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Berlbrew

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So, I live in Boston. If you've visited or lived here, you probably know that space is extremely limited. Like many Bostonians, I live in a small two-bedroom 3rd floor apartment. Basically, my living room and my kitchen are more or less the same place. I have an electric stove, a sink, and amazingly, a dishwasher (a rare commodity 'round these parts).

Seeing all the pictures posted here of fantastic setups that encompass entire garages or back porches sure makes me jealous. I always think, gee, if I had some land like that I could expand my operation by double! Unfortunately, this is simply not the case.

So far, I've managed to make things work in my humble little abode. My electric burner can boil up to 4 gallons which impressed me, my sink is an exact fit for cooling wort in my 6-gallon stock pot, and we have a tiny towel closet with just enough space to fit a 6.5-gallon fermenter. But, my hopes of having an efficient, expansive, and impressive multi-tiered setup is seemingly impossible.

So my question is to all of you city/apartment/minimal space brewers, how do you deal with your space and little to no outdoor options? What adjustments have you had to make for the process to be easier or more productive?
 

TheJadedDog

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Yeah, I was relegated to doing partial mash due to the exact problems you describe. Basically I mashed as much grain as possible, and added the remaining fermentables via extra light DME. Worked pretty well and with a 4 gallon boil you'll be able to get most of your fermentables from the grain for standard gravity beers. Even though it's not full AG you get to use the AG process and have a lot more control over your beer.

Luckily for me I recently moved to Cambridge and now I have a deck so I am going AG.
 

Edcculus

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I live in a small one bedroom apartment. I am lucky enough to have a dishwasher AND a balcony. I do all grain, so don't let anyone tell you AG is impossible in an apartment. Right now, my gas stove can do a good enough job of boiling ~6 gallons of wort. When it gets warmer, I'm going to use my propane burner. Its technically not allowed, but I'm on the 12th floor and nobody will ever know. I also figure that since they have gas stoves inside, a propane burner outside is much safer.

One of my closets is completely filled with brewing supplies. The biggest pain is that since I dont have a dedicated brewing space, all the equipment has to go up when I'm done. I have an ok kitchen, which is now home to my donated Son-of-a fermentation chiller. I use my bathtub to wash all the larger equipment. The high capacity of a bathtub faucet makes filling a carboy a breeze!
 

bsay

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If Boston is anything like Baltimore (space-wise) then I am familiar with the issues. My cousin has a two-floor two-bedroom place there and I've visited. Additionally, I am an apartment brewer with not much more space (just all on one floor).

Apartment brewing requires a lot of adjustment, mostly for space and boil amount. You can boil 4 gallons, that's great for making 5gallon extract batches or 2.5 gallon all-grain batches. For the longest time, my brewery was in the furnace closet (see pics in my sig). There was not much floor space, so I built up and managed to get my whole brewing setup in the closet (except my stock pot which was stored above the kitchen cabinets). The pictures are after I moved the bottles out into another closet, but I did keep two cases in that closet for a long time.

A little while later, I decided (with SWMBO's approval) to sacrifice some of the living room space for a keezer. The keezer takes up just a bit more space than 6 cases of bottles would and holds the same amount of beer. A mini fridge model would also work great in a small area.

My biggest adjustment in an effort to save money and brew better beer was to move to 2.5 gal all-grain batches. I got a 2 gallon cooler and converted it to a MLT. It works well for brewing normal gravity beer, which is what I make anyway. I now use my old 5gal better bottles as primaries and a 3gal BB for a secondary. A setup like this will give you that multi-tier setup that you want with minimal space. The only equipment I had to add was the cooler. I use my bottling bucket to catch the runnings and my existing stock pot to boil.

I really need to brew again so that I can take pictures of my setup.
 

