Basement electric brewery build

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Wag Bag

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About 5 years ago I started brewing extract on the stovetop. Last year we went all grain using coolers and gravity outside. Recently I got the itch and decided to build an indoor electric brewery in my basement.

A bit of background: I bought the house in 2012 mostly because it had an unfinished walkout basement with 2 doors. I spend about 4-5 years finish half of the basement to include a wet bar and kegerrator.
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The second half of the basement remains unfinished, but I designed the entire thing to eventually be completed. I am an engineer by trade and have access to Microstation, so Ive been designing everything there first:

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The brewery planning is in its infancy: Ill be going with a 15 gallon spike system with a homemade steam condenser. I have the plumbing all laid out to avoid hoses everywhere (I hate clutter). The most challenging part will be upgrading to 200 amp service without disrupting daily life. Thankfully I have a licensed electrician friend who should be able to do the serious work.

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I cant say there will be many updates, I am currently deployed to Afghanistan and wont be able to start until the winter. This thread, however, will hopefully make this dream seem more tangible and attainable.
 

mongoose33

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Nice setup. I see your ceilings are about as high as the ones in my basement. :) Love the bar.

In the brewspace, I like the hose inlet and outlet, presumably for chilling. I have garden hoses laid across the floor of my garage but I wish the drain and the hose bib were more conveniently placed. Then again, lots of people would like to have access to water and a drain in the garage like I do.

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Is that a closet at the top of the layout design? Can't figure out what's in there. If that door doesn't need to be sealed, and since you're building new, I'd consider a pocket door, or a curtain or sliding door or something like that so you don't need to clear space to open the door.

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What are your fermenters like? I have a Spike CF10 on casters that I roll around depending on where I want it, next to the sink for cleaning, etc. I'd want the floor to be smooth to accommodate that. Also, how will you chill the fermenters?

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I don't know if you can do this, THE one thing I wish I had in my garage brewery was a drain where I brew. A trench drain would be ideal, but I'd settle for a simple small circular drain with a grate over it. It would make cleanup easier.

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Also: how are you going to handle the steam from the boil? Overhead hood and fan? Steam slayer? Don't know if you're factoring this in yet or not.

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One suggestion to consider: I have a tall sink with sideboard on the left side. Among other things, I use it to lay kettles and kegs on their sides and spray them out, clean them, etc. Further, the sink bowl is shallow, unlike the more common deep bowl stainless steel sinks out there.

If it were me--and you may see this differently--I'd at the least do a sink setup with a sideboard on it, and I'd include a sprayer that isn't one of those that hang down from above. Maybe keep the sprayer as you have it, but include a second one that offers you more flexibility.

My sink is a castoff I rescued on junk day here, poured a 4" pedestal of concrete for it to sit on, changed the plumbing to a more modern single-handle faucet and added the sink sprayer. I've included a few pics showing how I use it.

You'd probably have to move the door closer to the exterior wall to accommodate a 24 or 36" sideboard, but if it were me, I'd do it. Is the layout pretty set? You might swap the closet thingy to the other side and then move everything over. That would give you room for that sink; further, if I'm reading this right, it would perhaps give you better access to outside walls for ventilation.

Anyway, neat design, and it's fun to plan this stuff out.

Sink pics:

The layout on the left is me accommodating the space I have. There is a sideboard on the sink but I wanted more space to make it easier to clean things, have space for things to drain after cleaning them, etc. There isn't enough room to the left of the sink to lay a kettle on its side, thus the sort of "L-shaped" sideboard thingy. You'd have more room with your setup.

sink1.jpg kegsink.jpg conicalhose.jpg brewarearightside.jpg

The pic on the right shows the wider shot. Similar to your setup in my kettles are on the wooden bench, then the sink on the right. Mine is different because that's a corner space and the sink just its the wall that juts out.

Anyway, cool space, good luck with it, take the above as ideas and adapt as it works for you.
 
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Wag Bag

Wag Bag

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The area up top is where my well pump and radon unit are. They are rather loud so I am thinking a standard prehung door so I can throw some roxul in the walls as opposed to having a cavity.

Mid construction:
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The first purchase when I get home will be a CF 15, on casters. I plan on using an epoxy floor coating since the slab is in good shape in that area, easy cleanup and transportation. At this time I'm planning on an AC glycol chiller, shown in the top right corner.

I was doing some research on a drain however my sewer pipe is about 5' above the finished floor of the basement. I will have to pump the sink up which is why I have the discharge pipe for the counterflow, I'd like to reduce the use on the pump itself.

