Author Topic: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches  (Read 1377 times)

Offline Tfwebster

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 92
Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« on: August 29, 2021, 01:24:18 pm »
Typically, I brew in 6 gallon batches, and this often end up being more beer than I can drink. Well...than I can drink and stay married, employed, and not obese, I'd like to start brewing smaller batches. Recommendations on batch size or any other aspect of scaling down?
If reading about homebrewing is your thing, join Brewer's Book Club at  https://www.facebook.com/groups/754108348475546/

Offline tommymorris

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 3599
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2021, 01:57:22 pm »
Typically, I brew in 6 gallon batches, and this often end up being more beer than I can drink. Well...than I can drink and stay married, employed, and not obese, I'd like to start brewing smaller batches. Recommendations on batch size or any other aspect of scaling down?
I brew 3 gallon batches and keg in 2.5 gallon kegs for basically the reason you mention. I like that I can brew more often this way. The smaller volumes also need less yeast (mainly a consideration for lagers), are easy to heat to boil, and easy to chill. The only problem is sometimes you get a good batch and you float the keg faster than you would like.

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11220
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2021, 02:14:52 pm »
I've been brewing a lot of 5L batches that I usually bottle condition, but sometimes I keg. They are fast and fun. And a 5L batch fits perfectly in a "Little Mouth Bubbler" from Northern Brewer. I use one with a siphonless valve and bottle straight from the fermenter. I'll post pictures of my small batch set up for you this afternoon.

I started by doing 4L batches but that is just too small. With 5L I can get about 10 - 12 oz bottles, dependably. And, as I mentioned, it is a perfect fit for the LMB.

I also use my 5L set up to grow yeast for 6G batches, which is a huge bonus.

Since I work in a brewery and have way more beer than I ever need and since I don't really drink much booze during the week anyway 5L batches keeps me in beer at home and gives me a lot of creativity options. Hell, I do decoction mashes in my microwave! lol

Here's the Fermenter I use

https://www.northernbrewer.com/products/siphonless-little-big-mouth-bubbler-glass-fermenter?variant=30946904473705&gclid=CjwKCAjw4KyJBhAbEiwAaAQbEy1JlXzHT-J1GwUtHH-hSdJCvPsM3JzptRQa4bKnoA2ZstVxaMWc_xoCerEQAvD_BwE
« Last Edit: August 29, 2021, 02:22:03 pm by majorvices »

Offline tommymorris

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 3599
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2021, 02:19:45 pm »
Hell, I do decoction mashes in my microwave! lol
That can’t comply with the Reinheitsgebot!

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11220
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2021, 02:41:24 pm »
Hell, I do decoction mashes in my microwave! lol
That can’t comply with the Reinheitsgebot!

Ha! Come on Professor, you know that's not true!  ;D

I'll say that with the smaller thermal mass it's more difficult to maintain mash temps for a full hour. So I do the decoctions out of necessity more than anything. Don't tell Denny, but I notice a difference.  ;)

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 25884
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • Dennybrew
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2021, 02:53:03 pm »
Hell, I do decoction mashes in my microwave! lol
That can’t comply with the Reinheitsgebot!

Ha! Come on Professor, you know that's not true!  ;D

I'll say that with the smaller thermal mass it's more difficult to maintain mash temps for a full hour. So I do the decoctions out of necessity more than anything. Don't tell Denny, but I notice a difference.  ;)

You think you notice a difference, at least.  And that's fine.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11220
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2021, 03:40:03 pm »
At the very least there is a color difference and mash efficiency increase.

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 25884
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • Dennybrew
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2021, 03:43:24 pm »
At the very least there is a color difference and mash efficiency increase.

indeed
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline BrewBama

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 5448
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2021, 04:14:55 pm »
… Don't tell Denny, but I notice a difference.  ;)





Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Offline dmtaylor

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 4563
  • Lord Idiot the Lazy
    • YEAST MASTER Perma-Living
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2021, 04:49:54 pm »
I've got down to 1-2 gallon batches for about 6 years, and love it.  In addition to all the normal advantages like fewer bottles on bottling day, shorter brew day, ability to brew on the kitchen stove with relative ease, BIAB, more variety in the cellar, etc....... the beer also tends to stay fresher.  I enjoy brewing, so if I want more, I just brew more.