C4PNJ4ZZ

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I'm on Mission Hill and have a decent sized kitchen with a porch. Our stove is gas so we don't really have a problem with 5 gallon batches. I use the tub to cool my wort, since our sink is too small. We dedicate a closet (my closet) to storing bottles and one carboy. I have some exposed copper piping in my room that we use to heat the primary when the apartment hovers around 55.

Our equipment is starting to take over the kitchen. Between brewing supplies and cleaners (white powders) and the solar powered hydrogen fuel cells my roomates are making for their senior design project (PVC pipe with endcaps), it is quite funny when realtors come through to show the place.
 

RICLARK

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I live in a two bedroom apartment on the third floor. I mash in my kitchen and Boil on my Balcony, My keezer is strategically placed next to the sliding door for my balcony.
 

McKBrew

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One of the guys on this forum lives in a 12th story 400 sq ft condo. He isable to brew 5G AG batches by splitting the boil. He has brewing stuff everywhere. I've had his beer, it's great.

No one should ever use space as a reason to keep from brewing. Adapt and overcome.
 

rsmith179

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Just remember, the Brutus 10 rig was totally built by a guy who lives in an apartment. All of his welding, etc was done right on his balcony/porch of his apartment. It can definately be done....
 

Cape Brewing

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... or you can just become friends with folks who have big rigs, hang out at their place and split batches.

Not saying to do that all of the time but we split up batches all the time in our club.
 

McGarnigle

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One of my closets is completely filled with brewing supplies. The biggest pain is that since I dont have a dedicated brewing space, all the equipment has to go up when I'm done. I have an ok kitchen, which is now home to my donated Son-of-a fermentation chiller. I use my bathtub to wash all the larger equipment. The high capacity of a bathtub faucet makes filling a carboy a breeze!
My brewing supplies inevitably spill out of my closets and are stored on the floor in my bedroom. I use my bathtub faucet a lot, but it's very low, so I can't just turn on the faucet and walk away. I have to stand there and hold the tilted carboy or pail. My limited kitchen counter space is always loaded with pots and pans even before brew day. Stuff like that is a pain.
 
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Berlbrew

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I'm on Mission Hill and have a decent sized kitchen with a porch. Our stove is gas so we don't really have a problem with 5 gallon batches. I use the tub to cool my wort, since our sink is too small. We dedicate a closet (my closet) to storing bottles and one carboy. I have some exposed copper piping in my room that we use to heat the primary when the apartment hovers around 55.

Our equipment is starting to take over the kitchen. Between brewing supplies and cleaners (white powders) and the solar powered hydrogen fuel cells my roomates are making for their senior design project (PVC pipe with endcaps), it is quite funny when realtors come through to show the place.
Word. I live on the back of the hill near Heath St. Most of the buildings in our neighborhood have back porches, but not mine. By any chance are you a Northeastern student working on your Engineering capstone? That's what the hydrogen fuel cell setup sounds like to me (Sociology major at NU). I'm sure the realtors love it! That's what they get for forcing everyone onto a Sept. 1 schedule and charging us outrageous fees.

One thing I can't complain about is living only a couple blocks from the Sam Adams brewery. It's nice to have a little inspiration when you need it, or just a free tour and free beer.
 

C4PNJ4ZZ

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Bingo, We're all senior electricals in full senior slide mode.

To cap it off our property manager is redoing our bathroom because our place isn't rented yet. I'm looking forward to couch surfing for a month to get an Oct 1 lease.
 
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Berlbrew

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Bingo, We're all senior electricals in full senior slide mode.

To cap it off our property manager is redoing our bathroom because our place isn't rented yet. I'm looking forward to couch surfing for a month to get an Oct 1 lease.
Do you know Tim Rusteika???
 

Couevas

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I live in a 2 bedroom apartment. I brew on the patio with a single tier HERMS. It takes up the whole patio with just enough room for me to stand. I also built and welded the rig there as well!!! Anything is possible!
 

mnechem

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I feel your pain.

