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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: oscarvan on November 23, 2010, 08:14:40 am

Title: Small batches.....
Post by: oscarvan on November 23, 2010, 08:14:40 am
For now I'm working off kits/recipes from allegedly reliable sources. BUT I have some ideas I want to try out. Now, trying something and finding it doesn't work and chucking it is one thing. Finding out it doesn't work and chucking FIVE GALLONS of it is another thing.

How do people do small batches? Does one simply divide the recipe by five and then ferment in a growler? What do you do with the rest of the yeast, hops that comes in quantities made for 5 gallon batches.....?
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: weithman5 on November 23, 2010, 08:26:21 am
for the most part you can do a direct ratio at the volumes you are brewing. you can store hops if you are careful. the yeast you may want to consider not pitching the entire packet and building a small starter out of part of it.  should work fine. I still ferment in a bucket and mine have drain valves on the side. my big issue is kegging.  kind of disheartening to put 2 or 3 gallons in a 5 gal corny and smaller kegs are expensive.  I have thought about lagering in them and then transferring to bottles, but then don't get to use a keezer very well.
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: ethalacker on November 23, 2010, 08:27:45 am
Store the left overs or do a couple of experimental batches in the same day.
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: kgs on November 23, 2010, 08:46:51 am
For now I'm working off kits/recipes from allegedly reliable sources. BUT I have some ideas I want to try out. Now, trying something and finding it doesn't work and chucking it is one thing. Finding out it doesn't work and chucking FIVE GALLONS of it is another thing.

How do people do small batches? Does one simply divide the recipe by five and then ferment in a growler? What do you do with the rest of the yeast, hops that comes in quantities made for 5 gallon batches.....?

"Think small" defines my homebrewing operation. Most of my 20-odd brews have been small batches (2 - 4 gallons) both to make it easier on me physically and to experiment/learn. I use a digital scale to measure out hops, which I would do anyway--I store the rest sealed tight and frozen (thinking of getting one of those sealers), though I'm considering upgrading to a more precise scale ( possibly http://www.amazon.com/American-Weigh-Signature-AWS-100-Digital/dp/B0012LOQUQ/ ). I use the full amount of yeast, and I  make a starter if I'm using liquid yeast. BrewSmith software is helpful for scaling, though a spreadsheet works well too. Depending on the size of the batch, I ferment in either a 3- or 5-gallon Better Bottle carboy. I mash in a 5-gallon mash-tun, and boil in an 8-gallon kettle. I even bottle about half of each batch in 7-ounce splits. If the batch is small enough, I can even boil it on the kitchen stove.

Depending on what you're after, you can still brew a full batch and then split it into carboys which get different flavors/dry-hops/yeast/etc (wish I had done this before I used fenugreek in an entire 5-gallon batch... glad I did this in my gingered-ale experiment).  But brewing small has its advocates. I figure if I can spend all day on a meal that will be devoured in less than an hour I can spend an afternoon making 3 or 4 sixpacks of beer.

If you go to an LHBS, if they do a double-take at your recipe (which they will if they're paying attention), just explain it's for a small batch.
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: a10t2 on November 23, 2010, 09:00:15 am
One pack/vial of liquid yeast is about right for a 2-gal batch of ale. If you're using dry, I'd just pitch half and throw out the rest. Not worth risking contamination or loss of viability to save $1-2 IMHO.
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: oscarvan on November 23, 2010, 09:02:02 am
Got the digital scale..... but why use all the yeast? The pack I used for my first batch was for 5 gallons.... or do they come in different sizes?
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: dmtaylor on November 23, 2010, 09:02:38 am
I am a 2.5-gallon brewer.  Actually I went from 2.5 to 3 gallons, then recently back to 2.5 gallons again.  Reason being is that I have so many experimental recipes that I want to try making, but I am not a real big drinker and don't give a ton of it away either.  So right now, for instance, I have 3 different batches in fermenters, and a good ~4 cases of beer in my basement, and at the rate I drink it, it doesn't make any sense for me to be making any more than a couple of gallons at a time because it takes up so much space until I get around to drinking it.

Yeah, just split the batches any way you like.  If you want to make 3-gallon batches, use 3/5 as much as you would use for 5 gallons.  The math is even easier if you go to 2.5-gallon batches, then just split everything in half.  Store most of the remaining ingredients in your refrigerator.  Grain lasts for years with no refrigeration needed.  Hops will last for years in the freezer but can also last for up to a year in the refrigerator if well sealed.  Yeast has the shortest life.  Dry yeast lasts for a couple years in your refrigerator, while liquid yeast only lasts for about 6 to 9 months.  Always a good idea to make a yeast starter anyways.

Smaller batches allow you to experiment more.  For guys like me, it is the only way to go.
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: weithman5 on November 23, 2010, 09:15:51 am
DAVE

do you make many lagers, or keg any?  I am thinking of alternatives to the normal kegging process, and i am not a big fan of bottle conditioning.  i think i may just use one or two corny or even the hdpe spray bottles you can buy at home depot for lagering, conditioning, and then transfer under co2 to bottles. maybe it is a waste of time
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: kgs on November 23, 2010, 09:16:18 am
Got the digital scale..... but why use all the yeast? The pack I used for my first batch was for 5 gallons.... or do they come in different sizes?

