Building The Ultimate Home Brewery

by Karl S | Updated: January 25, 2023

Hey, future beer geeks and future Johnny. I am recording this in August 2021, which is a strange time because the Summer Olympics of 2020 just started and the Euro 2020s just finished, but it was an odd time, and hopefully, in the future, where you are, things are much simpler.

I somehow doubt that though because, Johnny, you’ve just moved house, you’ve got a baby on the way, and you’ve decided that now is probably the right time to build a brewery in your back garden, which is what this video is all about.

Let’s do this, let’s see how we built the “Brewdio.”

So, you may remember a video in June when we cursed at Wild Card and built the Porter brew. That was a solution because I was supposed to be moving house earlier and building this studio then, and that didn’t quite happen, as we showed in a, I think, pretty good dramatic reconstruction.

So, when can I move in? A couple of months, so I’m delighted to say that we did finally get to move. We haven’t quite moved in fully, there’s still some boxes to deal with here, but I can now start to think about what we’re going to do to build a space specifically for craft beer channel.

That needs to be a brewery, it needs to be a studio, and to some extent, it needs to be a storage place, maybe a pub as well. We need to get as much as we can into, well, it’s quite a small space.

Let’s start with what I’ve actually got to work with and then we’ll look at what you can get on the internet that could be great for a home brewery studio.

My garden is a little bit weird. We’ve got about 10 meters here, we’ve got my house here, a patio that comes out about two meters, and then we have the problem, so there’s my neighbor’s garden fence, and this is how my garden ends, a lovely slope.

So, I’ve got basically this space allocated in which I’ve been allowed to build a building. The space is not huge, so basically this is probably about four meters. I need at least point five, so 50 cm here and I need at least, I can’t believe I’m going to say it on a YouTube video, about 1.5 meters from a bit.

So that leaves me, let’s do some quick mental math, two meters-ish in this direction to build something, and then with 10 meters ago, I’m going to say three meters in this direction. So already, from my previous googling, that narrows me down because I need a long thin building, probably with the doors at this end, which means probably windows there, which is going to look out onto one, two trees.

So, light could be an issue, which obviously I need for filming. Um, yeah, so we’ve got a budget of six, seven grand to get this built, decked out, furnished, electrified, finished, and habitable. Um, so I’m going to go on the internet and do lots of research and see what I can find.

The pandemic has caused an absolute explosion of companies offering outdoor offices and pods. Some of them are practical but old school, and some are works of absolute art, endorsed by none other than Kevin MacLeod.

When it comes to me, they all seem to have one thing in common though: “Can’t afford that, can’t afford that, can’t afford that.” Okay, so the first thing I’ve learned is that if I want a building out there for that amount of money, I’m building it. So, if I build it myself, there are a couple of options.

There are a couple of companies that will basically pre-fabricate it, bring it to your house, and then you put it together. Um, I will have Brad’s help. I’m sure I am not the most handy man, as you saw with the Porter brew, it’s very much Brad’s pet project, so I’m going to have to brush up on some skills, maybe actually buy some tools at the very least.

I think I’ve found my building, and my budget, so it’s actually 2.2 by 2.8. I think it’s going to be quite tight in there, but that should just about work. The first thing I need to think about though is the fact that that space is nowhere near ready for me to build on. So, I’m going to have to remove quite a few trees, quite a few plants, quite a lot of paving, and then I’m also going to have to completely flatten it ready for the base of this building.

I have done none of these things before in my life, so I think probably a montage, both to speed up the video and to hide my sins. Right, let’s do this.

Turns out I picked an interesting day to waterproof the shed, about an hour too late, wasn’t I? So this is possibly the greatest idea I’ve ever had. I’ve just invented the cling film double glazing. I think they’re going to take away my Nobel Prize for my invention of cling film double glazing because I’ve just double glazed my knife into it, and now I cannot finish the building.

Dripping off the roof, so that means it works, right? So night as well. I’m so desperate to get this water tight and I just can’t get the job done, but I’m getting. Uh, turns out camera lights are really handy for lazy, slow, uh DIY novices who are reading the instructions as they go, but so close to watertight.

The roof is done, and the next step will be the inside, the fun bit, and I’ve got some big plans for that. So it’s now mid-October, and I’m excited to say that I can now start thinking about the interiors, which for me is the most exciting part.

