I got a new brewery recently, the MoreBeer 1550 “Tippy.” It is a 3-tier brewery with a sturdy frame, three 15-gallon (58 L) vessels made of heavy-grade stainless steel and all stainless fittings. A pump moves liquids around the brewery.
Some folks recommend that brewers first do a “water brew” on their system, heating and pumping the water around the brewery to find out such things as how long it takes to heat the brewing liquor, the volume of the dead spaces (under the false bottom in the lauter tun, in the tubing, etc.) and the evaporation rate in the kettle. This is a very prudent way to approach learning about a new brewery, so of course I didn’t do that — I just jumped right in.
My first “test” brew was an IPA. I knew going in it was going to be a learning experience, and I hadn’t even calibrated the HLT sight glass or made a dip stick for the kettle. Still, I figured I could wing it and still crank out a decent brew. And, more importantly, I’d get to know the system so my next brew would go more smoothly. I ended up with a little less volume, and slightly higher gravity, than I expected, but I think the beer will be OK. (It’s kegged now, but I haven’t sampled any yet.)