Author Topic: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!  (Read 3451 times)

Offline denny

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Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« on: January 18, 2017, 11:32:16 PM »
I'm doing some reseach into small batch brewing....3 gal. or less.  If you brew small batches, I'd appreciate your point of view on this stuff...

1. What's your usual batch size?
2. Why do you brew small batches?
3. Do you brew, extract, partial mash, all grain?
4. What's your basic process?  I.E., BIAB, tiny cooler (😉), just stir in the extract, etc.
5. Do you have a favorite piece of equipment that you like to use especially for small batches?
6. If you've brewed larger batches how would you comapre the two in terms of effort?  Time?  Equipment needs?  Recipe consistency?
7. What am I missing that should be known about small batch brewing?

Thanks so much for your time.  I owe you all a beer!
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline brewinhard

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2017, 11:53:09 PM »

Thanks so much for your time.  I owe you all a beer!

At 3 gallons or less, that batch is gonna go quick!   ;) 

Sorry, no constructive stuff today...

Offline curtdogg

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2017, 11:57:08 PM »
1. 3 gal bottled
2. My initial reason was to use less water and brew more often with more variety.
3. All grain
4. 5 gal igloo with bazooka tube, batch sparge.
5. No favorite or special equipment  .
6. I previously brewed 1 gal batches, it wasnt enough.
7. The challenges faced with most ingredients being packaged for 5 gal batches.
>over pitching yeast.
>weighing hops and calculating ibu/SG ratio.
>being creative with left over ingredients and not wasting them.

Great question Denny.

R,
CURTIS


Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2017, 12:13:20 AM »
I wish one of the online HBS would do scalable kits. Especially if they were tried and true good ones. Pick a kit, enter yout efficiency and volume into fermenter, click buy.

Offline el_capitan

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2017, 12:16:54 AM »
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! 

Offline Bob357

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2017, 12:50:12 AM »
I am just starting to do small batches. More to study the effects of water treatment on different recipes than anything else. I have been an all grain brewer of 5 gallon batches for several years using both batch sparging and BIAB and just recently tried my hand at cider. Thus far I have brewed a few 1 gallon batches of cider and can contribute to one of your questions. My favorite piece of equipment for small batches has to be the mini Auto Siphon.

This sounds like a thread that will be very interesting. I look forward to your findings.

Bob
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Offline BrewingRover

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2017, 01:24:31 AM »
I'm doing some reseach into small batch brewing....3 gal. or less.  If you brew small batches, I'd appreciate your point of view on this stuff...

1. What's your usual batch size?

Usually 3, but sometimes as little as 2 or up to 3.5

2. Why do you brew small batches?
I'm the primary drinker of my beer and 5 gallons is too much.

3. Do you brew, extract, partial mash, all grain?
All grain
4. What's your basic process? 
Mash in a 38 qt cooler. Sometimes batch sparge, sometimes no sparge.
5. Do you have a favorite piece of equipment that you like to use especially for small batches?

Nope, I still brew five gallon batches using the same cooler and a bigger kettle

6. If you've brewed larger batches how would you comapre the two in terms of effort?  Time?  Equipment needs?  Recipe consistency?

It shaves 40 minutes or so off a batch, due to quicker boil time and quicker chilling. I've been able to scale up and down pretty consistently, but I sometimes miss my numbers doing a no-sparge.
It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.

Offline BrewingRover

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2017, 01:27:55 AM »
FYI, quoting Denny's  (😉) caused formatting errors. Non-standard code, I guess.
It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2017, 01:38:10 AM »
1. What's your usual batch size?

1.25 gallons which will yield 14 - 11.2 ounces bottles

2. Why do you brew small batches?

I am the only beer drinker in my house and I decided when I started all grain that the only way I could make it work space wise and quantity wise was to go small.

Small batches take less time to heat up, cool down, bottle, etc. I use 2 gall n plastic bucket fermenters which work great and have a small footprint. High gravity beers can be fermented with a single smack pack and harvested yeast can be separated into multiple small batch size repitches. There are less raw materials to keep around and brewing salts last forever. My brewery has a very small footprint:



3. Do you brew, extract, partial mash, all grain?

All grain

4. What's your basic process?  I.E., BIAB, tiny cooler (), just stir in the extract, etc.

Obviously I'm a Low Oxygen advocate so that process rules. Equipment:

  1.) MLT - 4 gal pot, sight glass, DC pump, false bottom and mash         filter. PID controlled Waring Pro SB30 electric burner. Mash cap with LocLine return.

  2.) BK - 3 gal pot, whirlpool pickup tube, semi permanent IC, boil lid with cutout, latter cap.

  3.) Fermenter - 2 gal food grade buckets with spigot and thermowell

  4.) Mill - this was actually a sweet deal and I paid $25 for it. It's a kitchen grain mill with 3 knurled rollers:

   

5. Do you have a favorite piece of equipment that you like to use especially for small batches?

There really isn't anything specific for small batches that comes to mind. The whole system was purpose built for Low Oxygen and my batch sizes.

6. If you've brewed larger batches how would you comapre the two in terms of effort?  Time?  Equipment needs?  Recipe consistency?

