Author Topic: Scaling Down  (Read 1348 times)

Offline goschman

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Scaling Down
« on: November 09, 2015, 06:57:26 PM »
I currently keep 4 five gallon kegs on tap at a time. I brew every 3 weeks which seems to keep me fully stocked. I am seriously considering starting to brew less and keep 2 beers on tap. I have come to this conclusion after realizing the amount of beer that I have basically puts pressure on me to drink at a certain rate to stay on schedule. This is proving not to be a good thing. The primary consumers of my beer are myself and my wife (depending on what's on tap) with occasional guests. If guests/friends were drinking my beer then I could justify it more.

I have considered brewing smaller batches but I find it hard to spend the same amount of time for a smaller amount especially as family time is getting more and more valuable. It's basically choosing volume over variety I suppose.

Now that I feel the need to make this transition, I am conflicted on what beers to brew moving forward. I think I should focus on solid, drinkable styles that are time tested. I experiment a lot by brewing hybrid type beers but that is hit and miss proposition at about 1:1. I guess I need to see what styles my wife and I both enjoy and go in that direction. I am thinking about focusing on 4 solid beers and brewing each about 2 times a year.

I am just curious how others have transitioned to brewing less and if anyone has been in a similar situation. I love pretty much everything about brewing and would brew 4 days a week if I had the time and people to consume and enjoy my product.

« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 07:02:12 PM by goschman »
On Tap/Bottled: Haze for Daze IPA, G Pils, Maibock, Watermelon Cider         

Fermenting: Kolsch
Up Next: Summer Ale, Hoppy Lager

Offline pete b

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2015, 07:19:21 PM »
Well, to the point of drinking too much I would look at the possibility of consciously making lower abv beers that you enjoy. I like Ordinary bitters and milds. To the point of not wanting to spend as much time making a smaller batch, I find I can make a biab 2.5-3 gallon batch in 3 hours as opposed to close to 5 hours for a 5 gallon batch sparge.
I have been trying to limit my consumption by not drinking out of habit. In other words before drinking any given day I actually ask myself if I really want to have some drinks or is it just out of habit? If I'm on the fence or not really psched about having a beer I don't drink that night.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline ulander6206

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2015, 07:24:40 PM »
We have the same situation as you describe - only 2 main consumers with occasional guest consumers. We have a couple of go-to brews that we both enjoy, dry stout and rye saison. We brew in 3 gallon batches which keeps us in beer and allows us to brew every couple of weeks without getting overstocked. We also supplement our go-to brews with seasonals or other brews that interest us at the time.

While some may say that it takes the same amount of time for a small batch as a big batch, your concern about keeping your inventory moving is a valid one. In addition, the smaller batch sizes allow you to brew in the kitchen rather than in the garage during the cold months.

Good luck with downsizing.


Offline goschman

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2015, 07:31:53 PM »
Thanks for the feedback so far. I think I will start brewing less often for a bit then re-evaluate brewing smaller batches more frequently.

I definitely need to focus on styles that are 4-5% ABV. Mostly malt focused or balanced styles with an occasional APA. My Kolsch, Pale Lager, and American Wheat seem to fit the bill. I have a brown ale fermenting now that is a candidate and would like to try an Irish Red soon which the wife should enjoy.
On Tap/Bottled: Haze for Daze IPA, G Pils, Maibock, Watermelon Cider         

Fermenting: Kolsch
Up Next: Summer Ale, Hoppy Lager

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2015, 07:33:26 PM »
Luckily I have lots of friends, family and neighbors to give beer away to, or I'd have downsized. I do like having 4 or 5 beers on tap to choose from, but my consumption has definitely gone down in the last few years. Brewing average to low OG beers is never a bad thing.
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Offline dilluh98

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2015, 07:41:24 PM »
My wife and I are pretty much the only people that drink the beer I make. I brew almost every weekend doing stovetop, small batch that can be accomplished in 3 hours while corralling my 9 month old and getting other house chores done. I also bottle which frees me from having to worry about tap space and increases the variety of beer available to choose from at any time. Once every few months I'll do the outdoor rig for a 5 gallon batch of something.

As far as consumption... I think this is another area where bottling can be of benefit. When you have the barrier of cracking open another bottle and watching them line up on the countertop rather than an easy tap pull for "just one more short pour" - you start to think about consumption a bit more objectively. Continuing to maintain a competitive distance runner's body in my mid-30s helps, too.

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2015, 07:57:32 PM »
I'm going to start Parti-gyling small batches soon after my daughter is born.

Offline pete b

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2015, 08:13:55 PM »

As far as consumption... I think this is another area where bottling can be of benefit. When you have the barrier of cracking open another bottle and watching them line up on the countertop rather than an easy tap pull for "just one more short pour" - you start to think about consumption a bit more objectively. Continuing to maintain a competitive distance runner's body in my mid-30s helps, too.
+1 I just did over my kitchen and came close to installing taps. Being able to so easily "have just a little more" was a big factor in not going forward with the taps. I pictured myself pouring two full beers followed by 14 half beers on any given night.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2015, 08:14:45 PM »
I mainly brew for myself, and I only drink 4 or 5 beers a week, but I like to brew 1-2 batches a month. Five gallons at a time was way too much, so I dropped down to half-sized batches. That lets me brew more often, keep up a variety of choices, and brew a big batch to age every few months.
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Offline beersk

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2015, 09:03:19 PM »
I mainly brew for myself, and I only drink 4 or 5 beers a week, but I like to brew 1-2 batches a month. Five gallons at a time was way too much, so I dropped down to half-sized batches. That lets me brew more often, keep up a variety of choices, and brew a big batch to age every few months.
I love the appeal of this but the only way I'd do that is if I got a bunch of 2.5 gallon kegs because I just can't stand having all the head space in a 5 gallon keg. I do plan to pick up a couple of them in the nearish future from Adventures in Homebrewing so I can start doing some more half batches or split batches. But a recent batch of helles that lasted about 3 weeks had me by surprise. I don't know were all that beer went, it was weird.

