Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brewing in Small Spaces

I hear all the time, "I want to brew but I live in a tiny apartment." This should not be a deterrent, and I am living proof. At least a year of my brewing life was spent in a 450 square foot studio apartment located on the 3rd floor. I did not have a balcony and I was still able to brew 5 gallon batches.

I am going to assume that most apartments have some sort of stove. The key here is if your stove will give off enough energy to boil 5-6 gallons of liquid. You can test out a sample batch of water, it may take a little longer than an outdoor propane burner but you are doing this in the luxury of your kitchen so it works out. If you have a stove that can muster it (and most can) you should be good to go.

One of the other issues people seem to have is that they do not think they are going to have enough storage. Well come on nancy, you have a closest then you have enough space to store a few cases of beer. Throw away your 1996 K Swiss classics you have been holding onto for all these years and that box of memories from your cheating ex.  

So if you are a beginner then your first step is to read my "How to get into Homebrewing" post and figure out your set up. My point in all of this is that you really can brew anywhere as long as you have a heat source to get that wort boiling. 

There may be some smaller issues like fermentation temperature if you do not have a temp controlled apartment. If your place is too hot in the summer to ferment anything other than Belgians then your answer is simple, brew Belgians in the summer and every thing else in the spring, fall and winter. Or the best move that I made at this time was to by a mini fridge for 30 bucks off craigslist and have my own personal fermentation chamber. 

Get creative with your storage and brewing procedures and the sky is the limit for how much you can brew. I have made award winning beers on a gas burning stove that also sat in my closest with my Michael Jordan #45 Jersery. Don't make excuses and get brewing.


  1. I started off in small spaces and found the Mr. Beer Fermentor to be very handy. It's much easier to find a place for a 2.5 gallon fermentor than a 6/7 Gall. bucket.

    It's also much easier to to brew 2.5 gallons on your stove top than 5

    Somewhere on BYO they have an article on mashing in a 2 gallon cooler. I almost when all-grain on a 2.5 system before I found a good Craigslist deal (and then a job) now I'm doing all grain 5 gall batches

  2. Yep, the 2.5 gallon was also my start in a small apartment.

    Should have seen my first mash procedure...keep at mash temp on the burner, pour grain into funnel and sparge water through the funnel...efficiency sucked but it got me there...

  3. hahaha - I always wondered about mashing on the stove top. Were you able to effectively keep it at temp?

    People also brew in coffee pots, http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2009/05/how_to_turn_your_coffee_maker.html

    unfortunately their blog is no longer up. Why don't you do a coffee pot brewery review?

  4. Lots of stirring and monitoring on the stove top got me decent results, would not recommend that and would just convert a cooler.

    I have herd and seen articles about the coffee pot brewing...I am going to have to find an article on it and maybe give it a go at some point.