I plan on building a 1.5" steam condenser. I originally designed the system on the other wall since I have a window I could vent out, however after leaning about the steam condensers I was able to move it where you see it, which gets me a lot closer to the sink.

I originally was looking at sinks with a sideboard. I would have to have it on the right side in order to plumb past the pocket door, however it looks like you get what you pay for. A lot of the review in my price range showed a very warped board that needs support. I could build something next to the pocket door, but I'm currently opting for a 6' stainless steel prep table where I can dry equipment. The lack of a sideboard also allowed me to go with a larger sink.

Are you not a fan of the faucet? I figure that will give me more flexibility in cleaning, however I also have hot a cold hookups in between the HLT and MT which I could use in lieu of the faucet.

The layout isn't set by any means, I'm very open to advice. The outline of the room is however. The main beam supporting the joists runs left to right and that's my limit of advance. Id like to keep the entry at 36"
 

mongoose33

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The area up top is where my well pump and radon unit are. They are rather loud so I am thinking a standard prehung door so I can throw some roxul in the walls as opposed to having a cavity.

Mid construction:
View attachment 628992
Good reason for a relatively soundproof door. Well, it was an idea. I hate it when perfectly good theories are crushed by the facts. :)

The first purchase when I get home will be a CF 15, on casters. I plan on using an epoxy floor coating since the slab is in good shape in that area, easy cleanup and transportation. At this time I'm planning on an AC glycol chiller, shown in the top right corner.
Such a floor might be self-leveling, which would be good. Unless....

I was doing some research on a drain however my sewer pipe is about 5' above the finished floor of the basement. I will have to pump the sink up which is why I have the discharge pipe for the counterflow, I'd like to reduce the use on the pump itself.
I hadn't thought about a sump or similar...that actually could work. All I know is that I get stuff all over the floor, wish I had a way to easily flush it down the drain.

I plan on building a 1.5" steam condenser. I originally designed the system on the other wall since I have a window I could vent out, however after leaning about the steam condensers I was able to move it where you see it, which gets me a lot closer to the sink.
I have one, it works. You may want a little ventilation there anyway as there's a SMS/DMS smell that comes from it that you'll probably not appreciate. You just want to keep it out of the rest of the house.

I originally was looking at sinks with a sideboard. I would have to have it on the right side in order to plumb past the pocket door, however it looks like you get what you pay for. A lot of the review in my price range showed a very warped board that needs support. I could build something next to the pocket door, but I'm currently opting for a 6' stainless steel prep table where I can dry equipment. The lack of a sideboard also allowed me to go with a larger sink.
Another possibility is to build yourself a "sideboard" cabinet that snugs up against the sink. Have it overlap the sink by 1/4" or so, and it'll drain into it. A benefit would be that you could have a drawer or drawers in it, storage space below, and so on. Mine has a drawer and cabinet under the sideboard.

Are you not a fan of the faucet? I figure that will give me more flexibility in cleaning, however I also have hot a cold hookups in between the HLT and MT which I could use in lieu of the faucet.
Well, imagine that you're laying a keg or kettle down and want to spray it out. That hanging sprayer will not accommodate that. And yet, it may be good for other cleaning purposes. The kind of sprayer I'm talking about is on the right side of the faucet on the sink:

sinksprayer.jpg

I think you can find other sprayer types that could be run off a faucet that mixes hot and cold water. My interest in it is that I've used those hanging sprayers extensively in restaurants, and know what they can and cannot do. What they cannot do is spray out something laying on its side, and they're going to splash a lot unless you put something in the bottom of the sink.

Same with the shallow-bowl sink. I've worked at those deep-bowl sinks, and there's a lot of bending over. Hurts my back. It's so nice to work while standing upright, no bending. And it turns out, I do a lot of cleaning and rinsing at that sink during brew day, so it works for me. I haven't found anything that the deep sink would make easier for me.

There's something my father-in-law taught me many years ago when I was building workbenches. He said to make them 4-6 inches higher than the standard 32-inch-high workbench, so I could stand and work without bending. Know what? He was right. In this pic, the bench is 38 inches high; the sink slightly higher, but the bowl is a bit lower.

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Now, I don't know what height you'd like--I suspect you'd like 36-38, but you should just set up something on sawhorses or something, both at a lower height and a higher one, and see for yourself.

The bench above is probably higher than it need be for kettles--I don't think that matters much. But when cleaning and rinsing and such, consider what you want now before you do anything.

