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Old 12-09-2008, 05:25 AM   #1
Dec 2008
Posts: 202
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G'day fellow brewers! As I just posted in the introductions area, I am BrewOnBoard. I used to brew on premeses at a great place in seattle which sadly went under. I took years off, occasionally helping a friend brew a batch or three in a kitchen. Now I want to get back into the game!

The bit that's interesting is that I live on a sailboat. I want to make it work though, not just because homebrewing is AWESOME but to save money and to always have a supply of the essentials on hand when we sail to the Mediterranean in a few years. The boat's got room to brew, at 41ft we have ample space under the cockpit for gear, and even a small walk-in closet forward that can hold fermenting products. The kitchen's small but we always manage. So I've come here to have the collective wisdom help me design a small batch home brew setup for the boat. Some of the challenges I foresee are:

Temperature control: The boat's temp fluctuates much more than a house. It's cold in winter up north, hot in the tropics. Refrigeration will probably be available on a limited basis and the ocean temp could be used.

Motion: There are days where things are still at anchor or at a dock, but motion is the norm, not the exception. The brew setup must be non-breakable, (PET bottles?) non-spillable, and I need a strain of yeastie-beasties that are immune to sea-sickness.

Space and water usage: my kitchen is REALLY small. Water is often at a premium too so no bottles in the dishwasher for me. I need something that doesn't make a huge mess and require keeping heaps of gear.

Ingredients: Ideally I need a system that uses ingredients I can get around the world and/or I need to take the ingredients with me to brew a "few" batches as I sail over the years. (Dry extract and yeast? Canned malt?)

I've been looking at "The Beer Machine" as a starter. I realize that better gear can be had cheaper from any shop but if this platform isn't complete crap I'm hoping it can be modified to work. I like it because it is small, easy to tie down, and doesn't need multiple fermenters that will each need storage and cleaning. Any and all suggestions for a brew setup that will work on a sailboat are welcome!


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Old 12-09-2008, 05:54 AM   #2
Nov 2008
Posts: 104

I have very little to offer constructively, other then PET may be best, as well as a climate controlled chamber including heating and cooling. Movement I imagine will be great during the vigorous primary but not so much when you want yeast to settle out. I imagine you could still sanitize with seawater and iodophor, but not sure, and as far as ingredients go, bulk AG would likely be best and easiest to store.

Now, to the main reason for my post: You are living the life I dream of. I hope that you find a way to work this out, and get back to me if you do! Best of luck!

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Old 12-09-2008, 08:23 AM   #3
Nov 2008
South Australia
Posts: 15

I think your problem will require a personal solution. I would be happy for you to fly me to your boat. I will help drink your beer and tell you if it is OK. I am willing to stay so that we can see if the subsequent batches maintain the standard too.

I think your boat may be too small for all of us who are willing to help in this way.

Cheers and best wishes with your plans.
Experience is the knowledge that enables you to recognise a mistake when you make it again.

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Old 12-09-2008, 11:51 AM   #4
dibby33's Avatar
Nov 2006
Hobart, Tasmania
Posts: 2,127
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if you put the ferm vess / carboy whatever in the middle of the boat would it move less. Like sitting in the middle of the bus. I don't think I am explaining this well at all, but I am off to bed. not drunk just fecking tired!

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Old 12-09-2008, 12:34 PM   #5
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Revvy's Avatar
Dec 2007
"Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,936
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Didn't you start a thread a couple months back on here about this already? IIRC we all volunteered to become you on board brewmaster.

And if your not the same person, you probably will sadly get as much help as he did...which is zero, because there appears to be noone on here who does it. SO you'll get a lot of speculation but no true info.

And when yo solve it, write up an article for BYO and you'll be a hit!

Some things you need to consider...How will you boil the wort? Are you going to use a propane turkey fryer like many of us do? How are you going to handle temp control? How will you chill your wort, with an immersion chiller? (seems to me an immersion chiller hooked you to an aquarium pump with a long extension cord and hose dropped over the side of the boat might work.) How will you handle sanitization? Will you brew extract or All Grain, and if so where will you get your materials, and how will you store them? Will you use buckets of Betterbottles to ferment in? Will you be brewing ALes or Lagers, and if lagers how will you handle lagering? How much storage space can you dedicate to your gear, even a 5 gallon setup required some space? Where will you get your water? Obviously salt water will be out of the question, so you will need at LEAST 10 gallons of water/per 5 gallons of beer you brew (for extract, including cleaning and sanitization) and a heck of a lot more for all grain. Are you going to keg or bottle?

If you can deal with these issues then you are well on your way!

It seems to me that if you are seeing the world, it would probably be cheaper, and equally exciting to sample the beers of the world, there are a heck of a lot of small regional breweries all around the world, some beers we'll probably NEVER get to taste even living in America.
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Old 12-09-2008, 04:34 PM   #6
Dec 2008
DFW, Texas
Posts: 77

I found this site a while back. I was researching Coopers Beer Kits.

Brewing Beer

His family is on a sailboat too.

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Old 12-09-2008, 09:53 PM   #7
david_42's Avatar
Oct 2005
Oak Grove, Oregon, USA
Posts: 25,599
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The Beer Machine is an OK place to start, but their kits are really limited. Nothing stops you from buying your own ingredients and doing small boils, then finishing in the machine. Most kits are geared for 5 US gallons, but you can always split them.

Yeast cares more about temperature than motion. I'd stick to dry yeasts, as the storage requirements are easier.

Water temperatures will generally be low enough that you could use a simple cooler & pump to maintain the fermenter. Supplies will be a real problem in the Mediterranean, you'll probably want to stock-up before you go.
Remember one unassailable statistic, as explained by the late, great George Carlin: "Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

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Old 12-09-2008, 10:12 PM   #8
Edcculus's Avatar
Jun 2007
Greenville, SC
Posts: 4,546
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Hmm, this is pretty interesting.

I'd definitely do extract. Unless you are docked, all grain is going to take a lot of space and water.

Since space is limited, you might want to look into kegging. No bottles to mess with. If you are only brewing every once and a while, you dont need to worry about having enough. Cooling it might be a problem.

Temperature control: The boat's temp fluctuates much more than a house. It's cold in winter up north, hot in the tropics. Refrigeration will probably be available on a limited basis and the ocean temp could be used.
Brew according to the season. In the summer, or in the tropics, brew a beer that doesn't mind warmer temperatures (Saison comes to mind). When its cold, well thats perfect! Fluctuation might be a bit of a problem. That could be solved by insulating the fermenter.

As for ingredients, I'd stock up on dry malt extract and some specialty grains for steeping. If you made smaller batches (2.5 gallons), storage wouldnt be too much of a problem.

Look at using "Better Bottles". They are plastic bottles made for fermenting. Don't worry about multiple fermenters. If you are kegging, you can let it sit in the primary for a few weeks, then go straight to the keg.

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Old 12-09-2008, 10:49 PM   #9
Mar 2008
Posts: 382
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I would think that for your fermentor(s) you would want it to have more headspace than what most might use. Like a 6 or 6.5 gallon container might not be enough for a 5 gal batch during fermentation in choppy waters.

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Old 12-09-2008, 10:57 PM   #10
McKBrew's Avatar
Oct 2006
Hayden, Idaho
Posts: 8,204
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This whole concept rocks. If Brewtopia can do 5 gallon AG batches in a condo, I'm willing to bet you could brew on a sailboat. Wish I could offer help with specifics, but not having any brainstorms as of yet.
Make Beer, Not War.

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