Brew room design questions

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hezagenius

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For those who either have built brew rooms or thought about designing a brew room, do you have any recommendations for things you are glad you did and/or things you wish you did?

Background: I am building an additional garage for my house and given the way the yard slopes, the builder and I decided rather than fill in the area under the garage, we will make it into a room. The garage floor/brew room ceiling will be engineered and precast in order to hold the weight of a car so hopefully it doesn't come crashing down in the middle of a brew session.
The room will be 16' x 24' with concrete walls and a concrete ceiling. I would say probably half the room will be available for brewing equipment (16' x 12'). The height will be 7'+ (just depends on how it daylights to the existing driveway). It will be wired for electric brewing, probably a 50A panel? We are planning to have an exhaust vent on one wall that can be turned on when brewing. Given the height of the room, a hood doesn't seem feasible. There will be a double door to get equipment in and out and a casement window on the opposite side. There will be plumbing for a sink. I'm planning on a large utility sink with a sprayer/filler faucet for rinsing out kettles and fermenters. The plumbing will be on the 16' wall.

The only thing I can think of that will be fixed in place is the sink.
I was planning on using restaurant-style stainless countertops that could be moved if needed. And rolling stainless shelving for supplies.

Will an exhaust vent be enough to clear out the steam from brewing, or is there something else I should look into? I'm not opposed to a steam condenser setup but that seems like a lot of work and a lot of water.
Is a 50A panel enough? Would 100A be overkill?
Would lower height countertops be better so you can look into the kettle?
 

k-os

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I would definitely recommend a steam condenser over an exhaust hood/vent. It's a lot less work to buy and connect than installing a hood/vent is. If you do go with a condenser, plan your sink/drain location out so you can drain directly in to the sink or drain.

I would also recommend plumbing in one (or two if you're using a condenser) dedicated cold water supplies. These would then be used for fill your kettle(s), steam condenser supply, and chiller supply. I have one dedicated supply I plumbed above my sink that is tapped in to my incoming water main before my water softener.

The amount of power you'll need depends on what kind of brew set up you're planning to have. When you say a 50A panel, are you referring to a subpanel that you'll then have dedicated breaks from? 50A subpanel should be fine, assuming your control panel for an electric system is only 30A.

If you're doing BIAB a slightly lower than standard work surface is nice to be able to more easily see into the kettle. I'm using a SS Brewtech Brew Cube and it works well. It's about 17" off the floor to the top of the surface. My basement ceilings are also only around 6' though.
 

chessking

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Vents and drains. 50 A should be plenty for a normal electric setup. With concrete all around, and cold Wisconsin winters, condensation could be a problem, but venting will help.
Sounds like you have it pretty well in hand. As you have a blank canvas, think about lighting, outlets, where the fermentation chamber will go.
Will this also be a man cave, where your beer will be poured and enjoyed?
Be sure to document and share with us your build.
 
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hezagenius

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It won't be a man cave necessarily, just a place to get all my brewing equipment in one location to appease the other half. It will also be for storage of yard furniture and maybe exercise equipment. But I'll have a TV and a stereo in there.

My controller is 30A, but I figure between the controller, a fridge (or 2), a few electronic devices (TV, stereo, etc), 50A may be pushing it if they are all going at once.

The vent will be installed in the top of the concrete wall. I wasn't planning on a hood since the ceiling is going to be around 7'4" (according to the plans). It will basically just be a powered fan. Hopefully that's enough to clear out the moisture.

My plan was to have the brew surface adjacent to the sink so chilling won't require a long run of hose. I plan on having a hot lever and a cold lever on the faucet.

Those brew cubes are slick. I've been thinking about building something like that with wood but the amount of time I'd save just buying a few of those would be worth it.

I'd love a floor drain but the room floor will be at grade so there's no way to get a positive slope on a floor drain.

There is going to be some sort of wall heater in there so it won't be connected to the rest of the house's ventilation.