So, as you’ll remember, I needed this to be an outdoor brewery, a studio, storage facility for all of the beer, ingredients, and equipment needed to run a limited business. And then also, probably a pub where I can serve the actual beer I’ll be producing in the brewery. That’s quite a lot to fit into 2.2 by 2.8 meters square. So, quite literally, I’m going to hash this out right now in front of you.

I’ve got a vague idea of how this is going to have to work. That’s probably to scale. So, obviously, where I’m going to work, I want to be able to look out the window, I want the light on me because lots of the filming I’ll be doing will be sitting at my desk with a laptop and equipment pointing at me. So, there’s going to need to be a desk somewhere around here.

Somewhere around here is going to be the brewery. The way I’ve drawn them, I don’t know where the storage is going to be, but it’s going to be hopefully at the back. And what I want to do is, when you walk into the building, there’ll be a nice vista of books, awards, art, all on shelving at the back, and then put some kind of feature or something in there.

My thinking is that the brewery should go by the door for two reasons: one, better light for me filming, and two, better ventilation for the steam during the boil. I’ll have two conicals here and the glycol unit here. The only issue is the hot liquor tank.

So, where am I going to put that while I’m brewing? Lots of setups I’ve seen, the malt miller actually has a great setup where the hot liquor tank, which holds 16.5 liters, is suspended on a wall, and then they can just open the taps and it pours straight into the brew house.

The issue I have with that is that my walls are only about that thick, and I don’t think anything I drill into the wall that then has to hold 16.5 kilograms of water, plus three or four kilograms of steel, I don’t think my wall will hold that. So, I need to find another solution for getting the hot liquor high.

I’m really keen not to have it in another part of the brew house and have to keep setting up and breaking down the brew house, which is what’s been driving me mad as a home brewer the whole time.

You know, home brewing is all about trying to get efficiencies, trying to get your processes down because that makes things quicker and more consistent in the results that you get. So, when you have to break down and restart every time, you’re less likely to be able to do that, and it’s going to take longer, so that’s going to take some thinking.

But there’s also lots of other thinking to do around the brew house. The next issue is the flooring. So, I know that sounds super dull, but what you don’t want is loads of puddles, you don’t want wet floors, and certainly in that studio, which is probably already not very watertight.

I want to make sure that everything that I’m doing in the brew house isn’t going to be cascading all over the floor. So, if I can make my 2.2, which is sort of the space that I have, into a tiled area that I can put all of my vessels onto, I’ll have to, rather than tiling the floor, tile something on top of it and then raise that at one end.

So, literally put a wedge so that it’s at a slight angle, and then, like the brewers would have a concrete divide, I’ll have some kind of divide that just catches that, and then I can just sponge it, squeegee it. I don’t think it’s big enough for a mop, but basically, the water will all collect there and not go down there and down the back of my brew house where I can’t clean. I say that like I’m going to clean.

So, other than that, everything is decided. It’s time for the first time to show you the amazing space that we’re going to be filming so much of this stuff in and to tell you what comes next with the floor, the walls, the tiling and all the stuff going in. Right, well, for the first time ever, welcome to the craft beer channel studio.

It needs a little bit of work, but a lot of the stuff is now in. I’m just doing a quick dehumidifier because of the storms. I’ve got my flooring in, I’ve got my underlay in.

I’ve got some tiling here, which is going to go to the brewery section, and that’s what that plywood’s for as well. There’s still a hell of a lot to do. These green walls are not going to remain green, that’s for certain. And these rafters are going to be stained a slightly different color, so plenty left for me to do.

And I guess I’m doing this as the before shot, before it epically almost out of nowhere in what looks like the period of 24 hours, but it takes several weeks, ‘Queer Eye’ then yeah, this is going to magically transform.

Okay, so it’s time for the ceremonial walk from the dining table where I used to film all the content, to the studio. Welcome to the Craft Beer Channel’s new home. I can’t believe I built this thing. I cannot believe that it holds heat, pushes out water, and that it’s connected to electricity.

Uh, just about right now, that’s another thing on the list of things to do. But I’m going to give you a tour of everything, see how those ideas came to fruition, see how close I got to the original plans, and I’m going to do that in a very gonzo kind of way.

So as you can see, this is my desk right here. This is where I work, this is how I record our Friday 5 PM podcast, and our bubble podcasts. This Mac laptop has been through hell and earth with us all over the world, but that’s not the exciting bit.

Although, I’m quite proud of my little sound dampening, just to make sure it doesn’t sound too roomy on the podcast. Let’s turn around and let’s chat about the important thing, and that is the artwork that’s on the wall.

