noah, i want you to build an oast

January 2, 2015

What’s an oast?  It’s a hops-dryer.  A very-low-temp kiln.  It’s a box, sometimes with heat, that transfers air through harvested hops cones and gently, quickly dries them in such a way that preserves the acids and oils needed to transform hops into brewers’ vegetative ninjas.  It just so happens that my to-do list for winter 2014 includes:

  • Secure a tiller with more integrity and efficiency than a 1974 Monty Ward model (orange);

  • Secure a tractor that freakin’ starts when you turn the stupid key;

  • Build an OAST

  • Build a hops picker for WAAAAY less than the $4000 they’re being sold for locally

  • Create a decent packaging system (including nitrogen-flushing functionality??)

  • Ponder future


So per #3 above, I’ve built an oast, inspired by the University of Vermont Extension Service.  And perhaps IKEA.


 History provides three basic models to guide the nascent oast builder:

  • Barn-style oast.  Used in the middle ages to apparently process large quantities of hops with large quantities of labor.  (How did these people make a living?)  It’s basically a barn-sized chimney.  I actually know a great place to (re)build a barn, but don’t think I have the time or hand-quarried stone or technical common sense to pull one of those off.

  • Space-consuming monstrosity style:   Used to process about one acre of hops in an over-engineered-by-smarty-pants-engineers pursuit.  This design is designed to make you give up.  It’s a pain in the   ...ear...    that takes up ridiculous quantities of real estate and ultimately supports the boxed wine industry.

  • Wooden box with an attached fan. Ding diiiing!  (2 months ago:  "Heck, I can make one of those with some scrap wood from demo and a handful of deck screws!  Shoot, that’ll just take me a couple hours!")


And here it is, transforming IKEA-style from oast to garage-grade work bench:



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