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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: brew-witch on June 08, 2010, 03:53:11 AM

Title: Curious...part 2
Post by: brew-witch on June 08, 2010, 03:53:11 AM
OK, so I'm seeing anywhere from 5 - 20+ different brews going at the same time... and many of you seem to do larger batches (that is, larger than the typical 5 gal)... so my questions are:

1. Where do you find the time to do all this?  :o

2. Where do you keep everything (fermenters, kegs, bottles, massive amounts of equipment)?  :-\

I am starting very small for a number of reasons, but space is the biggest reason.  And time!  I'd rather spend more time (what little of it I have to spare) making a lot of different small batches (3 gal or less even) for more variety (my tastebuds get bored easily) than having 5, 10, or more gallons of the same beer that would take me forever to drink, or even trade with others.  So that leads me to question #3:

3. I want to hear all the pros and cons of making smaller batches (preferably more pros than cons  ;) )

Thanks!
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: a10t2 on June 08, 2010, 04:14:00 AM
2: Until a year ago, I lived in an apartment, and all of my beer equipment had to fit in a closet, plus the kegerator. Bucket fermenters stack, boil kettles nest and sit on top of the propane burner with the chiller inside, miscellaneous equipment inside the mash tun. It was actually the coat closet, and the beer equipment only took up the space from the floor to the bottom of the actual coats.

3: There are only two cons to small batches, IMHO: the extra time commitment per beer, and the fact that not having a keg filled just seems like a waste of space to me. Other than that, you get more experience, more variety, etc.
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 08, 2010, 04:36:47 AM
I have a lot of beers going at one time.

Answers:

1.  I am now retired.  My hobby is a good use of my time.

2. Garage and a room(s) in the basement.

3. Small batches:
Pros - You can experiment with many recipies.   Less mass, can move it easy.  Can't think of much else
Cans - About the same amount of time and effort to make a 10 gallon batch, so the yeild is low.
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: rabid_dingo on June 08, 2010, 06:26:06 AM
Parenthood slowed my production. I went from having 60 gallons of beer stocked for the summer and fall to, well, 10...

1.I shoot for weekends. Even if it is 1-2 weekends a month. Plus, I was furloughed from full time to part time 1.5 years
ago. I pick up the hours I need around my work week and avoid at least one day off, for family or what not. But I manage.
Lately I have enjoyed the early hours. I can get up 3-5 hour earlier that what I am used to and there is sunlight. (some will laugh but getting up at 4:45-6:30am is not normal for me and I see the advantage of having my daily morning routine done with at 9:00am.

2. I have 22-23 ball lock kegs. Once kegged they sit right outside the keggerator to the right. I have to
admit I cannot park a car in my two-car garage...  :-[ I am horrible of keeping a timely schedule with primary and
after. Some beers cross the 4-6 week line in primary. I have never worried and they are all fine. They go right to keg.

3. I figure that I don't bottle much anymore and I have yet to get the 2.5 or 3 gallon kegs so might as well
go for the 5 or 10 gallon batch. My last one was the imperial porter 10 gallon batch and It took an extra
3 hours but only because of the additional time it took to heat strike water and heat to boiling once
the wort was collected (I was at the very limit of my max volume for mash tun and boil kettle) Normal 10
gallon batches are only an hour difference for me.

Pros- conducive to small breweries' needs.
Cons- limited supply, even if there is a lot of variety. You still run out faster of each batch.

Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: dean on June 08, 2010, 11:06:00 AM
I have to agree with a10t2, you can adapt quicker with small batches so you gain experience faster.   Three gallon batches would be good, if you like beer anything smaller might tick you off if you make  a really good batch when its gone, but you can have another batch conditioning behind it.  

I guess it really doesn't matter what volume you brew, the problem seems to be storing what you have brewed.  If you make a good batch and don't have a replacement ready then you're still going to have to wait for the next batch to finish which means you're going to wait for nature to fulfill its destiny and that will be at its own pace.  Too many people want to rush the process, I've done it and sometimes I still do it.  If I didn't procrastinate so much I'd have plenty of beer on hand at all times and there is always someplace to tuck a keg away or case(s) of bottled beer.

