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I got shut down - no more outdoor brewing

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jacksonbrown

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I got a call from my homeowners association this weekend. In the message the woman says somethign to the afftect of "some people have noticed you brewing... something in the garage. Whatever it is, I think it's probably against fire safety laws and we'd like you to stop."
I called up my local fire dept this morning to get some info, and, indeed, an open flame within 10 feet of a structure is not allowed in a townhome setting like ours. He didn't say it was illegal, but if an inspector saw it they would make me stop.
I do not have a private yard large enough that would keep me 10 ft from a wall or fence, which means I'm moving operations indoors. Which means 2.5-3 gal batches since our stove sucks. Which means my banjo cooker and 20 gallon Blichmann are essencially useless to me until we move. This f'n BLOWS!
 

caver95

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Land of the Free. Forget them and keep brewing. Do it in the parking lot. Is it in your HOA by Laws?
 

Jim Karr

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Is there a parking lot, or a common area? I'll make a bet that if you were to share some of your brew with others involved at the townhouse, they'd give their blessing to brewing somewhere else on the property.
 

ohiobrewtus

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I know this would limit you to days when it's pretty nice outside, but what about your driveway?
 
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Two options,
1) Tell your HO rep that you spoke with the fire department and he mentioned nothing about it be illegal, Then continue brewing until an inspector tells you to stop unless of course that would be associated with a fine.
2) Electric brewing. Sell the blichman bling and buy the ugliest equipment you can make work into electric and brew outside with it playing Bluegrass with your shirt off.
 

XXguy

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Do they allow people in the community to use Propane grills?

Someone would have to explain to me why a propane buner was more safe attached to an outdoor grill - than to a brewing kettle...... although I can understand they don't want anyone using propane indoors.
 
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jacksonbrown

jacksonbrown

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Driveway/parking lot is a pretty narrow area that would piss a lot of people off if I were to set up there. They got pissy when we had a garage sale that spilled into that area. Our direct neighbors, the ones we share walls with, don't care. They find it pretty cool, and know another homebrewer in MN. I think the association just doesn't like us very much. They've been giving us a hard time over our dog lately because he has separation anxiety and has a bad day once in a while. At least he doesn't run off leash like some other people's dogs. Grr.
 

AnOldUR

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I called up my local fire dept this morning to get some info, and, indeed, an open flame within 10 feet of a structure is not allowed in a townhome setting like ours.
I'm confused. Does this mean that you can't use the gas stove top in your kitchen? It's not like you're welding or burning your garbage. I'd look into the exact wording of the ordinance.
 

SumnerH

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Did you explain to the fire department that you're using a propane burner (explain that it's like a turkey frier so they have a basis for comparison)? The rules are often different for that vs. a campfire.

Should that fail, think about getting an electric burner. That should be fine by fire codes and will let you keep using the Blichmann for big batches.

If you get an okay from the fire dept, I would go talk to the HOA and explain that you're brewing beer (not cooking up crystal meth or something) and that home-brewing is legal in your state. Try to work with them rather than get too confrontational, but be firm in your rights. Bring a printed copy of the state law, but only show it if they ask or if they question your statement that it's legal (you don't want to seem like you came in raring for a bit battle). The WI law is at:
Barleypopmaker - Homebrewing Law in Wisconsin
 

Schlenkerla

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Per Jim Karr's Comment; I think that is true, try sharing. I'd be wary of open container laws though. See if there is a clubhouse you can use.

If not, make yourself a heat stick or something electric. NO FLAME!!! :D

Its it any consolation, I do PM's or mini-mashes in a 2 gallon thermos to stay out of Iowa's bitter cold. My mashes are always 4lbs grain then the balance is made up with extract. I get a perfect amount of boil wort. 3 gallons.
  • 1 gal dough-in
  • .8 gal mash-out (for grain absorbtion)
  • 2 gal sparge.
It make a good beer like that of an all grain. I add my extract at the last 10 min of the boil.

Pretty soon I'll be back to lugging out my burner & keggle to set-up my AG brewing system for the coming outdoor season.
 

