Consumer to Production

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

fish4fun

Active Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2009
Messages
38
Reaction score
0
Location
supply
I have been reading about brewing for several weeks now. I have yet to sterilize, heat, pitch or rack anything, but I have a few questions none-the-less.

I have kept beer "On Tap" since the early 80s. I am quite familiar with the dispensing side of beer. I want to add another step to the process; that is, I want to brew the beer prior to dispensing it. I am not actively pursuing a new hobby, so my current perspective on brewing is simply production of a quality product for household consumption.

Production. How much beer do I intend to brew? In my household we currently pour ~500 gallons of beer a year. Yes, slightly less than 10 gallons a week. We entertain a lot. I generally keep a 1/2bbl of Mich Light and a 1/6bbl of either a dark or amber in my main keg system. I also keep one or two 1/6bbls upstairs in the game room. If I am going to pursue brewing beer, it will be with the intent of supplying 100% of my household demand. Brewing 5 gallons of beer at a time is simply not something I plan on doing. I would ideally like to brew 12 times a year or less, putting the average brewing session ~ 42 gallons.

Obviously to realize this volume some planning needs to be done. The scale is large enough to merit construction of a special purpose facility for fermentation and cold storage. Luckily I have plenty of land and my plan is to build an out-building designed specifically for the purpose of brewing and storing beer.

My first questions center around the brew pot(s) and fermentor(s). Blichmann Engineering manufactures a 30 gallon and a 55 gallon brew pot for ~$700 and ~$800 respectively. This seems like a fairly reasonable price given the size and quality of construction. I could certainly convert a couple of sankey kegs into a pair of 15 gallon brew pots for ~$150 each, yeilding roughly the same simultaneous boil capacity of the Blichmann Engineering 30 gallon pot (~20 gallons) at a little less than 1/2 the price. I could likely also source a 55 gallon stainless steel drum for the same $300. Making a grain filter et al would bring the price up to ~$450; again, about half of the Blichmann 55 gallon pot. What I do NOT want to do is DIY AND then later need to purchase turn key. What are your thoughts about purchasing VS DIY?

Similarly, large conical bottom fermentors from Blichmann run from ~$900 for the 27 gallon to ~$1300 for the 42 gallon. I can source used 55 gallon plastic drums with sealing screw-off lids locally for ~$15/each. My inclination here is to DIY, but I would love some input from people who have attemted this type of fermentor. I would plan on having two lids for each fermentor, one for fermenting and one for CO2 transfer to kegs.

My current plan is to construct two small, well-insulated, lockers for the fermentors. Each locker would have independent temperature control from 32F to Ambient. Keg storage would be in two separate lockers, again with independent temperature control. I plan to use a single large capacity, chest type freezer as a heat sink. The freezer will contain ~30 gallons of glycol that can be pumped independently to a forced-air radiator in each locker. The lockers themselves will have 6-8 inch foam insulation, so other than a "pull down" in temperature, the heat load should be fairly low. I plan on making the fermentors air tight with a check valve for preventing pressure build up in the lockers. I estimate the cost of the lockers/storage to be ~$2500, including the freezer, pumps, glycol, radiators, fans and thermostats.
Does this sound like a "reasonable" approach to flexible fermenting/lagering set-up?

I would like to build a counter-flow type heat exchanger for the transfer of the wort from the boil pot(s) to the fermentor(s). I have well water that is 68F year round. I have not done the math on this yet, but I am thinking a wort transfer rate of ~1gpm against a water flow of ~15gpm in a 50' coil of copper tubing encased in 10' of 6in PVC should remove most of the wort heat. I could certainly add a shorter, secondary heat exchanger using -10F glycol if the primary heat exchager proved insufficient. I could also slow the transfer rate of the wort. I really haven't worked this part out yet, so thoughts and advice are more than welcome.

Thanks in Advance for any thoughts or input.

Fish
 

dale1038

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2008
Messages
429
Reaction score
10
Location
Louisville
My advice is to start slow. This seems like a big undertaking for something you have never done. Have you tasted a lot of homebrew? I'm so critical of my own beer I don't enjoy it half the time. I think what you have in mind should be the goal, not the starting point.

