When we started brewing it was single gallon batches and a Mr. Beer kit. We instantly fell in love with it but were quickly outgrowing our capacity. To remedy that we purchased a turkey fryer as a kettle and a cooler to mash in. We jumped up to 5 gallon all grain batches and had a great time, but we still felt like there was a piece missing. So a few months later we picked up a second turkey fryer to make the system even better. Now we finally had an HLT, mashtun and kettle. We could actually pull off doing a double day of 5 gallon batches. We were pumped about it but it was scattered setup and still a lot of work to get through a day. So less than two years after starting to brew we began looking into buying a brew sculpture. After researching different models and looking up prices we decided it just wasn’t feasible this year and put it in the back of our minds for a future date. We could brew most of what we wanted and it’s always good to have aspirations. Then the stars aligned and everything changed.
While having a conversation about brewing with Eryn’s dad Steve he suggested he might be able to help us fabricate a brew sculpture. He has done custom metal fab in the past and had a whole shop that we could do the build in. The icing on the cake was that he had just dismantled an old HiLo trailer and had lots of steel tubing we could use to fab with. Suddenly the dream that we had shelved only a few weeks back was quickly becoming a reality. We reevaluated the models we were looking at and came up with a system that we thought that we could build.
About a month later took a trip up to the Portland, OR area for a weekend of building. Steve’s barn served as our base of operations for a few days as metal tubbing was measured, cut, ground and welded together until finally it started to resemble a brew-sculpture. Eryn’s brother Jake also joined us doing most of the welding and did a beautiful job.
It took us two full days to complete the fabrication, welding, fitting copper piping, and painting the sculpture before we packaged it up and put it a U-Haul that was California bound (another serendipitous happening). Overall it cost us about $200 for the burners, casters and copper fittings and a weekends worth of time.
Once we got the system back down here we made a large MoreBeer! purchase to finish equipping the system. Now we’ve got an amazing system with three 15 gallon kettles, quick release fittings on everything, a pump and a plate chiller. Our inaugural brew was a Belgian Strong Ale that we are calling HiLo in honor of the brew sculptures previous life (look for more on that soon). It’s exciting and fun to have built the system that we are now brewing on. We are already pushing way past our old limits with stepped mashes and double brew sessions that are over in six hours.
If you are reading this and thinking about building your own system I would highly recommend it. It was a blast to work with Eryn’s family to put this together and now we have a strong sense of pride in our system that we built by hand. We’ll keep you updated as we continue to work with and tweak the system but if you have any questions about it or the way we put it together please feel to ask away, we love to share.
To see the new system in action check out our 60 Shilling Brew Session.