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A beginning brewers dissertation...reinventing the wheel, impatience, and overdrafts.

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StumpyJohnson

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SO!

I've learned some valuable lessons on life and brewing and I've only brewed one batch. What follows is naked ignorance, impatience, folly, and the rebirth of a new and more learned brew meister.

History

-I fell in love with beer...mayhem ensued.

-I decided to brew my own beer...more mayhem.

A few months back a friend began brewing his own beer. Always prodding me to join the fun, baiting my manic, obsessive mad scientist streak.

I finally gave in, brewed an anchor steam clone partial mash batch with his equipment, and subsequently decided I would brew the world.

I began purchasing turkey deep fryers, igloo containers, pipe hose fittings, copper, brass, stainless, couplings, pressure fit compression street sweat npt mpt fpt silicone polyethylene false bottomed threaded 90's with counter flowing aerated wort chilling sparge fermenters.

The parts piled up and a non leaded brass frankenstein beer golem began clanking around my garage beating me about the head, neck, chest and face area with a convoluted copper sparge arm fabricated out of wild eyed manic passion...It kicked down the garage door and spewed cold water and sweat into my mud room. Decided that it needed a new lair and claimed the aft 3rd of my cramped home as its new domain. Its ever evolving form commanded me to create new and more bizarre aparatus for it to lounge upon in its hulking glory.

The shrine had commanded me to build it and I obeyed with cult follower fervor, drooling and cussing. Snot and metal shavings tarnished my desperate beer soaked brain.

And alas, my proverbial wad blown with such distance and blast radius that I was driven crazy....and left with something out of a unairable mythbusters misshap.

And yet I still breath. Barely.

You see, I'm a tinkerer. A do it yourselfer. A designer, and an engineer. As I think many in this community are. And rightfully so...our desire to make for ourselves what a world of commercial industry has bastardized is great. Our need to drink and be happy is pressing. Impatience and Ignorance our enemies.

I spent hours researching, in a cursory manner, the elements of my brew haven...knowing little about the details...like say, basic plumbing principles.

I spent hours fabricating the shiny things I saw in diy brew blogs. I looked at the weldless stainless fittings with a *pffttt* and commenced to string together a copper, brass, nylon, teflon ball valve that works perfectly. Its 11 feet long weighs 67 pounds and requires a full set of mechanics tools and a somalian midget to operate. (apology's to any somalian midgets)

I have a string of reciepts that I used to wrap presents in, each with over 98 items on it, that attest to the fact that I could have afforded that nice stainless steel valve, the high temp silicone tubing, or the high pressure propane burner.

Had I simply stopped, slapped myself, drank a beer and taken a breath...a quick analysis of my progress would have immediately pointed to the fact that...

-There is no need to reinvent the wheel, people with my same mindset went through this same process many many years ago, and put out products to solve most brewing challenges.

Not to say that home fabrication isn't effective BUT

-Do your homework, see what others are doing...price your materials and quantify your TIME. Then decide if that part you've been eyeing online is worth the price.

Which incidentally, brings me to another point...instead of walking into home depot and raiding the plumbing aisle...

-Learn the basics of plumbing, learn the difference between flared fitttings, compression, sweat, street, barbed...

and

-PLAN your system from start to finish first...price it out and see what's worth doing yourself and where you can benefit from someone elses idea.

Lastly...

-Be patient! The 2 week wait for that sweet part or piece of equipment may be a hair pulling wait...but its better than blowing a chunk of cash building a hunk of **** just so you can have it now.


In summation...I'm an idiot.

But, I'm smart enough to face that fact and look back on my recent experience and learn a few things. And at the very least, I look forward to improving my rig. Lessons come fast, in life and brewing it seems. Pay attention and you may learn something, or, like me...you may end up half drunk on half carbonated homebrew...and thinking to yourself.

Pfft...i could build that.
 

AnonyBrew

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The advantage to DIY is that you learn things in great detail you would not have otherwise known. The experience has value in itself.
 

mud390

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I can appreciate your desire to build everything. I have tried to do the same with other hobbies and came to similar realizations as you. In the end I had fun, spent way to much money that could have been used much more wisely, but I had fun and learned from it. Sometimes that wheel reinvention business is a necessary step in the process to realize the process is what it is for a reason. Good read!

Kris
 

EZFrag

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Ok. This being said. I am just starting. Call me ambitious, but I plan to start out doing 10 gallon boils and I'm planning to brew lagers. I am just about to start building my brew pot. I am buying a 20 gallon aluminum pot. I am looking for a valve, false bottom, and rigging a thermometer. Any ideas?
 
