Monday, July 1, 2013

About what I said earlier.....

Yeah, so that whole "I'm going to post more" thing didn't happen.  It needs too.  I have been outstandingly lazy the last few weeks and need to bottle, a lot.  Tomorrow I am getting started on that and working on my first in a series of lab styled tests.  I will be using my small batches as a way to test out a couple theories, challenge some of the myths out there, and just have a little fun and do some crazy things.  I need ideas however.  I will be posting a couple places around the internet looking for some ideas for benchmark tests and such.  If you happen to be reading this and think of a cool idea, fill in a comment below.

So, on to actually getting on with all of this.

Until next time, cheers!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Why I One Gallon Brew: An Unsolicited Rebuttal

Over the weekend someone showed me a blog post about one gallon brewing. ( I was excited to see that more and more people are accepting the fact that smaller batches are feasible.  That was until I was catching up on some reading online last night and stumbled onto the reddit post about this blog post. (

Let me preface this rant response by saying that I love reddit and I am always giving people suggestions and asking questions myself.  It is a great little community.  I love that it is a small place that is more restrained than some of the bigger forums that are just 10,000 people thinking their opinion is right.  Usually on the homebrewing subreddit people are open to discussion about why a particular method works or doesn't and what it best for that situation.  Now on to the fun part.

I will just post a response that article got and then my response to that.  If anyone wants to respond there is a comment section below and I will happily talk about why I like one gallon brewing.

  • The only problem is.. you end up with 8 pints.. for nearly the same amount of work.
The same can be said the other why around.  Why not brew 10 gal? 15? 20?  The reason that I homebrew is not so that I have a lot of beer.  Trust me, for a lot less work, time, and money I can go buy beer at the store down the street. (and I still do)  I am brewing to learn how to make the best beer possible, not the most.

  • Might work for some people, but at the end of the day, why brew if you don't have enough to share with family and friends? Also, there is less room for error in smaller batches, e.g. more fluctuation of mash temps, more exacting measuring is required, caramelization may make more as there is much more surface area per gallon of wort, etc....
I have plenty to share with family and friends.  The fact that I am brewing smaller batches doesn't mean that I am brewing less.  I make between 1-3 batches a week right now.  While I may not be able to give out a 6 pack of my brew to a friend, I can give them a 6 pack of 6 different batches.  Variety is the spice of life.  When I got into craft beer, once a week and I would spend the afternoon making a nice dinner and grab what ever sampler pack we hadn't tried yet. When we ran out of samplers, we moved to mix sixes.  I would rather have 6 different beers than 6 of the same.  So variety is nice when you can brew this many different batches at a time.
There are some things that you have to take into consideration when brewing one gallon batches.  More precise measurements is one of them.  Measure carefully, but you don't have to pull out the microscope to do it.  For water I use a 1 quart measuring cup.  I use a simple analog scale for my grain that I use at work for every other customer buying grain.  I have a jeweler's scale (or a dealer's scale if you ask Amazon's "User's also bought:" list) for my hops.  My oven's warm setting is at 160F and if I am mashing even as low as 148F, I don't see a significant rise in temps over 90 minutes (less than 0.5F).  If you are using your 5-10 gallon kettle to boil your one gallon batch, then yes your boil off will be insane and you will caramelize the wort much quicker.  As with anything though, the right tool for the job is required.  I use a 3 gallon stainless kettle I bought from Walmart for under $10.  The height to width ratio is comparable to my 7.5 gallon kettle (yes I still do 5 gallon batches from time to time, but most do 1 gallon).

  • This article is insane. What type of crazy person spends that long brewing beer in such a small yield... AND THEN CAN'T GET RID OF IT?!
Can't speak for the original author here.  Only going to say that if you brew often enough to have a variety of beer, it is quite easy to accidentally start a stockpile and have too much just sitting around.

  • I brew at least once a week and still cannot keep up with home much beer I drink. This is ridiculous. 
Then 5 or 10 gallons works better for you.  That doesn't mean the idea is ridiculous.  Some people a dozen cookies when they bake, others make 200.  It all depends on your needs.  Just because someone else's needs are different doesn't make it a bad idea, just not something for you.