The ceiling installation should be cool. Since it is prefab, they'll need a crane to lift it from the truck and install it into place.
 

chessking

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You will love having a dedicated brew room . No hauling crap around. You can set up the day before, brew and clean up the next, and leave stuff out to dry before putting it away the next day. I used to hump the stairs to brew, hauling every thing up where the sink and stove were, brew, and hump it all back down the same day. Now its all done in one glorious brew room. That's leveling up.
 

jrgtr42

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The one thing about a vent fan is that you also need air coming in to replace it and create the draft for the fan to exhaust.
You may want to think about insulating it to keep warm, especially in winter. and cool in summer.
and comfortable to hang out in.
 

Dland

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The idea of a sump or finding a way to pipe floor drain to daylight is a good one. I have a sump drain that also includes a drywell. Since substrate is sand, it should suffice in case of plumbing failure, but I could add a pump if needed.

Another thing to consider is paint. Painting walls and ceiling white adds considerable light, and painting floor helps with clean up of eventual spills, otherwise a good proportion of them get absorbed into slab.

Pictured is my well painted shop cellar, which serves as cold room for brewing, among other things. It also has an engineered slab for ceiling w vehicles and a lift above.
IMG_1981.JPG
 

rjbergen

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I would recommend the steam condenser lid. I think you'll find that just a vent fan won't be enough. How large of a vent duct are you installing? 6" or 8"? Make sure you builder doesn't use a little 4" kitchen/bath exhaust fan.

You mentioned heat, make sure it's either electric or vented gas. Do NOT use ventless gas or you will have humidity issues.

Your electric sound a little low. I'd look at a 60A or 80 A subpanel. For kicks, ask the electrician how much a 100A subpanel will cost.

Plumbing will be key. Add multiple connection points so you don't have to switch hoses around. One hose bib for a hose with sprayer for cleaning, another hose bib for your chiller, and a third hose bib for rinsing silicone hoses and stuff. Add a pot filler to fill your HLT. Definitely get a large stainless sink, like 24"D x 30"W with a sprayer faucet.

Add a trench drain. Not sure why you think you can't add drainage when you say it's at grade. Sure you can. If you can't get the right slope, you can use a sewage sump with a pump back up to the main sewer. A trench drain will make clean up so much nicer.

I'll make another recommendation for the SS BrewTech BrewCubes. They're a great height for kettles.

If you're BIAB, see if there's a way to have a hook and/or UniStrut mounted to the ceiling over the kettle to support a hoist.

Epoxy coating the floor will keep it nice and clean. Be sure to add grit to the clear coat. Epoxy is super slick when wet without grit.

Painting the walls will definitely brighten the space up.

Plan for overhead lights around the brew area. Talk to your builder about installing fasteners in the pre-formed slabs. You can't always just drill into them to set an anchor to mount stuff.
 
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hezagenius

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Sweet room @Dland . Looks huge! Do you use your floor drain much or is it more for emergencies?

I was only planning on putting epoxy on the floor. I thought leaving the walls unfinished would look cool, but I can see how painting it would make it look bigger. Painting is such a PITA though, and I bet it takes lot of coats to soak into all the nooks and crannies in the walls.
 
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hezagenius

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I would recommend the steam condenser lid. I think you'll find that just a vent fan won't be enough. How large of a vent duct are you installing? 6" or 8"? Make sure you builder doesn't use a little 4" kitchen/bath exhaust fan.
We haven't got that far into the planning of that vent yet but I will make a note to ask him about it. If the vent sucks, I can always add the steam condenser later.

You mentioned heat, make sure it's either electric or vented gas. Do NOT use ventless gas or you will have humidity issues.
Noted. I think it will be electric but I will ask the builder.

Your electric sound a little low. I'd look at a 60A or 80 A subpanel. For kicks, ask the electrician how much a 100A subpanel will cost.
Yeah, I'm leaning towards 100A now. I had a 100A subpanel installed in my garage a few years ago and it was pretty reasonable. Maybe $500 total.

Plumbing will be key. Add multiple connection points so you don't have to switch hoses around. One hose bib for a hose with sprayer for cleaning, another hose bib for your chiller, and a third hose bib for rinsing silicone hoses and stuff. Add a pot filler to fill your HLT. Definitely get a large stainless sink, like 24"D x 30"W with a sprayer faucet.
I saw a sink online that is 36Lx24Wx14H. That should be big enough to put a conical or kettle in on it's side to rinse out. And a faucet/sprayer combo with a hot lever and a cold lever. A separate spigot for chilling makes a ton of sense. Never thought of that before.

