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Homebrewing in a CT Condo Complex

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ArcticBear

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posted this in a local thread but want to get some advice on where i should go from here...

"so.... was brewing an AG batch tonight, out of the front of my garage, minding my own business.

got 25 minutes into the boil and some older guy drives up and summons me over to his car. asking what i was "cooking" then was shocked when i told him i was brewing beer. he asked if i had an open flame, saying that propane tanks like the one i was using were "illegal in the complex" and then rudely told me he was the president of the homeowners association and was going to have to report me for my conduct. i was trying to not play hardball and comply and i just politely told the guy that i was watching it the entire time and had about a half hour left and asked if i was allowed to finish up this batch etc blah blah blah and his response "well it doesnt matter what you do, i'm already reporting you"

F*ck you buddy... looks like going forward i'm just going to have to keep my garage door closed most of the way... turns out this is less safe than if they just let me do it my way... im just expecting a phone call tomorrow from these *ssholes.

that being said i moved into this place in september. within the 2nd week there was a hole that fell through the ceiling because of rain, which still isnt fixed... if this is addressed before that hole in the ceiling is repaired i'm going to go apesh*t"


has anyone else dealt with condo complexes and homebrewing woes? what was the resolve? Electric brewing is not an option at this point and i'm not scaling down and back to stove top extract batches... i finally got my process down for 10 gallon AG batches
 
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ArcticBear

ArcticBear

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I would find out what the association rules are for outdoor propane grills. What you are doing is no different than grilling.
on the deck of our unit we have a grill that is piped into the natural gas. i guess the landlord got that passed through the homeowners association.


but there are multiple people with gas grilles (either natural gas or propane from the looks of it)

from what the guy was saying, propane grilles aren't allowed in the complex, despite the various people who have them.

But riddle me this. why would a propane burner be more of a hazard than a converted natural gas bbq grille... to me it seems like it would be more unsafe a hardline running around/through the building of natural gas than just a short 3 ft run from a propane tank to the burner...
 
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As long as you're not brewing on top of flammable material, you should be fine. In New London, when I lived in my apartment there, they wouldn't let me use a burner on my wood balcony, but in a garage, I can't see them not allowing that. You're probably just dealing with some douchebag (just found out that passes the censorship filter) who thinks he's better than everyone else. Otherwise he would have given you **** regardless of what you were "cooking."
 
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ArcticBear

ArcticBear

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As long as you're not brewing on top of flammable material, you should be fine. In New London, when I lived in my apartment there, they wouldn't let me use a burner on my wood balcony, but in a garage, I can't see them not allowing that. You're probably just dealing with some douchebag (just found out that passes the censorship filter) who thinks he's better than everyone else. Otherwise he would have given you **** regardless of what you were "cooking."
i saw your transition to figuring out the filter...very tasteful hahah

and yeah its at the end of my garage, because my driveway is sloped and wouldn't be stable.

regardless, i never walk away from it for more than a minute (if i have to piss)

i know it wouldn't be illegal in the state, i'm just worried about/annoyed about having to deal with the Condo association over this.

i contacted my landlord to discuss it with him but i likely won't get any resolutions tonight, i'm just filled with anger inside about this. i finally am at the age where i can afford to live in a nice place, about as close to owning a home (setting wise) as i can get, and now i'm told - even though im 26, am entrusted with working on medical mammo and xray equipment, that i'm not trustworthy enough to operating a fuggin propane burner
 
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ArcticBear

ArcticBear

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I would switch your stuff over to electric and brew infront of your garage. Then put dog poop in a paper bag and set it on his front porch, light it on fire ,and run away.
i just bought a 20gallon boiler maker and a blichmann floor standing burner... i'm not switching over to electric...
 

241

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So this is debate able... But personally I hide the hell out of my burner and brew at night on my balcony with totes stacked up so nobody can see what I'm doing.

When not in use I throw it in a tote and pack it into my garage with the propane tank. Just in case of inspections.