  • I can only laugh after reading this. I'm in the process of going towards 10 gallon batches instead of 5.
As said before, then 1 gallon batches aren't for you.  Many one gallon brewers would laugh at you for making 10 gallons of IPA that will most likely fade before you are done drinking it.  I still brew 5 gallons and am working on my 10 gallon system right now.  However that is only used for long term aging beers such as Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, and sours.  I still even brew 1 gallon test batches first to make sure that it is a sound recipe for me (except the sours).

  • When you make a great beer you only have 1 gallon of it! Possibly less if tested gravity. You spend nearly the same amount of time making 1 gallon as you would making 5 gallons.
Yes, you do only have 1 gallon of it, however you should be able to replicate that process and make more.  If you can't rebrew a beer and have it come on with some semblance of consistency then you really need to take a look at how you are brewing and make some changes. That way you also get fresh beer.
Yes it is nearly the same amount of time, what difference does that make?  It takes nearly the same amount of time to brew 30bbl of beer also.  Still doing a mash and boil.  I really don't understand this argument at all.  I brew because I like to brew.  If I get to do it twice a week I could spend $30 a batch to make 5 gallons at a time, or $5 to brew one gallon.  I'm not going to drink 10 gallons in a week, but I want to brew more than once.  So I drop my batch size.  The time spent doing it isn't wasted, its spent doing a hobby that I love and am passionate about.  If people want to clock themselves into their homebrewery and work while brewing and make a big deal about how much they are getting for the time, go ahead.  I, on the other had, will just brew to brew and I don't need stacks of cases lining my house to still enjoy the hobby.

  • So, how exactly does one all-grain at that scale? BIAB? Just mash in the boil kettle and remove the bag before boiling? A side note, for those worried about yeast costs: starters! You could do a bunch of small batches from one packet of yeast.
THANK YOU!  A smart question about it that isn't just berating the idea.  And an intelligent thought about how to do it!  Now to actually answer the question.  I do a BIAB, but have seen people convert 1-3 gallon drink coolers to be little mash tuns.  Just because it is small doesn't mean anything has to be different.

That is enough of a rant for this post.  So the moral of the story is: brew to brew, whether it be 1 gallon or 1 bbl.  I do highly suggest that people try out 1 gallon brewing if only for your craziest ideas.  I could never have afforded my IIPA braggot recipes at a 5 gallon scale do to the massive amount of hops and honey.  However, at 1 gallon I could do them and rebrew them when the time came and I wanted more.  It also gives you a chance to play around with new ingredients.  Any time when get something new to the store that I want to play with, I can without worrying about making 5 gallons of weird beer.  My smoked porter, honestly tastes like I'm licking a fire pit and I have dumped both bottles I have opened.  I will probably end up dumping most of the batch.  Had that been 5 gallons it would have sucked.  So go brew a 1 gallon test batch.  Do some single hop IPA's with new hops to see what they taste like.  Do a sahti, do a mead, do whatever sounds good.  Want to put a bunch of juniper berries in an Irish Red, go for it.

We are in this hobby because we have fun doing it.  So go have fun.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Batch 30: Lemon Green Tea Mead and a note about the future

Tonight  I started my latest batch of mead.  I decided to go for a lemon green tea mix.   It was a fairly uneventful process tonight that just involved me adding 3# of wildflower honey to a 1 gallon jug and topping it up with water a bit of nutrient and shaking the snot out of it for a while.  Came out to 25.8 Plato.  Added some Lavlin 71-B to it and will add some nutrient for the next couple days to make sure it goes alright.  In secondary, I will add some very strong green tea and a lemon zest/fruit tincture that I need to put together this week.  I may toss just a bit of sweetener in this, but want to make it very green tea like (but then again, honey goes great in green tea).

As for the future of this blog.  I started out saying I was going to discus the ups and downs of brewing 1 gallon batches.   I haven't really done that.  This is basically just a log for my brews.  That will change.  I will try to dissect a topic fairly often and run some test batches to show of some different ways of doing things.  I want this to be a place where people will decide that 1 gallon batches aren't a waste of time and energy.  In the process I can talk about things such as brew in a bag vs a traditional mash, high sugar worts, different hopping techniques, and anything else I (or you) can think of.