What about a floor sink? Is it worth having a floor sink AND a standard height sink?

Add a trench drain. Not sure why you think you can't add drainage when you say it's at grade. Sure you can. If you can't get the right slope, you can use a sewage sump with a pump back up to the main sewer. A trench drain will make clean up so much nicer.
Would the trench drain be in the middle of the room then?

I'll make another recommendation for the SS BrewTech BrewCubes. They're a great height for kettles.
Yeah, those look slick. I will probably get 2 or 3 of those instead of countertops to start out with.

If you're BIAB, see if there's a way to have a hook and/or UniStrut mounted to the ceiling over the kettle to support a hoist.
Good call. I do BIAB and lifting is always a PITA. I will ask the builder if something like that is feasible with the prefab ceiling.

Epoxy coating the floor will keep it nice and clean. Be sure to add grit to the clear coat. Epoxy is super slick when wet without grit.
Yep, planning on epoxy. Is the grit those little discs that get sprinkled on? Or is grit something more like sand particles?

Painting the walls will definitely brighten the space up.

Plan for overhead lights around the brew area. Talk to your builder about installing fasteners in the pre-formed slabs. You can't always just drill into them to set an anchor to mount stuff.
I will ask what the builder had in mind for lighting and how to attach it. Since the ceiling will be prefabbed, I'm not sure how safe it will be to drill into it after the fact.
 

superiorsat

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Floor drain ++++++++++++++++++++. What ever it takes, now is the time. Mopping the floor sucks! I brew in a detached garage 14x24 and the floor tends to get grungy from going in an out in the rain and snow. I would love to be able to squeegee to a floor drain. 100 amp panel is nice. I pull way more amps than when I started years ago. 3 fridges that can be for fermentation or holding kegs with picnic taps, kegerator, 2 window AC units in the summer 12,000 btu and 5000 btu, a third 12,000 btu ac set up as glycol chiller , a hanging gas heater in winter, 2-420 cfm 8" fans mounted to a board with pink foam insulation that I close into a window in the winter to vent moisture, welder, microwave, tv, stereo which pulls more than you think when cranked, 2 pumps, firestick, 2 independent brew controllers, 2- 5500 watt elements running same time =50 amps, Google home box, grain mill with 1hp motor, ceiling lights, 2 box fans, dehumidifier, neon signs, outdoor lights, 5 inkbird controllers, air compressor, and I think that is it(seems crazy now that I listed all that). You would be surprised how much of that stuff is on at the same time. As far as venting in the winter I crack a window and open my attic door to allow make up air for the fans but I still need a box fan going to move the steam around so it doesn't go up to the 10" ceiling and condensate on my light and drip back down to the kettle. I did try to vent out the fans with a tube setup onto a catcher above the kettle that didn't work well enough to keep it going, steam would condensate on the catcher and want to drip back into the kettle so I gave up on that. Summer time I run both ac units and put a box fan in my attic door opening and move the moisture out that way still with a second box fan to move the steam away from the kettle so it doesn't condensate on the light. Still end up with moisture on the windows a bit, (don't know why I have not switched to a steam condenser as my lid is set up for it). Then dehumidify for a few days after brewing to totally dry things out. I'm not saying this is common but things can grow as time goes on.
 

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chessking

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Figure out how many electrical outlets you’ll need, then install twice that amount!
True.

Figure out how much this build will cost , then add twice that amount!

As you can see from the advice given, whatever you build, some day, at some point you will want/need more, that is the nature of home brewing.

+1 on paint.
Floor especially, for cleaning reasons, but also the walls. Personally, I went for the murder dungeon look, but you do you. I always thought of getting some young starving artist down there and have some full sized murals painted, of a picturesque countryside, or the interior of a big brewery with conical fermenters as far as the eye can see...

But as soon as the artist sees the murder dungeon, they are no longer interested.
 

Dland

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Sweet room @Dland . Looks huge! Do you use your floor drain much or is it more for emergencies?

