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The Cost to Build a Homebrewery - End Game Brewing

Posted by zVulture on 11/24/2015 at 12:37:38 PM


In my previous posts I covered costs to starting a brewery then costs for Mash Tuns, Yeast Starter Equipment, and Kegging. In both I went for the least expensive recommended setup to give others an idea of how much it costs for this hobby. This time I am doing personal research for my own homebrewing setup in time for Black Friday. With my research I intend to move to a two pot and single mash tun setup that will allow me to do the most varieties of brewing processes. No Sparge, Batch Sparge, Fly Sparge, Cold Fly Sparge, Brew in a Bag, Decoction, and whatever else I can imagine.

Notes: The links here are un-affiliated and are there for pricing and ease of use. This is me planning for a build so costs and equipment might need adjustments. Due to the custom nature of this build, I don't see prices of items going on sale on black friday but doing this just in case there is. I am also quite open for suggestions if there are improvements!

It's Pot Time

I had an earlier post dedicated to just pots with my research. I initially decided on going with some custom hardware from Colorado Brew Systems as I can get a 20 gallon Boil pot with Tri-clamp fittings, whirlpool port and whirlpool elbow for $330 (without Valves or Thermometer). Note, they are currently moving facilities so ordering is on hold for pots. This is about the right costs for around this price range for completed systems like Bru Gear's 20 gallon pot for $340. But being a homebrewer has brought about a lot of DIY projects which is going to extend to this. Partly for costs but also so I have a customized system in place that fits my brew style/needs. Let's start with a list just to see if it really is cost effective:

We are looking at the following setup here:
In/Out Tube > 90 Degree Elbow > Washer > Silicone O-Ring > [POT] < Silicone O-Ring < Lock Nut < NPT x Tri-Clover < Tri-Clover Clamp < Tri-Clover x NPT < Ball Valve < NPT x Camlock

Quick Note: While writing this, I came across the Quick Clean Ball valve which is more expensive than a 3 piece Ball Valve for $11. It's well worth the money to easily clean these out. Also let me know if I missed updating total prices.

I am doing this Twice, one for output/drainage and one for the Whirlpool. I also decided not to go with a temperature gauge as there are better ones like the thermapen and the probe isn't in the way inside the pot. Thankfully I have a friend with the drill bit needed but I am including it in the cost for this project if someone is starting from scratch, though I assume they have a drill for the bit. So the total for a single pot for this comes out to... $333. Now the price of the welded pot was $332 without fittings. To complete that out and add fittings (including a Cap for temp port $14) comes to another $120, $452. I think that a bit of DIY can save me about $120 is worth it, more so when it comes to doing two pots. This is just for the Boil pot though, doing a HLT/BIAB Pot doubles up the savings. Adjusted for only one set of ports and assuming you now have the step drill bit, washers, and O-Rings it comes to $196. Compared against the similar setup on $320 with Colorado Brewing or $340 with Bru Gear. We are coming out to a total savings of over $260!

Hot Tub Mash Machine

The last post in this series covered the ways to get into an inexpensive mash tun. Here I am going to detail out my options for a more comprehensive setup. With the above section, I could easily add another 20gal pot to my list for $196 though adding the cost of insulation. The other option being the cooler mash tun, which I already have setup but it just needs tweaking. The only problem I have with it is that it doesn't fit my new system of using Camlocks and it doesn't have a sparge arm. But for those looking to do a raw build here is the full details.

We are looking at the following setup here:
Mesh Filter > Clamp > 1/2" Barb x Female NPT > Washer > Silicon O-ring > NPT Nipple > [Cooler] < Silicon O-ring < Washer < Ball Valve < NPT x Camlock

So with this, I am assuming we have washers/O-rings from the pots. I personally am including the filter as it doesn't hurt to have the extra layer when I am already putting in the Valve and Camlock anyway. The cost comes to $161 ($107 without brew bag) which is still a savings of $35 from the Pot. This price difference isn't big so some might want to go with a third pot. I am just saving a little as I already have a mash tun setup and just upgrading it.

Sparge ye matey

If it wasn't apparent already, I am building all this out as a DIY system to save costs. The sparge arm/manifold is no exception here as a pre-built one, like this one, is $50. While it also intended for rounded mash tuns or pots instead of the mash tun I have. The two main options for making your own seem to be either soft Copper tubing or CPVC pipes. Initially I was going a little mad scientist on this and add on some Pie Tins to use as my sprinkler system but the hardware was adding up. So a simple CPVC manifold works as it is less expensive and it's temperature tolerance is 180F which we shouldn't be going over 160F when sparging.

So this will require more diagrams than my earlier text renditions. The description will hopefully hold out until I can do the build. Basically it's a 'H' of pipe with a Tee joint in the middle going up to the Copper MPT > Camlock output (elbow to a direction you like). The tube strap (facing down) and wood is for extra support to hang it over the the mash tun. Then it's just a matter of putting some holes in the legs of the 'H' frame for the water to drip out of. The cost comes out to $24 in total which is another $25 in savings from the pre-built option that doesn't fit my build. That being said, those using the pot option can make a smaller one for less or use the pre-built option.

To Be Continued

I originally intended to give a comprehensive post on all the stages of this project but my research time was cut short due to moving (a slight priority). Each of these sections could have dedicated posts to them but I wanted to make sure to get something out for Black Friday so others could see what would be good to get. I will have to write up a separate post for the Mill, Brew Stand, Pump, Chilling, and well all the rest I missed. Overall I hope you found something useful from my research to use in your own home system.

Steven, otherwise known as zVulture on reddit or in games, is a homebrewer with two years and counting under the belt. Ambitious enough to think he can work his way up to opening his own brewery but knows he has a lot to learn. Beyond having fun doing experimental homebrewing to such an end, he enjoys learning and using old techniques, useful or not, to make beer. "[We] are only concerned with giving homebrewers accurate information based on our own experience in the hope that they will find the information useful and employ it to make their own homebrewing hobby more fun and rewarding. Because that’s what it’s all about– fun. If you’re stressing over homebrewing, you’re doing something wrong." - Denny Conn

Tags for this post: equipment, pot, mash tun, sparge, DIY

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