My Brew System: Josh Weikert, CB&B Contributor and Beer: Simple Blog Author

Josh Weikert, a regular and prolific Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® contributor shared his brew set up with us. Now we know how he can produce so much beer and why he has so many great beer recipes!

Josh Weikert Mar 8, 2017 - 7 min read

My Brew System: Josh Weikert, CB&B Contributor and Beer: Simple Blog Author Primary Image

I started brewing ten years ago as part of a one-two punch of “realizing craft beer is awesome” and “learning that brewing is easy,” all while hobby-hunting during graduate school (because there’s only so much time you can spend contemplating the writings of E.E. Schattschneider, American political-science great). The resulting deep-dive into brewing and beer was at first a wonderful distraction and later (when I started meeting and hanging out with fantastic beer people), a significant part of my life.

What I Like to Brew

I will brew almost anything. I’ll even brew styles I don’t much like, just for a change of pace and to continue testing my preferences. I’d say my wheelhouse—in terms of quality of the result and what I prefer to drink—is English bitters and brown ales alongside German lagers (all of them, light and strong) and altbiers.

How Often I Brew

I brew at least once a month, but usually twice, and with big surges when semesters end (December and May) that might include 5–8 batches!

My Brewing System Evolution

Like a lot of people, I started with extract batches on my stovetop and spent my first year learning how to play my electric stove like a Stradivarius, since I was brewing full-volume 5-gallon batches in two pots and trying to prevent boil-overs on both! One thing I did right away was ferment in glass carboys, on the advice of Stan, my brother-in-law, who taught me to brew.


About a year in, I built out a Coleman cooler mash tun and started brewing all-grain. The two-pot symphony continued, and it was also about this time that I added my first fermentation fridge: a discarded top-freezer from my Dad, which had to have the doors removed to get it into the basement.

That system carried me through the next two years, when we moved into our new house and I decided to go “big” and upgrade to Blichmann jet burners and a 15-gallon kettle—for exactly one batch. I hated the size, the noise of the burner, how long it took for everything to happen, and I didn’t even much like the increased volume.

So I immediately started experimenting with all kinds of heating methods and systems, determined to find something that was fast, compact, reliable, inexpensive, and high-quality. Which brings us to…


My Brew System Today

I have a 4.25-gallon Induction-powered indoor electric brewery with:


• One 20-quart Craftmate (from Target) kettle, wrapped in two layers of Reflectix insulation and fitted with a weldless ball valve that connects inside to an unscreened 90-degree elbow fitting (for run-off)


• My original Coleman Xtreme 36-quart cooler fitted with a bazooka screen and a brass ball-valve (fun fact—the Coleman has a channel running right down the center that perfectly fits the bazooka screen, since the drain plug is at the end of the long axis! Just pull the plug, connect the screen to the ball valve, and instant mash tun!)
• 1800W Update International induction element
• Shirron plate chiller
• 6.5-gallon Better Bottles (with only 4.25 gallons going in, there’s plenty of headspace and very little call for a blowoff tube)
• Frigidaire 9cf Chest Freezer (fermentation chamber)
• Inkbird temperature controller (for fermentation chamber)
• MK4 Thermapen thermometer
• A home grain storage/milling operation, powered by a 7-pound Barley Crusher mill


My system has to be one of the fastest and cheapest to run that you’d ever find. Induction is fast and cheap (my fuel costs per batch are about 18 cents, compared to about a third of a tank of propane for $7–8), and all of my transfers/runoffs are by gravity, from the mash tun to the kettle to the plate chiller to the fermentor.


My batch time—with 60-minute no-sparge mash (though I do use a traditional mash/water ratio and then just add in one giant “mash out” water addition before lauter!) and 60-minute boil—is only 3:15 from the first lick of heat on the mash tun to pre-heat water to the end of cleanup.


I also keep 3–4 pounds of assorted pellet hops on hand, as well as a pretty comprehensive grain inventory, with a mill that I built into an old baby changing table.


So, a smaller batch, but one I can churn out so fast that almost any day can be a brew day—it ultimately means more beer brewed, in more varieties, than if I was producing much larger batches, and I can fit them in almost any time.

What I Will Add Next

I’m considering some of the wide-mouth fermentors. I don’t scrub clean my Better Bottles out of concern for creating abrasions that might harbor bad things (OneStep no-scrub hasn’t let me down yet), but it might be nice to be able to run a soft cloth inside my fermentor by hand.

My Dream System

I pretty much have it—though I might consider it an upgrade to have access to a 220V power line and a 3500W induction element, to get an even faster heating rate!

One Item I Can’t Live Without

Induction, induction, induction: I can’t praise it enough. It’s a perfect brewing technology, and I’ve won over a healthy number of converts! I’ll brew in anything, but only on an induction element. And I get to do it inside with no risk of fire and almost no risk of boil-over, so I can set-and-forget a beer-in-progress and do other stuff while I brew. Look into it!

Want to show us your setup? Click here to get started!

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®’s online class Hot Rod Your Kettles and Mash Tun is the perfect introduction to building out your badass homebrew system.