Last year we learned the White House was making “homebrewed” beer for special events. Homebrewers everywhere rejoiced that their passion was getting love from the nation’s Chief Beer Drinker.
It’s more proof that beer’s enjoying a revolution. With the price of artisan beers going up, and the cost of brewing equipment going down, all while availability of brewing ingredients grows, it’s no wonder that revolution is going strong.
With only so much space on hand, I’ve been jealously watching my friend Duane Storey as he learns the mastery of homebrewing beer. You can read some of his posts here. His set-up is getting fancier with great equipment, but he’s not using a lot of space.
What if space is something you have? What if you’ve got a room you’d like to convert to a home-brewery? What are things you should consider?
The right space
Beermaking would prefer no windows. Basements, sheds, interior rooms, they all work. The more room you have, the more beer you can make, but starting small is fine too.
Temperature and humidity are critical in all stages, and ideally this room will be on its own thermostat so you can regulate the temperature and keep the environment controlled. If you have a water source and you’re able to use an induction burner for cooking your mash here, that makes your space even better, otherwise you can transfer your product after getting your cook on in the kitchen.
There’s a range of how serious you can get about homebrewing. When you begin, you’ll likely just have a couple fermenters, a brewing kettle, siphons and strainers and funnels and thermometers.
This one page lists what you need for a complete starter set for first-time brewers for a whopping $110.
As time goes on, your operations can expand. Fridges, kegerators, electric brew kettles, and more can all enter the picture as you master homebrewing, if you have the space for it. My friend Duane seems to brew something new every two or three weeks, constantly expanding what he’s got available for tasting as the months wear on. Considering the savings and the enjoyment he gets from it, it’s a really great hobby, and one that makes him popular with taste-testers.
Organization and layout
Being organized will help you stay clean at your workstation, so you don’t contaminate the process, and stay efficient. A great way to achieve this organization is with pegboards and hooks for all the tubes and utensils you’ll be needing while you work.
Shelves will be a great way to store ingredients and other things used in your brewing, but can also be a nice way of adding brewer ambiance to the room if you do it with nice glass jars for your malts, hops, and such.
Ideally, you’ll have a good working height on counters and tabletops so you’re not constantly crouching and straining to work. You want to enjoy this hobby, not have a kink in your neck afterwards, so try to make an ergonomic working space with counters that keep you working waist-high.
The complete beer room
If you want this to be the complete domain of beer, you’ll need a cellaring section where dark beer can relax and grow old in the dark. This can simply be a closed-door cupboard located away from heat sources. Ideally, you’d have want a digital temperature-controlled fridge, but preferably two — one for dark beers, one for light ones, since both should be drunk at different temperatures.
A kegerator is ideal for when you’re not wanting to bottle the beer, like my friend Duane has made for his place. But if you’re going to have a kegerator, I guess you’ll need a nice bar counter, too, and that, of course, is a whole other blog post. Stay tuned for more beery adventures with BuildDirect.
Save the world with beer
Making your own beer and reusing your own bottles is another guerrilla way of saving the planet through self-sustenance. If you’ve ever visited a brewery, you know the amount of fossil fuels and energy required to make beer is impressive, and that doesn’t even include having the beer reach the store or the bottles return to the brewer, or the environmental cost of printing labels and boxes and more.
Brewing is a passionate, geeky, and fiscally smart hobby to get into, and it’s a great way to provide a few drinks for your friends. As we learn more and more about the science and art of good beer, the home brewing scene continues to elevate its game, and it’s a great time for newbies to get in on the action.
Obviously this post barely skims the surface of what you need to know, but we’re hoping to inspire some of you to think outside the beerstore. Brewing is a science and needs a laboratory. Luckily the internet is full of information from old-hands and experts along with passionate newcomers like Duane. Get your Google on and good luck with your brewery!
Have you been homebrewing? Do you have any tips for our readers? Tell us all about it in the comments of this post.
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