Brew with what you have available, brew as often as you can and feel like it.  Yeh, it takes time but you do have time if you plan it and stick to your plan, understand that it won't brew itself and that it takes just as much time to brew 3 gallons as it takes to brew 5 gallons, even 10+ gallons takes nearly the same amount of time.  LME is quicker to start with but it also costs more per batch "initially".  Cost can be prohibitive as much as time or space.  But with LME you don't have as much equipment involved and each batch is more likely to be a success until you become more experienced doing AG.  We say AG gives you more control and that is true, but it is easier to mess up a batch... being the control freaks we are and so we have to own up to those bad batches.   :D

Just Do It... one or the other... damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!   :D
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: majorvices on June 08, 2010, 11:25:18 AM
Let me start this by saying that right now I have a 1 bbl brewery on my back porch and a 42 gallon conical fermenter in my garage that is controlled by an upright freezer. This equipment is only 1/4 mine though.

I also have 2 other 14 cu ft deep chest freezers in my garage, one for fermenting and one for lagering. Plus another 14 cu ft chest freezer in my pub room for serving. My homebrew set up is a 12 gallon system.

As far as where I keep it all, I have to admit, it is all over the damn place but most of it does get crammed into a junk room when not in use.

As far as the time goes, I don't know what to tell you. I find it easy to brew a batch on the weekend and I can pretty much brew around whatever I am doing (cut the grass, throw ball with the kids, even go out for a 6 mile run.) There are lots of down times in the brewing process. A 6 hour brew day (I brew all grain) really only has about 2 hours of solid work.

Brewing is far from my only gig, too. I also am an avid back packer and hiker. I run 30 miles or so a week. Plus I have 2 kids, 2 dogs and a 7 acre piece of property to maintain. Plus I ride motorcycles, lift weights, dabble in martial arts from time to time.

I also watch absolutely 0 hours of TV during the week so I get a lot of stuff done.
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: dean on June 08, 2010, 11:51:50 AM

I also watch absolutely 0 hours of TV during the week so I get a lot of stuff done.

+1, TV is a huge drain on anything and everything... yet I still watch certain shows and the news.  Lately I've been building a deck and I'm eyeballing it as a nice place to brew outside too.  SWMBO says no though because I've got a brewshed for that now.  ;D 
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: 4swan on June 08, 2010, 11:55:07 AM
3. cons: santiation takes just as long for a 3 gallon batch versus 5 gallons.
pro: experiment with recipes (as stated earlier),  more variety available for guests, don't need to bother with starters, don't need as much space,  easier to clean up if you have a small kitchen (I often bonk the cabinets when cleaning my ten gallon pot.)
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: dean on June 08, 2010, 12:14:08 PM
Thinking about it more, I'm not sure batches smaller than 5 gallons actually give you more experience.  If brew-witch doesn't spend the time brewing for whatever reasons brew-witch might have then she isn't going to gain anything more.  If time and space for equipment are her issues then she should brew standard 5 gallon batches using Liquid Malt Extract.  She would save the expense of a mashtun, some tubing, possibly a grain mill, another burner or heating element, less gas or electricity and HLT (some people use their BK for dual purpose HLT/BK).  Most yeasts sold are pitchable for moderate gravities so she wouldn't have to split her yeast down and worry about how to save the remaining yeast and keeping it from becoming contaminated between brews.  I think in her case maybe she should stick with 5 gallon batches and use LME having little outlay for equipment expenses and space required for the extra equipment which would outweigh the cost of LME... in her case mind you.  Jmo...  :-\
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: theDarkSide on June 08, 2010, 12:19:16 PM
1.  My wife does scrapbooking and will go to these all day sessions, so I have some leverage when I say I want to brew.  I typically brew only on weekends and try to start as early as possible so I can have a big chunk of the day to do all the other stuff.  I try to do as much as I can the night before ( crushing grain, getting water setup ) so it takes less time on brew day.  I do all grain and it takes about 5 hours from flame on to clean up.  I want to try a night time brew session one of these days, like Friday after work.  I just gotta watch the consumption during that time ( I don't usually drink during my morning brew sessions ).

2.  All my equipment is in my basement.  I have a walkout so it's eay to move stuff right outside from the basement door.  My wife gets the dining room for her scrapbooking and I get the basement, but at least I get to decorate the way I want.