How about making a 10 gallon batch once a month and getting the other 3/4 of what you drink commercially? Not an option?
 

wyzazz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2009
Messages
4,258
Reaction score
64
Location
Atwater, OH
You may want to look at your local laws to see how much homebrew you are permitted to make every year. Most states are limited to 200gallons per year.
 

mindcrime

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 29, 2009
Messages
71
Reaction score
4
Location
Spring, TX
You stated you dont want another hobby. Homebrewing is not for you. It is time intensive, requires continued research, and simply needs love and passion to do well and for any length of time. You are better off buying commercial kegs for your needs. Also, it's illegal to make beer in the quantity you intend to produce. 200 gal/yr limit. Also, producing something like a lite lager is difficult for a homebrewer to say the least, and you wont be able to do it cheaper or with more reliability than commercial producers.
 

Revvy

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
41,296
Reaction score
3,727
Location
"Detroitish" Michigan
You stated you dont want another hobby. Homebrewing is not for you. It is time intensive, requires continued research, and simply needs love and passion to do well and for any length of time. You are better off buying commercial kegs for your needs. Also, it's illegal to make beer in the quantity you intend to produce. 200 gal/yr limit. Also, producing something like a lite lager is difficult for a homebrewer to say the least, and you wont be able to do it cheaper or with more reliability than commercial producers.
It's only 200 per household if their are two adults in the house...for single folks it is 100 gallons.

But if you are going to go through all that work, yet you don't want another hobby, then I think you are setting yourself up for frustration. You might as well just buy commercial beer.
 

corvax13

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2009
Messages
294
Reaction score
1
Location
Savannah, GA, US
You stated you dont want another hobby. Homebrewing is not for you. It is time intensive, requires continued research, and simply needs love and passion to do well and for any length of time. You are better off buying commercial kegs for your needs. Also, it's illegal to make beer in the quantity you intend to produce. 200 gal/yr limit. Also, producing something like a lite lager is difficult for a homebrewer to say the least, and you wont be able to do it cheaper or with more reliability than commercial producers.
Exactly my thoughts. Homebrewing is certainly a hobby, a time-consuming, and (at first) expensive hobby. If you don't love it, you will likely not want to keep doing it.

However, chances are, you will love it.

I say start small. Get a starter kit, and brew some extract kits from www.austinhomebrew.com or www.northernbrewer.com. If you like it, and think its for you, then go for it. If not, then at least you didn't spend a ton of money.
 

Adam78K

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2009
Messages
327
Reaction score
2
Location
Seattle
Go slow at first, see if you like it then part take in the hobby, thats my 2 cents.
 
OP
fish4fun

fish4fun

Active Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2009
Messages
38
Reaction score
0
Location
supply
I guess stating that I am not interested in the hobby side of brewing touched on a few nerves. I am sorry for that. I understand this is a passion for most here, not about quantity or production. I appreciate that, and, perhaps, brewing will become a hobby, but pursuit of brewing as a hobby is not my initial motivation.

I have read the Federal laws carefully. As luck would have it technically there are three distinct households involved, two with more than one person of legal age, and one with one person of legal age. This would set the "cap" of a "joint venture" at 500 gallons. I would certainly dot my "I"s and cross my "T"s. I have no intention of violating Federal laws.

As to "time consuming and expensive". I am estimating start-up costs of ~$6000-$8000. I think this is a reasonable investment. I am interested in hearing about the time consumption portion of the process. It would be my goal to make the process as efficient as possible from a time point-of-view, so please expound on that aspect of it. Best I can tell from reading, wort production et al should take 4 to 6 hours start to finish. Fermentation should occur naturally over 5 to 45 days. "Kegging" of the beer, including sterilization and clean-up should take an additional 2 to 4 hours. If I am running ~40 gallon batches, I view the time investment as ~ 4 gallons/hour. This seems like a reasonable investment to me. Please enlighten me to the errors in my thinking.

Thank You all for your input.

Fish
 

knuckleball

Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2008
Messages
19
Reaction score
0
Where does the 100/200 gallons per year limit come from?

I suppose one could always drink the evidence....
 

CDbrews

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2009
Messages
344
Reaction score
3
Location
MN
4-6 hours with that large of a production and it being your first time is only a dream.... its gonna take ya a lot longer than that. It takes a total of roughly 6 weeks to make a batch (depending on the beer) and you do only do work 2 of those days but i would schedule nothing on those days other than brewing. It might take you 4-6 hours eventually but not for a while. start with a kit make sure you like it and get the process down.
 

bigin31

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2009
Messages
110
Reaction score
0
Location
Fort Worth, TX
Fish, With the proper equipment you can have your wort pitched and ready to ferment within 3 hours. Depending on the type of brew made, a Mich clone would be about 2 weeks from boil to force carb, you are looking at a max of a month. Im sure Rev will shime in his .02 and tell you beer takes time but consider that a commercial brew house can put out a batch in about 6 hours and you have a goal to reach with your investment. If you are considering investing 6 to 8k then it should be no problem for you. You should be able to keep your patrons happy with a two to three week ferment. One recommendation, non homebrewing people do not understand that commercial beer is strenuously filtered. Invest in irish moss and isinglass, it will keep your guests happy. Also Mich is a pils, that's an easy money recipe. Should have no problems pleasing. Good luck.
 

