Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thoughts on 1-Gallon Batches

I haven't brewed up a small batch of beer in a few years.  I've been wanting to spend some time doing recipe comparisons, and I thought that small batches would be a great way to do that.  My last three brews have been a 3-gallon batch of Centennial Pale Ale, and two 1-gallon versions of a Black IPA recipe I'm tweaking.  

I've brewed these using the Brew In A Bag (BIAB) method, which is also new to me.  

The thing I like about small batches is that it can help me keep a variety of beers in the house.  I am able to brew 3-4 different styles and not have hundreds of beers taking up space in my house.  When you're brewing 5-gallons of beer at a time, you better either have people over all the time, or give away a lot of beer.  Otherwise it beings to pile up.

The work per ounce is far and away the worst part about a 1-gallon batch.  Spending half of a day brewing for a whole 10 beers? I'm not doing that again.  Not to mention that the small batch size makes it more difficult to hold the mash temperature when doing BIAB. I have to constantly keep an eye on the temperature to ensure it doesn't drop too low.

More effort for less product.  No thanks.

Going forward, 1-gallon batches are just too small for me to spend the time brewing.  They might be nice for recipe testing, but I have a hard time spending the 3-4 hours on a brew day for only 10 beers.  I enjoy the brewing process, but the amount of brewing necessary with these small batches just won't work for me.

With 1-gallon batches keeping a favorite beer in stock requires a lot of brewing.  That is why I'm going to stick to 2.5 gallons as my small batch size going forward.  I think it strikes the perfect balance between 1-gallon, and 5-gallon. And it is dead simple to scale a recipe up or down to 5-gallons.  In a small kitchen I can understand the allure of a 1-gallon batch, but if you can brew 1-gallon, you can also brew 2.5, and get rid of most of the negatives I've experienced.  

I like giving away my beer, and getting feedback from other brewers.  Only having 10 of a particular brew makes giving away the beer that much harder.  I'd like to get feedback from 5-6 people on recipe, that would be over half of the batch, and I worry about the differences in mash temp once it is scaled up to a full-size batch.

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