3.  Making smaller batches will give you the ability to fine tune a recipe.  Also, some styles don't hang around long so the faster the are drank, the better.  On the flip side, some styles get better with aging, so if you are going to put all that time into aging a beer, it would be nice to have the bigger batch.


Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: brew-witch on June 08, 2010, 12:42:42 PM
Thanks dean (and everyone) for the input.

I do understand that it takes just as long to brew 10 gal as 3... I'm just amazed at how much you all have going at the same time, lol!  Time is an issue as I work 6 days a week, but I have a lot of odd time available most days that can be used, and my weekends are usually filled with kayaking and/or hiking (+1 on the no tv, majorvices... except of course during hockey season... and baseball if i'm home to watch the games... work schedule always seems to correspond with ball games  :P )

Space will continue to be an issue as I have a big kitchen but I'm also an herbalist and have about 50 mason jars of dried herbs and that equipment in the pantry along with cases of beer bottles. And I have a basement, but share that space with the neighbors.. and soon some of my space will be taken up by a new 14' kayak.

So, I guess I'm looking for some support in doing my little 3-5 gal batches and keeping maybe just 2 or 3 going at any given time (so there is always variety as well as a steady supply).  Maybe when I can afford a kegging setup, I might increase production since (I'm guessing?) kegs won't take up as much space (or time) as bottles.  Though some bottles are nice for trading with other brewing friends. 

And yes, my plan for now is to stick with LME and just do some experimenting with that.  That's a big pull for me - experimenting and variety, and while I know I could hit something awesome and only have a small batch of it, I could just as well have a disaster and not have 10gal of it to dump.  My rationalization around this is that if I take good enough notes (which I am very Type-A about) I can probably come pretty close to re-creating that great batch if I wanted.

So thanks again all!  I will continue with my small batches and hope that I won't get laughed at by the big boys with their big toys  ;)
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: dean on June 08, 2010, 12:51:57 PM
Hey, no problem, we all like telling other people how to or what to do.   :D  Sometimes when I've screwed up a batch, I wish I'd stuck with LME... but then I get over it and make another batch.   ;D  :D

Good luck, keep us posted on your venture.   :)
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: tygo on June 08, 2010, 01:46:39 PM
1.  My wife does scrapbooking and will go to these all day sessions, so I have some leverage when I say I want to brew.  I typically brew only on weekends and try to start as early as possible so I can have a big chunk of the day to do all the other stuff.  I try to do as much as I can the night before ( crushing grain, getting water setup ) so it takes less time on brew day.  I do all grain and it takes about 5 hours from flame on to clean up.  I want to try a night time brew session one of these days, like Friday after work.  I just gotta watch the consumption during that time ( I don't usually drink during my morning brew sessions ).


This is pretty much how I work it except that I need to get my wife a hobby like that  ;)

I often do night sessions and it's a nice compromise if somewhat tiring and there is the issue of consumption monitoring so you don't end up forgetting to put the hops in or pitch the yeast.  I usually try to get the strike water going right after dinner while doing kitchen clean up.  Then mash in before it's time for the kid's bath.  By the time bath time and bedtime are done I'm ready to start the runoff so it works out pretty well that way and I can usually finish up by 11:00 or so.  The times I've waited to start the brew session until later it was pretty rough.
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: Slowbrew on June 08, 2010, 03:13:34 PM
The nice thing about this hobby (or any hobby, really) is how and what you brew is up to you.  If it works for you, then it's perfect.

In my case, I usually brew 2 beers on a brew day.  Many times I will take day off work on Friday while no one else is home.  If I need to fit a session in on a Saturday, I have been know to get rolling at 3:00 AM so I'm done by 9:00.  Then it's off to softball, basketball, marching band or whatever, depending on the time of year.  My 4 kids keep me hopping.

I have 14 kegs (9 - 12 in some state of "full" at any given time) that I store in a custom built cabinet in my basement word working shop/store room for all the crap that won't fit anywhere else.  8^)  Out of 8 sets of Gorilla shelving units I get about one unit for beer stuff.

We added a room w/basement to our house a few years back so gained a ton of space for a cleanup area, storage, shop and kegerator so I'm pretty lucky.

Good luck with you brewing and do what works for you.