northernlad

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Messages
1,625
Reaction score
34
Location
NW
This can only end in tears. :)

I can only assume that the subject money is quite far down the list for you. If not, I would spend the first part of this venture analyzing your return on investment. An initial outlay of $6000-8000 will take years level out to your current cost per glass. There are myriad other variables that tend to make this a hobby because it is not a whole lot less to BYO when all things are considered. Your time, utility expenses, etc.

100 five gallon batches a year is certainly out of the question, but you have to start somewhere. I feel you need to love beer and love time spent on a hobby for this to be something you do past the first few batches. All of us have started a thing only to tire of it and sell off the toys for far less than we paid.
I think its a great idea for you to be self sufficient in beer but hopefully this board can give an idea of what you are in for.
I throw my hat into the start slow hat. Get the process down and see if you want to invest that much time. Maybe you can find a club or local guy you can hang out with and can shorten the learning curve for you.

Good luck:mug:
 

shortyjacobs

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2009
Messages
2,509
Reaction score
46
Location
Twin Cities, MN
Mah, don't listen to these folks. I like your "do it huge" attitude....nothing says you have to start out at 5 gallons per batch. Of course, I bet anything you lose a few 40 gallon batches, and that will hurt, but apparently a little money lost in the persuit doesn't phase you too much....

Do you think every new microbrewery around the country starts out at the 5 gallon mark? True, they start out with a lot more experience, but that's all relative now that you have the collective experience of thousands of people at your fingertips with the internet.

I have no clue in HELL how to start up something that big. My only comment is that DIYing fermenters out of plastic 55 gal drums may or may not work, depending on the type of plastic. You want PET. If it's not PET, and not food grade, it's most likely gonna leak O2 like a sonuvabitch, and you'll end up with oxidized, gross beer.

To do 40 gal batches, you'll want at least a 55 gal pot...but again, I'm going off my "I need a 8 gallon pot for a 5 gallon batch" estimates...never gone big.

One person you might wanna look out for on here is Cold_Steel. I think he's trying to be as crazy as you are.

Here are some of his threads:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/advice-process-140675/
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/2-54-barrel-s-s-conical-fermenter-build-135991/
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/55-gal-drum-mash-tun-false-bottom-ideas-138941/


Have fun!! Best of luck! :mug: :rockin: :ban:
 

bigin31

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2009
Messages
110
Reaction score
0
Location
Fort Worth, TX
I agree with shorty. I would not recommend plastic with large batches like that. Invest in a large conical and it will make your life much easier. Don't let these guys get you down. Just plan it out carefully.
 

Pangea

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2009
Messages
312
Reaction score
5
Location
Lafayette, LA
Am I the only one that thinks there's something fishy about this thread and the OP?
 

MultumInParvo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2009
Messages
803
Reaction score
12
Location
Detroit
The forum I go to other than this the most is ffcobra.com. Its all sorts of people building cars in their garage. Every now and then a person comes in and says that want to build X car, make it Y horse power, and build it within 6 months. To that the response is 'its impossible' 'can't do it' etc.... And, surprisingly, some of the sweetest cars have come from these people.

If you're confident in your own abilities, I say go for it. Will there be a lot of time and frustration? Probably. Will you have a sweet ass brewery at the end of it? Sounds like it...

People are too logical. Sometimes you just have to go big.
 

TXCrash

Gunshy
Joined
Sep 28, 2005
Messages
32,166
Reaction score
3,938
Location
Crazytown
As one who's jumped into this head first I aplaud your gusto. However, you truly are setting yourself up for disappointment. There's a large amount of time involved in homebrewing unless you have an incredibly complex system. You also may not be happy with the product you produce every time. 5 gallons of substandard brew is a lot - I can't imagine drinking my way through 40.

