The key to the latter is two fold. First, we got ourselves a water filtration system (I'm sure someone will post about this later), which drastically decreased the amount of time we spent running to the market for more filtered water (it also saved us $20 or so). The second was a brilliant innovation from Brendan.
We've got two of these 10-gallon water coolers, the vertical kind like you see at football games. One is used as a sparge water tank, and the other has a removeable false bottom and we use it as a lader tun (god knows if I'm spelling that right). For the last few brews, we've mashed in the brew kettle. This is good because it allows us to keep the temperature of the mash stable (since it's over the heat), but bad because after the mash is over, we have to manually scoop out the oatmeal-like mash and place it in the lader tun. Perhaps not the best strategy.
Well, these 10 gallon water coolers keep heat seriously well. So we figure, heat the water to like 170, transfer to the lader tun, mix, and mash in the lader tun. No transfer necessary, and we can heat the 12 gallons of sparge water while the grain is mashing. Needless to say, it worked brilliantly and shaved an hour off of our brew time.
This was also our first IPA, and the first time we've used more than four ounces of hops in a single batch. We ended up using almost 10 ounces of hops. After the boil, we were left with a huge mass of hops at the bottom of our kettle:
This was also the first time that we totally messed up when using the wort chiller. We accidentally turned the hose pressure on too high... this caused the hose and hose clamp to slip off of the copper chiller and send high velocity water spraying all over the brew area. The damange to the wort was minimal, but there was water everywhere... even on the ceiling:
The IPA recipe that we used will be forthcoming...