the cooktop for cleaning, but that's much better. I'll have to look at the small scale electric versions.
I have been on several tours of the closest breweries and am actually talking to them about some of the ideas I have. Brewers are the NICEST people!
I live west of Chapel Hill about 11 miles. It's not really any town, but near several.
If you did a walk-in or cold-room, wouldn't it make all the items in it the same temperature? What if you wanted to do a fermentation with different temperatures at various points and had to effect all your fermenters that way?
I had considered it (particularly after seeing John Beere's cold room on here) because I am good at structural home repairs (I lack in the plumbing and wiring departments, but can frame and build well). I'd basically settled on the stand-up freezers with the biggest conicals that would fit in them and Rancos to control them so you could have an ale going at 68F in one and a lager dropping off for a cold period in the 30s or 40s in another.
Any reasons why a room would be better?
The building isn't insulated and has no AC (plenty of windows and big garage doors for air flow in hot weather) or heat. I probably wouldn't hang out there much, but I might use my extra tank and regulator and set up a sampling spot, since I'd likely keep kegs pressurizing out there and cold waiting for a spot in the kegorator in the house. My old leather recliner and some other chairs might make a decent hangout spot for sampling.
My first steps are to try and get out there and haul a bunch of junk out of the garage and clean up. It's less than a year old but it instantly became the "storehouse of junk". That will let me move the one car to the other side, giving me the half with the breaker box and the water closest to it.
I was thinking of building a countertop for space for a stir plate, cleaning, measuring, weighing. Put the cooktop to one side, the utility sink to the other, and under the counter put an on-demand water heater. I can put a sculpture in at an L arrangement to the sink for the easiest water access.
I think I should make the counter, cooktop, and sink arrangment first, since I can use all that with my battered turkey frier setup for the mean time while I work on gathering the rest. I can add in the better techniques like stir-plate e-flask yeast prep one at a time to get used to them and understand them better.
If you have space on your property, you can build an out-building remarkably cheaply... but if you are a renter on a limited budget, it would be tough. I was there once, too. It took years to save up and buy a house, then five more years of saving and a slow remodel of the house end-to-end to raise the equity to afford a garage. We just got lucky and in the last year have done well in our jobs and both been promoted and given raises that have us looking at ways to use them! While my wife doesn't care for brewing, she does like the beer and would like to see if with a better setup I'd produce something even nicer to drink. Plus it keeps me at home!