Some math - for myself, you, and others.
500 gallons of michelob light (let's assume that's all you drink) at 90 per 1/2 barrel works out to $3000/ year pre made beer

Let's say all you brew is biermunchers centennial blonde. An 11 gallon batch requires 15.4lb of pale at .66/lb = 10.16 and 3.58 lb of specialty grains at roughly 1.50/lb = 5.37. 5.37+10.16= 20.77 for grain. You'll need a touch over an ounce each of centennial and cascade at roughly $1/an ounce bringing your recipe cost to roughly $22.77 for 11 gallons. Brings your cost per year to $1035/ year ingredients

Lets say you brew 17 times a year and have a 30 gallon system. Plan on a full 8 hour day per batch and value your time at $10/hr - $1360/ year labor

Lets say you invest 8000 into your system. Lets ignore compounding interest and depreciation of equipment, which would both significantly increase the $400/ year interest loss.

So far we're at $1035+$1360+$400 = $2795. Only $205 less than buying premade beer - and that's neglecting increased electric and propane bills.

Now if ya want a hobby that's rewarding - have fun! It's a great hobby!
 

northernlad

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Messages
1,625
Reaction score
34
Location
NW
^^ and if you amortized your equipment over 10 years you would $800 to the cost.
 

Shoemaker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2009
Messages
150
Reaction score
0
Location
New Jersey
1978 when homebrewing was legalized. After prohibition was rescinded in the 30's and winemaking was legalized, homebrewing wasn't included and it took Jimmy Carter to make it right.

I am a law abiding citizen. But in my opinion this law is one of those that are on the books that don't matter. I can just see it now, an episode of Cops where on a tip from a neighbor, they execute a search warrant, finding dozens of bags of marris otter and 100 ounce bags of cascade hops, and as a result, slapping handcuffs on the homebrewer.
 

MultumInParvo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2009
Messages
803
Reaction score
12
Location
Detroit
I am a law abiding citizen. But in my opinion this law is one of those that are on the books that don't matter. I can just see it now, an episode of Cops where on a tip from a neighbor, they execute a search warrant, finding dozens of bags of marris otter and 100 ounce bags of cascade hops, and as a result, slapping handcuffs on the homebrewer.
That would be a hilarious episode... Let me know if you ever see it. :fro:
 

Revvy

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
41,296
Reaction score
3,727
Location
"Detroitish" Michigan
I am a law abiding citizen. But in my opinion this law is one of those that are on the books that don't matter. I can just see it now, an episode of Cops where on a tip from a neighbor, they execute a search warrant, finding dozens of bags of marris otter and 100 ounce bags of cascade hops, and as a result, slapping handcuffs on the homebrewer.
Keep saying it on an alcohol website that is no doubt monitored (like so much of the web) by the very federal authorities tasked to enforce alcohol laws. ;) It's not BATF anymore but still



You ever see the cops episode where the cops busted a homebrewer? Well he was growing pot..but go look at the youtube episode (posted several time on here, btw,) and note the ignorance that the cops have about our hobby. It doesn't really matter if you think the law is silly...there are a lot of ignorance and bias about this hobby, including the LEO's ...People still think that you can go blind from making beer...(hell we have folks on here who aren't quite sure about that themselves.)

Or what happened to two of our members who tried to put together a homebrew festival and the stupid mistake they made? https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f19/oh...ival-shut-down-140105/?highlight=cops+episode

The thing is, we are STILL in the US only one step away from prohibition again, and would be if MADD ever got their way...go look into some of the civil right violating ideas that they are behind, not just here but even in Canada...(you do know, don't you, that in Canada that have RANDOM traffic check points where they pull over all cars with NO probable cause and issue breathalizers to every driver...that's a wet dream to MADD, those mother's rub their nylon thighs together at the thought of the uber police state.)

Living on the border and listenning to Canadain radio I hear how many inroads Madd Canada has had in shaping the law over there.

You may not agree with the laws, but many of us on here respect the law...because we KNOW what had to happen for our hobbie to become legalized...HELL there are STILL states in this country WHERE IT ISN'T...and what 2 states Utah was one of them only became legal last year.

You ever notice that we don't discuss DIstillation on here??? Because it is still illegal and becasue we respect the law, AND repect TX who put this together for us we don't discuss that either.

SO before you pontificate some more on how you, as a law abiding citizen don't think the cops will care if they find all that MO under there, it might good idea to look at the history of fascism in the world...including the "intelluctual, and "moral" fascisms such as prohibition here in america...and the struggle CHarlie Papazain and others went through to brew under the law.

Here are some resources for you.

02-14-08 Basic Brewing Radio - Homebrew History
Thursday, February 14, 2008 3:30 PM
Charlie Papazian shares a bit of homebrew history 30 years after legislation legalizing home brewing passed Congress. Also, home brewer Robb Holmes talks about brewing when it was breaking the law.

http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicbrewing/bbr02-14-08history.mp3
Maureen Ogle's Book, Ambitious Brew covers how prohibition in this country came about as well as how beer and homebrewing played a role. It's well worth looking at all the factors that led up to prohibition, as well as current attempts at it as well.

