Fermentation room build-out

My first batch of beer was completed, which I christened the Alba Varden IPA (points to anyone who recognizes the name…

alba bottle

Thanks to the fermentation chiller I had built, I was able to keep the temperature of this batch fairly consistent. After a few weeks of bottle conditioning – the flavors had melded and the carbonation was nearly perfect:

alba pour

The bottling process was smooth – I managed to get 48 bottles from this first batch and kept them in a darkened room for a couple of weeks before cold conditioning. The biggest issue I’ve run into, is that the beer disappears too quickly – it was time for me to start brewing again.

The original fermentation chiller did it’s job – but I really needed space for brewing multiple batches, as well as space for holding my equipment and bottles. I wanted to build out a space with a dedicated cooling system that would work for fermenting, minor cold crashing, and bottle/carb storage… and I needed this to fit within the existing space in my house.

My first thought was to re-purpose the built-in “closet” in the single-car garage; it was used for storing almost empty paint cans and parts to tools and toys that didn’t match up with anything else. After a few moments of consideration, I realized it would be too small for a fermentation room, and would be difficult for the temp control I needed.

I then considered taking half of the garage space and building out a bar/brew-room. While intriguing, I realized that most of our junk is stored in this garage and unless we completely converted the garage, there would not be enough room for even a Bourbon Street beerstand in that limited space. I also wanted to do this without spending an enormous amount of money.

To help clear my head, and gain the favor of my wife – I started re-organizing our storage in that garage. While moving items around it suddenly occurred to me that I could use the built-in closet as a jumping-off point… I could simply build out from the closet and create a climate-controlled space to brew, store and bottle. I ran this idea by my wife – and was basically met with a half-hearted, “Yeah… sure… but we need to still be able to keep the stuff in the garage.”

I had my okay.

I measured out the space… drew some plans down on some scrap paper… and then enlisted my father’s assistance (he loves projects, especially if they’re not his) for a weekend build.

We started with the two walls – making sure to measure twice, cut once – which quickly turned into measure twice, cut once, re-measure twice, cut again, curse the measurements and then finally getting it right on the fourth try. Thankfully, we only had to build two walls and tie them in to the existing garage structure. We started with the smaller wall, which we framed to mount the A/C unit that would be used to control the fermentation temperature.

build1

The wall was attached to the existing garage wall and ceiling, as well as bolted into the cement flooring.

build2

The next step was to build the second wall – the one with doorframe. More measuring, cutting, re-measuring, re-cutting, more cursing… until it was finally lifted into place and secured.

build3

After a full day’s work, we had the basic framing completed.

build4

The next day we started off with inserting the pre-hung door. I was dreading this step, worried that our cursing in the previous steps wasn’t enough to make sure that the door would actually fit… but it did… nicely.

build5

It was now time to begin the sheetrock. We decided to sheetrock the interior of the room first, making it easier to insulate from the outside before doing the exterior work. As a side note… I hate sheetrock – I’m not opposed to the “idea” of sheetrock, I just don’t like it. It’s bulky, dusty and a pain-in-the-ass to put up properly. Luckily, my father harbors no such ill will to this building material and it went up rather quickly.

build 7

The insulation went up next – this is definitely a two-man job… and a staple gun. It’s a two-man, one staple gun job.

build9

After verifying that the electrical wiring was still working, we put up the exterior sheetrock and began the arduous process of taping and mudding. I have now determined that I hate taping and mudding more than sheetrock. This took the better part of the next two days.

build10

After letting this dry for 36 hours, I began the rough finish-out of the exterior. Molding was added around the door, walls, and A/C unit and then the walls were painted. The finishing touch was my penguin entry rug (which doubles as an extra insulation barrier under the door).

build11

I had a brewday planned for the upcoming weekend, so I needed to get moving on the clean-up on the inside of the room. I installed the shelving on the existing wall for my fermenting buckets and carboys, and added molding around the A/C unit to match the molding outside.

build12

I now have a 5 x 6 fermentation room with a built-in storage closet. I can currently cool this room down to 64 degrees, and keep a constant temperature up to 76 degrees.

Now all I need to do is brew more beer.

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~ by brewdaddy on October 4, 2009.

3 Responses to “Fermentation room build-out”

  1. You crack me up!

  2. wondering if you have had any issues since. moisture buildup inside the room, exhaust issues into the garage, or anything else. Starting my cold room build this weekend and advice you have would be great. thanks.

    • Sorry for the delay.

      The room has been running for over a year without any issues.

      I have not had any moisture build up inside the room – the air conditioning unit I installed will build up a bit of condensation every now and then, most notably as the temperatures reach 100+ in the mid-summer, but only on the section of the A/C that is outside of the room. The insulation is probably the key with this.

      Luckily, this room was built in our single-car garage which is on the opposite side of the house from our two-door garage where we keep the cars. Even so, I have not had any exhaust or venting issues to or from the room.

      I recently moved to AG brewing, so all of my brew sessions have been moved outdoors – we’ve had a wacky winter down here so I haven’t been able to brew any new batches in the last 3 or 4 months… hoping to get brewing again within the next two weeks.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

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