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StumpyJohnson

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I am a big fan of learning from my own experiences rather than those of other's...that's the difference between knowledge and experience. Valuable true.

Although I do feel that a more organized and patient approach would help to turn out a more effective end result...then again I have yet to brew with it...maybe I got lucky. We'll know this weekend.
 

BBKing

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What a good read. I laughed all the way through.

Keep with it.
 
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StumpyJohnson

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Ok. This being said. I am just starting. Call me ambitious, but I plan to start out doing 10 gallon boils and I'm planning to brew lagers. I am just about to start building my brew pot. I am buying a 20 gallon aluminum pot. I am looking for a valve, false bottom, and rigging a thermometer. Any ideas?
Well, first...why buy a 20 gallon pot when planning on 10 gallon batch's?

Second...go to home depot or a local plumbing store, and start slapping pieces together. Then go home and design your system. Then go back with a plan and a list of things to buy. Price the list and then compare that to conversion kits online.

I'm a hands on learner...I need to see it and see why it does or does not work. I ended up buying an assload of fittings and began putting them together. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on basic plumbing now. The downside is that I have about $85 in random fittings that I'll probably never use.

Kegs are the stuff...there's a ton of conversion kits and info on using them. And they can be found cheap or free. They'll last and retain value.

I cut the top out of my keg, and drilled it for my false bottom. The plumbing is now all 1/2" soldered. And I fabricated it with tig welding in mind. Meaning, I went weldless, but i can eventually have the nipples welded in.

If you really want I can show you what I've done...but I think my process is a wash against the weldless stainless kits available. And I have copper/brass when I could have had stainless.
 

tysonj55

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Ha!! Very good read. I agree w/ the comments about learning from experience, but at the same time I couldn't help but think of the following quote:

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.
-Socrates
 
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StumpyJohnson

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Ha!! Very good read. I agree w/ the comments about learning from experience, but at the same time I couldn't help but think of the following quote:

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.
-Socrates
If I could've employed that logic I would've learned from all my father's sagely advice and become twice the man he is...yet I'm proud to be only half. Though I still have to deal with I told you so's.
 

tysonj55

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If I could've employed that logic I would've learned from all my father's sagely advice and become twice the man he is...yet I'm proud to be only half. Though I still have to deal with I told you so's.
:D I like it and very true in my case as well. :D
 

BenDover

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Beautifully said.

I was the same way; I refused to buy anything off the shelf that I could make with my own hands. Then through all the iterations, trial, and tribulations, I'd have something that worked as well -if not better- at three times the cost.

Not worth it.

I'd come out ahead about half the time which only reinforced my beliefs.

Now I carefully do a cost-benefit analysis when I get a hair up my ass.

Another nice reality check: Bounce your plans off somebody who knows you, but is not balls deep in with you. My wife will point blank tell me I'm being retarded and then explain why. You have to be able to listen though.
 
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SO!
You see, I'm a tinkerer. A do it yourselfer. A designer, and an engineer.
I think you need to add "excellent writer" to the list. I started out the same way, and now I have lots of equipment I no longer use. Now I use Denny Conn's batch sparge setup (which cost me about $25 to build) and it makes the best beer I've ever made.

Live and learn, I guess. Great read.
 

Sol

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Great read, very funny. I'm curious though, what was your schedule for adding LSD to the boil? Last 2 minutes? :p

I've done the same with other projects - built it myself, learned a lot, spent too much, but in the end wound up with a product comparable from a quality and function perspective to what I would have bought commercially. In planning my future brew op however, I came to the conclusion that my time is more valuable than what I would be putting into it (I say that like I have much time to spare...). I like to tinker, but I got into this hobby to make beer, not brewing equipment.

I had a conversation with the GF last week when she was gently reminding me how much Stone, New Belgium, Sam Adams and other favorite beers I could have sitting in the wine cellar for the price I've sunk into my homebrew setup. She had a hard time believing that I enjoy the brewing itself (albeit the tiny amount I've done) and that's why I've taken this up. Eventually when I move on to kegging, assuming of course that I stick with this hobby (I recently spent 6 months building a sweet, several thousand dollar saltwater aquarium setup with minimal commercial parts only to have it sit in my garage after moving and not finding a good place for it) I'll build one hell of a kick-ass keezer, but that's only because I wouldn't be able to find what I want commercially.

To each their own. There are plenty of extremely talented and knowledgeable people on this forum that have the ability and time to build things themselves and others who will potentially spend more to have the same things arrive at their doorstep premanufactured. In the end, we share the same root passion and should credit each other for our common love of what drove us into this awesome hobby: great beer.

:mug:
 
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