« on: January 18, 2017, 05:16:54 PM »
I started with 5 gal batches, scaled up to 10 gal for a few, then dropped back to 3 gal for a year before coming back to 6 gal as my sweet spot. Small batch brewing was fun though and I still do some that way.
1. What's your usual batch size? -3 gal, unless I split a 5.5 gal batch into two 3 gal glass carboys.
2. Why do you brew small batches? - More variety, fresher beer, so many recipes and so little time
3. Do you brew, extract, partial mash, all grain? - AG
4. What's your basic process? I.E., BIAB, tiny cooler (😉), just stir in the extract, etc.
I actually do use a 5 gal Igloo cooler with a braid for the mash tun. I use a pony keg as a HLT and boil in my 10 gallon Polarware.
5. Do you have a favorite piece of equipment that you like to use especially for small batches? - The tiny cooler is key.
6. If you've brewed larger batches how would you comapre the two in terms of effort? Time? Equipment needs? Recipe consistency? -
For me the smaller batches are kind of awkward for my system for a couple reasons. Mainly, the HLT doesn't pull siphon easily with volumes under about 3.5 gallons. I can burp the line a little bit and get it to siphon through, but it's kind of sketchy with near-boiling sparge water. Also, the temp probe in my Polarware kettle is just a bit too high to read a 3-gallon volume, and the immersion chiller is partially sticking out of the wort, so it's less efficiently cooling. As for effort, it's pretty much the same as doing a 5 or 6 gallon batch, which is a big reason why I don't do small batches as often. I'd rather brew a "standard" bigger batch of beer and just bring more growlers when I hang out with friends. My efficiencies were consistent with what I typically get - 75 to 80%.
7. What am I missing that should be known about small batch brewing?
I don't know what you know, so I can't say what you're missing! It was a great way to audition a bunch of different beer styles and expand my brewing repertoire a bit. You can experiment with recipes without such a commitment. Once the base recipe is kind of fine-tuned, I think it's more valuable to split a 5 gallon batch into two 3 gallon carboys (or pails) and test variables that way (yeast, dry hops, other additions, etc.)
Good luck with the book!