And frankly, if I were doing this all over again, what I'd do is put a shallower stainless bowl in a sink cabinet, and build a sideboard to the left of it. Not hard to get pre-finished countertop into which you drop a bowl, add your other faucets as you deem desirable, and there you are. But that's me. You decide what works best for you, and not everything I've done may be desirable to you.

The layout isn't set by any means, I'm very open to advice. The outline of the room is however. The main beam supporting the joists runs left to right and that's my limit of advance. Id like to keep the entry at 36"
These are all just suggestions based on what's worked well for me. For instance, I'm righthanded, so I want a sideboard on the left, allowing me to control the sprayer with my right hand. If you're lefthanded, assuming you wanted a sideboard, maybe you'd reverse that.

Anyway, just a bunch of ideas. I wish I had a clean space to design a brew room from scratch; I had to deal with the space limitations I have, and that's what's given rise to some of this. Enjoy the figuring and fiddling! Good Luck.
 
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Ive been using this time to make some progress. The first step for this project was always going to be electrical. I wanted to upgrade my service to 200 amps and clean up some shotty wiring the previous owner did. I have everything laid out, just waiting for a few parts to come in to start installing the new load center in the "wall".




I also had a chance to clean out the brewery area. It took some creativity, but I was able to relocate everything back there for a clean work area. I cant say I usually have the ability to open up a work area like this. Next steps are to replace the hopper window, XPS on the walls and to start framing.






More to follow
 
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Well, its been a long time since I posted an update. My plan was to post updates every step of the way, but it just simply didn't happen.


Most of the summer was spent insulating, framing, and running utilities. I absolutely have wires and hoses strewn about, so a good amount of effort was taken to plan for where I want water, CO2, power etc.
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This is the wall the system will be on. I have hot/cold hose ports ip top, my counterflow in/out is hard plumbed below the surface as well (i hate hoses). I also plumbed in a steam condenser pipe at the appropriate location, not installed yet in this photo. Lastly, ill have a deep bottom sink off the the right next to the pocket door.

I hung the sheetrock a few weeks back and I'm on my second coat of compound. Its a long process, but compared to a lot of the other work required down there its not too bad.

More to come later.
 
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Well, I passed final inspection, that was a nice hurdle. To celebrate, I finally pulled the trigger on the Spike system. Next step is picking out subway tile for the back of the brewery wall. I also need to build in the controller once it shows up, i just didnt want the inspector asking questions. Im leaning towards black or blue tile, prices are just a little stupid. After that ill heat and tile the whole floor with a feaux wood large format.

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Well my spike 15 gallon system came Friday, so i can finally cut in the controller cabinet. I wanted to wait until it was in hand to get the best fit. I had framed the opening ahead of time but didn't want the inspector asking too many questions, so i sheet rocked over it.

I overbuilt the opening by a good amount, so i was able to sister some 2x8 with an additional 3/4" shim to get the proper depth. Then 3/4" ply all glued and screwed. I was going to go with a French cleat but after seeing the back of the panel im going to just bolt directly through the plywood.

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The controller will be suspended about 4.5" above the bottom to allow for a piece of trim and the cords. I had to clamshell the bottom since the plugs are so large. They will run behind the wall above and below the brew table (did i mention i hate wires)

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I also ran into a bit of an oversight when i got the chiller. I didnt account for ventilation.

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After a slight crisis i decided to flip the while unit around and just show the ugly side. The only issue was then the controller that would be against the wall. I figured i could just chop and swap and buy a new one until i saw the price tag. So, i painstakingly went about dismantling a brand new chiller to try and remove the controller. Im still not sure how i got my hand in there, but i finally git it out. I rewired the controller and the main power cord. The original cord had a huge GFI plug and came out of the bottom of the unit. I have GFI on the breaker and the bottom is a terrible place to run the cord so while i was performing open heart surgery on this thing i replaced that too. This also allows me to mount the controller right below the shelf which i think looks pretty clean.

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Second coat of mud is drying - once I get that done and painted i can tile the backsplash.

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more to follow
 

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Big night last night - finally got the controller in. Next step should be to tile the backsplash but I think I’ll finish the trim below the controller. 05C578C6-AF83-4560-A66D-A8520E6EE07A.jpeg
 
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More to come later, but quick update. I started tiling last week, I’m through about 20%, but it’s been going well.
I also completed the trim piece for the controller.
Lots more tiling to do before I can get this all set up.
 

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Lots of trim work the last 4 days. I also plumbed finished off the counter flow plumbing. I went with a push to connect since I have a backup valve on the stem and it allows for easy removal.

I tend to rush the finish work so I’m doing my best to combat that. Once I get the quarter round in I can plumb the sink.
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