I live in a 1 bedroom apartment on the 7th floor. I've been brewing on my stovetop, but it is an extremely weak electric range. I can barely boil 2.5 gallons of wort. However, I do have a balcony, and I am planning on borrowing my friend's turkey fryer this weekend for a brew session.

The only thing I'm worried about is being caught on my balcony. There are strict rules against grills (and nearly everything else, even plastic furniture) on balconies in the condo docs. I'm hoping no one will see or hear me, but I'm taking a risk of being fined. Wish me luck!
 

Edcculus

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The only thing I'm worried about is being caught on my balcony. There are strict rules against grills (and nearly everything else, even plastic furniture) on balconies in the condo docs. I'm hoping no one will see or hear me, but I'm taking a risk of being fined. Wish me luck!
I got fined $200 in my old apartment. We had decks, and were allowed to have gas burners and grills. Since it was a college town, the homeowner's association fined for kegs to stop us from having parties. I borrowed a friend's keggle for a large batch one weekend. They saw it and slapped me with a fine. Took a while to get them to repeal it. They also fined us $25 one year for putting up Christmas lights.
 

schristian619

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I too have a small 1 bedroom apt. I am lucky to have a patio though. Well, actually, it was a requirement of mine. I used to do my mashing and sparging in the kitchen and boil/heat strike water outside on my propane burner. But now, I do it all outside. Sure, there is not much room to move around out there and certainly no room for anything else, but priorities are priorities:D
 

boredatwork

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I also envy all those people with their nice setups in basements and garages.

I live in a small 2 bedroom apartment with a patio. So far I haven't had any trouble using a propane burner on the patio. All of my brewing equipment and fermenters go in the spare bedroom closet. My kegerator is also in the same closet.

My apartment doesn't have air conditioning, and the heating is pretty crappy. So for temperature control I bought a large storage bin filled it with water and threw in a fish tank heater. I ferment in that. But since it starting to get hot now, a fermenter cooler is in the works.

Space is always very limited though. I actually just got the last piece of equipment to fit into the closet. It took a couple months and several reorganizations to find everything a home. I just finished building a stand last week for the fridge to free up some floor space for the burner.

Of course now that closet space is full I need to figure out where I am going to store my new MLT cooler.

It is a never ending project.
 

jdhiv4

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I like how two guys/girls above posted about using the bathtub for cleaning. You don't need to be able to fit things under the tub faucet.

Install a two-way diverter (not sure of the part name) BEHIND the shower head. You'll need a wrench, but the shower head just unscrews. So, remove the shower head and put the "diverter" back onto the exposed pipe FIRST, then reinstall the shower head. MAKE SURE TO USE PIPE THREAD TAPE!!!! Water WILL find a way out in the wrong spots if given the opportunity.

The "diverter" has one additional threaded output like the main one you used to install the shower head back onto. NOW, you can get simple garden hose quick disconnects from any hardware store.....install one of them onto the "diverters" 2nd output (thread tape please!) and the other half of the quick-disconnect onto a small section of garden house.

Voila! You have a quickly removable hose that makes anything you can fit in the tub/shower stall washable/fillable/coolable and etc.

===============

As far as indoor heating with more BTU's.............look into small self contained single burners that take gas (like used on some cooking shows)....I think these can be used INside....obviously make sure you buy one that can. If a gas stove can burn gas inside......I don't see why they don't make a standalone unit that burns as cleanly (i.e., no carbon monoxide byproduct). You can always buy the same thing in an electric model.

IF THAT isn't going to work................then either make or buy a "heat-stick" (google it!) that sits submerged in your boil and helps add a lot of heat.

REGARDING BASEMENTS: I have one as well as more space now in a house....but I Didn't always and I don't see how anyone properly uses a basement for doing the boil. I have done 5 gallon boils in my kitchen and there is condensation all over the windows in a room down the hall.....I can't imagine introducing all that water vapor into my basement without molding and mildew issues.

So people in your smaller spaces.....You can do more in them than you might think.

Keep brewing!!
 
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