Fathers Day 2011, Chandra purchased a Williams Sonoma Home Brew system as a gift. She thought it would be a fun project for Steve and their then teenage son, Steven Jr. As it turns out, it was a REALLY FUN project and Steve caught the home brewing bug! He then started brewing up a storm in the garage. Moving from a small 1 gal jug to a 5 gal bucket to a 15 gal system. In no time at all, this Hobby grew into a full fledged business idea. Once Steve mastered brewing on his 1.5 barrel system, there was no stopping him. The concept for CALLSIGN was conceived one afternoon in one of these many garage brewing days. Steve, a 27 year Air Force Veteran , was brewing with his good friend and co-founder Morris, also a 17 Air Force Veteran. On that day they both happened to be reminiscing about a plane that had just crashed. They both had flown in that plane on previous missions and knew the crew that was lost. They decided to dedicate this Brew to the Crew of Shell 77. And the mission and concept of CALLSIGN BREWING was born.
It wasn’t long before I got hooked with brewing. I started building up my equipment. I knew it wasn’t worth my time to do just one gallon, so i bought the equipment for 5 gallon batches. Just like everyone else, I bought a turkey fryer from a local hardware store and borrowed the propane tank from the grill, then stared making all grain kits from on-line brew supply stores.
From brewing beer with a difficult single burner, I built a three tier, gravity system with a single burner at the bottom tier. This proved to be labor intensive but this was the way for a good 6 month. As money came in, I would upgrade a thing or two. I just recently donated the converted 10 gal coolers to Stanny, a long time buddy.
This first thing to get upgraded on this was the 7.5 gal turkey fryer. A neighbor of mine gave me an aluminum 25 gal syrup pot, and from there, things just exploded. Instead of doing 5 gal batches, with the new 25 Boil kettle and the 10 gallon converted coolers, we were able to do 10-15 gal batches.
After we got tired of all the hot water transfer to the top tier, I added a second burner to the top and converted 2 kegs. Top one being the hot liqueur thank, and a new mash-ton covered with insulation. This system here proved to be extremely effective and didn’t need pumps. A few months later, we added a water manifold that included a self supply water attachment, water filter and a hose attachment. We used this set up for about 18 months, it proved to be very effective and efficient. There are pros and cons for a 3 tier system like this. The only con i can come up with is the bulkiness of the brew stand and the height of the hot liqueur thank. The pros are, no need for pumps since all liquids are gravity fed from one vessel to another.
With all the beer I was making, I had to find a place to dispense it. I took a 4.5 cubic ft chest freezer and turned it into a 3 tap, beer dispensing bundle of joy. I soon realized that this was NOT going to be big enough.
My next project was to build a flat brewing system and incorporate 2 liquid pumps. I replaced the aluminum 25 gal boil kettle with a third coveted keg. This did limit to just a 10 gallon batch. I used this system for only 4 batches until I upgraded some more. More pictures of the brew stand build click HERE
It didn’t take long for me to decide to upgrade this. I buckled down and bought a 50 AMP, 11,000 WATT electric control panel. I have to admit, this was a pretty penny. It can make your wallet really light, but it is worth its weight in gold. It didn’t come assembled, but honestly, it was fun putting it together. You really get to know the system when you have to build it. I personally love building things and not to mention, building things makes things 60% less expensive. At this point I ended up upgrading again a 1.5 bbl (barrel) boil kettle and 2, 25 gal hot liqueur tank and mash-ton. This panel is from the, theelectricbrwery.com For more pictures on this build, click HERE
After building the Control panel, I had a 1.5 bbl boil kettle and bought 2, 25 gal vessels for the other two pots. The 25 gal pots didn’t last long after discovering the true potential of the electric control panel. I ended up upgrading to 45 gal vessels for the hot liqueur tank and mash-ton. I also bought 3, 17 gal fermentors and 2, 60 gal fermentors. My bottom line here, I have so much time and money invested into this, THIS was the point of no return. Also, at this point, this system was way to big to keep in the garage, and i tried to running a line from the boil kettle to the fermentors in the basement. This proved to be more work than what was worth.
Here is the mash-ton and hot liqueur tank. I’m sure you noticed that I do have a lot of thermometers. I am very crucial about temperature ranges. There are even electronic thermometers in the bottom valves. Proper temperature control is key to a consistent flavor and damn good beer. More pictures on the pots click HERE
Since I love variety, The 3 tap kegerator wasn’t enough. I bought a new refrigerator for the house, and I took this one and converted it to 6 tap kegerator with an empty freezer to hold all the hops i use. This was rather easy to build.
After everything was finished, this is what it looks like. I have a fully functional 1.5 barrel brewery in my basement. Since by law, I can only make 200 gallons per year, I limit my batches to 10 to 15 gallons per batch. This here is my stepping stone to an actual brewery/tap room. When I find a location, I will then seek licensing, then I will be able to maximize its full potential. This was a 700 sq ft storage room. It is now a 350 sq ft brewery. Behind the barn doors are more storage. More on the build of the brewery click HERE
A little extra, I had to build a self powered grain crusher, and a 4 tap jokey box. I carry this to events.
The brewery today.