As I move from the world of homebrewing to that of the professional, it is good to reflect on how far I have come, not just in terms of the knowledge and skills I have gained, but also in terms of how my brewing system has grown. Now from the eyes of some homebrew geeks, even my current system, is a little lowtech. No brew sculptures, no pumps, just an assortment of mismatched equipment including a couple of mismatched pots, a 25' copper chiller and perhaps most importantly a Sanyo mini fridge turned fermentation chamber.
Though i started brewing extract beers back in 2003, it wasn't until my wife got me a 1 gallon kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop as a wedding present in 2009 that I started to brew on a regular basis. Brewing in NYC is not the easiest of hobbies but with the little 1 gallon kits you can brew quite easily on the stove top. The first iteration of my brewing setup was in a little 500 square foot studio. Not much space to brew but the 1 gallon worked, you get a couple of bottles and can try a lot of recipes. But it still takes about the same amount of time to brew a 1 gallon batch as it does a 5 gallon batch, and with such a small amount of beer in the outcome, I upgraded only after a couple of batches.
Of course that was only an upgrade to three gallon batches but, once again the limits of brewing in NYC kept the size of the batch down. The second apartment was a little bigger but not by much. The small stove top burner was not able to deliver the rolling boil for 5 gallons that i was looking for so, keeping it at 3 gallons allowed me to do that while still allowing me to brew every couple weeks.
At about this time, I also got probably the most important piece of equipment in my brewing arsenal, my fermentation fridge. Having a way to control the temperature on my fermentation made the biggest difference in my beers. Of course it also did double duty as a tv stand (and still does).
We finally moved to an apartment that had outdoor space and, (besides having a full size grill, YAY!) I was able to get a blichmann burner, allowing for larger boils and a bit more quantity, moving into the third stage of this upgrade. Also with that came the time to keg. (okay it was more beer and maybe the fact that I had bottle explode over the wifes dresses that then needed to be dry cleaned. An $80 beer that i never got to try)
This is most likely the last iteration of my home setup (mainly due to lack of space) before I jump into the larger professional system. And with that jump will come a whole lot of learning and work. As I get a clearer picture on what and where exactly the brewery is going to be, I can start to figure out the specifics on the new system. In the meantime its alot of homework and asking questions of professional brewers and manufactures on the benefits and drawbacks of different brewhouses. And in time I will be able to show you where Strong Rope is heading.