Author Topic: Batch Size with New Recipes  (Read 686 times)

Offline flbrewer

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Batch Size with New Recipes
« on: March 22, 2015, 02:09:50 PM »
I'm always a bit leery making a 5 gallon batch on a newer recipe. Considering I bottle and I'm really the only one drinking the beers, 5 gallons is a lot if I don't enjoy it!

I'm curious to know if you try smaller batches before ramping it up. If so, what size batch do you like?

Finally, with the smaller batches I am always concerned I'm not getting a true feel of what a bigger batch may taste like. Smaller deviances in the recipe can really skew things as you make less beer, IMO.

Offline dkfick

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Re: Batch Size with New Recipes
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2015, 02:31:35 PM »
I don't do the smaller batches for 1 reason.  They still take a considerable amount of time.  They are quicker than the larger batches depending on your heat source and run off rates etc... but for the time savings it isn't worth it to me.  Consider the opposite of the scenario you presented.  You brew a 1 gallon batch of awesome beer... now it's just going to end quickly and you'll wish you had more.  I suppose the other downside to brewing larger batches that don't turn out well is the waste of money factor.  It's there but it's not really much money in my mind (granted I buy all my base malts and most my hops in bulk... so I could be out of touch with reality here).  I brew an occasional stinker I don't like.  If I don't like it I don't force myself to drink it it.  It meets it's fate down the drain.
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Offline Frankenbrew

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Re: Batch Size with New Recipes
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2015, 02:39:10 PM »
I used to brew three gallon batches all the time. There are many advantages to this size: you can boil on the stove in the kitchen; you can BIAB; you can use all the same equipment; and I think that you can expect relative repeatability even when you scale up the size of the batch.

I don't brew smaller batches too often since I built a taproom in my basement. Having guests, friends, and neighbors over, I go through three gallon batches too quickly. But if you are the only one drinking it, I say go for it.
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Re: Batch Size with New Recipes
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2015, 03:48:54 PM »
Half-size and three-gallon batches scale well to 5-gallons.  I brewed 5.5-gallon batches and the occasional 11-gallon batch for years before switching 3.5 gallons as my primary volume (3 gallons kegged).  I brew smaller batches today because it takes me forever to consume 3 gallons of beer. 

Offline erockrph

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Re: Batch Size with New Recipes
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2015, 10:12:11 PM »
I brew 2.5 gallons as my standard batch and 1 gallon for test batches. I generally do extract for the 1 gallon batches since I can do short boils and crank out a batch really quickly.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Batch Size with New Recipes
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2015, 12:17:17 PM »
I make 1.67 gallons, which is 1/3 the standard 5-gallon batch size.  This makes a little more than a 12-pack, but not so much that I have it sitting around for a whole year or more if I don't like it too much.  It allows me to BIAB every batch, and bottling day goes really fast.  For recipes that I know I'll love, I sometimes splurge and make 2 whole gallons.

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Offline pete b

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Re: Batch Size with New Recipes
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2015, 01:24:07 PM »
I do mostly 2.5 gallon biab. Its the only way I can brew consistently because I can do it in 3 hours on a weeknight which for me is a lot easier than coming up with 5 hours on the weekend as my weekends are quite full. When I do have time I make beers I know I like to drink in 5 gallon batch sparge batches.
BTW, when it comes to making smaller batches strictly because your not sure you like them, that makes sense if its an experiment with an unusual ingredient or something like that but if you like an ESB and you have an ESB recipe that looks like other ESB recipes chances are you won't hate it even if you never brewed it before.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Batch Size with New Recipes
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2015, 03:43:12 PM »
It's rare that I brew anything larger than a three gallon batch these days unless it is a sour beer. Most of my brews are just one gallon batches. I'm generally not concerned with scaling up the recipes because I so rarely brew at a larger size.

OP raises a good issue about small batch brewing and the greater risk of deviation due to the batch size. There is definitely a challenge to keeping a small batch at a stable mash temperature and the inability to control mash temperature can be a problem for consistency and quality. That is a problem to overcome with mash technique and will require some dialing in like any other system. It can also be a problem making incorrect measurements, especially when adjusting water profile, but a quality digital scale will help resolve that problem.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Batch Size with New Recipes
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2015, 06:56:56 PM »
Someday I will scale down to smaller batches, but I have been on a lager kick for a few years now - making 10 gallon batches that meet their demise pretty quickly by friends and family, who occasionally drop off a sack of grain or some yeast or other ingredients to offset my costs a bit. 

My ales are often 5 gallon batches, so if the lager crowd doesn't drink it, I have less to gift away or consume.  I have a few folks that I brew for on a semi annual basis that like beers that I don't typically brew for myself, so that keeps me busy with requests for a case or two of a special brew for them, but usually five gallons and bottling half off the keg/drinking the rest from the keg. 

A couple weeks ago a friend and I made a fifteen gallon 2 Hearted clone for an April wedding he will be attending.  I have 2 weddings and a neighbor's graduation party to brew for next year (pretty early requests, admittedly).  I enjoy the process, so for me there is no better way to spend a weekend morning.  Smaller batches would be done more quickly, so if I were rushed, I could see the smaller batch size from that perspective.  I get no greater enjoyment than having a first timer to homebrew declare that he or she just had the best beer that they have ever tasted (whether they mean it or not)....
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Offline Werks21

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Re: Batch Size with New Recipes
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2015, 07:30:50 AM »
I started out and still source my recipes mostly from trusted sources IE: Renowned homebrewers like John Palmer or Jamil something or other, or BYO articles and just go for it with batch sizes between 5 and 12 gallons depending on the fermentor(s) available. It hasnt bit me yet. I have made a 5 gallon batch or 2 not from a not so trusted source like the sculpin clone I brewed trusting that Kevins beersmith cloud recipe was worthwhile but even then the recipe was chosen based on its commonality to other recipes, and having certain aspects I liked. I believe that even with a mediocore recipe you can make good beer if you follow the rules and have good ingredients.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2015, 05:54:43 PM by Werks21 »
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Batch Size with New Recipes
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2015, 04:04:25 PM »
I always do 6 gal batches to start, because I figure that if I'm going to tie up a keg, it might as well be full. Even if the beer's sub-par, I don't seem to have any trouble giving it away.

If I was bottling, I could see doing 3 gal batches to at least net a full case. It should take at least as long to drink the beer as it took to brew it, IMHO.
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