Shared Homebrew Space Concept

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mcgeebc

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I recently became familiar with the Hackerspace concept. People teaming up to buy space, equipment and tools for some more advanced hobbies. They range from woodworking to basic electronics to welding and robotics. I thought to myself, why aren't we doing this with our hobby?

I'm picturing a small space. Something like a commercial garage. Homebrewers would pool their equipment and/or money to build a few three tier brew stands.

They would pay monthly dues based on the number of premium (weekend) or non-premium (weekday) timeslots they want with the equipment. These slots would be a monthly commitment, not a one time rental. The dues would pay for rent, utilities, and equipment maintenance. Maybe hire someone to do regular cleanings or manage the space.

The more members, the more equipment and the cheaper the dues (economies of scale).

The space could be used to host club meetings and events as well.

The concept would sort of combine timeshare, VFW and brew on premises. It would be non-profit.

To avoid legal difficulties, fermentation would likely be done at home (although it would be nice to pool in on a nice fermentation chamber/walk in cooler)

It would probably be located close to a LHBS in case you forget to bring something.

Group grain buys could be done on a regular basis and base grains stored in the shared space. Members could pull from the shared grain on credit and pay with their dues.

Advantages:
  • Move your equipment out of the house
  • Space for people without it at home
  • Shared cost for equipment means better equipment than you'd probably have at home
  • Community and learnings from other homebrewers
  • Reduced cost of material (grains)
  • I could go on

Disadvantages:
  • Loss of freedom for timing of your brews if the equipment is booked
  • Loss of freedom for choice in brewing equipment (HERMs vs RIMs etc.)
  • Overall cost probably more than brewing at home, but still cheaper than BOP

My questions are:
Is anyone doing this already?
Do you like the idea and live in or around Cleveland, OH?
Familiar with zoning? What type of space would we need to rent?
What other laws/regulations would I be dealing with? Could this be considered a commercial kitchen? Maybe zoned and regulated like a VFW with a kitchen?
Would limiting fermentation to the home be enough to avoid dealing with any liquor laws?
 

NewTimer

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I couldn't answer any questions but I hope someone can because I would definitely sign on for this. That's genius!
 

IffyG

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[*]Loss of freedom for timing of your brews if the equipment is booked
While there are plenty of other logistical and legal concerns, it becomes a deal breaker with the quoted segment. A lot of us have maybe one, maybe 2 weekends a month when we can actually get a brew session in. The problem with starting something like this a a 'shared' nature is that once you get enough people using it, people can't use it because it's already in use. For something like this to actually work it needs to be done on an extremely limited scale (like 4 or 5 serious homebrewers at a maximum) and set up at one of the homebrewers homes.

This runs into issues when someone wants out of the group... there was a recent thread about this, which is why I would personally never want to go in on a shared brew system.
 
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M

mcgeebc

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I hear ya. That'd be my biggest concern as well; however, I think you could work around it.

In order to keep costs for the space down, It'd be nice to have 3-4 rigs. Each rig would have four total weekend slots and 10 weekday slots per week.

Members could buy, sell and trade slots with eachother.

I'd probably buy two weekend slots per month. You could buy more or less depending on how much you brew.

If you have the ability to schedule and plan ahead, it would work for you. I recognize that's not the case for all people though.
 

frailn

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Surprised I haven't seen this concept at a local home brew store. I wonder if the revenue vs trouble to run it is an issue.
 

birvine

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Basically, a Brew-on-Premises is what this is. They exist, but based on what I see on HBT there are a few major problems.

1. Many want the comfort and ease of brewing at home, or like me, have young kids, so are tied to home at times.
2. Many homebrewers go to extreme lengths to save $1 or $1.50. Many would have a hard time paying (gasp!) for space.
3. For many in the working world, the majority of our spare time comes either on weekends or evenings. This compresses the number of potential people into a limited time space so quite often the equipment can be tied up when you have the time.
4. For some in small towns (like me) there may not even be another brewer around to use the equipment.

Nice idea and I like it, but so far I do not see people breaking down the door to get into the BOPs.

B
 

crazybluerider

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This is kinda down that line although it is not club or "time-share" based.

http://www.portlandubrewandpub.com/u-brew/

Once a month on Thursdays they also have a seminar/brew session where you can hang out and listen to local brewmasters talk about what ever they want to talk about and then help brew a beer. There is also tasting of the beer brewed at the last moths meeting. I have not attended one of these yet as I just got into brewing but I have talked to a few people and it sounds like a lot of fun. Sounds like a lot of the people that come to these also bring their most recent experiments for tasting as well. :mug:

These guys also do a rental deal but sound a little more structured

http://www.letsbrew.net/
 

scottatdrake

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A friend of mine and I were talking about something like this a while ago. I love the idea.... especially if it had something like a SABCO system to use. I can't shell out $6,000 for one of those but would probably shell out $XX.00 a month to play with one.

I understand that you would have to reserve the space and equipment in advance. Not a huge deal.
 

stompbox

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I can't even imagine the trouble this could bring with part owners not cleaning the equipment when done, disagreement on what is safe to sanitize with, etc.etc.etc.etc.
 

Dr. Francois

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I can't even imagine the trouble this could bring with part owners not cleaning the equipment when done, disagreement on what is safe to sanitize with, etc.etc.etc.etc.
This was my initial concern, too. Having lived in a frat house with a communal kitchen, I can only imagine what hell would await you at the beginning of your 5-hour reserved time slot.
 

Hernando

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I think this concept is a pretty cool idea but if you are going to get that deep into it (i.e renting out a space,bulding multi-tiered racks and houskeeping) you may as well go the extra step and start a brewery.
 