You can listen to a great i-view with her here.


Listen to this from Basic Brewing;

November 30, 2006 - Ambitious Brew Part One
We learn about the history of beer in the USA from Maureen Ogle, author of "Ambitious Brew - The Story of American Beer." Part one takes us from the Pilgrims to Prohibition.

http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicbrewing/bbr11-30-06.mp3

December 7, 2006 - Ambitious Brew Part Two
We continue our discussion about the history of beer in the USA with Maureen Ogle, author of "Ambitious Brew - The Story of American Beer." Part two takes us from Prohibition to the present day.

http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicbrewing/bbr12-07-06.mp3
Bottom line...don't think that it can't happen again. And that's why many of us rather than ignore the rules respect them and rather than talking about getting around them, we instead try to be public ambassadors of the hobby and beer culture in general, trying to paint beer, brewing and responsible alcohol usage in a positive light.

:mug:
 
OP
fish4fun

fish4fun

Active Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2009
Messages
38
Reaction score
0
Location
supply
Wow, I am soooo glad I could start a thread where politics was the theme. If this forum is about ranting, hating and persecuting then I have obviously made a poor choice, and I am sorry. Honestly, this thread was about a newbie going from consumer to producer, but I can already tell this is a hostile enviroment if the newbie only wants to produce beer. I was very careful to post in the "introduce yourself forum" first and "test the waters". I recieved comments like "relax", "this is a friendly place". Obviously I am a trouble maker and I need to go somehere else. I would like to apologize for the disturbance I have caused, and I would ask the admins to delete this entire thread. I promise I will not return. I wish everyone here good tidings, and hold no malice toward any; but again, please delete this thread; nothing but ugliness is coming from it.

With Warm Regards,

Fish
 

northernlad

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Messages
1,625
Reaction score
34
Location
NW
Wow, I am soooo glad I could start a thread where politics was the theme. If this forum is about ranting, hating and persecuting then I have obviously made a poor choice, and I am sorry. Honestly, this thread was about a newbie going from consumer to producer, but I can already tell this is a hostile enviroment if the newbie only wants to produce beer. I was very careful to post in the "introduce yourself forum" first and "test the waters". I recieved comments like "relax", "this is a friendly place". Obviously I am a trouble maker and I need to go somehere else. I would like to apologize for the disturbance I have caused, and I would ask the admins to delete this entire thread. I promise I will not return. I wish everyone here good tidings, and hold no malice toward any; but again, please delete this thread; nothing but ugliness is coming from it.

With Warm Regards,

Fish
WTF are you talking about?
 
OP
fish4fun

fish4fun

Active Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2009
Messages
38
Reaction score
0
Location
supply
northernlad,

perhaps I was strong in my last post, rest assured it is NOT drama i want, drama is exactly what I do not want. I really just wanted some advice, and I recieved that, and while I am taking it under advisement, it is not what I had hoped for. None of that is what upset me. Obviously I am out of line for being upset that my thread degeneraded into a late 70's malpropism....

The thing is, we are STILL in the US only one step away from prohibition again, and would be if MADD ever got their way...go look into some of the civil right violating ideas that they are behind, not just here but even in Canada...(you do know, don't you, that in Canada that have RANDOM traffic check points where they pull over all cars with NO probable cause and issue breathalizers to every driver...that's a wet dream to MADD, those mother's rub their nylon thighs together at the thought of the uber police state.)
I mean no disrespect to a member with 16,900 posts. Obviously I am the one out of line. I am offering my appologies, and a quick release. If I have misconstrued something then please enlighten me, otherwise encourage the deletion of this thread and move forward.

I do not know how else I can say I am sorry for having posted this thread.

Fish
 

dzlater

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2008
Messages
1,109
Reaction score
45
Location
New Jersey
If you have the bucks I say go for it.
You might want to do a couple small batches first
just to perfect your process. That would also let you
nail a recipe before you go unto "production"
even the pros do pilot batches.
good luck
 

TXCrash

Gunshy
Joined
Sep 28, 2005
Messages
32,166
Reaction score
3,938
Location
Crazytown
Don't be sorry for posting this thread. If you go for it we'd all be interested in watching your build progress.

But: Don't do it to save money, and if you're breaking the law by exceeding statutory limits keep it on the down low. We're just very vocal here because we've seen noobs jump in head first and drown.
 

