Author Topic: efficient small-scale brewing tips  (Read 2280 times)

Offline homoeccentricus

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efficient small-scale brewing tips
« on: January 13, 2015, 01:58:34 PM »
I want to brew small experimental (or not!) batches of beer in as little time as possible, with as little cleaning as possible, and the best possible quality.  Let's say to an amount of wort that can be boiled comfortably in a 10 liter brew pot. Like making soup on a stove.

I would appreciate getting tips for fast, inexpensive, and high-quality small-scale brewing.

- BIAB comes to mind, obviously, but maybe there's other ways of efficient mashing?
- A smackpack is relatively expensive for a small batch, so maybe only dry yeast? Or reuse yeast from a previous brew, obviously. Anything else?
- Chilling tips  (e.g. pot in tub filled with ice water)
- Tips for increasing efficiency, minimizing trub loss, etc.
- Tips for maintaining stable mash temperature
- Best possible ways to make beer with LME?
- Reduced boil times?
- General high quality tips? Does small-scale brewing automatically lead to inferior beer?

Frank P.

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Offline Stevie

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2015, 02:18:31 PM »
- BIAB comes to mind, obviously, but maybe there's other ways of efficient mashing?
I do like BIAB here. Once I get my 2.5 Gallon kegs, I will be using a 20qt cooler for mashing.

- A smackpack is relatively expensive for a small batch, so maybe only dry yeast? Or reuse yeast from a previous brew, obviously. Anything else?
I uses dry yeast or make a 1 liter starter from liquid that I divide across mason jars. Normally I will divide it 5 ways. Rings go on finger tip tight while crashing, but after a few days I will tighten it further. I decant the liquid to the point where the yeast and liquid are about the same volume.

- Chilling tips  (e.g. pot in tub filled with ice water)
Ice bath. Not very fast, but works well enough.

- Tips for increasing efficiency, minimizing trub loss, etc.Brew to leave a quart behind in the kettle, don't use kettle finnings, whirlpool and siphon from the edge.

- Tips for maintaining stable mash temperature
When I BIAB on the stove, I pre-heat the oven to the lowest possible mark. After mash-in, I cut off the oven and put the pot in. Seems to hold fairly well loosing only a few degrees over the hour.

- Best possible ways to make beer with LME?
I don't quite get the ask here.

- Reduced boil times?
If using extract, sure.

- General high quality tips? Does small-scale brewing automatically lead to inferior beer?
I don't think small scale leads to low quality at all.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2015, 02:32:43 PM »
what steve said +

"best possible ways to make beer with LME?" don't use LME, use DME. Unless you are certain your LME is fresh fresh fresh DME will pretty much always be better simply because it's more shelf stable and less prone to oxdiation.

You could also consider brewing double gravity through the boil and chilling with sanitary ice. that will cut down on chill time a lot and allow a possible 15 liter batch out of your 10 liter pot.

I did just brew an extract amber ale that I only boiled for 15 minutes and chilled/diluted with sanitary ice. I used a bit more hops to hit my IBU target but I also brewed a batch of beer in < 2.5 hours into the fermenter and pitched.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2015, 02:38:15 PM »
Ohhhh... LME. Yeah, use DME unless you have a specific LME you like or want to use.

Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2015, 02:40:25 PM »
Ohhhh... LME. Yeah, use DME unless you have a specific LME you like or want to use.

LME was typo, I meant DME, sorry.
Frank P.

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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2015, 02:44:27 PM »
- Tips for increasing efficiency, minimizing trub loss, etc.Brew to leave a quart behind in the kettle, don't use kettle finnings, whirlpool and siphon from the edge.
You mean if I want to have 4 liters in the fermenter, brew as if I want 5 liters and leave 1 behind?  And "kettle fin(n)ings" you mean Irish moss? Why not use it?
Frank P.

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Offline Stevie

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2015, 02:45:36 PM »
Only two best practices I can think of when it comes to working with DME.


1 - store in an airtight container. I have kept DME in the same container for years and have never had an issue with clumping. Storing in a zip bag will lead to a hard and sticky mess.


2 - Mix in to warm water off of the burner. It will dissolve much easier and avoid scorching. I like 140-150F (60-65C)

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2015, 02:46:07 PM »
Ohhhh... LME. Yeah, use DME unless you have a specific LME you like or want to use.
LME was typo, I meant DME, sorry.

use the lightest colored DME you can find. I've heard breiss pils DME is very fermentable although I haven't tried it myself. Get all your color and flavor components from a partial mash or steeping grains. use a good amount of table sugar to lighten body on bigger beers.
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2015, 02:47:40 PM »
chilling with sanitary ice.

Not completely sure what that is. You mean these ice pads for strained ankles and stuff? Why would that be more efficient than ice water? Oops yes, dump it in the wort, right? So no pads...
Frank P.