Paul
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: richardt on June 08, 2010, 04:42:42 PM
I recently jumped up to All-Grain 10 gallon batches outside on the Banjo burner (from partial grain/extract 5 gallon batches on the stove top).  While waiting for my AG equipment to come together--I researched my local water profile (and figured out why it is horrible for most of the beers I want to brew).  Both significantly improved the quality of the beers I make (i.e., going AG and using better water).

With regards to equipment, among the best advice I got was "get a bigger kettle that can handle a 10 gallon batch" (15 gallon is OK, but 20 gallon is preferable).  Sometimes the BrewSmith recipe calls for 15.5 or 16 gallons of pre-boil wort... so, with a 20 gallon kettle, I don't have boilover problems (less mess, and less worry).

Like you, my time is precious (family and kids in all the sports), so I take advantage of the 10 gallon batch size.  I often split up the batches.  I may do 5 gallons with one type of yeast and 5 gallons with another type of yeast.  Or, in the secondary, I may split them again and do 2.5 gallons with spices and 2.5 gallons w/o spices.  The result is 2 or 4 different beers within a similar style out of one brew day. 

It's not quite the same thing as "partigyle" where one takes the first runnings and makes a strong beer from it (high OG) and uses the second (and subsequent) runnings to make other beers (with lower OG's).  Although doing it that way gives you more beer styles with one brew day.
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: jeffy on June 08, 2010, 07:01:09 PM
Where do I find the time?  I brew roughly once a month, more or less, usually 10 gallons.  I set aside the day to brew and generally get some other chores done during the "rests."  The other weekends of the month usually get a little time for kegging, bottling for competitions and cleaning/transferring/testing/improving stuff.

Where do I keep everything?  A couple years ago I got permission from my lovely wife to buy a nice new shed, which I insulated and put a window A/C unit in.  I keep it cool enough to age ales and I store most of the stuff in there, but I also have a very large back porch making it easy to store my brewery, which is on wheels.  We have no kids.  I think that makes a lot of difference.

Pros of small batches?  None unless you plan on making beer you may not want to drink. ;)  You can always take some of the larger batch and experiment with those things you're curious about.  I often split my ten gallon batches into two yeast experiments.

We do have a guy in our club who makes 1-gallon batches of beer and cider.  By the time he sends some off to a competition it's almost all gone.  But he does have quite a variety..... 
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: richardt on June 08, 2010, 07:20:18 PM
That was the problem I had with my 2.5 gallon "Mr Beer" kit.  Each batch I did only yielded 13 bombers (22 oz) or 26 bottles (12 oz).  That's not very many if you're giving some to friends.

It's funny how one's definition of friend changes as the beer stock diminishes; it has some parallels to the "Spongeworthy" Seinfeld episode. 

Is your friend "homebrewworthy?"  Brewing 10 gallons makes the decision easier. ;D
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: hike20 on June 08, 2010, 07:35:09 PM
I only brew 2.5 gallon batches (not Mr. Beer) and really enjoy it. Saying that it takes the same amount of time to do 2.5, 5, 10 etc. gallons is not really true. Yes, certain parts take the same amount of time, such as the boil, but I can heat 2.5 gallons to boil in a lot less time (and less fuel) than 5 gallons, and 10 gallons would take forever with my equipment. Yes, I could throw more money into more powerful burners, but people aways assume that all things are equal. Cooling the wort is also much quicker and simpler without needing to buy or make a chiller. Since I have no money or space for kegging, fewer bottles to clean, sanitize and fill means much less time too. Plus finding space to store all of those bottles is difficult for me as well.

Other things I like: I can brew more frequently without figuring out what to do with all that beer. My wife doesn't drink, and most of my friends either don't drink or drink mostly wine. I enjoy having as much variety as I want without the hassle. This also gives me the chance to learn more by brewing more batches. I look at brewing as something I really enjoy, not just another chore I go through to keep in supply. The process as as much fun for me as enjoying the crafted brew that results from it. I'm also using the variety I'm making to induce those wine drinking friends to take another look at beer, and some of them have even asked to come over and help brew.

