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Given the limited space of an apartment, what tips do you have for the boil?

Do not consider budget to be a factor.

This is the fourth question in a series of discussions about small-space brewing. Please keep the discussion limited to the boil.

See also: Equipment Storage | Mashing | Steeping | Chilling | Fermentation | Packaging | Cellaring

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What do you mean by keeping the boil contained? Like keeping it boiling? Preventing boilover? –  hookedonwinter Jan 25 '10 at 16:47
    
Edited to be more clear. –  Homebrew Holli Jan 26 '10 at 0:12

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Taylor's partial boil answer is a good one, particularly if you are limited to the typical small-sized electric stove found in most apartments. Another issue with boiling wort in an apartment is excessive humidity, and more problematic, the smell drifting into your neighbor's loft.

But if you want to do a full boil, there is an alternative: go outside! Many apartment complexes have outdoor patio areas. With a bayou burner and propane tank, you're portable -- you can brew anywhere, and the heat generated on these portable turkey-fryer-like stoves is hot enough to boil any sized brew kettle. And if you're brewing in a shared space, you're bound to attract attention, and possibly a brew buddy.

Another idea is to brew at your local homebrew shop. Sometimes you will find a brew-on-premises style shop designed for this kind of thing. If that's not available, ask your shop if they will let you brew outside next to the shop -- offer to do a monthly demo brew outside so the shop can attract customers -- a win-win for both of you. They might even offer you a discount or free brewing supplies in exchange for teaching a class on how to brew.

And of course, you can always brew with a friend at his more spacious home. Moving to 10-gallon batches is not much of a stretch, with you carting your half home in a carboy or corny keg, and your brew buddy keeping the other half. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon, brewing with a friend.

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I have a similar arrangement worked out with my brother in law. Everything is stored at my house because I have room. His apartment doesn't allow proper storage so everything is always in my basement. Its a nice trade off because I have access to both of our brewing equipment at all times. If you have a small space and need room I'm sure there is someone out there that would love to have brew stuff at their house for the privilege of storing them. –  J Times Jan 26 '10 at 21:15

Getting a kettle that can fit over two burners on your stove is a good idea if you want to do full boils. For example, the 10 gal megapot is 17" in diameter. Additionally you can buy or build a heat stick to supplement your stove burners. I have been using an inexpensive bucket heater and a lot other homebrewers use this also, though it has not been tested for food safety by the manufacturer. If time and money are not an issue, you could build one yourself with a more powerful water heating element. If you have a 30-amp washer/dryer outlet in your apt, then you could even go electric.

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  • partial boils
  • oversized kettle
  • tend to the temperature

At most, I do partial mashes in my apartment's tiny kitchen. Steeping grains in 2-3 gallons in a 6 gallon kettle helps me avoid boilovers.

My problem has been with regulating the boil's temperature.
With such a small volume, it is prone to rapid changes in temperature. So, I have to check in every few minutes to adjust my gas stove.

With enough planning and diligence, this set up has worked well for my small partial mash batches.

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I think you meant to answer the SS&A: steeping question, not boiling. –  Dean Brundage Jan 25 '10 at 18:03

A boilover is an even greater disaster in a small space situation. A few glass marbles dropped into the brew pot prevents most boilovers. Don't worry, the marbles can take a lot more heat that your stove can put out.

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