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22836 Ventura Blvd.
Woodland Hills, CA


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Falcons Pilot Brewery Mk. 1 (1991-2005)

    Sitting in the corner of John Daume's Home Beer, Wine and Cheesemaking Shop has been this strange brewing sculpture. It is a monument to long days spent celebrating the craft of making interesting beers. For the past few years, those brew sessions have made their way online at the Maltose Falcons Recipe Archive. While the brewery is still more than capable of brewing great beers, the Falcons felt restless and decided it was time to retire the old warrior. Any homebrew deck deserves a rest after producing more than the documented 44.5 barrels of beer (~1380 gallons of beer)!

    But first a little history, the Falcons' Pilot Brewery was built by Bill Ellis, Rick Sherman and Greg Stark. Over the years modifications were made to this simple 3 keg setup. Originally the deck had only an HLT and Boiler kettle with the mashing taking place in a manifolded cooler tun. Over time, other features were added, including the pump deck, a water filter, the water heater jackets to retain heat and more.

    Brewing on this deck has always been a bit of a grunting manual labor process. The wok burners under the kettles provide great heating, but the sticky gas valves always made lighting the burners an exciting task.

Brewery in Action
PhotosRecipe
2002 February Shop Brew American Bourbon Barrel IPA
2002 March Shop Brew Marzen Madness
2002 April Shop Brew H.E.R.M.S. Summer Wheat
Hot Liquor Tank
    Our direct fired HLT with its outer water heater jacket. Please ignore the red thermometer cap next to the pickup tube.
Direct Fired Mash/Lauter Tun

The mash tun is constructed of a keg with the top portion cut off. (In this picture there's a pot resting on top of the keg) This modification has always been a source of frustration to the volunteer brewers as it reduced the capacity of the mash tun while increasing the ability to throughly stir the pot. The largest grist known to have been mashed in this kettle was its last official club brew, Emperor Norton, at a whopping 39.5 pounds.

Note on the left hand side the hose running to a valve. This is the pump out valve that was used to control the flow of sparge water from the HLT. On the right hand side is the "Yellow Book", logbook of the recent brews done on the club system.
The manifold in the bottom of the kettle was a Doug King special. As with all the Doug manifolds that we've used, this one cleared quickly and gave good extract with a proper crush. The octogon of copper is slotted through on the bottom, allowing the mash liquor to rise through to the pickup valve on the side.
The gate picture above shows the metal slide that closed the gap in the water heater jacket when the mash tun was full. In order to remove the tun for cleaning, you unlocked the metal slide, put a mash paddle through the loop handles on the keg top and heaved up and over the jacket.
Boil Kettle
Just like the other pots in the system, this setup is a keg kettle with a heat jacket. The wok burner under this particular kettle was notoriously difficult to light without losing some hair on your hands. The bottom pickup tube fit a false bottom screen designed to filter out the gross portion of the trub and hop matter. From here it was just a short run into the waiting carboys.
Misc Parts
In order to keep things simple and have the pump always mounted in an easy to prime location, the pump was installed on a floating platform below the mashtun. The pump was activated with a flip of the switch in the gray junction box.
Woodland Hills water is suited for traditional ale beers. All that's needed to use it is a quick pass through an activated carbon filter to remove the municipal water addition of chloramine.
Never forget the critical component of all brewing systems, the notebook. Whether its a physical book like this one or if it's a virtual one like the recipe archive. It's important to see what's been done and how things turned out.
 
With that, we wish a fond farewell to the old Falcons brew deck. In its stead, we've erected a brewery taking lessons learned from our other brewing days. To see the new Falcons Brewery, follow this link. We expect that the old system will find a happy home with a Falcon looking to really move up with an experienced brew deck.

We've gone a long way. See the New Club System here

Want to see systems of the club members? Check out the Member's Systems Page


Want to make your own beer at home? Get started on the right foot. Check out the Falcon's sponsoring shop, The Home Beer, Wine, Cheesemaking Shop. John Daume, proprietor, has been serving the home brewing and winemaking needs of Angelenos since 1972, over 30 years! (Falcon Members receive a 10% discount on supplies)
Looking for older Falcons' information?, The Westval Maltose Falcons Webpage (Locally cached) (The Original Falcon's Roost, prior to 1999)
Looking for a home wine making club in the Los Angeles area? Check out our sister club, The Cellarmasters, over 30 and still stomping grapes.