Anyway, hope you can get it settled. People panic when they see jet cookers. And associations seriously suck
 
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ArcticBear

ArcticBear

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So this is debate able... But personally I hide the hell out of my burner and brew at night on my balcony with totes stacked up so nobody can see what I'm doing.

When not in use I throw it in a tote and pack it into my garage with the propane tank. Just in case of inspections.

Anyway, hope you can get it settled. People panic when they see jet cookers. And associations seriously suck
it would be more unsafe to brew off of my deck/balcony and it would also be more visible from the street (i have an end unit condo) to my knowledge the units are all independently owned and there are no inspections done at any time.

i agree a jet burner can look intimidating if you look at the flame, but there is no way this guy saw anything from where he was, he was 20ft away at the bottom of the driveway in a car, where in the driveway was my vehicle and the burner infront of it.

not to mention, when you have a 20gallon pot on the floor burner (even with the leg extensions) the wind guard hides any visible flame. I normally have a chair sitting in my garage where i clean/prep/listen to music and i cant see anything other than a subtle blue glow reflecting from the pot... its not high enough to lick the sides and its not orange and wild... just a small controlled, contained heat source
 

Torkermax

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Its not really homebrewing that is the issue. Its having an open flame in a garage. Condo rules are usually pretty strict about this as all the units are connected. A fire in one unit risk a fire in all of them. Its one of those sucky things about condo/commune living. My closest neighbor is 4.5 mi. as the crow flys :)
 

Seedly

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Its not really homebrewing that is the issue. Its having an open flame in a garage. Condo rules are usually pretty strict about this as all the units are connected. A fire in one unit risk a fire in all of them. Its one of those sucky things about condo/commune living.
This.

Ive done my share of living in multi-unit housing. No thank you. I dont care if it costs a hell of a lot more. Single family housing for me from now on.
 

emjay

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ArcticBear said:
But riddle me this. why would a propane burner be more of a hazard than a converted natural gas bbq grille... to me it seems like it would be more unsafe a hardline running around/through the building of natural gas than just a short 3 ft run from a propane tank to the burner...
ArcticBear said:
i just bought a 20gallon boiler maker and a blichmann floor standing burner... i'm not switching over to electric...
ArcticBear said:
it would be more unsafe to brew off of my deck/balcony and it would also be more visible from the street (i have an end unit condo) to my knowledge the units are all independently owned and there are no inspections done at any time.

i agree a jet burner can look intimidating if you look at the flame, but there is no way this guy saw anything from where he was, he was 20ft away at the bottom of the driveway in a car, where in the driveway was my vehicle and the burner infront of it.

not to mention, when you have a 20gallon pot on the floor burner (even with the leg extensions) the wind guard hides any visible flame. I normally have a chair sitting in my garage where i clean/prep/listen to music and i cant see anything other than a subtle blue glow reflecting from the pot... its not high enough to lick the sides and its not orange and wild... just a small controlled, contained heat source
What are you looking to get out of this thread, exactly?

If the HOA doesn't allow it, you're probably just out of luck. You can argue how illogical it all is to HBT or even the HOA itself, but unfortunately you are stuck with the rules.

The way I see it is that you have several options...

The 1st would be to not comply, and just keep doing what you've already been doing, and accept the consequences.

The 2nd would be to not comply, but move somewhere else that allows you to brew how you want to.

The 3rd would be to comply, but stop brewing altogether.

The 4th would be to comply, and switch to brewing on the stovetop or electrically.

Options 2 and 3 are pretty drastic, and pointless to discuss much further.

You don't want to go with option 4, so all that's really left for you to do is ignore the HOA and deal with any consequences that may cause. Eventually the consequences might be severe enough that you'll reconsider another option. And, assuming you want to keep brewing, #4 would be the realistic one, despite your adamant refusal.

I'm actually in fairly similar circumstances. I am also 26, own a Blichmann burner (with the leg extensions), and had a Blichmann kettle when I moved here (I say "had" because I now have more than just the one, though they are not by any means necessary). Where I ended up, gas turned out not to be a feasible option. I had dropped a lot of coin on the Blichmann stuff, so I was, likewise, irritated. But after a while, I realized that being pissed off about the circumstances wasn't going to get me anywhere, and that I'd just have to make the best of the cards I'd been dealt.

