true, but I actually like the slight caramelization from a partial boil. The
protiens can be mostly removed with additives (moss/gypsum), and decanting
twice: to a secondary fermenter and then to a bottling container. Then a
good time sitting in the cold, and my beers have decent clarity. I also do
some kegging (old 5 gal soda kegs) and did buy the equipment for filtration
down to 1 micron. For "light" beers this step really needs to happen, so it
was sort of a trade-off as opposed to a chiller and an expensive kettle -
plus the gas bill from boiling 5 gallons for an hour! Besides, we all need
as much protien in our diets as possible!
What did you mean by "messes up" the hops?
Let us not forget that the more implements we use in brewing, the more
chances there are for contamination. A chiller, plus the (?) siphon to get
the wort out of the kettle sans protien could lead to more problems...
I just got back into LA over the weekend after a vacation (that included a fair amount of beer, wine, and scotch tasting) and am catching back up with life in LA-LA-Land. I think you'll have fun brewing beer, and as a chemist you'll also have a grasp of the science behind the process, which always makes it more interesting. You could brew lager, as Robert suggested, and in fact during my last winter in Missoula I just turned down the thermostat and brewed a couple of batches of pilsner with one of my student neighbors whom I was teaching to brew (we did a double decoction mash--a lot of work). I also had some ales going at the same time, and I used electric blankets (set at an empirically-derived value based on temp readings of a water-filled fermentor) and frequent temp readings to keep everything under control. Nowadays I use a Johnson digital controller in conjunction with a thermowell and electric fermentor wrap. This keeps the temps within +/- 1 degree F of the set fermentation temperature and is worth every penny spent. Fermentation temp can exceed ambient temp by a fair amount when the fermentation is really rocking (a lot of pent-up energy there).
My brother, who recently started to brew, made his own copper immersion chiller. I saw it a couple of weeks ago when I was up in the Bay Area (my homeland), and it looked like it would do the job well. I'm too lazy these days to make one and simply bought it online. However, when I first began to brew (in Montana) I would just put the covered cooling tun in a tub of cold water and stir occasionally and the temp would come down to pitching range in an hour or two, and while not theoretically ideal for a cold break it still produced some decent beers (since my original impetus in brewing was to experiment with how ancient ales were made I started off with some pretty primitive equipment). A corollary advantage was the whirlpool effect generated by the stirring--I would siphon the cooled wort into the primary fermentor and trub/hop residue would be left behind.
An apartment can be a tight place to brew, but I can tell you that it is possible. One of the most important things is to have a kitchen-dining area that is carpet-free (I'm reminded of a time when I took a break from lautering a batch and, thinking I had safely clipped the outlet tube, returned to find a couple of quarts of sticky wort pooling on the floor). If you'll be doing extract or partial mash I imagine it will be easier.
Feel free to ask me any questions you may have, and I will do my best to answer. You will get some good responses from people here.
I remember seeing B*****s Brew on the shelves a while back. I never bought any for some reason, and didn't even make the connection with Miles Davis. Bummer. I have the live Fillmore recording with that track, too (although the reissue CD, not the vinyl like Big Brother has--cool), so there's no excuse. I did see that episode, though. I've only managed to catch a couple of the episodes, but my favorite was probably the one where the 120 Minute IPA (which I HAVE tasted) had attenuation problems. They had to dump the batch after a lot of troubleshooting, but I was wondering why they never considered adding enzymes to hydrolyze the unfermentables a bit more. It seemed as though the yeast were fine (etc.), which would suggest a possible mash temp problem (e.g. too high). In any case, I've never used enzymes in this regard so there may well be practical considerations I don't know about that would preclude their use in such a context.