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Old 06-12-2008, 05:56   #1
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Beer Brewing Aboard

Anyone even brew thier own beer on the boat? Seems would be a great space saver. I've done this on land before and wonder if the boat motion would be a problem. I think would also have to do something other than bottles.
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Old 06-12-2008, 06:06   #2
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Anyone even brew thier own beer on the boat? Seems would be a great space saver. I've done this on land before and wonder if the boat motion would be a problem. I think would also have to do something other than bottles.
I was a professional brewer for years, and have thought about using some kind of brew system on a boat. But, decided it was not practical, or easy on a small boat (I sail a 30'). It could be done on a larger (LARGE) boat...but...

Brewing uses a LOT of water. The most important thing in brewing is keeping the equipment sparkling clean and sanitized. The amount of water used to do this would drain much/all of onboard water tanks. Plus, the small basic kits make 5 gallons of beer. To do that, one has to boil more than 5 gals for at least an hour...I would NOT want to chance a spill...can you imagine the danger in a small, enclosed environment, and the MESS??? And that's just the boil.

Storage, cleaning, mess, danger, water usage all point me to keep brewing on shore and bring a small keg on board for serving (I have a number of 2.5 & 5 gallon kegs I use).
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Old 06-12-2008, 08:32   #3
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It would be a VERY BAD idea for me to have a keg of beer on my boat! I love my beer!
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:17   #4
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It's true...having a keg of your own beer at hand (on tap) makes it VERY easy to just have one more...maybe half...HA!
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:32   #5
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Don, I used to home brew quite a bit. I think brewing on board would be awkward, but could be done. You will need 5 gallons of clean water for a standard batch of brew itself and maybe close to the same for cleaning and sanitizing. However, I think by timing the batch with a water refill, this wouldn't be a big problem. I think the bigger problems are the space the equipment takes up, temperature control and movement.

First of all, you will be limited to ales unless you have a very large refridgeration system or are spending the winter some where cool. I've fermented and aged most ales in the mid 60s. (Lagers need cooler temperatures, with the exception of steam beers) If you are crusing somewhere the temps are much warmer, you risk blowing the fermentation or getting off flavors.

You can avoid bottles by carrying two stainless 2.5 kegs and can pressurize these using small C02 cartridges like one uses on inflatable life jackets. (These kegs will cut down time, effort and water you need for sanitizing compared to bottles.) You'll also need to carry a 5-gallon fermenter and 5-gallon transfer tank (basically a 5-gallon bucket will do.) For the main brew, you will need a pot of 3 gallons or more. The easiest way to carry the beer making supplies themselves would be to carry a few kits. Of course is you want to have a constant supply of beer, you need to start the next batch, before you finish the first which means at least one more mini keg or 12 more bottles. The problem you'll run into with the mini-kegs once again is having cool beer to drink. Unless you have a huge fridge capable of carrying a 2.5 gallon mini keg, you'll have to cool each beer before you drink it You could just fill a plastic bottle and throw in against the cold plate a couple hours before consumption, but it's something you will need to keep up on.

My other concern would be boat motion during the fermenting process. If you have a couple weeks at anchor somewhere, with only some easy sailing, that's probably not a problem.

Compared to American beer prices, you have to make a lot of home brew to make up the financial difference. I think it averaged me something like 80 cents a bottle for home brew based on ingredients only. The occasional bad batch can bring this up over a dollar per bottle easily. However, even at a dollar a bottle, you can be much cheaper than many islands cruising areas.

Personally, if I was a full time cruiser on a large catamaran, I'd certainly consider it, but for 6-months on a low 30s monohull, I wouldn't.

I also used to make wine and while I never made wine cruising either, I know one woman who did. Wine is even more sensative to temperature changes, etc, than beer, so I imagine if she could successfully make wine on board, beer could be done, but realize it's a lot of gear and not ideal conditions.

