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.