For dry yeast, I've been going by the assumption that a little extra dry yeast can't hurt, and once a packet is opened it will degrade fast. I did ask my LHBS once about over-pitching and was told it's impossible to over-pitch. Not sure about that but feel that pitching twice as much isn't harmful, and it's easier/more sanitary to pitch a whole packet than to dry to split it up.
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: weithman5 on November 23, 2010, 09:51:18 am
dry yeast should keep fine.  could also pitch the whole thing and harvest the slurry.  manner of taste, time, motivation.  dry yeast not particularly expensive. 
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: BrewingRover on November 23, 2010, 10:16:20 am
Got the digital scale..... but why use all the yeast? The pack I used for my first batch was for 5 gallons.... or do they come in different sizes?
Wyeast smackpacks aren't really enough yeast for 5 gallons of anything over 1.040 or so. They'll still work for bigger beers but you're better off making a starter.

I also brew small batches of beers that I know I'll like but my wife won't. You can ferment in a five gallon carboy with no worries and a bigger bucket should be fine, too. I have a couple of three gallon carboys I use for bulk aging of bigger beers.
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: majorvices on November 23, 2010, 10:23:25 am
FYI: 5 gallons IS a small batch. ;)
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: EHall on November 23, 2010, 11:43:16 am
I do test batches of 1gal sometimes when I wanna try something and don't think I want 5+gals of it. ( Idid a series of test batches using kaffir lime leaves and am glad I didn't brew 5gal at a time of some of them) I use a 2gal cooler with a screen at the bottom, 1 gal jugs to ferment in. So far I've pitched the entire packet or vile of yeast in with no noticable ill effects... I'll also do 2.5-3gal batches of something thats usually 7% or higher, usually anything thats going to be bottled and aged for a while... Even though its almost the same amount of time to do a smaller batch than 5+gal, I like being able to try something and tweak it til I like it w/o having to go thru 5gals of it... only so much room/time to drink...
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: oscarvan on November 23, 2010, 11:47:37 am
Good answers everyone, thanks.....
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: majorvices on November 23, 2010, 12:07:07 pm
Check out this link on small batch brewing.

http://www.byo.com/stories/techniques/article/indices/19-brewing-tips/1410-small-scale-brewing
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: dmtaylor on November 23, 2010, 01:31:38 pm
do you make many lagers, or keg any?  I am thinking of alternatives to the normal kegging process, and i am not a big fan of bottle conditioning.  i think i may just use one or two corny or even the hdpe spray bottles you can buy at home depot for lagering, conditioning, and then transfer under co2 to bottles. maybe it is a waste of time

Yes, I do lagers.  Worried about lagering a smaller volume?  Don't be.  I still use plastic buckets for lagering as well as all other fermentation, and they've treated me fine.  If you have any concerns, you could use growlers or other smaller containers to lager in.

Funny you should mention kegging...... Yes, being the non-conventional guy that I am, I just started kegging the last couple of batches using the Heineken mini-kegs, and it works like a charm.  No need for any fancy setup.  Just a few bucks and you'll be ready to roll with these mini-kegs, which hold 5 liters.  So what I'll often be doing is kegging a portion of the batch, then bottling the rest to share with friends or to send off to competitions, etc.  See the following link for detailed information on the Heineken mini-kegging stuff.

http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=21461
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: weithman5 on November 23, 2010, 02:02:09 pm
dave thanks for the info. it is really the kegging issue that i have been struggling with.  though i shouldn't worry
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: oscarvan on November 23, 2010, 07:35:17 pm
Check out this link on small batch brewing.

http://www.byo.com/stories/techniques/article/indices/19-brewing-tips/1410-small-scale-brewing

Very nice....
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: capozzoli on November 23, 2010, 07:46:49 pm
Im into this idea.I think I am going to go small. I dont drink a whole lot and it is getting longer and longer between brews,

I want a stove top brew set up and more frequent brews.

Someday I would like to have a little brewery in my house, it will have to be in the next house though.

With small batches I think I can get more brew days in to practice and I can experiment more.

I think this small batch brewing is for me. Than Im gonna set a rule that beer bottles dont leave the house.I given away so many beers with the promise that I will get my liter eazy cap bottle back and I never do.

Drink it here or dont drink it at all.  ;D
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: weithman5 on November 29, 2010, 02:29:41 pm
In light of downsizing and the recent turkey dinner I have pondered this:  We cooked turkey in an 18qt electric roaster oven.  I am pondering using this for almost the entire brew day.  for 2 gallon batches, it can be used as a tun, heat source is controllable, can pull the grain out from a grain bag (similar to brew in a bag)  then boil in the thing.  anybody have any thoughts?
Title: Re: Small batches.....
Post by: tschmidlin on November 29, 2010, 02:41:31 pm
In light of downsizing and the recent turkey dinner I have pondered this:  We cooked turkey in an 18qt electric roaster oven.  I am pondering using this for almost the entire brew day.  for 2 gallon batches, it can be used as a tun, heat source is controllable, can pull the grain out from a grain bag (similar to brew in a bag)  then boil in the thing.  anybody have any thoughts?
Do you mean relevant thoughts, or thoughts in general? ;)

It's worth experimenting if you're banned from the kitchen, but 2 gallons is easy enough to do one my stovetop that I probably wouldn't fuss with it.