My brewing story begins after a department store wine kit was hauled off by the trashmen. Yes, a wine kit started my passion with brewing beer, and in time my business? The reason I trashed the kit was due to my lack of knowledge in the process of making wine and more frighteningly the cleaning and sanitizing of the equipment. The instructions stressed on being sanitized, but my lack of knowledge on what it meant to be sanitized, and the concern that I may get someone sick caused me to drop kick the kit into the waste can.
I then read a magazine article about home brewing. Who doesn’t like beer, right? This article made it clear that cleanliness is a very important part of the process, but as I read I realized I was overthinking it. I began to understand that all of debris needs to be removed from your brewing equipment, and then a sanitizer is added to the cleaned equipment, and you are ready for your next brew day. Simple! I am a simple guy, and I figured that I can do that.
I bought my first brewing kit: 5 gallon brew kettle, a 5 gallon carboy, and a 7 gallon food grade bucket. The recipe was a brown ale. It was good for a month or two, and then it started losing flavor. I came to realize that bottling introduces oxygen to the finished beer. Oxygen in finished beer after time will degraded that beer’s flavor.
After a year of making my own recipes my wife and I were seated at a local watering hole (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving). She said, “Why don’t you start a brewery?”. To be honest it was in the back of my head, but I figured that thought would never become a conversion with my wife. So, I agreed with her, as a good husband would. Although at the time neither of us really understood what we were getting ourselves into.
I started reading from a website devoted to brewing. With this knowledge, I began brewing beers around ingredients I knew a little brewery could get without to much hassle. Through this site I also learned of a movie made in the mid 90’s called ‘Frankenbrew’. This video showed me that one guy with some determination, out of the box thinking, and hard work could start a brewery without investors and bank loans. I then followed the movie’s suggestions on what to buy from used dairy equipment market. This offset the price of starting a new brewery by a ton, since I had already priced out a real brewery’s equipment before seeing the movie. I knew I could never come with a million or so dollars myself, and I wanted this brewery to be mine. Yes, you read that correctly! I am the only owner, investor, employee, brewer, boss, maintenance guy, and janitor. I did it all with help from some wonderful family members and great friends from time to time. Although, I only have me to answer to.
Years later, I had the stainless steel equipment needed. I found a space 3 blocks from my home. By this time I realized that I needed a real brew kettle. Having well over 200 gallons of boiling wort would be very dangerous in anything less than a proven kettle. I then started getting the paperwork inked with both the Federal and State government agencies. Approvals took a lifetime, okay about 6 months (a lifetime for a guy with barely any budget).
Please check out the pictures of my equipment here (if you’re interested in seeing what my frankinbrew system looks like).