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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > I had a crazy idea - "Test Batching" Recipes...
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:02 PM   #1
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Default I had a crazy idea - "Test Batching" Recipes...

So I'm still piecing through the idea, but I'm wondering if this is an old topic already covered, or if anyone else does this and can weigh in...

I LOVE cooking. I love making stuff up and seeing how it works. Of course, your reward is near-instant. Season steak, grill steak, eat steak. We all know beer isn't quite the same.

But then I got to thinking... "What if I could 'deconstruct' my recipes into individual 'flavored worts' and then mix and match those worts into a beer?!?"

It's GOTTA work, right?!

Let's take for example a simple brown ale... Maybe 7 pounds of base malt, a pound, pound-and-a-half of a crystal... Maybe a quarter-pound of chocolate, maybe some Melanoiden or Vienna in there, whatever. You feel me, right?! Then I wonder, "Hey, what if I wanted to try some honey malt in there?" I ponder some other possibilities and suddenly I have 4 different yet vaguely similar recipes... SO, I tweak my recipes to the proper scale (with help from Beer Smith,) and then mash each grain separately. Now this MIGHT not work perfectly because of diasticity, but I could improvise by adding a small amount of the base malt to any specialty malt, and can of course mash for a bit longer if needbe... For some of the smaller quantities, I'd think I could even "BIAB" to get my sugars out. For the chocolates or anything roasted, I could simply steep them since they've already been converted.

When I was done, I'd have a hodge-podge of different worts, all in varying quantities. I'd of course make sure to measure post-mash volumes for each so that I could be sure to maintain the proper ratios for each "test" recipe.

My guess is then that I would add my invidual worts into a brew pot (feeling much like a witch at that point) in carefully-measured quantities and boil each beer separately. Hopping would be a smidge of a challenge at this point, but again I'd rely on Beersmith and a very sensitive kitchen scale to use the proper amount. Yeast would also be an issue - I imagine I'd get the best results by choosing the same yeast for all recipes, then creating a starter and "divvying up" the yeast as best as possible - either by volume or most likely by weight.

I could then ferment these micro-batches directly into growlers (I also have some very small brewing buckets that would work.) I could rack them into a second growler (or for that matter, pour very gently into a sterile soup pot, rinse growler, and then pour back) and then bottle-carb them there. No need for a bottling bucket or even bottles.

What I'm TRYING to do is expand my knowledge and palette by brewing in smaller batches with a wider variety of grains and ingredients. I'd be able to try a wide variety of spices, fruits, sugars, and other adjuncts. I realize that my ratios might not always be perfect, and that anything that I ended up liking might not translate to full scale and still taste the same, but by doing this process I'd hopefully be able to eventually learn what needs adjusted to make the full-size batch taste just like the mini-batch.

Sorry if this sounds crazy/moronic/silly, but I'm REALLY starting to enjoy my homebrewing lately, and I want to get better at it without A) spending a fortune and B) having a TON of beer sitting around.

So all that being said, I welcome your ideas/suggestions.

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Old 02-01-2013, 10:04 PM   #2
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So basically creating extracts at home and working with them as such?

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Old 02-01-2013, 10:07 PM   #3
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I say go for it! I did something similar with hop blends and it turned out great. Here's a link.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/hop-...esults-303086/

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Old 02-01-2013, 10:24 PM   #4
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So basically creating extracts at home and working with them as such?
In a nutshell, yes - but they wouldn't be "extracts" - they'd basically be individual "mini-worts" that then I'd mix-and-match into various batches and then boil.

However, a bunch of "extracts" is what eventually lead me to this idea.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:36 AM   #5
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It may end up being easier to buy all the ingredients mix them into 4 different batches before the mash. I guess it depends if you have more batches to do or more different ingredients, because you'll either have to do a mash per batch or a mash per ingredient. I'd say use whichever method let's you do fewer mashes.

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Old 02-02-2013, 02:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patro View Post
It may end up being easier to buy all the ingredients mix them into 4 different batches before the mash. I guess it depends if you have more batches to do or more different ingredients, because you'll either have to do a mash per batch or a mash per ingredient. I'd say use whichever method let's you do fewer mashes.
I agree. The original idea sounds ike more work than doing it the traditional way.
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:59 AM   #7
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Okay - I'm not against that idea. In fact, you're right - 8 ingredients = 8 mashes... 8 ingredients spread across 5 recipes = 5 mashes.

So I guess really the question is, CAN you brew beer a gallon at a time?

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Old 02-02-2013, 03:11 AM   #8
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Okay - I'm not against that idea. In fact, you're right - 8 ingredients = 8 mashes... 8 ingredients spread across 5 recipes = 5 mashes.

So I guess really the question is, CAN you brew beer a gallon at a time?
Sure. Most people feel that it's not worth it for the amount of effort it takes, but you can do it.
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:34 AM   #9
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d ooh double posted

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Old 02-02-2013, 05:13 AM   #10
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I do stove top brew in a bag doing about 1.25 gal batches. I do it because I like trying lots of styles or variations on a recipe.

I find it is not really that much effort. Compared to my 5 gal setup I find it is easier to setup and cleanup, the weights involved are easier and the cooling is easier. Only draw back is sometimes running out of a really good beer, but I just make it again.

Because its so easy I just brew around other things I am doing (even work sometimes). Lets me do an average of a brew a week.

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