SOB

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Close the garage door but leave it open just enough for any fumes to exhaust. If they cant see you then they'll think you have stopped...
 

DOGBOY

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hi , i dont know the defination of open flame in your by=laws or fire codes
but i think that it means fire as in fire pit or wood fired bbq grill,if you have one of those stoves by kooker or something like that it should be ok, do people around you have bbq grills on their patos? if so keep on keepen on..brew , let them call the fire dept, neighbors dont have any real authority implied or otherwise.to stop you on your property, also you cant store propane inside.....
 

Boar Beer

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Open Flame ??? mmmmm
Are Barbecue grills allowed?
Then close your burner in with a heavy wire mesh.
Or sheet metal with half inch holes punched in it and rolled to go around your burner
Some thing like that should work
Show the Neighbor that you did something to comply
 

TXCrash

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Googlefoo yeilds madison fire code RE: open flame In short, no open flame - including propane or charcoal bbq's within 10 ft of combustible materials, excepting single family dwelings.

I'd still probably tell them to shove it... but that's just me...

Good luck!
 

rocketman768

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Just do it indoors. I know lots of people who run a tank-fed propane burner indoors for making stews or whatnot (just DON'T fry a turkey or anything indoors). It's not dangerous provided you have a little ventilation and an assurance that nothing will tip the stand over. You can buy a cheap carbon monoxide detector for some assurance.
 

Shinglejohn

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I know the feeling, ive have been cited by the association on numerous occasions for working on motorcycles in my driveway, or having my dog out w/o a leash, and parking improperly in my driveway, and having a grill in the front of my house, and having taken up more than my share of parking(3 spots out of 50, there are 15 condos and it was 3 damn hours), and parking my bike in the main lot.

But i am a believer in civil disobedience. And until they speak to me face to face and stop sending letters, i just go about my business.
 

Brewer_Steve

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I feel your pain.
I used to live in a townhouse and the condo corporation had all sorts of silly rules.
To make matters worse, I had some old crazy neighbors who would call in to make complaints about any violation of the silly rules.

This might be impractical for you, but you could brew at night so that your neighbors are already asleep and can't complain. That's how I had to deal with my hobbies that caused complaints.
 

Spunkmeyer

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Completely non-helpful to the original poster, but this thread just makes me want to say how ****ty I think homeowner associations are. Usually attracts a bunch of power-hungry losers who have nothing better to do than annoy their neighbors about the color of their landscaping stone.
 
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Completely non-helpful to the original poster, but this thread just makes me want to say how ****ty I think homeowner associations are. Usually attracts a bunch of power-hungry losers who have nothing better to do than annoy their neighbors about the color of their landscaping stone.
Ditto to that. I will never buy into a neighbor hood with one. I understand the idea of them and it is good to help protect property values. But when it get to the point of, "your pavers don't match everyone else.", "you're grass is 1/8" taller than we allow on Thursdays in March", It's some spoiled house wife needing to feel important as head of some worthless committee.

I would look into the exact wording of the laws since they're being a nuisance to you, take it to the word to whether or not it's illegal. Or just go electric. More control anyway.
 

llazy_llama

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that sucks no grills gas or charcoal, chimineas, smokers, cigerette lighters, ect ect allowed if its got a flame thats a shame
You forgot candles.

Seriously, this seems like some serious BS. :mad: Sounds like someone saw you cooking something up, and just assumed the worst (meth).
 

jgln

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I used to live in an apartment here in NJ and I remember being told the law was no flame cooking under an outdoor roof such as a covered deck (obviously indoors too). I am pretty sure that is township law not the apartments.
Sounds like they are picking but probably backed by a law in doing so. I am in an association and man it sucks. I was told I brought the wrong type of trashcans once and many other things like that. Lucky for me I don't live there, just rent it out.
 

remilard

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Land of the Free. Forget them and keep brewing. Do it in the parking lot. Is it in your HOA by Laws?
Land of the free indeed. And as such, I assume the OP chose to reside in this residence, subject as it is to restrictions imposed by the HOA and Fire Marshall, as a free man.
 

