Apartment brewing?

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deadcactus

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I've been doing 5-gallon mini-mash batches with a propane burner, cooled with IC, out a spigot to a better bottle fermenter (one long primary), into a 5.0 GE chest freezer for temperature control, and then into a keg held in a 7.0 GE keezer when ready.

I live in apartments, move frequently, and don't have as many free days as I would like to go through the whole process. I want to re-design my brew process with an emphasis on compact size and shorter brew days. Basically I'm lazy and want to focus more on the recipes and science than the manual labor of brewing and cleaning. :p

Also, I'm planning to make the jump to all-grain at the time, but will be going the brew in a bag method to avoid the bulk of a mash tun or liquor tank.

Also interested in switching to smaller batches if it would cut my brew time significantly. I'd rather brew smaller batches more frequently especially if I could put a few more beers on tap and in the fermentation chamber by using smaller kegs and vessels.

Any suggestions for methods or equipment to look into?

Keg fermenting, plate chiller + pump, and electric heating elements are some of the ideas I've been bouncing around...
 

beninan

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Apartment dweller myself here.

If you want to do brew in a bag and smaller batches, look at DeathBrewers method here:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/easy-partial-mash-brewing-pics-75231/

I used to do a modified version of that to do my 5 gallon all-grain batches. His setup is intended for 5 gallon partial mashes, but if you leave out the malt extract, you can easily do small all-grain batches like that.

Smaller batches are also much easier to boil on a stove. When I do my 5 gallon batches, I have to split the boil between two 6 gallon pots and place them on two burners EACH. So all four burners are in use. You could probably get away with using one burner with a small all-grain batch.

With this method, you wouldn't need any pumps or extra heating elements, and you wouldn't NEED a form of wort chiller, but a cheap immersion chiller would be better and it will work just fine.

Now, smaller corny kegs are usually harder to find and are usually more expensive. You could bottle in the 1 gallon (well maybe they are actually 5 liter) kegs and make your own tap like this:
http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=61167
If you keep reading on, the design has been changed multiple times. It's an interesting read.
Or you can just keg it in a 5 gallon keg, and have a lot of headspace. It's not detrimental to the beer, just a waste of space.
 

fletchsj

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i'd look at doing a small Ebrewery. get like a 10 gal narrow opening pot so you can scale to the size you want. BIAB with a water heater element under a false bottom. A single vessel brewery seems like a perfect fit for an apartment dweller. I'd still look at getting a plate chiller and pump.
 
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deadcactus

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I was thinking of using a 5 to 7 gallon kettle with a false bottom, ball-valve, and electric heating element. Drape bag over over kettle and false bottom, heat the water to mash temp using a temperature controller on the heating element, drop the grains in, and use a pump to circulate the wort out of the ball-valve and up to the top of the kettle during the mash.

When the mash is done, remove the bag + grains, boil + additions, and then use the pump with a plate chiller to cool it down either on the way to a keg for fermentation. Hand clean pot and use the pump to cycle cleaner followed by no-rinse sanitizer through the tubing and plate chiller.

Any problem with that plan? In the interest of avoiding plumbing switches during brewing, would a plate chiller get clogged by the first runnings of the mash?

Any suggestions on where to get a kettle that size with a false bottom and spigot? I can't find much bellow the 10g range...
 

fletchsj

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7 gal might work... but, i'd suggest going 10gal because you have to fit all your water and grain into it. you don't want to be limited by your vessel. as far as clogging, you shouldn't have problems.

as far as the pot is concerned, most lhbs should have them and most i've found will pop a hold in them for you to install a weldless kit or just solder in your fittings. Same with false bottoms. if not look at jaybird. He makes great custom false bottoms.

do you research on the electrics though... and be careful! h20 and electricity can and will kill you if not done properly.
 

scottland

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I brewed 20+ all grain batches in a tiny condo kitchen. I used a beverage cooler as a mash tun, and set it on the counter. Heated my strike water on the stove, batch sparged, and boiled on the stove with a 8gal aluminum pot.

It's easier than you think.
 
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deadcactus

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I have a 10g Polar Ware with a valve in it already. I was thinking it would be too big for 2.5 to 3 gallon batches, but I guess with the added volume of grains and the need to start with a few more gallons for boil off and grain absorption it might be a good size.

Maybe not the best height to diameter ratio for the smaller volume but probably workable with a little extra water for the higher boil off, yea?
 

fletchsj

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i've done 3.5 gal batches of barleywine in my 9gal pot. it was no problem. That wasn't ebiab though. and it still was pushing it for boil over... not sure on the width to height ratio. but once you get a false bottom in there it is take up some space. I'd look at some different pot sizes and make your own decision for your situation. i'd think 5gal would be too small though.
 

weirdboy

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I did a whole bunch of AG batches in my apartment kitchen before moving it all outside when we moved to a new place.

I put the MLT on the kitchen table and let it drain into the BK on the floor for first runnings, which then got moved to the stove to start heating up while second runnings were collected in a bucket to be added later.

BK was a 7.5 gallon turkey fryer pot that I put a spigot in, and wrapped a fireproof insulating jacket around to help it retain heat better on the stovetop.
 
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