Dr. Francois

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I think this concept is a pretty cool idea but if you are going to get that deep into it (i.e renting out a space,bulding multi-tiered racks and houskeeping) you may as well go the extra step and start a brewery.
Moreover, it might make more sense to find a small brewery that would let you and your buddies brew during its downtime.
 

Yooper

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I can't even imagine the trouble this could bring with part owners not cleaning the equipment when done, disagreement on what is safe to sanitize with, etc.etc.etc.etc.
That's be my concern. I like having my OWN stuff that I can clean (or not clean) at my leisure and up to my standards. My standards may be much higher or lower than someone else's- who's going to be responsible for inspecting the equipment making sure it's ready? The next brewer? That would irritate me if I came into a system that needed to be rinsed/cleaned before I could even use it! What if some lazy person used bleach on our stainless?

My whole system is about $2100. Yes, that's a lot of money. But it's MINE. I can change out the chiller, I can add or subtract a pump. I can run my HERMS, or not. If I screw up and scorch the bottom, it's MY pot. No way would I be happy with sharing gear.
 

IffyG

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Moreover, it might make more sense to find a small brewery that would let you and your buddies brew during its downtime.
Good luck with that. Most small breweries (at least the ones I've been around) are brewing at capacity.
 

Homercidal

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The only way this would work is if there is an owner and maintenance person responsible for making sure the equipment and space is cleaned and kept in working order each time it's used.

Even in a factory where procedures and policies are written out there is a huge variance in what two people consider "clean".

I do like the concept. I think it would have to be real close to a low-end BOP though. I think it would be great for a fairly populous location with a lot of apartment dwellers.
 

Pappers_

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There is a newish brew club in Chicago, CHAOS, that has space and equipment for members to use, I'm told. I think it's membership is largely made up of apartment dwellers. There are at least a couple members here who have helped organize CHAOS and I'll send them a pm to alert them to the thread.
 

Cape Brewing

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One additional consideration on the space is insurance. A landlord is going to look at this and basically say... "Hmmm... you're going to have 'random' folks that don't actually own a company, coming and going, producing large quantities of liquid with gas burners going (or very large electrical pulls) in my space?? Ok, insure the property for $500k in case a boil kettle explodes or something"

... I'M certainly not saying a boil kettle will "explode" but a landlord isn't going to let you anywhere near a space until they know you are fully insured to handle any potential disaster.

So it is rent, utlitities, ingredients, and insurance.... and i agree with someone else's post... at that rate, just open a brewery.
 

Revvy

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i would look up the definition of the following:

"Homebrewing Club"
Yeah, that's the first thing that popped into my mind. Many of the clubs I know of here in Michigan have many of the aspects that the OP is talking about. I think It's CRAFT that has a SABCO system that memership entails you the right to schedule and brew on. The WORTHOGs of Richmond, when they were active had a large polebarn and surrounding property dedicated to the club, and did large scale brews and wine making gatherins pooling their resources to for example aquire and smash a couple tons of grape and all the members shared in the juice. Heck we do regional group buys regularly on here even.

On one level I can see it being a cool idea- especially in places like NY where living space is a premium, or maybe in certain cities for example like Portland and Seattle, or even Ann Arbor Michigan, where there's a communal vibe, and it's mostly apartment dwellers. But honestly if you got a garage, you have a place to brew, and if you have at least one person in your brewing posse who has a garage, then you have a place for a club or for group brews.
 

vfinch

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All grain u-brews would seem like a better option in my opinion. They do the mash, you steep the other grains, add your hops during the boil and.... you're done until bottling (which is done on their premises). My local all grain u-brew does 10gal batches for around $150CDN, which is a lot more than I pay for doing a batch but there's no equipment to buy. Their bottling setup is counterpressure, and they also have professional bottling washing racks you can use.
I'm not poo-pooing your idea, I'm just not sure it would be something I would use if I had an apartment or limited space.
 

HokieBrewer

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What about also having said homebrews on tap and a nice bar in the space. It could be private club meets brewing co-op. You could even have a token system to "purchase" a beer, and the person who brewed it would receive tokens redeemable for more brewing ingredients.

That way I could drink a pint of mine, while also trying other folks beers. And if I liked their beers, they would receive value from that.
 

robrob

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Hmm really does not sound like a bad idea to me. I would participate in something like this although not sure I would "invest" in it. Would pay dues tho. I don't know that it has to be all that sophisticated and depending on space you could have different setups. I do agree it sounds like a club setup but I don't know of a club in my area that does anything like this. My interest would be more in the social aspect. Hanging out sharing brews on the odd night. Heck just smelling a boiling wort lifts my spirits.

Seems to me that e brewing equip could be fairly simple. Some keggles and heat sources. I don't know that the actual brew setup would be such draw but temp control spaces would have been really helpful before I got that worked out. Of course that has it's own demons...it is a interesting idea. Worth exploring.
 

ktm250

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It seems to me that many homebrewers are an independent type. We want to do our own thing on our own (limited) time. I know I got into homebrewing because I wanted the independence of making good beer whenever I had time and felt like it. I also enjoy building my own equipment and tinkering around with it. That is what makes it a hobby and not a job. I can see where this may appeal to those with limited space and the ability to come up with free time on demand, but it is something I would never do. Mostly due to lack of freedom, lack of trust in others to maintain and use equipment properly and lack of time (married, three kids, too many hobbies, etc.)
 

warex

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I did this with two other guys 10 years ago. One guy only lasted a few months. Then he wanted all his money back or what the two others considered more than his fair share of equipment. I BREW with a buddy now but no splitting the cost of any equipment. He has his stuff and I have mine. We will split the batches but I am not going to get into that mess again. We keep everything at my place and he can come over any time. But worst case scenario now is he takes his stuff and I take mine.
 
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