Ben Stange on May 20, 2015 1 Comment There comes a time in every homebrewer’s career when he or she must move that mess out of the kitchen. Brewing takes up a lot of time and space, and can make unholy messes that are much harder to clean up indoors. Here’s how we would suggest you make the transition to brewing outside. photo credit Pick a Brewing Spot Make sure you pick out a good spot if you’re going to brew outside. Don’t brew under any overhanging trees that will drop leaves, seeds, and pollen into your beer, or that hang low enough to be a fire hazard. Hopefully you have a nice flat area with a fireproof material underneath (like concrete) and that is reasonably close to your water source. Once you have your spot picked out, you’re ready to get started, right? When it comes time for you take the hobby to the garage or to the outside, you’ll need three things to make it all work: a water source, a heat source, and a good way to chill your wort. Depending on what you have available at your house, you may not need to buy any of these, but there are some considerations you’ll need to make it all work. Good Water Makes Good Beer First, you need a water source. To do it right, you can’t just run a garden hose out to your kettle and call it good. You can make beer with the water from your garden hose, but unless the garden hose is a potable water hose (like you would see with an RV), you could be exposing all of your water to some added chemicals. It’s not likely to hurt you. After all, we’ve all drank water from the garden hose before. It could, however, make your beer taste funny. So, invest a few bucks in a potable water hose. That’s the bare minimum for brewing good beer outside. Once you have it, you should also consider spending a little bit on a good water filter. It’s best to get one that removes chlorine and chloramine if possible. Activated charcoal is pretty common, and will make good beer, as it will help remove impurities but leave some of the good mineral content you need to make good beer. You can pick up a decent potable water hose for under $30, and the water filter can be ordered online or found at your local hardware store for under $50. Neither of these are strictly necessary when you move your brewing outside, but they are very good investments that will last you a very long time. With these two items and some campden tablets, sometimes referred to as potassium metabisulfite, to remove residual chlorine from your water, you will have some very good brewing water without having to dive into a bunch of difficult water chemistry. Time to Heat Things Up Second, you’ll need a heat source. If you happen to have a turkey fryer in your garage, you can use the burner from it, but do not use the pot if it has ever fried a turkey. A good turkey fryer burner will definitely boil up to 12 gallons of wort, but it might take a while. For 5 gallon batches, however, it will work fine. If you don’t already own a turkey fryer, don’t buy one specifically for brewing. For a few dollars more, you can get a high powered burner that will save you tons of time on your brew day. Think about this: how much of your time spent brewing is spent heating water? If you can cut that time down by investing in a high quality burner, you can save a lot of time of your whole brew day. A brewer heats strike water, sparge water, and heats their pot to boiling. If you can shave 10 minutes off each of these, you might save yourself up to 30 minutes on your whole brew day. A good burner will shave off more than ten minutes compared to the average turkey fryer. Even if you already own a turkey fryer, you should consider upgrading to a higher end burner. A Bayou Classic Banjo Burner is an excellent choice, as it is a cast iron burner that offers 210,000 BTUs. That’s some serious heat. It’s made for big pots, too, and can support one up to 80 quarts. It’ll also fry the heck out of a turkey, should you be so inclined. Want Good Beer? Cool it Fast Now that you’ve been kicked out of the kitchen, you can’t use the kitchen sink full of ice water anymore. You’ll need to invest in a good chiller. For starters, it’s a good idea to go with an immersion chiller. Get one as long as you can afford. 25 feet will work for five gallon batches, but 50 feet is recommended and will work better. And if you upgrade to ten gallon batches, the 50 foot chiller will still work, but the 25 foot one will take forever to get down to your pitching temperature. If you can make the leap, I highly recommend investing in a counter-flow chiller. It will save chilling time, and will make it much easier to go from boiling to pitching. If you can’t afford one at first, though, don’t worry. Go ahead and get an immersion chiller. You can always convert it to a counterflow chiller later with a few fittings and a garden hose. Plate chillers are really just fancier counter-flow chillers, designed to maximize the surface area that comes in contact with the hot wort and cold water. The result is incredibly fast and effective chilling, but they can be a bit harder to clean and are much more expensive. Still, many homebrewers have them and love them. Other Things to Consider When Brewing Outside Since you’ve been brewing in your kitchen so far, you are probably boiling only a few gallons in a small pot on your stovetop. That was fine inside, but you should seriously consider investing in a good brew pot and doing a full volume boil. Boiling full volume boils will ensure you get the most out of your brewing ingredients and will reduce the risk of contamination, since you’ll no longer be adding cold water at the end of the boil. It does slow your chilling down a little not to add the cold water at the end, but the reduced contamination risk is an excellent trade off. If you decide to invest in a new brew kettle, make sure you consider your future plans for your brewery. If you believe you’ll brew ten gallon batches eventually, buy a pot big enough to do so now. The increase in cost might seem like a lot of money, but it is much less expensive than buying two pots, which is what you’ll do if you buy one that’s too small the first time. There’s one more optional thing you should consider when brewing outside, and that’s a work surface. Having a table and chair nearby won’t just give you somewhere to weight your hops and write down your notes, it’ll also give you a place to sit down and to set your beer. You don’t want to brew without a beer in your hand, do you? All of these things I recommend here are optional, but they will all make your brew day and your beer better. If you don’t get them all at once, I believe you will eventually invest in each and every one. After all, as a brewer, you want to make the best beer possible. To do that, you need the right tools.