So, despite having bought the Blichmann gear, I wound up going electric. I was still able to use the kettle, and I even "converted" it in a manner that allows me to easily remove (and replace) the electric element so that I can still use it on a gas burner if and when I want. I actually still have NEVER used the burner, which would be easy to be bitter about, but what's the use in that? I considered selling it (which you could do if you eventually go electric - there are a LOT of people willing to pay surprisingly very good money for it, as I found out), but eventually decided to keep it. Not only am I sure that I'll eventually have a place where I can use it, but it allows me the flexibility of brewing on somebody else's property (eg a party) or at a club event (without the hassle of bringing all the electric gear and finding a power source), not to mention being able to use it for frying turkey, fish, big lobster boils, etc (and even use the kettle too, which is great for this kind of stuff!)

Now, I understand you really don't want to go electric, or back to the stovetop, and probably don't want to give up brewing either. And I can respect that. So, by all means keep using the burner as long as you can get away with it, try and hide it if you want (though keep safety in mind!), and even just deal with whatever consequences that may come up if you feel it's still worth the tradeoff. And fight your HOA over this issue as hard and as long as you can. You may even win. I'm just saying that sometimes things aren't *exactly* how we'd like them to be, and all you can do is to make the best of the hand you've been dealt. Even if it's a bit painful to be forced to switch to electric brewing when you've already invested in equipment for propane, you might just end up not having much of a choice. And that, although I really do hope that you're able to continue brewing exactly the way you want to, it wouldn't be the end of the world if you end up not being so able. In all honesty, electric brewing really is an absolute blast... as unhappy as I was with essentially being forced to go that route and abandon gas, I have no regrets whatsoever.

Please know that I write this post with all due respect for your decision to stick with your preferred method of brewing, and totally understand your reluctance to switch to anything else. I am not trying to say that you are wrong or that you SHOULD switch to electric, only that, if you eventually find yourself in circumstances where you can NO LONGER do things the way you prefer, that the electric option isn't really all that bad (in fact it's great), and it absolutely does NOT mean that the stuff you've already bought will have been a big waste of money.
 

jamieofthenorth

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I'm on a condo board, and it's really not much fun being a rule enforcer. There's a lot of pressure with the job and it's quite thankless. Fairness is important, so the "rules are rules" approach is often quite necessary, unfortunately.

However, rules can be bent if there is good reason or certain assurances are made. If the condo board were to bend the rules, they would just need an "out" so they could defend themselves against others who would say "well if that guy can have an open flame, why can't I?". Might take some compromising, but usually these kinds of things can be worked out.

Dealing with this particular fellow sounds like a dead end street, but there are no doubt others that make up the condo board...at least one of them no doubt loves beer.

I'd suggest seeking out one of these other condo board members. See if you can offer them some homebrew, cozy up to them a little and work with them on a solution. As with all things in life, it's usually never what you say, but how you say it.

An obvious deal breaker to this would be fire codes. If the fire department forbids such a thing, then you are likely SOL. The condo board will also likely site insurance as a reason for the rule, which is hard to argue against. But if you can propose a solution that negates insurance concerns (reasonable distance from building?) and the person you are dealing with is reasonable, hopefully they will work with you.

Good luck.

-Jamie
 

Sir Humpsalot

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Jamie has some excellent insight. My less-than-truthful suggestion is to start referring to that big pot as your gumbo kettle. You use it to make huge batches of gumbo, although yes, on that day, it so happened you were making beer.

Not that cooking gumbo will make a difference, but it will get the people who don't know/understand homebrewing to look at what you're doing from a reasonable viewpoint with regards to the open flame. If they freak out on the beer aspect, ask if you could still make your "gumbo". If they say ok to gumbo, well then, that's what you're doing. Just drag out a 20 lb sack of rice (filled with malt, of course) when you brew... and barbecue some sausage and seafood at the same time to make it look/smell legit.

