the apartment brewer

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bellecitybrewer

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I'm lucky enough to not be in an apt. Massive basement, stainless restaurant sink in said basement, big patio, yada, yada, yada. Anyway, apt brewing has aleways seemed more, well, romantic to me? Making do with less and still making great beer seems to take a lot more skill, even finesse. So from a home brewer to all apt brewers, I raise my pint to you!
 

emetcalf

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I brew in my apartment. I have a balcony that I am allowed to use a propane burner on, but I don't because I don't think the people below my (I'm on the 3rd floor) would appreciate a boilover if I happened to have one. So I stay on the safe side and brew on my stove inside. My stove can boil ~4 gallons decently, so I am just doing 3 gallon batches for now. When I move to a new apartment, hopefully I will be able to boil outside and I will be able to jump up to 5 gallons.
 

bovineblitz

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+1 to the apt brewers.

I don't have any outdoor space or a balcony so have to use a stovetop in a very small kitchen. Even when I move I plan on brewing indoors though, I like the idea of an electric brewery. I do 5gal full AG with a 10gal rubbermaid cooler for a mash tun and boil on my stove. I use foil as an insulator so I can easily boil 7+ gallons in a reasonable amount of time. Here's a little pictorial tutorial: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/stovetop-problems-ag-224438/#post2637327

I've slowly been improving my materials and methods over time. I used to only have a single 8gal pot without any valves, I've since acquired a 10gal pot with a ball valve... so nice, I previously was pouring my strike and sparge water from a large pot into the mash tun, scared the hell out of me. The second pot was a high priority as every brewday was a game of "how much 180 degree water will I spill this time".

For a long time I used a ghetto rigged "fermentation cabinet" that was just painted plywood thrown together with drywall screws and a couple L brackets. I could fit two carboys behind it, it made the gf much happier that the fermenters weren't just sitting in the open in the corner of the bedroom.

I punched a hole in the side of it and put a computer fan there to keep air moving over a swamp cooler, worked pretty well. I just grabbed a larger mini fridge from a guy on craigslist and made a temp controller (ebay build from the DIY section) and have my first temp controlled ale fermenting right now, I'm really excited about it. Sadly the ghetto 'chamber' had to go in the trash as nobody wanted it (or understood what it was, haha).

Hmm what else... my bottles condition in milk crates stacked in a closet. It's a gigantic pain to move the crates around but I don't have much of a choice. Equipment is stored on a large storage rack in a large closet, I get about a shelf and a half... a rubbermaid bin holds all the small stuff, I have a small area for drying things and the IC gets a spot. I hang as much as I can, my pots hang on hooks from the ceiling while my bottling tree, hoses, siphons, and hoses hang on the wall. Wall mounted broom holders work well for holding autosiphons and hoses. The currently empty fermenters kinda get piled up in a spot in the closet (I use better bottles and various 4 and 5 gal PET bottles I've picked up along the way).

I'd say the most annoying thing is that nothing can be left out at all, I have to fully unpack and repack every single thing each brewday. Also cleaning sucks, I have to go back and forth from the kitchen to the bathroom a lot and cleaning in a tub is awkward... really would love to have a hose and a utility sink. I have a crappy vent that doesn't actually vent outdoors too so moisture builds up easily which is irritating. Bottling is terrible because I have to sit on the floor.

I can't wait to have a dedicated space but it'll be quite a while. I'm slowly convincing SWMBO that I need better equipment for better beer even in this tiny space, the fridge was a big victory for me, that took several months of convincing (and a S05 batch she was excited about that came out kinda peachy)... if only I could get a kegging setup too! All in all it's not bad and I make good beer. Brewday is a shade under 5 hours including setup and cleanup at this point so it's not too bad.
 

rico567

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Like "bellecitybrewer," I'm one of those fortunate enough to be blessed with the space and the hookups to make AG no problem. I have a nice garage for brewing, and an adequate basement for bottling. Nice to be able to read a thread like this and be thankful for what I have. I salute all the apartment zymologists!
 

Dome555

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Not only am I an apartment brewer, but as a college student I have 3 other roommates who get mad when I make my wort,
I'm glad I'm not the only one with PITA roommates. Complaining and complaining until they want some.

The only downside is that my brew kettle has some marks where the coils were. Does anyone know of a remedy for this problem?
I had the same problem, someone on here recommended one of these things, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00004W4UJ/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20, works like a charm. The only downside is that it will take a little while longer to get to a boil. I put a top on my pot until it gets to a boil, speeds up the process and as long as it comes off before anything else goes in it's not a problem.
 