Pangea

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2009
Messages
312
Reaction score
5
Location
Lafayette, LA
Wow, I am soooo glad I could start a thread where politics was the theme. If this forum is about ranting, hating and persecuting then I have obviously made a poor choice, and I am sorry. Honestly, this thread was about a newbie going from consumer to producer, but I can already tell this is a hostile enviroment if the newbie only wants to produce beer. I was very careful to post in the "introduce yourself forum" first and "test the waters". I recieved comments like "relax", "this is a friendly place". Obviously I am a trouble maker and I need to go somehere else. I would like to apologize for the disturbance I have caused, and I would ask the admins to delete this entire thread. I promise I will not return. I wish everyone here good tidings, and hold no malice toward any; but again, please delete this thread; nothing but ugliness is coming from it.

With Warm Regards,

Fish
WTF are you talking about?
Yeah, what are you talking about Fish? You asked for advice and you've received about 4 pages of it. Some encouraging and some not. Not sure what ugliness you're referring too. Some folks (me included) think that what you're proposing isn't practical or doesn't make sense. Others say go for it, spend the dough and buy/build a gigantic system with no prior brewing experience. My advice would be to spend a smaller amount on a starter system to get familiar with techniques and what process steps you really need, to know what larger equipment you'd need when you're ready to scale up.
 

TXCrash

Gunshy
Joined
Sep 28, 2005
Messages
32,166
Reaction score
3,938
Location
Crazytown
Ya know... lehr spent a bunch of time and I presume money building a gorgeous all SS brew rig before ever brewing. He got some crap from some here but also got a lot of "wow that's awesome". You're kinda getting the same. He's asked for advice and gotten it and I think we all deeply respect him for both the build quality of his rig and the fact that he had the courage to jump in head first without really knowing what he was doing.

None of us have told you not to build your 30 gallon rig or brew 200 gallons per household. Frankly, none of us care how much you brew as long as you're not openly bragging about going way over the statutory limit. We've simply cautioned you to test the waters first because, frankly, $8,000 is a lot of money for most of us. I hope you start brewing and stick around - there's a lot to learn. This is a great hobby and if you enjoy the time producing beer then there's certainly an economic benefit to brewing. If it's a task, however, there's very little economic benefit.

Here's the rig I'd build - which would require a weekly brew or could be doubled. Note that prices are kinda pulled outta my bum - they'll vary.

Wet
3 sankey kegs - lets say you legally aquire them for $30 each. $90
3 weldless fitting sets at $20 each $60
DIY manifold for MLT - $20
March pump $120
DIY counterflow chiller $80
20' silicone hose $40
Quick disconnects $60
DIY mash paddle $10
Autosiphon $15
4 sankeys to ferment and serve from $120
wet subtotal: $615

Heat supply/monitor
2 Burners already on stands $200
Thermometer $20
we'll presume you already have propane
Heat subtotal: $220

fridge from craigslist $50
Thermostat for same fridge $50

Fermentation temp subtotal: $100


Total: $935 your payback time is now substantially shorter and since this is a hobby and you enjoy what you're doing your time costs nothing - meaning that there is now an economic benefit to brewing. Rig depreciation will be negligible and when you decide you enjoy brewing and the beer you produce you can step up and sell pieces of your rig to other homebrewers for close to what you have invested.
 

CodeRage

Death by Magumba!
Joined
Aug 22, 2007
Messages
2,209
Reaction score
71
Location
Melbourne, Fl
Fish,
I don't believe the hostility is directed at you. Some topics such as the annual limit per household comes up and there is a bit of bickering amongst the veterans about what is right/wrong. You're not the target, the subject just happened to come up because of the 500 gal limit you proposed earlier. And honestly, it's mostly people looking out for your well being.
You think this is bad, you should see the arguments about electrical codes and the correct way to wire electrical control systems for electric rigs. It gets pretty heated. At the end of the day though I would sit and have a beer with any one of these members, they really are great people who care, some more passionately than others.
As for producing your own beer but not as a hobby, I don't think any one is offended by it. Their is efficiency in large volume, including time, but that batches you are talking about you can just about mark off a full day for brewing and a half a day for kegging. That is quite a bit of time to commit too, if it were me I would want to be spending that time doing something I enjoy, not a chore like mowing the lawn. It could very well grow on you and become something you do enjoy.
You could consider testing the waters and do a few 5 gallon batches using a brew in bag technique. It's pretty inexpensive and doesn't require much in the way of equipment. Looking at your budget, consider using %0.025 of it for research and run a few test batches. If you make a few less than desirable beers at 40 gallons a pop it could get frustrating. In addition to that you may have a few less friends coming by and draining your kegs :p.