In my apartment complex, I use a "gumbo pot". It doesn't change the rules, but it does prevent any knee-jerk reaction to my brewing. I also have "soda kegs" for making rootbeer. If push comes to shove, I'll admit I brew beer... but by the time you get that deep in, you're probably talking to someone who is willing to look at statutes and regs, not just knee-jerk over the fact that, in their super-expert know-it-all opinion, it isn't a normal way to spend a saturday afternoon.
 

HeavyKettleBrewing

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If the villainous HOA President writes you up, he will most certainly send it to your landlord. This may complicate your relationship with your landlord. If your tenant lease does not forbid the use of propane and you do not have a copy of HOA rules, you can chalk this one up as an innocent mistake. Future violations may result in your being evicted. Is the juice worth the squeeze?
 
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ArcticBear

ArcticBear

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I spoke to the landlord and he asked if it was a particular person, on whom ive dealt wih before ammicably. I dont believe it was thismperson because it was dark in their car and i was tired and not paying attention etc...the guy didnt tell me his name, just said he was the president of the condo assoc.

I texted my landlord and we're going to talk today about it but his initial response was "if it wasnt ____ tell him to go f himself...you have crazy neighbors and you need to be nice to them too. Youre a good neighbor and a good person and _____ shouldnt have any issue with what youre doing. Tell them to mail you the citation and take it from there....but dont worry about it"


That being said to answer emjays question, all i was looki for out of this was so see how others have handled this. I know many switch to indoors or electric, but hose just arent great options to me at this time. I was also extremely angry last night after this and just wanted to get this out
 

zeg

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Since you're leasing, as maddad says, you have to consider your relationship with the landlord. If you want to stay in the place, that's important, and it may limit your power with the HOA. Finding out what the landlord thinks about this, if possible, will give you some idea of whether he/she will support you in a conflict or whether he/she will try to give you the boot and find a new tenant who will not cause trouble.

Assuming you are in a position to push back against the HOA, find out what the rule is that you're allegedly violating. If it's true that it's being selectively enforced, I would push back hard and insist that everyone with a propane burner be treated equally. That either means they ignore the rule for everyone, or everyone ditches their propane burners, whether they be grills not.

It's kind of a dick move, but in the long run, it's the only reasonable thing. Selective enforcement of a rule means that no one has an incentive to think about whether it's a sensible rule or not. If the folks with propane grills are told they have to get rid of them, they may decide it's time to change the rules. If you're the only one affected because the HOA only enforces the rules when it disapproves of the activity, no one else will care.

Worst case, everyone in the complex ends up hating you. Hey, what do you care, you're just renting? :ban:
 

DrunkleJon

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Personally not a huge fan of HOA's. Check fire code for your town/city/county or stop by the local firestation(and drop off some homebrew/cookies, they usually are really nice people) and see what the laws for the minimum safe distance for open flames from a building are. If you do get a citation from the HOA, argue it and bring documentation of said law as backup as insurance guidelines go by fire code. I would also see if you can get the owner to either come along with you or give your his written blessing for this activity as it is their house. Additionally it doesnt hurt to contact the HOA directly and request their rules when it comes to gas cooking. The argument over grills/cookers can semantically be argued by open flame as most grills have lids and are thus, contained.

Seeing from your posts timestamp, were you brewing at 10:30ish? The guy may have just been annoyed that you were out that late and "up to no good". Were you making an noticeable amount of noise? Blocking the road any? Does this guy potentially just not like you for some unknown reason?
 

HeavyKettleBrewing

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Personally not a huge fan of HOA's. Check fire code for your town/city/county or stop by the local firestation(and drop off some homebrew/cookies, they usually are really nice people) and see what the laws for the minimum safe distance for open flames from a building are. If you do get a citation from the HOA, argue it and bring documentation of said law as backup as insurance guidelines go by fire code. I would also see if you can get the owner to either come along with you or give your his written blessing for this activity as it is their house. Additionally it doesnt hurt to contact the HOA directly and request their rules when it comes to gas cooking. The argument over grills/cookers can semantically be argued by open flame as most grills have lids and are thus, contained.