If you have an idea for one of these topics, let me know.  Other wise I will just come up with stuff on my own.  I also want to work on trying to do some more videos too, but thats a few steps away still.

Until next time,

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Busy Busy Bee

I brewed twice this week, along with bottling three batches.  So let's just get started.

Batch 028: C'est What?

That's right, another saison.  This time a black saison.  I wanted something similar to the last but with a touch of roast and a nice black color.  I went with Pils again for the base and a bit a wheat, but threw in just a bit of midnight wheat and debittered black for color and a touch of roastiness.   Kept the hopping schedule the same as the last for a bit on consistency.  I was a little high on my OG: 15.8 instead of 13.9, but that's alright.

Batch 029: The Wee One

Yes, another rebrew.  This was tasty though, so I'm doing it again.  Same recipe (kind of....).  Everything started out great.  It was also my first day brewing outside this year.  Still did a 1 gallon batch, just used the little 3 gallon pot on my propane burner.  This was fun because I had to turn my regulator all the way down to keep the wort from jumping out of the pot.  It was a nice day out and I got to just sit back and read for a while during the boil.

 As I was mashing I noticed that my preboil gravity was extremely high.  I added 2 qts of water to help lower it, but it was still high.  Later, I found out that I had multipled the recipe by 1.5 to give me a bigger batch.  I had forgotten that and brewed it as a 1 gallon batch instead.  So my nice light 2% scottish 60/- is more like a big scottish 80/-.  I'm ok with that though too. 


Last night I bottled up three batches to free up some fermenters.  I bottled up the C'est San, the 15 min IPA and my brown sugar cider.  I don't think I will do three batches in one night again.  The bottling isn't so bad, just resetting everything sucks.  I am working on something to fix that though.  If it works out, details will be here.

To come this week:

This week I am making another mead and a special beer.  Look forward to that.

Until then, Cheers!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Alright so it has been a while since I've brewed.  Mainly because I am too lazy to bottle and have more than a few batches that should be bottled soon.  Up until recently I wanted to brew, but saw it as a chore more than the relaxing hobby it was.  This scared me a lot since I am throwing myself into this with a leap of faith.  The last couple days have thrown me back and reminded me why I do this.  I spent 14 hours at a beer fest Saturday pouring mead and talking to brewers about beers.  It was nice to be considered a colleague for once.  I was happy to be cold and yelling over obnoxious music to talk about about mead to people.  Then this morning as I was mashing in my latest batch (a full post will come on that later) I watched the video Goose Island put out for their 25th anniversary and it lit a fire in my heart again.  Heart and Soul is back and expect more posts, more detailed posts, and a wider range of brews to come in the next few months. 

Welcome back and cheers!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Batch 26: C'est San and Batch 27: Brown Sugar, How Come You Taste So Good

Well I made up two batches this week.  I straight up stole a saison recipe from a coworker, swapped out the hops for my EXP 6300's hoping that they give a nice flavor to it and used the dry Belle Saison yeast from Danstar.  I haven't tried that yeast yet so it should be fun, and actually this is my first saison.  I already have a couple more in the works so thats nice.  I was a little high on my gravity (OG of 18Plato), hopefully that isn't too bad, but I did mash at 151F so it should attenuate out. 

I also mixed up the second gallon of apple cider.  For this one I just added 8oz of light brown sugar.  Both are going crazy in the fermenter and looking good.

Side note: not really sure why I am still posting here.  I see hits and that's cool.  I hope that I am helping someone out, but I think I am just using it mostly as a (poor) back up of brewing notes.  Oh well, if you are reading see you in a couple of days.  Bottling the dark chocolate stout and brewing the scottish 60/- again.


Recipe for C'est San:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Batch 26: Cranberry Cider

I haven't really had too much time to do anything recently, but I did pick up a couple gallons of apple juice today to make up some cider to help with the hot summer coming up.  Went simple with 1 gallon of juice, 8oz of dried cranberries and some nutrient.  Even this post is quick and dirty, but my to brew list keeps growing and I am out of space/time/money/etc so I'm scraping by and doing what I can.  Should be brewing this weekend.  Probably going to do another cider along with an American Wheat using my EXP 6300 hops since they didn't go too well in the IPA, maybe this will work.

Until next time, Cheers.