So basically work in a scale and system that is comfortable for YOU. Don't worry about others who think they have to look down their uplifted noses at other brewers just because they use a different method. The key is to really enjoy what you are doing.
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: dbeechum on June 08, 2010, 08:09:33 PM
For me, I brew, when active, once every couple of weeks until I'm out of space. :)

I also brew 10 gallons, but I actively look for ways to pull more than one batch out of each run.
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: lazydog79 on June 09, 2010, 12:50:58 PM
I didn't sound of on your first post because I felt like so much of a small-fry!  :P  Turns out I'm not that bad.  I usually do 5 gallon batches as I am pretty much the sole consumer of my product.  I wouldn't know what to do with more beer!   Well, I would, but I know I shouldn't!  8)  I usually have somewhere between 4-6 different beers I'm drinking - I get bored too.

Time is a major issue for me as well.  Between work, parenting, etc, etc, I am doing good to get a brew a month or so off.  My goal is to produce enough for my own consumption.  As long as I get that done, I'm happy.  I also try to plan it out well.  For example, I'm planning on doing an Oktoberfest next week that will be occupying my fridge for a while.  Consequently, I tried to get all of my summer needs met beforehand.

As for 3 gallon batches, I would say the big pro of that is 1) as you said, space 2) more variety 3) an untested recipe or 4) something you don't want a lot of.  For awhile, I did 3 gallon batches of untested recipes so that if they were bad, I wouldn't have 2 cases of crap!  I got away from doing that, though, when my daughter was born.  Now, brew days are precious, and you can make 5 gallons in the time it takes you to make 3!  I will still do a 3 batch if it's something I just don't want 2+ cases of.

Bottom line - do what you do and don't worry about everybody else.  That's what is so great about homebrewing - you can go your own way.  I like the way the Norther Brewer blog said it best: http://northernbrewer.blogspot.com/2010/03/subsistence-brewing.html (http://northernbrewer.blogspot.com/2010/03/subsistence-brewing.html)  Prosit!
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: dean on June 09, 2010, 02:11:12 PM
lazydog79, it sounds to me like you have your game plan worked out pretty well and only brewing what you can drink or will drink makes perfect sense to me.  I used to brew more when my son and daughters were around to consume my brewing habit but now its primarily just me so I've slowed down, way down.  I'm also hankering for lower abv beer lately. 
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: kgs on June 09, 2010, 08:33:51 PM

As for 3 gallon batches, I would say the big pro of that is 1) as you said, space 2) more variety 3) an untested recipe or 4) something you don't want a lot of.  For awhile, I did 3 gallon batches of untested recipes so that if they were bad, I wouldn't have 2 cases of crap!  I got away from doing that, though, when my daughter was born.  Now, brew days are precious, and you can make 5 gallons in the time it takes you to make 3!  I will still do a 3 batch if it's something I just don't want 2+ cases of.

I do small batches for all of the reasons noted above, plus the ease of the physical process, and for me the big prep on brew day is cleaning/sanitizing, plus organizing the production line, etc. So doing 2 small batches in a row has worked for me. Come to think of it, if I built a second mash tun I could easily mash both batches simultaneously and do two consecutive boils. But whatever gives you a fun brew day is what it's about!
Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: richardt on June 09, 2010, 08:53:06 PM
...doing 2 small batches in a row has worked for me. Come to think of it, if I built a second mash tun I could easily mash both batches simultaneously and do two consecutive boils.

If you want the fermentability characteristics to be the same for both batches, make sure you mash out (temps above 170) both batches for 10 minutes or so to deactivate (denature) the enzymes.  This will fix the sugar profile while you boil consecutively.  If you didn't, then the second batch would have more time convert the sugars (less dextrins, less body/mouthfeel, drier).

Quote
But whatever gives you a fun brew day is what it's about!

Agree.  It should be fun for you.  It's not the size of the batch, it's what you do with it.  :D

Title: Re: Curious...part 2
Post by: weithman5 on June 09, 2010, 09:16:47 PM
on a similar note i have been pondering something along the lines of blending runoffs or changing mid stream,  say take the first run off of a rye and munich then add new grain such as wheat and pale to the tun. or run two separate tuns.  especially pondering if one of the runoffs can be quickly refrigerated ( say the one with a high gravity)  then added on top of the yeast of the low gravity one a week later when it gets racked off.....thus a second brew day from one mash and one starter.