Kronin

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I'm confused. Does this mean that you can't use the gas stove top in your kitchen? It's not like you're welding or burning your garbage. I'd look into the exact wording of the ordinance.
very good point, and also the comment about gas BBQ's... there is likely some wording that describes the size of the tank, or flame.... you maybe find you are in luck
 
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jacksonbrown

jacksonbrown

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Googlefoo yeilds madison fire code RE: open flame In short, no open flame - including propane or charcoal bbq's within 10 ft of combustible materials, excepting single family dwelings.
Bingo. That's exactly what the fire inspector told me. I contacted my HOA and they said, "oh, it's just beer." What the hell did you think it was, woman?!
But I did ask her about grills, and she is aware. She said they put a notice in the monthly bulletin in the warm months reminding people not to use their grills within 10' of a wall. Not to say I don't see people using their grills in our tiny yards, but certainly no one would complain about that.
I guess this just means more small batches and more experimentation.
 
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jacksonbrown

jacksonbrown

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I'm pretty sure gas stoves are not allowed. Probably for the same reason. Before we bought the place (which was before I started brewing, too), we had looked at 3 units, they all had electric burners.
 
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Well, if you really are Jackson Browne, put on a benefit concert!

People brew just a little bit longer
We want to brew -- just a little bit longer
Now the owners don't mind
And the neighbors don't mind
If we take a little time
And we leave it all behind and brew
One more beer
Oh won’t you brew just a little bit longer
Please, please, please say you will
Say you will
 

jgln

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Bingo. That's exactly what the fire inspector told me. I contacted my HOA and they said, "oh, it's just beer." What the hell did you think it was, woman?!
But I did ask her about grills, and she is aware. She said they put a notice in the monthly bulletin in the warm months reminding people not to use their grills within 10' of a wall. Not to say I don't see people using their grills in our tiny yards, but certainly no one would complain about that.
I guess this just means more small batches and more experimentation.
A ceiling is like a wall and hard to keep the flame 10' of that which is why you can't by those guidlines use it in your garage.
 

john from dc

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i've dealt with several homeowner's associations before, and i can pretty much guarantee that the real problem for them is not the fire code or the legality of homebrewing. they see you doing something in public that they don't understand and therefore label it as a blight that's bringing their property values down. if you respond to them with "well the fire department said it's ok" then they're going to feel that their authority is being challenged and make your life very difficult.

i think the best course of action is to first do your homework. assemble whatever materials you can get: fire codes, laws about the legality of homebrewing, hard and digital copies of the bylaws, etc. read them and come up with answers to the questions you think they might ask. also think about concessions you can make to appease their concerns, like brewing in another (out of sight) area or making your rig more fire safe (not to say that it's not already).

then i'd schedule a time to come to an HOA meeting and explain to them what you do and why you do it there. don't get defensive or bring up fire codes or bylaws or any of that, just be prepared in case they ask you about it. tell them that you're also very concerned about safety and want to come to a mutually agreeable agreement that allows you to continue brewing outside.

as a group HOAs are usually catty vindictive organizations but they often have at least a few reasonable decent people who you can convince. i think if you come off as a nice person with a misunderstood hobby, it's your best bet at getting some leeway.

if that doesn't work, it's probably time to lawyer up (if it's worth it to you, of course). but at least you'll have done all you can to prevent it from getting that far.

edit: or you can just ignore them and wait til the fire marshall or police show up. but i'm guessing that won't be very long.
 
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Time it rent a garage somewhere.

That really blows. I hate modern living. Rules up the ass and building so close together you can shake hands with your neighbor through the window while taking a **** on the toilet.

Usually these associations are headed up by a group of people that think they are the congress of the USA. Power mad I tell Yuh!

Well, you needed something brewing wise to spend your moeny time on (in between looking for a new house). Might as well be the electric brew rig.

If you want to get even, sit on a lawnchair in front of your unit looking like my avatar.
 

llazy_llama

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Freaking Stepford neighborhoods... Where I live, I can do whatever the hell I please, and as long as it isn't in writing somewhere that I can't do it, I'm free.

Then again, I live on a military base, or as I like to call it, a small gated community with armed guards.
 

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