Author Topic: Small batches.....  (Read 1154 times)

Offline oscarvan

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Small batches.....
« on: November 23, 2010, 08:14:40 AM »
For now I'm working off kits/recipes from allegedly reliable sources. BUT I have some ideas I want to try out. Now, trying something and finding it doesn't work and chucking it is one thing. Finding out it doesn't work and chucking FIVE GALLONS of it is another thing.

How do people do small batches? Does one simply divide the recipe by five and then ferment in a growler? What do you do with the rest of the yeast, hops that comes in quantities made for 5 gallon batches.....?
Wooden Shoe Brew Works (not a commercial operation) Bethlehem, PA
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I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline weithman5

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2010, 08:26:21 AM »
for the most part you can do a direct ratio at the volumes you are brewing. you can store hops if you are careful. the yeast you may want to consider not pitching the entire packet and building a small starter out of part of it.  should work fine. I still ferment in a bucket and mine have drain valves on the side. my big issue is kegging.  kind of disheartening to put 2 or 3 gallons in a 5 gal corny and smaller kegs are expensive.  I have thought about lagering in them and then transferring to bottles, but then don't get to use a keezer very well.
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Offline ethalacker

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2010, 08:27:45 AM »
Store the left overs or do a couple of experimental batches in the same day.
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Offline kgs

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2010, 08:46:51 AM »
For now I'm working off kits/recipes from allegedly reliable sources. BUT I have some ideas I want to try out. Now, trying something and finding it doesn't work and chucking it is one thing. Finding out it doesn't work and chucking FIVE GALLONS of it is another thing.

How do people do small batches? Does one simply divide the recipe by five and then ferment in a growler? What do you do with the rest of the yeast, hops that comes in quantities made for 5 gallon batches.....?

"Think small" defines my homebrewing operation. Most of my 20-odd brews have been small batches (2 - 4 gallons) both to make it easier on me physically and to experiment/learn. I use a digital scale to measure out hops, which I would do anyway--I store the rest sealed tight and frozen (thinking of getting one of those sealers), though I'm considering upgrading to a more precise scale ( possibly http://www.amazon.com/American-Weigh-Signature-AWS-100-Digital/dp/B0012LOQUQ/ ). I use the full amount of yeast, and I  make a starter if I'm using liquid yeast. BrewSmith software is helpful for scaling, though a spreadsheet works well too. Depending on the size of the batch, I ferment in either a 3- or 5-gallon Better Bottle carboy. I mash in a 5-gallon mash-tun, and boil in an 8-gallon kettle. I even bottle about half of each batch in 7-ounce splits. If the batch is small enough, I can even boil it on the kitchen stove.

Depending on what you're after, you can still brew a full batch and then split it into carboys which get different flavors/dry-hops/yeast/etc (wish I had done this before I used fenugreek in an entire 5-gallon batch... glad I did this in my gingered-ale experiment).  But brewing small has its advocates. I figure if I can spend all day on a meal that will be devoured in less than an hour I can spend an afternoon making 3 or 4 sixpacks of beer.

If you go to an LHBS, if they do a double-take at your recipe (which they will if they're paying attention), just explain it's for a small batch.
K.G. Schneider
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2010, 09:00:15 AM »
One pack/vial of liquid yeast is about right for a 2-gal batch of ale. If you're using dry, I'd just pitch half and throw out the rest. Not worth risking contamination or loss of viability to save $1-2 IMHO.
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Offline oscarvan

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2010, 09:02:02 AM »
Got the digital scale..... but why use all the yeast? The pack I used for my first batch was for 5 gallons.... or do they come in different sizes?
Wooden Shoe Brew Works (not a commercial operation) Bethlehem, PA
http://www.woodenshoemusic.com/WSBW/WSBW_All_grain_Setup.html
I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2010, 09:02:38 AM »
I am a 2.5-gallon brewer.  Actually I went from 2.5 to 3 gallons, then recently back to 2.5 gallons again.  Reason being is that I have so many experimental recipes that I want to try making, but I am not a real big drinker and don't give a ton of it away either.  So right now, for instance, I have 3 different batches in fermenters, and a good ~4 cases of beer in my basement, and at the rate I drink it, it doesn't make any sense for me to be making any more than a couple of gallons at a time because it takes up so much space until I get around to drinking it.

