Being stuck in Brooklyn in a third floor walk up has really hindered my ability to brew 10 gallon batches of beer. I do have a propane setup and a back yard (more like a cement pit) but i have to walk up and down the stairs way too many times, and then walk around my block to get to the back yard. I’ve done it a couple of times, but I tell ya, carrying all that beer, all that equipment, and dealing with the yummy in my tummy, have all contributed to me having bad experiences with the whole outside brew day approach.
Frustration can be the biggest turn off about brewing in Brooklyn (yeessss) but luckily solutions can come from all different areas. An answer for my problem once again came from BASIC BREWING RADIO, which I think is one of the best resources I have found on the Internet. They did a whole episode on electric brewing a few years back and in the video section, they got to play with a portable heat wand .
check under electric brewing april 29 2010
A heat wand sounds nightmarish and dangerous, but, after researching, I found out that there are really only a few things scary about it, and those are posted very clearly on a BYO article on the bottom. (here is another helpful link, http://www.3d0g.net/brewing/heatstick) So I decided to build one with the help of my very handy friend,BULLWINKEL
The set up was really simple honestly. Just follow the directions found on the website (http://www.3d0g.net/brewing/heatstick) and everything comes together very well. I was unsure what to do with the ground wire, but i simply cut it and taped it very well with electrical tape.
Using this is wonderful. For a 10 gallon batch, my stove top simply couldn’t maintain a boil, but when I use the heat wand, my boil is a vigorous as a propane brew day, and I usually boil off about 2 gallons in a 60 min brew. This tool is also wonderful for heating up mash water and striking water. Without the wand, my burners raises temp at about 2.7 degrees per minute. but with the heat wand, its about 3.3 deg/min. which adds up very quickly when making these big batches.
In summary: while I was scared in the beginning, doing 10 gallon batches is absolutely fantastic and is really allowing for experimentation in my brewery (apartment). This is one of best investments i have made in my brewing lifetime. you should do it!