Author Topic: How big for a homebrewer?  (Read 10150 times)

Offline gmac

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How big for a homebrewer?
« on: June 12, 2012, 02:28:13 PM »
So my wife and I are buying a new house on a couple acres.  The property has a heated garage with water that she is more than willing to let me turn into "the Brewery".  Right now I'm batch sparging with a 50qt cooler and boiling with a 15 gal pot that lets me do up to 10 gal batches.  I can keep up OK with that but there are often times that I'd like to have more capacity so that I don't have to brew some styles as frequently.  I do go through a good amount of beer and I have a few friends who've been very kind to us over the years that I'd be more than happy to supply beer to (for free - let's leave the legalities debate out of this).  Also, I'd like to go to bigger kegs just to reduce the amount of washing etc.

So, where do I start?  I've got some cash earmarked for this but I don't want to over or under due this project.  Is a 1 barrel system overkill for a home brewer?  I have no experience with pumps etc.  I batch and boil.  Should I just get a bigger cooler and a bigger pot and stick with what I'm doing?  I really want to get some bigger fermenters but I have no idea what or how many.  Almost all my beers are ales although I may lager more in the future. 

I guess I just have this big empty space coming that seems perfect for a brewery and I don't have a clue where to start.  Help!

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2012, 02:40:00 PM »
You may want to start by working backwards from the question of "how much beer do I really need to brew to keep up?".  If you can firm up that number then work back to "how often can brew?".  At that point you will have a good idea of what size system to think about.  IMHO

I've wondered about a 55 gallon drum brewery sometimes.  Then I realize what my wife's reaction would be.   ;D

Paul
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Offline gmac

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2012, 03:01:10 PM »
Well, lets think about it a bit.
Depending on the beer, I can easily go through a cornie keg per week.  Of course, this isn't all going through my liver.  My wife enjoys beer as much as I do and I often have friends stopping by for a beer or two so it's hard to say for sure exactly how much per week/month.  APA's go fast, saisons go fast, smoked porters go slowly.  This week, I'll probably brew 25 gals of homebrew because we've been busy prepping our house for sale and we're short on our favourite styles. 

I have a very flexible work schedule which allows me to brew most of the time but I would say I've brewed at least once per week for the last 18 months or so.  As I said, I have some friends who I'm going to set up with CO2 systems so that I can provide them with beer too.  This is in return for all the favours they've done for me over the years.  Let's assume 2 cornies per month for each of them.  What does that give us?  Let's say 30 gals per month on average with some upside for parties etc.  Part of my problem is a lack of forecasting for future brews.  For example, in order to try to keep the beer clear, I don't touch the cornies once they are in the freezer.  So I'm often surprised when they blow and have no replacement of a favourite ready.  I do try to be more regular now but it's not working perfectly yet.  Also, I find that I have  hard time letting things lager an appropriate amount of time because I'm out of a style I want.  So, I'd really like to go to a system where I have 3 or 4 cornies at a time and then when I'm down to the last one, I can brew again.

Not really answering your question but my intent is to put in a "permanent" system so I'm not carrying the pots and cooler in and out all the time.  Just not sure how much to spend and how big to go.

Offline weithman5

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2012, 03:30:53 PM »
hate to be a spoil sport here, and it sounds like quite a bit is going to others, but the professional (used loosely) cringes just a bit.
Don AHA member

Offline gmac

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 03:37:52 PM »
Well, I love to brew and I love to share my beer with friends so I'm OK with that.  If I could sell it legally from home I would but since that will never be an option and I don't have the cash to start a brew pub I guess I'll have to keep being generous.  Believe me, I'm not getting taken advantage of.  But, I can see your point.

Offline boapiu

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2012, 03:47:48 PM »
The latest BYO has an add for the Ruby Street Brewing Mega Ruby. It is capable of 20 gallon batches, featuring 30 gallon kettles. I covet this and have slowly been adapting my home made brew stand into something that looks like their product. Of course, I have very limited space.
If I were you and had such seemingly limitless possibilities, I would scourge the NET for examples of systems, brew sheds, etc, etc and realize your dream.

One such link is http://www.brewzilla.nl/?brewhalla

Lots of examples of brewing rigs. Good luck.
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Offline euge

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2012, 04:02:18 PM »
If you want to move up you could probably get a bbl conical and then use half-barrel kegs (16gals).

Then a DIY walk in cooler and maybe a fridge to hold the kegs.

You'll need a bigger kettle of course. And a large mashtun- maybe 120 qt. 
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline weithman5

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2012, 04:25:00 PM »
Well, I love to brew and I love to share my beer with friends so I'm OK with that.  If I could sell it legally from home I would but since that will never be an option and I don't have the cash to start a brew pub I guess I'll have to keep being generous.  Believe me, I'm not getting taken advantage of.  But, I can see your point.

trust me, i am fine with you giving much away,
Don AHA member

Offline gsandel

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2012, 04:38:59 PM »
Stout Tanks has 1-3 bbl almost turnkey systems, I think.  I think that 1 bbl would be acceptable for a homebrewer....like any professional brewery start up, bigger is better (you will be sorry you didn't, especially if you are currently brewing all the time and want to enjoy some other things in life).  You can always brew less than the capacity....but for the $$$ you might just reconsider opening the professional brewery.

For full disclosure:  Me, I have a 20 gallon HLT from Stout (which I love) with the HERMS coil and a single March pump (with a funky manifold to make all the magic happen without too much tomfoolery) for my 1/2 bbl keggles/MT.  I do two brews a day when I do get around to brewing.  The large HLT makes it possible to go back to back.

g

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Offline nateo

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2012, 05:04:38 PM »
If I had a bunch of space, and I were going to live somewhere for a long time (I have the first, but not the second), I would look into having a bunch of barrels/carboys. I'd still probably do small batches (5-10 gallons), but I'd like to be able to bulk-age beers for as long as I want without time/space constraints.

FWIW when I first moved here and had disposable income and lots of space, I got a big kettle, and a pump, and outdoor burner and new MLT. I still use the MLT all the time, but I hardly use my big kettle or pump anymore. It turns out I didn't actually want to brew 10-gal batches consistently, so now I'm back inside on the stovetop for most of my (20L) brews.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 05:10:26 PM by nateo »
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2012, 05:40:29 PM »
Blichmann has some big stuff that some nanos use.

More beer has the big tippy dump system.

Other suggestions above.
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Offline denny

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Offline dak0415

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2012, 05:30:01 AM »
Well, not to be the buzzkill (pun intended), isn't the legal limit 200 gallons per year for a household with 2 or more adults?
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2012, 05:49:04 AM »
Well, not to be the buzzkill (pun intended), isn't the legal limit 200 gallons per year for a household with 2 or more adults?

That is true for US homebrewers. The OP is from Ontario, Canada. What is the legal limit there?
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Offline gmac

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Re: How big for a homebrewer?
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2012, 05:52:12 AM »
Well, not to be the buzzkill (pun intended), isn't the legal limit 200 gallons per year for a household with 2 or more adults?

Good point but that only applies to the US.  I've searched the Alcohol and Gaming Commission website multiple times and I've never been able to find anything that stipulates a maximum volume for homebrewers in Ontario.  The only information I've ever found is on the www.agco.on.ca site where it states:

"You may make beer or wine at home as long as it is only for your personal consumption or to be given away free of charge.  Homemade (or U-Brew) beer or wine may not be sold or used commercially."