Buying a house....and more importantly a brewery

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dutchcanuck
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Buying a house....and more importantly a brewery

Postby dutchcanuck » Fri Feb 19, 2010 6:33 am

Since there are a lot of avid home brewers on the forum I figured this is a great place for advice.

My fiancee and I are currently looking at houses in the Niagara region and will probably be putting in an offer within the next couple of weeks. So the question is this, what does it take to a get an all-grain home brewery up and running? I've done some all grain brews at a BYO place in Hamilton a half a dozen times, so I have a pretty good idea about the process. I've read John Palmer's How to Brew and Homebrewing for Dummies. What I don't know is what's the most effective way to brew in a basement? Since there is a good chance I won't have a garage and the kitchen is off limits, so a section of the basement will become my dedicated brewery.

I will have access to water and electricity, obviously. Gas might be possible, but that will depend on the house. I will have a nice dark corner of the basement for fermenting, but lagering might come later. So what materials and items would you recommend purchasing to get this operation off the ground? I would like to keep my expenses low, so I'm not afraid to buy used equipment or do a little DIY to get things done.

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated and if there is anyone looking to off load some used equipment let me know as well.

Cheers,

The DutchCanuck
JimC
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Postby JimC » Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:31 am

Your first questions to answer are:

Heating method. Since you are in a basement, electric is probably the best bet for indoor. Amp needs will be determined by size, so next question. If you go natural gas, make sure you are well vented.
Batch size. 10 gal is probably appropriate, and you can get 15.5 gal pots (old kegs) on the cheap if you look around.
System type. 3 vessel (MLT, HLT, Kettle) is most common, but there are some 2 and 1 vessel systems floating around that can save space.


So, assuming you want to do 10 gallon batches with electric, your brewery infrastructure is going to need:

1x 240v, 30A GFCI to run a 4500-5500 watt element; two if you are looking to run both HLT and Kettle at the same time.
1x 120v, 15A GFCI to run pumps, radios, ect
Water source
Drain
Decent capacity exhaust hood and fan to vent steam
About 2'x6' table/bench space for the brewhouse
Some space for grain storage
Freezer space for hops
Fridge space for yeast
Some space for 'stuff', buckets, siphon tubes, etc
Some place to ferment and condition
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Derek
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Postby Derek » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:03 am

Some people use heat sticks... but quite frankly, high voltage & liquids scares the sh!t out of me:

http://www.cedarcreeknetworks.com/heatstick.htm
iguenard
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Postby iguenard » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:12 am

I agree with Jim's post, you'll notice the key here is space, space & more space.

I did mine recently, and its claustrophobic. Bad idea.
dutchcanuck
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Postby dutchcanuck » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:21 am

Well one of the houses we are leaning towards has a large section of unfinished basement/laundry room so space is not an issue. In this situation the does have gas because its a gas fired furnace, but don't know how much it would cost to run an additional line.

Keep the advice coming because I REALLY appreciate it.

Cheers,
Ken
JimC
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Postby JimC » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:32 am

I dunoo, but a raging gas flame, indoors, scares me more. :)

Derek wrote:Some people use heat sticks... but quite frankly, high voltage & liquids scares the sh!t out of me:

http://www.cedarcreeknetworks.com/heatstick.htm



Probably about the same running the GFCI's and 8-3 wire.
In this situation the does have gas because its a gas fired furnace, but don't know how much it would cost to run an additional line.
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Derek
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Postby Derek » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:38 am

I've got a gas stove in our kitchen... and we don't even have a ventillation hood! It gets pretty steamy if I don't open the windows.

There are complete electrical systems available. Here's one:

http://www.highgravitybrew.com/Productc ... tegory=269
icemachine
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Postby icemachine » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:27 am

If you've got gas and can put a large capacity vent hood (16sf or more) over your brewing area you should be good. You'd probably want 4" aluminum piping direct to outdoors with a 250cfm exhaust fan. Otherwise you may end up with mold problems.
"Everything ... is happening" - Bob Cole
iguenard
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Postby iguenard » Fri Feb 19, 2010 7:32 pm

Natural gas burns clean... but Propane and maybe even Butane doesnt.

Remember to always burn propane in a freaking well ventilated area. Indoors, especially in a basement is as certain death as the bridge of death.
dutchcanuck
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Postby dutchcanuck » Fri Feb 19, 2010 7:52 pm

I think I will be brewing with electricity since the cost to install an extra gas line is out of the budget. Can I get away with fermenting ales in a closet though? Or do i need to pay attention to the temperature?
iguenard
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Postby iguenard » Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:19 am

An unfinished room in a basement usually has a floor temperature around 18'C, which is ideal for most ale yeasts. I've rarely had to heat my carboys except in those very cold winter nights.

If you want to do lagers, getting a house with a cold room is a great idea. They can hold a slightly varying 4-8'C temperature in Fall, up till late december.

My new house doesnt have the cold room i used to have, and I severly miss it.
dutchcanuck
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Postby dutchcanuck » Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:21 am

Well we put an offer on a house today and it does NOT have a cold room, but it does have an unfinished room in the basement beside the laundry room. It has already been deemed the brewery. A brand new breaker box has been installed so wiring will be a breeze.

So now the questions becomes where can I get the necessary equipment and supplies?
JimC
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Postby JimC » Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:35 pm

I got most of my stuff off amazon (us version), bargain fittings and home depo. SSR's and PID's can be I gotten from auber and a few assorted bits from ebay and online homebrew shops. There is a lot of research to be done to find the right stuff for you.
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markaberrant
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Postby markaberrant » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:29 am

I'm sure you can rig up a great system in a dedicated basement, but I would still recommend doing your brewing outdoors if possible. Brewday is damn messy, so it is way easy to manage if you are brewing in a garage/outdoors. I used to brew in an apartment condo for 4 years, and it is a lot more work because you are always cleaning up spills... when you spill something outdoors it just doesn't matter.

I do my "brewing" in my attached double garage with hot and cold taps, a drain in the middle of the floor, and an open field on the other side of the street for dumping spent grain and hops (the rabbits are certainly appreciative). I do my fermenting, transferring, bottling and aging in my dedicated basement room with a couple fridges, tub sink, shelving and what not. This setup works extremely well, gives me the best of both worlds, about the only drawback is carrying carboys from the garage to the basement, but a couple milk crates make this relatively easy.
dutchcanuck
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Postby dutchcanuck » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:34 am

brewing outside is a great idea. But unfortunately I do not have a garage and I would like to brew 365 days a year.
I will be brewing is a section of my unfinished basement, but I am going to lay down some basic tile to make any spills or clean up a breeze. The shelving and the hot and cold water is already piped into the adjacent unfinished laundry room so I already have everything there.
I'm really concerned about how to do this cost-effectively, so what kind of brewing setup do you use?

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