Yeah, just split the batches any way you like.  If you want to make 3-gallon batches, use 3/5 as much as you would use for 5 gallons.  The math is even easier if you go to 2.5-gallon batches, then just split everything in half.  Store most of the remaining ingredients in your refrigerator.  Grain lasts for years with no refrigeration needed.  Hops will last for years in the freezer but can also last for up to a year in the refrigerator if well sealed.  Yeast has the shortest life.  Dry yeast lasts for a couple years in your refrigerator, while liquid yeast only lasts for about 6 to 9 months.  Always a good idea to make a yeast starter anyways.

Smaller batches allow you to experiment more.  For guys like me, it is the only way to go.
Dave

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker, and glory to His bounty, by learning about... BEER!" - Friar Tuck (Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves)

Offline weithman5

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2010, 09:15:51 AM »
DAVE

do you make many lagers, or keg any?  I am thinking of alternatives to the normal kegging process, and i am not a big fan of bottle conditioning.  i think i may just use one or two corny or even the hdpe spray bottles you can buy at home depot for lagering, conditioning, and then transfer under co2 to bottles. maybe it is a waste of time
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Offline kgs

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2010, 09:16:18 AM »
Got the digital scale..... but why use all the yeast? The pack I used for my first batch was for 5 gallons.... or do they come in different sizes?

For dry yeast, I've been going by the assumption that a little extra dry yeast can't hurt, and once a packet is opened it will degrade fast. I did ask my LHBS once about over-pitching and was told it's impossible to over-pitch. Not sure about that but feel that pitching twice as much isn't harmful, and it's easier/more sanitary to pitch a whole packet than to dry to split it up.
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2010, 09:51:18 AM »
dry yeast should keep fine.  could also pitch the whole thing and harvest the slurry.  manner of taste, time, motivation.  dry yeast not particularly expensive. 
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Offline BrewingRover

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2010, 10:16:20 AM »
Got the digital scale..... but why use all the yeast? The pack I used for my first batch was for 5 gallons.... or do they come in different sizes?
Wyeast smackpacks aren't really enough yeast for 5 gallons of anything over 1.040 or so. They'll still work for bigger beers but you're better off making a starter.

I also brew small batches of beers that I know I'll like but my wife won't. You can ferment in a five gallon carboy with no worries and a bigger bucket should be fine, too. I have a couple of three gallon carboys I use for bulk aging of bigger beers.
It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2010, 10:23:25 AM »
FYI: 5 gallons IS a small batch. ;)
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Offline EHall

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2010, 11:43:16 AM »
I do test batches of 1gal sometimes when I wanna try something and don't think I want 5+gals of it. ( Idid a series of test batches using kaffir lime leaves and am glad I didn't brew 5gal at a time of some of them) I use a 2gal cooler with a screen at the bottom, 1 gal jugs to ferment in. So far I've pitched the entire packet or vile of yeast in with no noticable ill effects... I'll also do 2.5-3gal batches of something thats usually 7% or higher, usually anything thats going to be bottled and aged for a while... Even though its almost the same amount of time to do a smaller batch than 5+gal, I like being able to try something and tweak it til I like it w/o having to go thru 5gals of it... only so much room/time to drink...
Phoenix, AZ

Offline oscarvan

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2010, 11:47:37 AM »
Good answers everyone, thanks.....
Wooden Shoe Brew Works (not a commercial operation) Bethlehem, PA
http://www.woodenshoemusic.com/WSBW/WSBW_All_grain_Setup.html
I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline majorvices

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Re: Small batches.....
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2010, 12:07:07 PM »
Keith Y.
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