I was only planning on putting epoxy on the floor. I thought leaving the walls unfinished would look cool, but I can see how painting it would make it look bigger. Painting is such a PITA though, and I bet it takes lot of coats to soak into all the nooks and crannies in the walls.
Floor drain mainly for emergencies. In the event of burst pipe or something, I'd have a covered swimming pool.

If one uses a roller and heavy body paint for cement on walls, it does take two coats. It took a fair amount of paint, but totally worth it for both lighting and feel of the room.
 

DavidWood2115

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I had the chance to brew a 1 BBL batch at one of our local craft breweries a couple years back (my wife won it at a charity auction and surprised me for Christmas). I learned a ton through that experience, but perhaps most of all I came away with a bad case of trench drain envy. Spill something? Hose it into the drain! Need to dump trub/yeast from a conical? Dump it on the floor and hose it into the drain! I came away with "I have to have this" (not just for the trench drain...). But then I talked to my plumber about the cost and hassle of cracking my basement floor, and bringing new concrete in through the finished space, etc., etc. and that dream will go unfulfilled. But if I had the chance to do it from scratch, I would put in the trench drain in a second.
 

bkboiler

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I'd give some thought to your water movement activities...
My brew space is a small corner of the garage and it took me quite a while to identify the best place to run gas and water to.
Now I have basically 2 hose taps, one with and RV hose, that I use for cleaning with a spray head and one that has a carbon block filter (soon to add an RO membrane)
It's nice to be able to not have to move my pots, I can fill with them already on the burner.
 

maddjaxx

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Definitely go with a floor drain. You will spill or boil over or want to hose down the floor after a brew session. On my second brew room now as we moved a couple years ago. My number one item was making sure I had the drain. Decided to build a platform for kettles and fermenters with a slope to the center with a drain. Hot water spigot and hose for cleaning. I have filtered water behind HLT and another hot water next to it for kettle cleaning.
 

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BarryBrews

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Setting up sufficient power only for today's setup is shortsighted. If you are like me, your system will continue to grow. Get a 100 amp sub panel with GFI breakers.

I prefer the hood approach for the simplicity and the whole brew space ventilation thing.
 

rjbergen

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I saw a sink online that is 36Lx24Wx14H. That should be big enough to put a conical or kettle in on it's side to rinse out. And a faucet/sprayer combo with a hot lever and a cold lever. A separate spigot for chilling makes a ton of sense. Never thought of that before.

What about a floor sink? Is it worth having a floor sink AND a standard height sink?
I would probably skip the floor sink. I clean as much as I can in place using a garden hose sprayer and my pump to pump it to the drain. Once most of the stuff is out, I clean my kettle in the sink. It's heavy to move, but it gets it the cleanest. I have seen people use small wet/dry vacs to remove the last little bit of water in their kettles so they can truly CIP and not move them at all.

Would the trench drain be in the middle of the room then?
Trench drain would be wherever you plan to brew. If you plan to have your kettles and fermenters along one wall, then the trench drain would be a few feet out from the wall running parallel. The trench drain is there so that you can just dump stuff on the floor and hose it to the drain. Trub dump? On the floor. Finished brewing? Remove the valves from your kettle and hose onto the floor. That kind of stuff.

Yep, planning on epoxy. Is the grit those little discs that get sprinkled on? Or is grit something more like sand particles?
The color flakes you're referring to do not add traction. They are purely color and pattern. The grid is aluminum oxide I believe. I have 3-layer epoxy in my garage. They diamond ground the floor and then filled the expansion joints, cracks, and pock marks with epoxy mixed with fibers. The next day they applied the first color coat. The third day was the second color coat and then the color flakes on top of the wet epoxy. The fourth day they applied a clear epoxy with the traction grit mixed in. They mixed it in because they said sprinkling it on top would make it like sandpaper and be rough on my arms and legs laying on it working on cars. In hindsight, it's still a little slick when I come in with wet shoes so if I did it over, I would have the grit sprinkled on top of the clear coat.

I will ask what the builder had in mind for lighting and how to attach it. Since the ceiling will be prefabbed, I'm not sure how safe it will be to drill into it after the fact.
Yup. That's why I mentioned lighting and BIAB lifting. You can't just drill into pre-fab panels. You'll need to have documentation from the manufacturer of how to attached stuff.
 
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