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Basement brewing

I am wanting to build a new brewing setup in my basement, my question is, the basement is finished, is it ok/safe to put a single tier station with propane or natural gas burners down there. I’m assuming I would need to put up a exhaust hood, and if it is ok, how far from a finished drywall wall would you stay out for your stand.

No to burning propane indoors, but natural gas is obviously fine. Far enough to not catch the wall on fire!!!

Have you done any searching on the internet on this topic?

Do not do this until you have all the facts. Natural gas is not any safer than propane if your burner is not efficient enough for indoor use. Your risks include poisoning your family or blowing up/burning down your home.

Give the agent for your homeowners insurance policy a call. I would think he/she would give you some advice.

EDIT: On second thought, have you considered going electric?

I would hesitate to bring a propane bottle down there, but if you can run a gas line from a bottle outside or use your existing natural gas lines in addition to a vent hood, it seems safe enough to me. Don’t know about the proximity to the wall, but I wouldn’t think you’d need to be all that far away. For a little added safety, you could lay some brick or tile where the burner will be. Kind of like a landing for a wood burning stove, and it wouldl look nice to boot :slight_smile:

Something like this:

It’s easy to add a water heater element to your kettle and would be safer to use, ASSUMING you are comfortable with electrical wiring or could trade beer for some expert electrical work.

Check theelectricbrewery.com for instructions and parts to add the heating element to your kettle. You really don’t need the expensive control system they describe.

I am in no way endorsing taking a propane tank and burner and setting it up in your basement, but with proper equipment, it certainly would be possible to get a propane or natural gas high output burner into your basement. Yes you would need a hood, especially for that high of BTU output. The hood, if a proper one, would suck out a lot of air, so you need a way to replace that or you will never get your doors open due to negative pressure.

The gypsum in drywall is inherently fire resistant, but the paper on the surface is not. You should put some sort of fire resistant shield up to deflect the heat. A stainless steel panel or tile wall behind the burner would be the best thing to use. Tile on some sort of concrete backer board would be the best.

Can you tell I am an architect that designs a lot of restaurants?

Thanks everyone for your advice, really want to stick to gas, no particular reason other that is what I’m use to and gas is just what I have envisioned for my build. I do have access to natural gas and that’s the way I was leaning. Can anyone give me advice as to the size of hood and fan I should install?

I was a propane brewer for over a decade and I created an all-electric basement brewery. If I had known how much better electric brewing was than gas, I would never had brewed with gas. I won’t be going back to gas. That’s for sure. If you have an unfinished basement, you have a chance to do it right. Don’t stick your head in the sand!

We have used a regular propane burner right below a window in the basement. When we are brewing we replace the window with a piece of Lexan that has 2 80 MM 110 volt fans (Like computer case fans, but 110v) in it to exhaust. The Lexan also has a hose connection for the discharge from the IC, so it does not go into the subpump and eventually the septic. With 8 ft ceilings we built a small hood out of plywood to direct the air out of the window. We use a regular propane burner mounted to a 2X10 and plywood base with some high temp shield on the wall. Some sort of composite material my friend got from the mill. We added a CO detector, a 3 bin stainless steel sink from an old restaurant.

This has worked great for us so far, with no problems. Just be careful and use a CO detector.

Someone above mentioned speaking to your home insurance agent for advice. I am going to second this, but also because you want to make sure that installing a gas burner and vent hood won’t void your insurance policy.

Also, make sure whatever you do is up to code. Again, your insurance agent should be able to answer that question.

Consider that propane is heavier than air and will settle in the basement if there’s a leak. Natural gas is lighter than air, so it would be more likely to be pulled out by an exhaust fan - or to rise into the house. Either way, a leak plus a spark could ruin your day.

Go electric. It’s easy and way cheaper.

electric is the way to go much safer if wired right and you use a GFI.

I’d guess that with electric brewing, you’d use the exhaust fan quite a bit less. If it were me, I’d probably only kick it on once the boil really got started. So you’d be running the exhaust (and pulling warm air out of your house) for only an hour or so. With a propane-fired basement brewery, you’d have to run the exhaust for the entire time your burner was on, which is at least double that, 2 hours.

Maybe it doesn’t make a huge difference, but I bet the exhaust fan actually pulls a ton of warm, conditioned air out of your house. I really like the electric brewery idea. For some reason though, I’m really resistant to the use of pumps. I just think they look ugly, with hoses going every which way. My 3-tiered gravity system is simple and elegant.

We’ll see how I feel about that in another 10 years or so, when I start to get old and crotchety…

Something you might want to consider. Induction heating is even more efficient than gas. You can boil a "standard " pot of water in 90 seconds. You’ll have to invest in a stainless pot that has a magnetic core in it which might be a bit pricey (if they even exist in 5 gallon capacity?) but it will be 100% safe for indoor use.

I’m boiling on my back porch now but when I build my new house–which will have a basement–I will have one of these:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6896268058

Electric brewing seems like the way to go in a basement situation, but you will have to exhaust regardless. The link below would be an easy solution with a small footprint.

http://www.electricbiab.com/

I’m curious if anyone have experience with this system?

You can also buy an adapter (translation: big metal plate). They aren’t the cheapest thing in the world, but cheaper than replacing a brew kettle.

It’s important to be aware that if you do go the gas/vent route, that you make sure your furnace and water heater are not back drafting when the vent is running. A natural (gravity) vent furnace and/or water heater can spill carbon monoxide if your home is struggling for make up air.

I’d suggest having a HVAC professional look at your home and at the very least have good, digital low ppm carbon monoxide detectors on each floor.

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