January 21 – Beer Blog No.2
I mentioned brewing in a small space, in blog no. 1. It’s a problem many will face and when my family became fed up with me blocking the kitchen and odourising the house with wort smell and then boiling hops, a solution had to be found. The smell isn’t that bad so don’t panic, but we know how judgemental the friends of teenage daughters can be! Thus, we built a tiny brewhouse, which also served as a pantry, so I was allocated the sink and about 1 ½ m2 space – or about 16 sq foot for US readers.
Our planning department kept my plans to prove to incoming colleagues how wacky some residents in our town can be.
Why call it a macrobrewery? Large commercial breweries give their annual production figures in millions of hectolitres, microbreweries probably talk in thousands and I don’t quite manage 4 hectolitres or 90 gallons per year. But that serves me and the immediate family and friends.
Photographing my brewery is problematic with space and light considerations, but here is a diagram I made from a 19th century sketch. The process is described in the Craft of House Brewing.
- Avoid polypropylene (plastic) buckets. If they fail, you could be showered with boiling water. They were once considered OK, but I always had reservations. Cheap, cheerful and dangerous. Stainless steel boilers must take plastic from the boiling side of the brewery. A 2.6 kW tea boiler is perfect for preheating the mash liquor.
- You can make your mash tun, or buy a converted insulated cool box.
- 4kW is better for boiling the wort in the 50 litre stainless steel vessel. It will need a gas burner, to avoid point heating and some tricky wiring.
- I haven’t used a purpose fermenter for years. I cool the wort in the boiler, adjust the gravity with cold water, pitch the yeast, cover and leave in a cool place until fermented out. I get away with this because I don’t brew so often and it is OK if my boiler is tied up for 10 days whilst fermenting.
- Cool – I live in a temperate part of the world and could brew with care throughout the year. I don’t! Traditionally, one brewed between October and March, hence the occurrence in brewing history of March and October beers – the first and last brew of the season. Humid summer days are deadly for the sugary wort, the smell attracting fruit flies from the whole county.