Seeing from your posts timestamp, were you brewing at 10:30ish? The guy may have just been annoyed that you were out that late and "up to no good". Were you making an noticeable amount of noise? Blocking the road any? Does this guy potentially just not like you for some unknown reason?
OR maybe the arse thinks you are cooking meth, hence his question about what you are cooking i.e suspicion/ignorance. If you are new to the community, you are bound to meet an arse at some point. Just keep your landlord in the loop and get a copy of the HOA rules/bylaws. Go with Zeg and DrunkleJon advice.
 

Arrheinous

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It's always the 'president of the HOA' that shows up. Never a concerned citizen or something but the prez just happened to be walking/driving by and...

They might just be blowing smoke. Maybe if you go through some kind of fire safety training or have an extinguisher on hand then you'll get by with less flak. My general sense of crazy would say to just bury the propane burner below ground level so no one sees the flame and it looks like just a pot sitting in the yard.
 

AndrewD

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This is probably because of all those dopes who start oil fires on Thanksgiving.
 
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ArcticBear

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Seeing from your posts timestamp, were you brewing at 10:30ish? The guy may have just been annoyed that you were out that late and "up to no good". Were you making an noticeable amount of noise? Blocking the road any? Does this guy potentially just not like you for some unknown reason?

I doughed in at 5:30 and was all cleaned up by 9:45. I was playing a little bit of music on my laptop from the back to the garage, but it was barely noticeable from the street. Was brewing at the top of my driveway, right at the entrance to my garage door (my car was parked in the driveway so all you sould see from the street was the top of my kettle and all the steam coming off of it) so i wasn't blocking the road any.

I don't think it has much to do with what i was brewing, but that i just had an open flame and this guy is an ex hall monitor turned HOA president. I took a quick drive through the complex today and noticed a bunch of propane/piped NG grilles and even a few charcoal grills. Ain't no way in hell someone is going to tell me that using a propane burner under constant supervision is less safe than someone using a charcoal grille...

I'm not sure what this dudes deal is, or if anything will even come from it. I'm a 25 year old guy with plenty of common sense. I'm sure if i was someone who was middle aged the guy wouldnt have hassled me at all. I'm not opposed to buying a fire extinguisher and keeping it on hand if it'll ease anyones fears about safety. I'm not trying to be a pain in the ass or step on anyones toes, but i am not interrupting or interferring with anyone else, i'm not causing any problems, i have had a few conversations with people in the complex who were interested in what i was doing but no one had anything bad to say about it. My girlfriend and I keep to ourselves and don't make waves anywhere, and we've always been readily available to help neighbors in the past. (during hurricane sandy we had a generator going and a neighbor from a few down asked us to keep some boobie milk in our freezer so it didnt go bad and she could save it for her infant son...not one second of hesitation and we were happy to help)

I'm sure this will blow over but as of last night i was raging mad...finally getting to the age where independence is on high, i pay all of my bills on time, i can afford the silly amount we pay to stay in this place, i have a successful career etc.. and the kicker is there is not 1 illegal thing in our apartment. If they came in to do checks they wouldnt find a speck of anything illegal. My girlfriend and i don't do drugs, don't steal, don't do anything unsavory, but yet we're being harrassed. I can imagine there are quite a few people in our complex that couldn't say the same and never get bothered.




This is probably because of all those dopes who start oil fires on Thanksgiving.
thats likely the case, a few bad (or dumb) apples ruin it for the bunch
 

DrunkleJon

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Do let us know how it develops. Im interested in finding out if the guy is just a windbag trying to be self-imoportant. You have the right attitude. CYA and all that.
 

JohnnyO

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I'm pretty sure someone mentioned earlier here about the insurance aspect of it. The liability aspect of having this is probably the biggest issue.

Still sucks though. BTW, I work in Branford in the industrial area behind the TA on 95.
 

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