Tooth and Nail Build and Rant

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Hopefully this is the right section or an admin moves this. First about me and the arc of my brewing life so far, then I will post the build.
I cut my teeth on homebrewtalk, obsessive novice to competitive aspirant to dreaming entrepreneur. Well the day came and I started my first brewery. A 15bbl Combitank I posted here at some point. That first one, nearly ten years ago. I made a lot of mistakes, learned a lot of lessons, read a lot of books. I was 21 when I built it.
I left due to boiler issues and being too young to push around ownership and investors to get the boiler fixed.
I worked as a beer manager at a local liquor store a few months, then at a craft centric distributor a couple years, Savannah dist. To this day, their portfolio blows my mind. What great experience. But I am no salesman, I am a brewer so it didn't work out. Technical knowledge is meaningless in a distro setting. I had a stint at untappd which I hated and left quickly. Then the day came for my second brewery. I discovered MBAA which I cannot recommend enough. My second brewery? Shes still churning out great beer, about 6000bbl a year these days, mostly my base beers.
I left there a few years ago due to distaste for the owners style, lots of smoothie and pastry, none of my work speaking for itself. Won a couple US beer open golds and the brewery got a cover on Beer Connoisseur magazine.
I got headhunted for my skillset in lager and went international. I built a Caribbean brewery, 15bbl 3 vessel manual with 21 30bbl fvs and a bottling line. The logistics of the operation were a nightmare and finding even homebrewers for assistants wasn't a thing there. A solitary challenge of self distribution, account management, production, all of it. I made great friends out there, true Caribbean and euros alike.
Then covid hit. The island was 90% tourism.
I was discouraged by the output and didn't see a future for myself there. So I left back for the states without a real plan.
Then I realized I love gear more than pandering. So I took a job with Alpha Brewing Ops, which I still work for. I build and commission canning lines primarily. I am glad to be learning electrical skills (which are still SO WEAK compared to the guys in the electric forum) I like it so far but have disconnected myself from the liquid. So in a sort of training montage I am honing my recipes.
I love sours and Flanders red/gueze is something I never got to master, even with a 180 oak barrels in my program, I never liked one. I have a long way to go still, and still plenty to learn. I am excited to get back to brewing what I want without concern for profit or marketability. Maybe one day I'll do another, but for now I need to find truth again.

There are none more enthusiastic and well read than the members of homebrewtalk. Doing and teaching situation sometimes. I'll post as I go build wise. I forgot how to post photos and such embedded in text. I'll edit as I get it. For now heres my garage. A 2vessel half bbl electric Biab of sorts in the works. Its kind of a scrap build, brewers aren't rich enough for triclamps on their own, but builders? TBD. Im waiting on parts which come Monday but I'm in Des Moines comissioning a canning line all week, so friday the build really begins.
Here is also a photo of about 25% of the shop I currently work in. I'd love to talk shop with anyone willing.
 

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Ok so to you aspirant DIY'ers LOOK INTO LOCAL UNIVERSITIES SHOP PROGRAMS. I have access to CNC, welding, millions in tools for $70 a month+ an hour of training on each big tool for liability reasons mostly. I learned CNC this week and will cut my own false bottom soon enough.
I bought a cheapie amazon pH meter. The probe clearly dried out. Maybe a return. Ugh I should send it back.
DOUBLE UGH bought a refurb freezer without looking, the coils are in the shelves. I got too excited jammed a tape measure in without inspecting enough 😭 Halp

To compensate for my homebrew incompetency. Heres a photo of a seamer I rebuilt for a canning line, capable of approx 100cpm
 

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Back from installing a canning line at a brewery north of Des Moines. Finally started on my build. Everything is kind of a mess right now. Trying to get through most of the build this weekend. Custom caps from bottlemark came in. They're pretty sweet.
I don't feel like dealing with hazardous freight to get nitric acid so I am passivating with citric. Food grade citric to Ro at 1:6 achieves the same pH (1.8) as the citrisurf brand recommends.
I'll get through panel build and passivation this weekend then unfortunately, the second attempt at an upright won't arrive until next weekend so brewday is pushed to next Saturday.
I had ordered hops from Northwest hops but haven't had any order confirmations or responses to my calls or emails despite my card being charged. 0/10 do not recommend. I'll be flagging the charge as fraud.
 

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Wow! Can someone build me a cold storage area in my basement? ;-)
I've done two walk-in installs so far. So maybe :p They aren't so bad, shop the restaurant auction market. I've seen small (walk in closet size) ones go for as little as $40 in liquidation auctions. You just need a good hvac guy to solder and charge the system. Control box, evap, condenser, drain and condensate plan, wall/roof/door panels, joint sealant.

For fermentation though, at that scale a glycol system in one form or another is likely more viable.
 
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Ah I see
Based on available space (basically none) I'm thinking more along the lines of a cold box for homebrew storage (not fermentation). Maybe a standup freezer, with external temp control, somehow attached to the cold box?
Ah, I see. Walk-ins with through wall taps are really common place for large draft systems. How many taps do you want? Or is this more of a cold storage thing?
I could find the math on the load capabilities of a chest freezer, but tbh, its not the right tool for the job.
Chinese made condenser+evap packages can be had for under $1k new, and like I said they go up for auction at failed restaurants almost every day.
I would stick to freezers until you want to break 8'x8' or bigger
 
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Build about 80% done! brewhouse control panel, fermentation space, FV, etc all cleaned and ready for passivation tomorrow.
I need to find a slick pump/counterflow mount, build a base for this FV i have in mind, and build a hop spider
 

Tobor_8thMan

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Ah I see

Ah, I see. Walk-ins with through wall taps are really common place for large draft systems. How many taps do you want? Or is this more of a cold storage thing?
I could find the math on the load capabilities of a chest freezer, but tbh, its not the right tool for the job.
Chinese made condenser+evap packages can be had for under $1k new, and like I said they go up for auction at failed restaurants almost every day.
I would stick to freezers until you want to break 8'x8' or bigger
Only cool storage.
 

Tobor_8thMan

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Ah I see

Ah, I see. Walk-ins with through wall taps are really common place for large draft systems. How many taps do you want? Or is this more of a cold storage thing?
I could find the math on the load capabilities of a chest freezer, but tbh, its not the right tool for the job.
Chinese made condenser+evap packages can be had for under $1k new, and like I said they go up for auction at failed restaurants almost every day.
I would stick to freezers until you want to break 8'x8' or bigger
For the condenser+evap packages. Looks somewhat similar to a car's radiator. What cooling is run thru the condenser, evaporator? Glycol chilling?

Possible to provide a link to the failed restaurant auctions?

Thanks.
 

superiorsat

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