I ferment in 3-gallon carboys or 1-gallon pickle jars.  :)
« Last Edit: August 29, 2021, 04:53:04 pm by dmtaylor »
Dave

The world will become a much more pleasant place to live when each and every one of us realizes that we are all idiots.

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11220
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2021, 05:07:13 pm »
The things I have learned form doing small batches is that metric works way better than American/standard/whatever. You need to measure in grams, not pounds or ounces. And a refractometer is pretty essential since at this size a few ounces is a lot of beer.

I dough in at 2.6 ml per gram of grain. And it is important to measure your hops in grams since a very small amount increase/decrease can have profound affects on the final beer.

I also use a fine mesh grain bag since it seems like it takes forever to vorlauf to get the wort clear without. The mesh grain bag works great. I use a 2 gallon beverage cooler with a braided tube screen and then continuous sparge. I get about 80% mash efficiency.

Offline Megary

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 860
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2021, 05:48:23 pm »
Typically, I brew in 6 gallon batches, and this often end up being more beer than I can drink. Well...than I can drink and stay married, employed, and not obese, I'd like to start brewing smaller batches. Recommendations on batch size or any other aspect of scaling down?
I brew 3 gallon batches and keg in 2.5 gallon kegs for basically the reason you mention. I like that I can brew more often this way. The smaller volumes also need less yeast (mainly a consideration for lagers), are easy to heat to boil, and easy to chill. The only problem is sometimes you get a good batch and you float the keg faster than you would like.

This is my process as well.  3 gallons into the fermenter, 2.5 gallons into the keg.  Super easy, and the total tonnage of things that I don’t have to concern myself with that I see others agonize over has convinced me that I will NEVER scale up.

Offline Drewch

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 387
  • Just this guy, you know?
    • The Malt Bug
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2021, 04:43:17 am »
I do 4 L batches in 2-gal food-grade buckets.

Go metric, buy a scale, and do everything by mass.  At room temperature, 1 L water = 1 kg (within ~3 g at least).

At that size, even a cheap induction cooker can hold a vigorous boil.  If I were still brewing in the house, I'd do the mash-in-the-oven trick, I've relocated my brewing to the shed; so i have to do the best I can with reflectex insulation to hold the mash temp.

I use 2-gal food-grade buckets for primary, but you can also get 1-gal mason jars or repurpose the 1-gallon "carboys" that Publix sells their organic apple juice in. Smaller thermal mass makes it easier to keep fermentation temps down -- there just isn't enough mass there to get much above room temp.
The Other Drew

The Malt Bug Homebrewery - brasserie, cidrerie, hydromellerie - since 2019.

Offline BrewNerd

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 74
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2021, 08:28:43 am »
I've not yet made the jump to all grain batches but I have noticed some differences in splitting a 5 gallon extract recipe down to 1 gallon.

In my imagination the ratios would be the same but maybe things get thrown off by reduced surface area for hop additions/ cooking when using a smaller kettle.

Would that hold true for all grain?

Offline Drewch

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 387
  • Just this guy, you know?
    • The Malt Bug
Re: Brewing Smaller All Grain Batches
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2021, 02:08:47 pm »
You definitely have to recharacterize your system -- boil-off, mash efficiency, hop extraction will all change.

I haven't tried a side-by-side 5- vs 1-gallon comparison of a recipe, but there are inevitably going to be a lot of confounded variables in this experiment.  But at 4 or 5 liters per batch, you can afford to iterate a bit and figure things out.  And even dumping 4 liters hurts a lot less than dumping 5-gallons.
The Other Drew

The Malt Bug Homebrewery - brasserie, cidrerie, hydromellerie - since 2019.