Williams Brewing out of California is a good place to start start getting a feel for what you need and what it costs.

(You can get basic fermenter, transfer pale, and kit to make a 5-gallon batch for under US$150 I think. SS 2.5 keggers probalbly run about $85 or so each these days. Of course if you drink a lot of beer, bottles are not a problem to get)
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:23   #6
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I wonder what the Coasties would think if they boarded a floating brewery? No doubt its legal, but I'm sure it would raise some eyebrows.
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:48   #7
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Just a couple more thoughts on space:

This stuff will take up space, but - two cases of bottles take up the same space regardless if they are provisions or bottles to be filled with home brew. You can also get a carboy fermenter that fits inside a 5-gallon priming tank or transfer tank. That will reduce the total storage space needed.
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:52   #8
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I wonder what the Coasties would think if they boarded a floating brewery? No doubt its legal, but I'm sure it would raise some eyebrows.
Homebrewing was actually made illegal during prohibition in the U.S. and was technically illegal until Jimmy Carter passed a bill during his administration making it legal once again. I can't remember off hand what the yearly limit is, but you could have a full batch and the ingredients for several more and not be in violation.

It's something one should probably check into when entering foreign waters. Although the ingredients contain no alcohol, the clear intent may be treated differently in different areas.
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Old 06-12-2008, 11:06   #9
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Old 06-12-2008, 11:46   #10
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Mr. Beer Home Brew Kit
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Old 06-12-2008, 13:07   #11
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Small yacht breweries

HEre in the SW Pacific cruising orbit many yotties are doing homebrew on board. All of them use brew kits, and the products range from barely drinkable to excellent. The kits are available in any supermarket in Australia, come from a number of sources, produce a variety of brews, from stout to light lager, and somehow avoid the requirement of boiling large volumes of water in the process. Most use a 5 gallon carboy as a fermentation vessel, and most use screw cap plastic 1.25 L soft drink bottles for storage.

The only stage where moderate boat motion seems to be a problem is bottling, where stirring up sediment can be an issue. Temperature control is usually achieved by keeping the fermenter near the hull, and below the waterline. In very hot conditions it can be an issue, and in cooler climates keeping the brew warm enough may require blankets and hot water bottles or some such... but it does work!

As to boat size, we have good friends on a Golden Hind 31 (not a big 31 footer) who have been brewing all during their 10+ years of full time cruising.

Lastly, we have never heard of ANY concern on the part of officials in any country. They have much better things to worry about!

I am constantly surprised by the quality of the beer that comes from these very simplified brewing processes. Before starting full time cruising I did traditional home brewing, and I could mess up a whole house doing it!

Good luck with it.

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Gladstone Qld Oz
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Old 07-12-2008, 05:58   #12
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Maybe I should have stated that I had home brewed before and new the how details. Water and stoarage aren't going to be an issue for me. I once read a thread on a cruisers site where they brewed, but it didn't spend much time it. So was hoping there were more crusiers out there who were doing it and would have experience pointers.
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Old 07-12-2008, 18:55   #13
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Ther are many other brews to consider. APple cider, using just yeast in a 2 litre container of apple juice. It is pre sterilised. Also in the tropics, gree coconuts make an intersting brew. Simply make a small hole, drop in some yeast and then plug up the hole.
Mangos make a wicked brew and I was given an intersting one made from breadfruit
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Old 07-12-2008, 20:41   #14
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Just a couple of comments on onboard brewing. Motion during fermentation will speed the process. However, it will be difficult to settle out. This can be aided by racking a couple of times and cooling it as cold as possible to facilitate the yeast settling out. (it can be filtered if desired, though I would think not) MOST IMPORTANT! be very carefull with CO2 generation below decks. ( I am currently a professional brewer while rebuilding a Cascade 42 and saving(?)for our getaway)
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Old 08-12-2008, 18:49   #15
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Mr Beer works great on my boat. I have made a number of batches without any problems.
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