The pictures show my garage brewery, which is still and always a work in progress. For me, the brewing system had to be in the garage, and easy to move, disassemble, and store. I only recently put in the heat resistant tile backer so that I can just keep it under the window (it opens up and I just hold it up there with a bungee cord — poor man’s ventilation!). Maybe sometime I’ll be able to move everything into my basement and pipe it into natural gas, but that will require more major work than I can put in right now. So it’s the garage for the near future at least. The first picture is the burners/stands and kettles. I got the burners and stands from a company in Louisiana that sells them as crawfish cookers. The tanks are new — I used converted kegs with bazooka screens before. You can see one of those kegs on the side. The kegs work great but they are HEAVY and a bit of a pain to disassemble for cleaning. So far these “Italian kettles” are great — heavier bottoms would be ideal, but I like the dimensions on these.
The other picture shows my pumps and chiller. Since all my kettles are at the same height, one pump is a necessity. Two just makes life a little easier. (The heavy-duty one is a March model AC-3C-MD, the other is a March MDX model with a threaded head unit that I swapped on, so sort of custom.) I screwed the pumps onto some bits of pine board and put little rubber pads under the boards to help keep them stable and dampen the vibration while they are running. The chiller is the normal Shirron plate chiller with an added coupler and disconnect for the wort-in side. I’ve upgraded elements over time as cash flow allowed. Stainless valves from Northern Brewer on the kettles replaced cheapie brass ones. I bought stainless reducers and valves for the pumps on sale online. The other big upgrade besides the kettles themselves was the polysulfone disconnects. For a couple of years I used a set of brass ones that I bought from McMaster-Carr. They are really affordable and work fine but they get pretty hot. The Polysulfone ones are great but I’ve managed to break a few, and they’re a bit pricey. I have a secondary system (Rubbermaid cooler mashtun, smaller 8 gallon boiler) for kitchen brewing when it gets too cold for using the water supply hoses in the winter, but my stove is only just barely up to the task. So I’m trying to figure a new way of running water lines out and back into my basement for the cold weather.
If I get ambitious I might try to use the extra welded coupler on the boil kettle to rig some kind of port for whirlpool…we’ll see.That’s it!
Joe GerteisPresident, St. Paul Homebrewers Club