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RIT_Warrior

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I have a nice gas stove which can easily get 6 gallons to a nice rolling boil, so I'm happy for that. I am slightly less happy about the temperature situation in my apartment. All through the winter it was a struggle to keep my apartment below 80. Sounds strange, but my apartment is old and uses those steam-radiator things for heat. Even with the valves fully shut they still get pretty hot, and I also have pipes running through the apartment delivering steam to the upper floors for their heat. Those pipes also get hot.

Opening the windows cooled things down, but technically it isn't allowed during the winter and it led to wild temperature swings. I don't have a swamp cooler yet, but I think I'll need to get one soon. None of the beers I made in winter turned out that great, especially the one I made with Nottingham. That one tastes like a regular beer that got filtered through old tires.
 

bovineblitz

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I have a nice gas stove which can easily get 6 gallons to a nice rolling boil, so I'm happy for that. I am slightly less happy about the temperature situation in my apartment. All through the winter it was a struggle to keep my apartment below 80. Sounds strange, but my apartment is old and uses those steam-radiator things for heat. Even with the valves fully shut they still get pretty hot, and I also have pipes running through the apartment delivering steam to the upper floors for their heat. Those pipes also get hot.

Opening the windows cooled things down, but technically it isn't allowed during the winter and it led to wild temperature swings. I don't have a swamp cooler yet, but I think I'll need to get one soon. None of the beers I made in winter turned out that great, especially the one I made with Nottingham. That one tastes like a regular beer that got filtered through old tires.
Ha, that's just like an apartment I lived in a couple years ago in Brighton (Boston). They're probably from the same era. I had to leave the windows wide open in the dead of winter, sometimes I had to put a FAN in the window just to keep the temperatures bearable... sometimes it got up to 90 degrees inside when it was 10 degrees outside, it was ridiculous. I didn't really brew much that year.
 

andrewcoopergt

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Another apartment brewer! In college, married, with an English Mastiff (155lb dog) in a one bedroom apartment. I stick to extracts and partial mashes with partial boils. Space is CONSTANTLY an issue, and the lady friend hates all the room my beer stuff (equipment, supplies, fermenters, bottles) take up. I have one corner of our living room that holds everything. I have a small balcony, but not allowed to use propane, and even if i wanted to, the dog owns that space...haha.

Oh the joys...though we might be renting a HUGE house in the near future with all the space i need! PLEASE!!

Although im with serveral others who have noted the somewhat romantic feelings i have brewing inside in a tiny spot and making some awesome beer!
 

andrewcoopergt

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Also, living in the south, I have a lot of trouble keeping my fermenters cool enough without killing my electric bill. Is there a cost effective way to keep things cool?
 
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SPR-GRN

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No advice really, but I've been an apartment brewer since I started, im on year six now (I move a lot for work). When I was in Vermont I had an "office" that was basically a dedicated lagering room, it was great, although the electric range was somewhat prohibitive, so I only did PM. Now that I'm in Brooklyn, I tried a lager this winter and sadly the fermentation temp was too high because I didn't have that cold room :-(. It turned out good, just poor head retention. Brooklyn is where I started AG brewing because I had a gas stove top that kicked out crazy fire! It was difficult because the top if the brewpot was so high, but I made do, and my dirty blonde became my second "repeat recipe" and although I may tweak it a bit, it's awesome. I don't know about romantic, but apartment brewing brings you closer to your beer... Litterally...
 

Gtrman13

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I'm an apartment brewer. Plenty of obstacles, but I think part of the fun is finding creative ways to deal with them. Such problems include, storage of pots, buckets, carboys, etc., electric stove that won't boil more than 4 gallons, no spicket to hook up a wort chiller, no room to even think about some sort of lagering fridge.
 

clawler

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I am an AG apartment brewer and I can get 5.5 gallons up to a rolling boil in 30-40 mins on my electric stove. I use two burners and it works out well. The problems I have is that I have little room and that when I brew it smells throughout the house and SWMBO does not like it. It takes me about 5 hours from prep to clean up to do AG in my apartment. If anyone has questions Id be glad to help but I cannot wait until the spring when I get a house!

I subscribed to this thread because I thought was going to need it but I don't.
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/improved-boiling-stovetop-53683/
I haven't converted to AG yet, but your situation sounds very simliar to mine. I will be buying a home in the spring as well. Are you going to make a single or three tier system for your garage?
 

241

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Another apartment brewer here. You guys have some good ideas.

I'm in a 650 sq foot 1 bed/1 bath with a patio and a garage. I do full boil recipe kits on the patio with a propane burner, then bring the kettle into my kitchen and chill with my immersion chiller hooked up to my sink, and transfer to fermenter. Then I carry the carboy down my stairs in a crate and out to my disconnected garage, pitch yeast and put in a chest freezer. Lots of moving around but it works well for me.

Later I plan to move to BIAB because I don't have room for big coolers, but I'm still dialing in the process of brewing
 
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