So this is from our second book. Oh, it’s slipped down. This is an amazing artist, Alex, who did the cover for our second book, the London Craft Beer Guide. This was done by Bradley. This is actually a perk in Patreon, if you put in 30 a month, you get one of these signed by the artist, which is two pipe problem letter press. And Brad went down and designed that with them.

And then this is the cover from my first solo book, “A Year in Beer: Beloved’s Guide to the Seasons,” but I’m joking of course. What you want to see is the books and the awards. So, these are the awards we’ve earned. The way that is our YouTube 100,000 subscriber button. Uh, which is ironic, my camera is struggling to focus on. And these are all the books that we’ve written along the years.

In here is where the chaos goes, I’m going to say. So, this is the equipment box. Everything that I need to brew. This is the ingredients box, obviously. I mean, these hops, I wish they were kept at cold. They’ve only been there a couple of days, it’s not the end of the world. Um, and eventually, they will be. And now I think we can move to the brewery. The reason we’re all here.

So, uh, this is the setup. I’ve got my G40, which you’d have seen in our Christmas brew video with Brad. Um, this is on its own little pedestal. I’ll explain why in a minute. And then we’ve got one conical fermenter connected to another, uh, to the glycol, and the second one that’s done the same.

They’re both full of beer at the moment. I’ll tell you about that. Uh, let’s look at my tiling. So, I put them on two different, uh, two different panels for one very simple reason. Which is that I don’t actually want my Grain Father at an angle that doesn’t sound ideal with 40 liters of boiling liquid.

Um, and there’s not a lot of liquid that comes out the top of the Grain Father. So, that one is on a flat tile, whereas you can see down here that the second half of my tiling is ever so slightly raised. And that means that this one with the conicals on is at an angle.

So, any liquid that drips down, in fact, you can see because I’ve just been checking the gravity of one of my beers. Uh, it’s all pooling at this end rather than at the bone dry back. The thing you probably always hear about is how I’ve solved my hot liquor issue, and I’m going to put down this camera and show you how I came around that. Just coming into shop right now.

Is something usually used, I think, as a drinks trolley or a kitchen trolley, and what I can do with this. So, this, these are my fermenting buckets, which I now just use to sanitize this stuff. On here, I have my hot liquid tank, so I fill that up and I can wheel it in carefully when it’s time for sparging.

This comes here. Inside here is a pipe. The pipe fits onto there, and then I can sparge straight into my grandfather just like that. So, this goes back into the corner. Uh, this is where my keg was and is still going to go eventually. I didn’t get around to getting the keg installed yet, so yeah, that’s about it really. It went pretty smoothly all told.

I’ve learned so many skills. I’ve learned to tile, I’ve learned to roof, I’ve learned to build stuff. Uh, if you were looking at building something like this. They described it on the company that I bought the housing from. They described it as advanced Ikea. That’s nonsense. It’s much, much more advanced than that.

But it is very much doable. Like I said, I was not experienced, but I still managed to put it up with some help along the way. Uh, with the right tools, it just means you know you have to measure stuff yourself, you have to calculate stuff yourself. All the stuff that Ikea flat pack stuff generally does for you, you are going to have to do some measurements and stuff, which is where errors can be introduced.

Measure what? Measure twice, cut once. Uh, is the old phrase. I measured about five times for some of these bits, and still got tiny, tiny bits wrong. Uh, but the most exciting thing about this now is that it is a fully functioning studio ambree. You’ll have seen I’ve already done some videos in here.

Uh, and we’ve got some really exciting videos to come. Uh, which leads me on to what is in here and in the fermenters. So, this, um, is a Pilsner. This is a Pilsner recipe that I’ve been working on for a couple of months.

This is well, sorry, this is batch one, but it has been a month since I brewed it. Uh, it’s currently, where are we? One week, must be coming up to two weeks, uh, in lagering, so that’s why it’s so hazy. Um, but it is absolutely delicious.

It’s a bit like sort of a Munich caliber right now. There’s little notes of banana and sulfur coming off of it. It feels quite fresh and raw. But it’s a lovely little pilsner. I use floor malted, uh, barley, all Czech hops. I’m pretty excited about how that’s going to turn out, and eventually, I’ll be doing the decoction and all kinds of things for when that’s finished.

But the thing I really want to tell you about is what is in here. So, this is next week’s video right here. In here, um, we’ve been trailing, we’ve been teasing what it actually is. We said that we’re brewing a West Coast IPA.