A look back

I decided to pick up the hobby of homebrewing back in 2010. I researched various homebrewing methods for a couple months on homebrewtalk, then (with the help of my father) built a brewery and started to make beer that winter. In Canada, back in 2010 the homebrew equipment market wasn’t anything like it is today. All of the required hardware had to be sourced from local hardware stores (good luck finding stainless), or purchased online. Specialty items (such wort chillers, brewing pumps) certainly had to be brought across border. Miscellaneous fermentation equipment could luckily be sourced on the used market, almost always from winemakers. For brew pots, converted kegs were incredibly popular at that time (and still are to some extent) due to the absence of commercial alternatives… save for turkey fryer pots, which were usually aluminum, and undersized for 10 gallon batches. Silicone hose and other hard to find parts was sourced from specialty suppliers, ones which were accustomed to industrial clients and often a bit confused as to how to serve small time homebrewer customers.

The homebrew equipment market in Canada has improved significantly in recent years. Without that, it would’ve been impossible for me to build my current brewery. But this post isn’t about that! Here’s a look back to how I used to brew:

 

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My previous brewery had 3 vessels, was 3 tiered and was direct fired. The vessels themselves were converted beer kegs (sometimes referred to as keggles). The stand was designed by myself, and cut and welded with help from my father.

 

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Only a single burner was used. Having a single burner meant that it had to be moved between the hot liquor tank on the uppermost tier to the boil kettle on the lowermost tier during the brewing process. The burner was a natural gas 200000 btu wok burner, and worked well!

 

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The mash tun used a stainless braid to filter the liquid from the grain. Silicone hoses were used for all transfers.

 

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I placed hop additions in a DIY “hop spider”, I would sometimes drain the mash tun through this incase any grain bits made it through (they never did).

 

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The boil kettle would be filled to capacity. I usually managed 13 gallons+ into the fermentor, but with pushing the volumetric limits of a 15.5 gallon boil kettle came frequent boil overs. The wort was chilled by a plate chiller, and transferred into glass carboys initially. Eventually I moved to using 15.5 gallon kegs as fermentors. This allowed for fermentation under pressure with the use of a spunding valve, as well as pressurized transfers to my serving kegs.

 

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