Brew Shed Complete and BrewingSunday, August 14th, 2011
The brew shed is looking good in time for the rains to return. It is a relief to have it done (at least on the outside). All it needs is interior trim. Slowly but surely all the equipment is migrating out there.
The best part is the brewery is now operational. The first brew was an American Hefeweizen and it went great! The beer was drinkable in a week. It is already on draft and quenching my thirst. It’s true – a cool glass of hefe comes in real handy after painting all afternoon.
My brew rig is presently a gravity fed electric setup. The main reason I made the push to go electric is the hazard of using propane indoors. It wasn’t cheap to go electric, nor was it without a few minor headaches. However, the team at HighGravityBrew.com is just awesome. They have all the parts you need worked out in advance. I highly recommend their products.
In the next few posts I will cover how to ‘go eletric’ and what it involved. I have to say I love it. Electric brewing is so quiet. It heats up fast (+4 degrees Farenheight per minute with about 8 gallons). Scorching is a myth – at least with the low density stainless steel element I got. That light batch of Hefe was done in part to test for scroching – there was none whatsoever. I did have to modify my immersion chiller so it didn’t crush the element.
I hope this inspires you to do your shed too. Total cost $8200.
Plans for the future:
- Finish up brew stand, add trim to front.
- Fermentation chamber. I can build one of these for about $225. Next year…
- Hops trellis on the front. Next year…
My advice to fellow brewers:
- Make at least two batches of thirst quenching beer BEFORE you start a shed. That way you have something to enjoy after working all day.
- Take the time to make the brewery functional and look cool. A brew shed is a once in a lifetime project for most people. The galvanized panels in my shed were hard to work with but the results were well worth it. I love the reflective look. It should last a long time. I wish I would have thought ahead about the wiring layout though. I had to work around where the electrician put one of the switches. It worked out fine but it would have made life easier had I drawn out everything.
- Invest in ventilation. Commercial vent hoods are really expensive ($600+). You will need a good one in order to vent all the steam out of the brewery during the boil. A kitchen hood is not powerful enough. Thankfully, my loft doubles as a vent hood. The intake is a dust collector attachment from a wood working catalog. The fan I went with is the Can Max Fan Mixed Flow Inline Fan (6-Inch 334 Cubic Feet Per Minute). It is quiter than the poplar 6″ Vortex fan, and has a built in 3 speed switch.
- Go electric for indoor brewing. Don’t even think about it, just do it. Yes it is a luxury, but it is night and day over propane. It is more energy efficient and safer (if wired correctly). HighGravityBrew.com is the place to go for parts. Porpane + indoors = recipe for Darwin award. I used to do it in my garage with the bay door open. Reading up about propane accidents scared the crap out of me and my wife (this helped justify the purchase too).