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brewing all-grain with less water

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Hello everyone,

longtime lurker, first time poster. I've been partial mash/extract brewing from about one year and a half. I've done five batches and have been pleased with the results.

I have three questions (for now! ha ha) about all-grain.

1. How do you guys feel about halfing recipes? (cutting the recipe in half, making 2.5 gallon instead of the full five)

2. Is it possible to extract sugars mashing/sparging with less water than 1.1qt. / ~ 1 lb grain ratio?

3. I understand some integrity of the brew is lost, but is possible to do a 3 gallonish wort and add water to make the full five with all-grain as is often done with extract brewing?

klickitat jim:
My answers to all three would be yes, ish.

1. Sure no problem.
2. Yes, but too thick or too thin creates issues.
3. Yes you can but your mash running will have to be strong obviously

What makes you want to do this?

1. The only downside to brewing smaller batches is that it takes about the same amount of time to produce less beer. That could be a good thing too, if it means you get to brew more as you're starting out.

2. Mash thickness has very little effect on anything as long as it's within reason. I personally would suggest mashing around 1.5-2 qt/lb if you can. It's just so much easier to work with. Below around 0.8 qt/lb you need some sort of grist hydrator just to get everything mixed.

3. It's possible, especially for low-gravity beers. Above a certain point your efficiency will start dropping faster than you can add grain to compensate. In the long-term it would be more cost-effective to do whatever equipment upgrade(s) you need to allow for a full boil volume.

Thanks for your responses a10t2 and klickitat. All very helpful information. I think I'm going to go with the half-batch plan.

--- Quote from: klickitat jim on June 09, 2013, 06:55:47 AM ---What makes you want to do this?

--- End quote ---

I don't want to increase the footprint of my operation beyond maybe an extra carboy or two. Don't want to invest in an larger boiling pots at the moment.

--- Quote from: a10t2 on June 09, 2013, 06:58:29 AM ---1. The only downside to brewing smaller batches is that it takes about the same amount of time to produce less beer. That could be a good thing too, if it means you get to brew more as you're starting out.

--- End quote ---

that's a good point that it gives me opportunity to brew more. spending double time for less product is ok - I tend to take the long way round in my personal projects. it relaxes me somehow.

I think you would be a lot happier with the quality of the beer you produce brewing smaller batches than trying to brew five gallon batches on too small of a set up. Trying to create extremely thick mashes is asking for all sorts of problems with the mash.

A small set up isn't time efficient but it certainly is space efficient and probably financially efficient because you don't need to buy a lot of other equipment. Your existing kettle is probably fine for doing three gallon or smaller batches, you just need something to use as a mash tun. For 2.5 gallon batches you could easily go BIAB-style or convert a three or five gallon cooler (or use the cooler combined with a straining bag so you don't have to modify it). For BIAB you could use another pot to directly fire it on your stove but anything that will hold enough mash volume is fine. You could just as easily use a five gallon bucket with a lid and wrap it in a sleeping bag or blankets to maintain temperature.

I have a small batch set up myself that I use for 1-2 gallon batches. I used to use a 1.5 gallon stock pot (the kind that come with most pots and pans sets) on the stove with a bag but I had a hard time keeping consistent temperatures. I switched over to a two gallon cooler and the bag. The cooler maintains better temperature consistency and by using the bag I didn't have to modify the spout. It's a very simple set up. No risks of stuck sparges and cost like $10 to get the cooler. A two gallon cooler is probably too small for most 2.5 gallon batches but a five gallon cooler would work ok. If you can find a three gallon cooler that would probably work as well.


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