The Brew Barn - One Man's Epic Brew Barn Build

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As a long time beer drinker with a craft brew budget that would rival most, I've often considered taking up brewing as a hobby. I'd done a brew here and there with friends, but never really had my own setup and equipment... until now.
After ordering all the brewing equipment I would need to set up:
Speidel 20l (5 gal)
Fermenting buckets.
Corny Kegs with a regulator and faucet.
Bottle caps.
I looked around my house and went "Where am I going to put all of this?" Luckily, I have a 3300 square foot, 3 story barn. Unfortunately, the ideal place to put my brewing room was the 1200 square foot room that has been used for storage since 93'.
I would like to share a picture of what I looked like when I started, unfortunately, I didn't take one because I still have flashbacks to the mess. To give you an idea of the state of the room here is a picture of the part I'm doing as a winter project:

To give you an idea of the work that went into the cleaning:
  • Swept up enough old sawdust, wood leftovers, straw and dust to fill 15 garbage bags.
  • Moved an old-school yard furniture set made of wood.
  • Moved a bed.
  • Moved an armoire.
  • A 3 legged fussball table.
  • 2 shelf/closet combos.
  • Tore out the old rabbit cages.
  • Taken out most of the metal dividers turning 3 pens into one area.
  • Tore up the old wooden flooring that had been put over the concrete made from 2x4 nailed to 2x6 with 3 x 4 inch nails every 8 inches. I actually lifted parts of the floor and the nails still didn't give. Solution: Chainsaw.
Note to self: Chainsaw + concrete = sparks flying. Wear a long sleeved shirt next time.
I also took down the old metal pens. They were made from metal poles sunk into the concrete, so I had to deal with that using an angle grinder. I wore a long sleeved shirt for this.
There was a partitioning wall right across from where you can see the front of the white pen. It was a 2x4 frame, attached with 1/2 inch expansion bolts. I took that down using a mix of a sledgehammer and a crowbar.
The old feed trough was made with a concrete frame 35 inches wide and 240 inches long, filled with a mix of concrete, rocks and sand. It had metal bars like you see on the other feed trough by the fan. The quickest way to take it down was to smash the top first. Dig out the sand/concrete pieces/rocks in a small area, smash that area with the sledgehammer and drag it out that way.
Concrete breaks when it's forced to move, with something quite solid like hard-packed sand inside it, the whole force of the blow is absorbed and does little damage (other than to your hands)
The total time: 20 hours.
Total amount of trash hauled off:
  • 15 garbage bags.
  • 2 full trailers of wood.
  • 1 full trailer of metal.
  • 2 - 3 tons of concrete.
Tools used:
  • 20 lbs sledge hammer. One side flat, one side with a wedge shape.
  • Electric chain saw.
  • Wire cutters.
  • Crowbar.
  • Wheelbarrow.
  • Angle grinder.

Leftover demolition and power-washing.

After I finished the demolition and rough cleaning detailed in part 1, I could start to get a better idea of what I needed to do next; power wash and power wash again.
I started by doing a "water only" power wash of the room to get rid of any dry materials and loose dirt, since I needed to use the angle grinder to remove the remaining metal pieces. There was some old rebar sticking up that kept snagging my power cords, and an old watering system hanging on the ceiling.
Note to self 2: If you find that you're thinking "Man, this power-washer is worse than the garden hose", check that it's plugged in.

After I finished the final parts of the demolition, I got a hold of a cleaning agent called "Power wash" that sterilizes and dissolves all organic matter. Since the power-washer I was using didn't have an intake for cleaning agents I got a cheap Ironside hand-sprayer. I started with the ceiling, then walls and finally the floor. I let the solution work for about 30 minutes and then washed it off.
I let it dry for a few hours and decided to just splash pure power-wash onto the walls and ceiling using a spray bottle (make sure to wear goggles, cloves and a mask when working with chemicals).
I turned the power washer on it and watched it foam up across the room. I then let the foam work for about 30 minutes, while I sat outside, drinking a Super Conductor IPA. (I enjoyed it, I find that I tend to like a balance between bitterness and hop aroma and this was a bit more to the bitter side.)
Luckily, since this is an old barn, it had openings in the floor so the water/soap/grime mixture could just run down into the old drainage ditch underneath. Since the floor was a bit uneven in places I just used a broom to get rid of excess water.
I did a total of 2 cleanings with the cleaning liquid, and then a final fourth clean using just water, where I focused on the parts of the walls where the paint had come loose and made sure to clear all of the loose paint away to prepare for the next step, the painting.
Time taken: 6 hours.
Tools used:
  • Hand-sprayer
  • Power washer.
  • Angle-grinder.


Part 2 to be published next week.
I can see a long wall of brite tanks against the far wall...
That looks like it is going to be fantastic! I always find myself to be jealous of poeple with thsi kind of space and ingenuity.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of that space you've got to dedicate to brewing.
When you say Speidel 20L, are you referring to the Braumeister? Personally, with that much space, I'd go a different route.
I think it's imperative that you leave that horse head painting on the wall of your brewery to remember your roots! And definitely work a barn or horse theme into your brewery name!
I'm jealous! Good luck on your build!
Yes, the braumeister. I have another system in mind, but with the cost of the work I'm doing on the space, a cheaper system that holds it's value well was the reasonable choice.
That's a great space! I like the murals on the walls. But it looks like you're going to spend some time doing concrete work on the floor. What the hell did the other guy do in there? geez! It looked like Godzilla's playpen in there. I admire your sand for sure! But a multi-6 BRRL system would easily fit in there...eventually. Jockey Brewing Company? Waiting eagerly for part II! Keep it up!
With that much space you should look into what a used walk in cooler costs, it would be sweet to have a fermentation room that was big enough to wheel a 3 barrel container or 5 in to.
Very nice. When I saw barn in the title though I expected an old dirt floored tobacco housing barn like what dots the landscape around here. I didn't expect a fully finished pole barn. You did a fine job, cause I'd rent a room in that barn.
Eventually, if I ever get to move, I will be building a fair sized brew shed. That's my little dream. THIS on the other hand is f'ing epic! Perhaps I will concern myself with finding a house/property with a pole barn in which to brew. My jealousy meter is pegged. Well done!
I feel ya Ed. Before I bought this house, we looked at one on South rt83 that had a large pole building welding shop on some 10 acres with a concrete floor. Ooooh baby, did I have visions! Plenty of space for meets with my fellow probetalk members, not to mention a lift, paint booth & brewing area! Cars, BBQ & beers! oh yeah! I shoulda bought it. It would've cost about half what this one did back then vs now.