HomeBrewers CornerBuilding a Brewing Sculpture

Brewing Sculptures are the bomb.  Everyone wants one – they can speed up your brew day, help you keep organized and efficient and they look awesome.  But they can be darn expensive.  I’ve been brewing for over a decade and am finally building one, so I thought I would pass along some of the steps I took to design my system.

You could just buy a Blichmann.  Just get a 2nd mortgage on your home, get a quick loan on your car and sell plasma for a while and you’ll finally have enough money to get one of these Transformers(tm) of the beer world.  Or you could do what I did:

  1. Start out with tables, ladders and chairs.  Just get the feel for brewing.  Let gravity do the work.  Maybe use a cinder block or two, but only if you have them already.  This is brewing the old school way.  What a blast!
  2. Build your first brew stand out of wood.  Make it modular, make it portable, make it transformable.  Keep the burner well away from it.  Build it out of scrap parts so that when you are done with it you really don’t mind if it sits there and rots.
  3. Realize that the hauling 5 gallons of near boiling water to the top of a ladder was going to get you an all expenses paid trip to the ER.  Buy a pump.
  4. Rip apart that first system and rebuild it to accommodate your pump.
  5. Replace that old plastic cooler with a keggle.  While you have probably leached all the PCBs out already, steel is the bomb!  Plus you can do direct fire step mashes.  Convert that old system to handle the weight of the tun.
  6. Buy a bigger burner for you new bigger kettle so you can brew 10 gallons.  You could brew less, but between your friends and competitions you need to brew more.  Move the old burner under the keggle.
  7. After putting the fire out when the wooden system caught on fire, promise you will always brew with a fire extinguisher from now on.
  8. Get a bunch of cinder blocks & paving stones and metal shelving as you tweak your equipment.  Keep adding cinder blocks and paving stones to get everything just right.  Repeat many times as you refine your process.
  9. Get tired of setting up the cinder blocks and paving stones every time you brew.  Find a place to set it up permanently, like a new house – brewing equipment has taken over the garage and you need more space anyway.
  10. Set up the old cinder block system at the new house.  Brew and tweak, brew and tweak.  Then, when you finally quit tweaking your setup:
  11. Find a reason that you need a welder when McTools has a ridiculously killer sale on them.  Build that other project so you can learn to weld – you wouldn’t want to learn on your sculpture, after all.
  12. Realize that HomeBoxStore has terrible prices on steel.  Go to a metal supply and buy your metal for less than you paid for the cinder block & paving stone collection.  Realize you should have done this years ago.
  13. Reproduce your current setup in steel.  Now you have a system you can be proud of.  Enjoy your brewing the way pros do.

What comes next?  I’ll let you know when I finish the last step.  Sculptures take a long time to build.

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