I've never brewed larger than 2.5 gallon batches but the main drivers are amount to consume is less, heat time is less, cooling time a less, etc.

7. What am I missing that should be known about small batch brewing?

It's more manageable, for me at least. I am the only drinker in my house and I have 2 kids under 4. I don't have a lot of space or a lot of time so if I want to brew more it has to be small.

That being said, I can brew more because I only create 14 bottles per batch. You have the freedom to brew the same batch in quick succession to perfect a flavor or technique.

For me, Low Oxygen wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for my small brewery. I wouldn't be able to sustain a 5 gallon brewery.

Offline Phil_M

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2017, 02:41:58 AM »
Derek, how long is your average brew day?
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2017, 03:14:14 AM »
Derek, how long is your average brew day?

My old cooler setup went like this:

1.) heat up - 15 min
2.) mash in - 5 min
3.) mash/sparge - 75 min
4.) time to boil - 5-10 min
5.) Boil - 60 min
6.) ice bath chill - 25 min
7.) transfer, pitch and aerate - 10-15 min
8.) clean up - 30 min

Total: 3 hrs 55 min

My new setup:

1.) heat up, preboil, chill - 25 minutes
2.) condition and mill - 10 min
3.) treat water/let stand - 5 min
4.) mash in - 10 min
5.) place mash cap/pump and sight glass - 5 min
6.) β rest - 20 min
7.) ramp to α rest - 10 min
8.) α rest - 30 min
9.) ramp to MO - 5 min
10.) MO - 10 min
11.) Lauter - 10 min
12.) Boil - 60 min
13.) chill whirlpool hot and cold break - 45 min
14.) transfer and pitch yeast - 5 min
15.) aerate if repitching - 15 min

Total: 4 hrs 25 min

All approximate of course.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2017, 03:19:43 AM »

4. What's your basic process?  I.E., BIAB, tiny cooler (😉), just stir in the extract, etc.


I've been told it's not the size of your cooler, but how well you use it...

I'm no help, as I brew 5 gallons, sometimes 10.  I have no time lately, though, so I've been thinking of smaller batches or maybe extract.  But still no time.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline tommymorris

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2017, 03:45:39 AM »
1. What's your usual batch size?
3 gallons

2. Why do you brew small batches?
I get to brew more often.
More variety.
I don't share as much as some.
Smaller equipment is easier to handle.

3. Do you brew, extract, partial mash, all grain?
All grain

4. What's your basic process?  I.E., BIAB, tiny cooler (), just stir in the extract, etc.
Batch sparge in 5 gallon Igloo. Nothing special. Basic equipment.

5. Do you have a favorite piece of equipment that you like to use especially for small batches?
My 1500W heat stick is perfect for small batches.

6. If you've brewed larger batches how would you comapre the two in terms of effort?  Time?  Equipment needs?  Recipe consistency?
I brewed 5-6 gallons batches for about 5 years. 3 gallon saves maybe 30 minutes. Otherwise everything is basically the same.

7. What am I missing that should be known about small batch brewing?
It's just as fun as any other batch size.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2017, 04:10:08 AM »
1. I currently brew 1.7-2.0 gallon batches (1/3 of a standard size batch).

2. There are a bazillion advantages to small batches, including a somewhat faster brew day (3-3.5 hours for all-grain!), less beer on the shelf (for those of us with a drinking problem, i.e., we don't drink enough!), more excuse for experimentation with less beer wasted if the batch turns out crappy, you can easily BIAB on the stovetop, dirt-cheap equipment, the list goes on.

3. all grain

4. BIAB, colander sparge or sparge in a bucket, stovetop boil, chill in the sink in cold water bath...

5. small and cheap kettles, stove, scale for measuring hops in grams instead of ounces, 3-gallon carboys

6. I just brewed 6 gallons a couple of weeks ago.  Used 3 kettles on the stovetop.  Wanted/needed to use my cooler mash tun instead of BIAB.  Brew day took about 5-5.5 hours, so it does take an extra 90 minutes or so for a bigger batch.

7. Dude... it's just fun and super-ultra-mega easy to make smaller batches.  It's all good.
Dave

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Offline riceral

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Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2017, 01:04:37 PM »
1.) been brewing 3 gallons lately.
2.) 5 gallons is too much as I am usually the only one drinking. I do share with some friends and take my beer to brew club meetings. 3 gallons will give me 30-35 bottles.
3.) all grain
4.) got a grainfather for my birthday so I use this
5.) the grainfather has a small pipework that is used for small batches. I also have a 20L Speidel fermenter that I use for small batches
6.) after brewing 5 and 6 gallon batches for years, I believe there is little difference in terms of effort or equipment. The grainfather does take more time to come to a boil than when I use propane.
7.) I like the idea of doing small batches as I mentioned in #2 (5 gallons is too much for me). Small batches also gives me an opportunity to brew more and do experimental type stuff (new hop, new malt, new yeast).


Thanks so much for your time.  I owe you all a beer!

I'll take you up on that beer sometime.

Good luck on the book. Looking forward to getting my copy.
 
Ralph R.