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Offline Stevie

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2015, 02:48:31 PM »
- Tips for increasing efficiency, minimizing trub loss, etc.Brew to leave a quart behind in the kettle, don't use kettle finnings, whirlpool and siphon from the edge.
You mean if I want to have 4 liters in the fermenter, brew as if I want 5 liters and leave 1 behind?  And "kettle fin(n)ings" you mean Irish moss? Why not use it?


As for the volumes, exactly my point. I skip the finings because the break material tends to be fluffy and hard to avoid.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2015, 02:55:26 PM »
chilling with sanitary ice.

Not completely sure what that is. You mean these ice pads for strained ankles and stuff? Why would that be more efficient than ice water? Oops yes, dump it in the wort, right? So no pads...
no. I put sanitized water (boiled and cooled, or UV sanitized) in a sanitized container that I will be able to get it back out of again and freeze it in my freezer. This is added to the hot concentrated wort to chill and dilute it. it works so well because it takes 30 times as much energy to melt ice than to raise the temp of water an equal amount. i.e. it takes 1 calorie to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree C but it takes 31 calories to turn 1 gram of ice at 0 C into 1 gram of water at 1 C. Phase change is expensive.
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2015, 03:02:32 PM »
chilling with sanitary ice.

Not completely sure what that is. You mean these ice pads for strained ankles and stuff? Why would that be more efficient than ice water? Oops yes, dump it in the wort, right? So no pads...
no. I put sanitized water (boiled and cooled, or UV sanitized) in a sanitized container that I will be able to get it back out of again and freeze it in my freezer. This is added to the hot concentrated wort to chill and dilute it. it works so well because it takes 30 times as much energy to melt ice than to raise the temp of water an equal amount. i.e. it takes 1 calorie to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree C but it takes 31 calories to turn 1 gram of ice at 0 C into 1 gram of water at 1 C. Phase change is expensive.

Wow, go slow. Say I want 5 liters of wort. Then I boil down to 4 liters, and add 1 liter of ice?
Frank P.

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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2015, 03:05:46 PM »


As for the volumes, exactly my point. I skip the finings because the break material tends to be fluffy and hard to avoid.

+1.  I don't kettle fine for 1 gallon batches, either.
Jon H.

Offline pete b

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2015, 03:06:06 PM »
I agree with everything Steve said and have a couple things to share from my recent small batch (2.5) biab which I have been doing every Wednesday evening after work since October:
1. Effeciency: with biab you can really get good efficiency with a fine grind and a dunk sparge.
2. Speed: I measure my water and put it on the stove before work. If you have pilot lights even better (cover to avoid evaporation). I turn it on as soon as I get home. I also turn the oven on so I can heat up supper that I eat during the mash or boil. The oven heat helps with maintaining mash temp. With average gravity beers I do a 50 minute mash and 50 minute boil with just a bit more bittering hops. With 1.060 and above I don’t mess around and do 75-90 min mashes and 75-90 minute boils.
3. Chilling: Do you have a wort chiller? If so do you know for sure it doesn’t fit your smaller pot? They only take seconds to rinse. I also have a food chiller. Its food a grade plastic paddle that you fill with water and freeze Restaurant supply stores and websites have them. They are made with maximum surface area and are used to chill soups quickly to a safe storage temp. That combined with an ice water bath works fast. If you have two sinks its easy to change the water bath too: the water gets warm fast at first.
4. Maintaining wort temp: remember that my oven is on for supper? Hot air vents through the back rear burner and works like a charm to keep gentle heat on my pot.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: efficient small-scale brewing tips
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2015, 03:08:19 PM »
chilling with sanitary ice.

Not completely sure what that is. You mean these ice pads for strained ankles and stuff? Why would that be more efficient than ice water? Oops yes, dump it in the wort, right? So no pads...
no. I put sanitized water (boiled and cooled, or UV sanitized) in a sanitized container that I will be able to get it back out of again and freeze it in my freezer. This is added to the hot concentrated wort to chill and dilute it. it works so well because it takes 30 times as much energy to melt ice than to raise the temp of water an equal amount. i.e. it takes 1 calorie to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree C but it takes 31 calories to turn 1 gram of ice at 0 C into 1 gram of water at 1 C. Phase change is expensive.

Wow, go slow. Say I want 5 liters of wort. Then I boil down to 4 liters, and add 1 liter of ice?

Check out this tool as a start: http://www.onlineconversion.com/mixing_water.htm

It depends on the temp of your freezer, if it makes ice ~ -10C and you add 2.1 parts ice to 2.9 parts wort just off the boil (~95C) it will equalize at ~ 17 C, perfect pitching temp.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"
-A Einstein

"errors are [...] the portals of discovery"
- J Joyce