This site is pretty friendly to noobs but you are asking for advice on building a small scale brewery and most of us do 5 to 10 gallons at a time. It's like going to a row boat forum asking how to build the titanic with no experience. It really is quite an undertaking amd there really aren't that many people here who work with those kinds of volumes.

If you have got the time, money, and ambition to do it, go for it. I would love to see a barrel and a half home brew rig, plus I have a bit of an affinity for build threads.

I wish you the best of luck in what ever you decide to do and keep us informed.
 

shortyjacobs

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2009
Messages
2,509
Reaction score
46
Location
Twin Cities, MN
northernlad,

perhaps I was strong in my last post, rest assured it is NOT drama i want, drama is exactly what I do not want. I really just wanted some advice, and I recieved that, and while I am taking it under advisement, it is not what I had hoped for. None of that is what upset me. Obviously I am out of line for being upset that my thread degeneraded into a late 70's malpropism....



I mean no disrespect to a member with 16,900 posts. Obviously I am the one out of line. I am offering my appologies, and a quick release. If I have misconstrued something then please enlighten me, otherwise encourage the deletion of this thread and move forward.

I do not know how else I can say I am sorry for having posted this thread.

Fish
Fish, I think you took Revvy's comment as criticism of you. It wasn't. Someone had mentioned to you the 100/200 gallon limit, and someone else asked where that limit came from. Revvy responded with information about the limit.

None of that "chatter" was about you....in fact it was really just semi off topic chit chat between other people in this thread...I don't think ANYONE here is throwing politics at you to convince you not to brew!

I for one want you to stick around, and want you to persue this. God knows I don't have the money to attack it, and I love the "go big or go buy Mich" attitude you have.

You are getting a bunch of people saying "don't do it"...but you asked for their opinions, right? Honestly, this isn't the type of project 95% of the folks on here would ever think of attempting....it IS a huge undertaking, and you ARE very ambitious to take it on....which is all the more reason I want to see how you see it through!

:mug: Cheers man...stick around and teach us all a lesson! :tank:
 

dantodd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
1,176
Reaction score
14
Location
San Carlos, CA
I have been reading about brewing for several weeks now. I have yet to sterilize, heat, pitch or rack anything, but I have a few questions none-the-less.
I would suggest starting small. Partially because you will want to become familiar with the process more intimately than simple reading will allow.
You will also want a smaller scale brewery to work on your recipes before making large batches, the expense of the small brewery would be paid for in just ingredients from one ruined (or simply disliked) batch of 40 gallons. You'll probably want to have a "pilot brewery" for adding new recipes later too.

In my town we have a "brew on premises" shop that will let you brew your own recipe with their equipment. You could potentially use a shop like this for recipe development and to start practicing actual brewing with less risk of losing a full batch and with an experienced brewer along side to help.


I have kept beer "On Tap" since the early 80s. I am quite familiar with the dispensing side of beer. I want to add another step to the process; that is, I want to brew the beer prior to dispensing it. I am not actively pursuing a new hobby, so my current perspective on brewing is simply production of a quality product for household consumption.
Quality is certainly attainable but rarely with a first batch. I'm sure that whatever business you are in also requires some level of experience and practice to attain the proficiency to do it well. Brewing is the same way. It is much more like making a quality cake from scratch than making mac and cheese from a box.


My first questions center around the brew pot(s) and fermentor(s). Blichmann Engineering manufactures a 30 gallon and a 55 gallon brew pot for ~$700 and ~$800 respectively. This seems like a fairly reasonable price given the size and quality of construction. I could certainly convert a couple of sankey kegs into a pair of 15 gallon brew pots for ~$150 each, yeilding roughly the same simultaneous boil capacity of the Blichmann Engineering 30 gallon pot (~20 gallons) at a little less than 1/2 the price. I could likely also source a 55 gallon stainless steel drum for the same $300. Making a grain filter et al would bring the price up to ~$450; again, about half of the Blichmann 55 gallon pot. What I do NOT want to do is DIY AND then later need to purchase turn key. What are your thoughts about purchasing VS DIY?
You seem to have done an excellent job of identifying the issues and with your obvious planning skills I would have no doubt that either approach would work well for you. Since you really aren't interested in the hobby aspect it might be easier to go with the turn key solution because you'll have some support if something does not work exactly as planned.

