September 21, 2010

Apologia for a TopTier

(Fellow homebrewers, please feel free to cite, paraphrase, or cut and paste for your own birthday lists)

Let us consider the TopTier from Blichmann Engineering; more specifically, let us consider this particular TopTier - there are many like it, but this one is mine. Why?

  • I couldn't build something this nice myself.
  • Even if I could, I would rather spend that leisure time making beer instead of building something that would eventually make beer (or go fishing [that is to say, I would go fishing, not the device]).
  • It shipped FedEx Home Delivery and it arrived 3 days after I ordered.
  • Its modularity gives me flexibility; I am not tied down to one method or batch size. I can do 5 or 10 gallon batches (or bigger, should I so choose), all grain or extract. Mount a pump and save my back - the only thing I lift is the grist into the mash tun. But if I get sick of cleaning a pump, I can loosen six bolts, raise a burner, and have a 100% gravity-fed system. I have been brewing for the better part of 2 decades and I know that change is a constant - the way I brew now may not be the way I brew in another 10 years. Or another year.
  • It's portable - just one thing to wheel out to the patio (or to the front of the garage in inclement weather). When I move, it'll move with me.
  • Those burners are hella nice.
  • It's efficient - and I don't mean ppg, citizens (although it hits 80% without trying): time is more valuable for the majority of us than another pound or two of base malt.  A 10 gallon AG batch with a single infusion mash takes about 4 hours from heating strike water to pitching yeast (a recent 10-gallon lager brew day with a triple decoction mash took 6 hours).
  • The utility shelf is utile - just lookit how it's holding that pint! 
The utility shelf in action.


  1. I find myself wanting to see pictures of the Top Tier fishing. It would probably make a good rod holder.

    I do enjoy a good Top Tier. I made 2 five-gallon batches on a Top Tier recently. It took just over 5 hours including clean up time (and a stuck sparge).

  2. I once did four different 5 gallon batches, two all-grain and two extract on a top tier in a single brew day. But not all of us can afford that sleek puppy! Some day I'll post about my jenky backyard set-up, complete with pictures of the ledge on the deck that I perch the sparge tank onto (after carrying it up the stairs), the picnic table that the mash tun rests on, and the spot of the lawn where no grass will grow because of the heat output of the banjo burner. Or, perhaps in lieu of posting those pics, I'll just get a better system.

  3. did you just type "hella"?

  4. Could you buy the top tier shelf instead of the utility shelf? I will be having 3 burners on my configuration. I just seems that the top tier shelf is much larger than the utility shelf, and only $5 more.

  5. @Runyanka - Yes, absolutely, although the smaller utility shelf is more difficult to bang your #&?!! head against, and depending on how you set things up, can make tipping and steering the unit easier.