Goschman, I think you should seriously take a look at half batches. They don't take "just as long". They're definitely quicker to heat to a boil and chill, as well as heating the strike and sparge water and milling less grains. It's just easier and awesome. And if you enjoy the process, I don't consider that to be "just as much work for half as much beer".
And I couldn't fathom brewing only 4 times a year.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 09:05:10 PM by beersk »
die Schönheit der bier...

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Offline goschman

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2015, 09:08:04 PM »
I mainly brew for myself, and I only drink 4 or 5 beers a week, but I like to brew 1-2 batches a month. Five gallons at a time was way too much, so I dropped down to half-sized batches. That lets me brew more often, keep up a variety of choices, and brew a big batch to age every few months.
I love the appeal of this but the only way I'd do that is if I got a bunch of 2.5 gallon kegs because I just can't stand having all the head space in a 5 gallon keg. I do plan to pick up a couple of them in the nearish future from Adventures in Homebrewing so I can start doing some more half batches or split batches. But a recent batch of helles that lasted about 3 weeks had me by surprise. I don't know were all that beer went, it was weird.

Goschman, I think you should seriously take a look at half batches. They don't take "just as long". They're definitely quicker to heat to a boil and chill, as well as heating the strike and sparge water and milling less grains. It's just easier and awesome. And if you enjoy the process, I don't consider that to be "just as much work for half as much beer".
And I couldn't fathom brewing only 4 times a year.

Well I am considering brewing every 6 weeks instead of 3 which would be 8-9 times a year. I may strike a compromise by brewing 2/3 batches every 4-5 weeks. It's something I am going to have to figure out as I go. I just know that 5 gallon batches every 3 weeks isn't working.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 09:09:56 PM by goschman »
On Tap/Bottled: Haze for Daze IPA, G Pils, Maibock, Watermelon Cider         

Fermenting: Kolsch
Up Next: Summer Ale, Hoppy Lager

Offline beersk

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2015, 09:11:16 PM »
That works. As long as you don't itch too bad to brew. I'm not a very busy person in general so going 6 weeks without brewing would drive me crazy. But for those who are just BUSY, doing who knows what, every 6 weeks could be enough.
But I've definitely felt your pain of feeling you have to drink your beer to keep it moving so you can brew the next batch or keep up your brewing schedule.
die Schönheit der bier...

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Offline goschman

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2015, 09:16:55 PM »
That works. As long as you don't itch too bad to brew. I'm not a very busy person in general so going 6 weeks without brewing would drive me crazy. But for those who are just BUSY, doing who knows what, every 6 weeks could be enough.
But I've definitely felt your pain of feeling you have to drink your beer to keep it moving so you can brew the next batch or keep up your brewing schedule.

I am getting more busy with a 2 year old and the possibility of another one at some point in the near future so time is a huge factor.

I find that I don't enjoy the beer as much when I am trying to get through it because I am so excited to get to the new batch which is waiting in the fermenter. It's kind of the whole 'grass is greener' type of situation. It's like, 'this is good but the next one is going to be awesome' and that happens for every batch...haha

I am definitely going to consider smaller batches as I would prefer more variety. Bottling is a good option as well but it is hard for me to go back to that. Bottling is really the only aspect of the brewing process which I really don't care for...
On Tap/Bottled: Haze for Daze IPA, G Pils, Maibock, Watermelon Cider         

Fermenting: Kolsch
Up Next: Summer Ale, Hoppy Lager

Offline dilluh98

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2015, 09:32:03 PM »
I find that I don't enjoy the beer as much when I am trying to get through it because I am so excited to get to the new batch which is waiting in the fermenter. It's kind of the whole 'grass is greener' type of situation. It's like, 'this is good but the next one is going to be awesome' and that happens for every batch...haha

Bottling takes care of this itch. I love being surprised by having a few bombers of something I brewed 6 months ago just sitting there waiting for me. I know most people love to keg and everyone says once you keg you won't go back but every time I see posts regarding improper keg sealing, keg cleaning, line cleaning, fridge maintenance, pressure control, sticky valves, etc... I'm happy with my super efficient/fast bottling session early on a Saturday morning that gives a predictable pour every time with no hassle of large amounts of equipment. I deal with enough problems with gas handling equipment at work - I don't really need it invading my hobby space as well.

Also having a closet of bombers with a nice little selection of about 10 different brews at different ages is extremely satisfying to me.

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Re: Scaling Down
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2015, 09:37:23 PM »
I used to brew 6 gallon kettle volume/5.5 gallon primary volume/5 gallons kegged batches religiously during my first pass through the hobby.  However, I found myself dumping batches just to brew new batches toward the end of that pass.  I decided to change the experiment when I came back from my hiatus.  I downshifted to 3.75 kettle volume/3.375 primary volume/3 gallons kegged batches for this pass.  Like Eric, I only drink 4 or 5 pints a week at most (there are weeks that I do not drink anything).  I find that a 3-gallon keg lasts between 4 (if I have help) and 8 weeks (if it is only me).  I usually have two 3-gallon kegs on tap.  Thinking back, I should have standardized on 2.5 gallons kegged.  That size would be a better fit for my yeast bank.   The only time that I brew a 5-gallon (kegged) batch is the blonde ale that make May in preparation for summer parties.  That beer will probably shift back to being a Pre-Pro Pils like I used to brew in May before I went on hiatus.