Similarly, large conical bottom fermentors from Blichmann run from ~$900 for the 27 gallon to ~$1300 for the 42 gallon. I can source used 55 gallon plastic drums with sealing screw-off lids locally for ~$15/each. My inclination here is to DIY, but I would love some input from people who have attemted this type of fermentor. I would plan on having two lids for each fermentor, one for fermenting and one for CO2 transfer to kegs.
Seach out and read some of the threads here on home built conicals. The lid is one of the difficulties folks have had and rarely does a conical go together without significant later modifications. And these are typically built by experienced brewers who know what they like and want in a system. I would strongly urge you to go with a pre-made system and buy one model up from what you think you'll need here. You simply don't have the experience to know exactly which features you will end up using or needing.

My current plan is to construct two small, well-insulated, lockers for the fermentors. Each locker would have independent temperature control from 32F to Ambient. Keg storage would be in two separate lockers, again with independent temperature control. I plan to use a single large capacity, chest type freezer as a heat sink. The freezer will contain ~30 gallons of glycol that can be pumped independently to a forced-air radiator in each locker. The lockers themselves will have 6-8 inch foam insulation, so other than a "pull down" in temperature, the heat load should be fairly low. I plan on making the fermentors air tight with a check valve for preventing pressure build up in the lockers. I estimate the cost of the lockers/storage to be ~$2500, including the freezer, pumps, glycol, radiators, fans and thermostats.
Does this sound like a "reasonable" approach to flexible fermenting/lagering set-up?
As long as you are building a cold room I'd suggest going with room air conditioning units rather than a chest freezer and glycol, it should be more efficient and will have many fewer spots for a leak to occur. Again you can leverage the experiences of experienced brewers by using the search feature (or even better, google site search) "BrewPastor" recently built a cold room and the thread is quite good.

I would like to build a counter-flow type heat exchanger for the transfer of the wort from the boil pot(s) to the fermentor(s). I have well water that is 68F year round. I have not done the math on this yet, but I am thinking a wort transfer rate of ~1gpm against a water flow of ~15gpm in a 50' coil of copper tubing encased in 10' of 6in PVC should remove most of the wort heat. I could certainly add a shorter, secondary heat exchanger using -10F glycol if the primary heat exchager proved insufficient. I could also slow the transfer rate of the wort. I really haven't worked this part out yet, so thoughts and advice are more than welcome.
I really don't know enough about chilling this size batch to be much help but if you are going to use glycol to chill you could probably use a jacketed conical and do a majority of the cooling in there and just dump the cold break before pitching.


How much thought have you put into your mashing process? Do you plan on building a mill? It as much as 50% on your grain bill to buy in bulk and mill yourself. If you are planning on using extract it will make consistency and quality that much more difficult to attain and will be much more expensive.

For example:
50lb of Dry Malt extract = $150
50lb 2 row milled = $65
50 lbs 2 row bulk = $35
 

northernlad

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Messages
1,625
Reaction score
34
Location
NW
If you are planning on using extract it will make consistency and quality that much more difficult to attain and will be much more expensive
Isn't consistency one of the selling points of extract?
 

bigdug

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2009
Messages
302
Reaction score
3
Location
Lizard Lick NC yeah it's really a place
Fish
Don't let the banter get to you we are for the most part one big (albeit slightly disfunctional) family. :D

Let me try to get to the point of most of the chatter and compare it to fishing (maybe another of your hobbies)

1) The levels you say you want to produce are illegal. not unlike creel and size limits in fishing if you are not going to follow them its best to keep it to yourself.

2) If you are looking to save money it probably aint gonna happen. ever been to the fish market after a day and realized the flounder you caught probably cost you about $200 a pound with equipment cost

3) Starting on the scale you are starting is unusual. Think of a guy who likes to eat mahi mahi and goes out and buys a fully equiped sportfisher.

4) Making beer is as much craft/art as science and there is a learning curve to producing good beer. Anyone on any given day can catch a trophy fish luck does play somtimes but to consistanly catch your target species takes time and practice.

I think the big thing is we are all passionate about this obssesion we have and think everyone should enjoy it.
 

MikeScott

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 19, 2009
Messages
232
Reaction score
12
Location
Colorado Springs CO
I'm still a n00b, but personally, I would suggest starting small. Do a couple of 5 or 10 gallon batches, make sure you're still interested. I will admit though, I spent more than a little bit of time day dreaming about what I would do with $8000 for brewing equipment. :)

As for the hostility, I didn't really see any, especially not any directed at you. I've also seen a number of threads here where some chastized someone for a n00b mistake, and then they were corrected. This is a very helpful and friendly forum, and that's why I'm still around.

Good luck fish! Stick around and keep us posted! Maybe I can come over and play one day :)
 

Latest posts

Top