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rlindsley 10-04-2012 01:27 AM

Brewing for a wedding
Hello everybody,

I have been homebrewing for about a year. I have been an extract brewer up until a couple of months ago, when I went all-grain via brew in a bag. I definitely want to upgrade to the full HLT and Mash Tun but I'm not quite there yet. I'm still doing 5 gallon batches, but will be going to 10 gallon soon.

My brother-in-law asked me if I could brew the beer for his upcoming wedding (July 2013). He wants me to use a couple of my recipes (Honey Wheat beer and a Guinness-type stout) for the event. Here are some details:

- The wedding is at a vineyard/winery that his fiance owns. There will be a lot of 'wine people' there. So I want the quality of the beer to be high.
- He wants 2 full kegs of each type of beer (1 BBL of the Honey Wheat and one of the Stout).
- I am in Massachusetts and the wedding will be in New York (eastern Long Island). This is more of a logistics issue than anything, but wanted to throw that out there in case there's anything I need to think about.

So my question is, how am I going to scale up to a 1BBL system from my current 5 gallon system? Should I try to figure out a tenant brew scenario? Or would it make sense to do 6 5-gallon batches of each (which sounds like a nightmare to me)?

Assuming I can find a 1BBL brewing system to rent/use, what are other things I need to worry about? Assuming I can scale my recipes is there anything else I need to think about (i.e. hop utilization, etc)? My 5-gallon batches have been pretty delicious but I think I may want to do a test run of a larger batch prior to making the wedding beer.

Thanks in advance for your help on this! This is my first big brewing gig and I'm super excited.


kylevester 10-04-2012 04:42 AM

Since you're upgrading to 10 gallon batches, that's only 3 of each. And that's pretty doable.

Have him buy you the extra buckets you'll need along with the airlocks and other whatnots you'll need.

For the stouts, begin brewing them in late Feb or early March. Primary each for 2-4 weeks and then keg. Then brew your honey ales maybe at the start of May, primary for 2-4 weeks and keg.

You could do 1 batch each weekend or 2 followed by 1. However it works out, but it's very doable.

I don't see a need to brew them on a 1 BBL system when you've got plenty of time to work out a very doable schedule.

y2jrock60 10-04-2012 04:47 AM

Damn, that must be a huge wedding. 60 gallons of beer seems a little excessive. I attended a wedding a few weeks ago with around 120 heavy beer drinkers and only went through maybe 20 gallons of beer.

bja 10-04-2012 10:58 AM


Originally Posted by y2jrock60 (Post 4468560)
120 heavy beer drinkers and only went through maybe 20 gallons of beer.

They weren't "heavy beer drinkers". That's less than 1-1/2 pints per person.

d_striker 10-04-2012 01:27 PM

One bbl=31 gallons. One keg=15.5 gallons.

Does your buddy want a keg or a bbl of each beer? What does your system consist of? Be specific with the size of your mash tun and boil kettle.

TopherM 10-04-2012 03:47 PM

You are going to keg these beers, not bottle them, correct? Trust me, you don't want non-homebrewers to have to deal with natural carb yeast sediment.

I recently went to a homebrew wedding where about 1/3 of the people there were homebrewers. There were really only a dozen or so people that weren't somehow affiliated with our homebrew club, either directly or by marriage/dating. At the wedding, they served 5 gallons each of:

1) American Wheat
2) Bavarian Hefewiezen
3) Marzen
4) DFH Midas Touch Clone (made specifically for the groom, as it was one of his favorites)

They also had 6 bottles of white wine, 6 bottles of red wine, and 6 bottles of champagne. There were about 45 people at the reception.

The Wheat and Hefe were tapped about 3/4 into the reception. There was about 1/2 a gallon of Marzen left at the end of the reception. Surprisingly, we went through 3 gallons of the Midas Clone. Maybe not surprisingly, since I drank about 1/2 a gallon of it myself (and got to take a gallon home!).

Anyway, my point is that even among a wedding of lots of homebrewers, virtually everyone went for the "vanilla" styles. If I were you, I'd plan on brewing twice as much wheat as stout.

If you want high quality, at the least plan on brewing the stout about 8-10 weeks before the event, and the honey wheat about 4 weeks before the event to get each beer at its peak. Crush the grain the same day you brew. PAY ATTENTION TO YEAST PITCH RATES. Fermentation temp control, especially on the Wheat!! OXYGENATE OXYGENATE OXYGENATE when you pitch. If you don't have an O2 setup, get a big whisk and plan on whisking like a fiend for about 15 minutes after you pitch.

That'll do'er.

rlindsley 10-04-2012 04:31 PM

Hi d_striker and TopherM,

My brother wants 2 kegs of each type of beer. I am planning on force carbing into corny kegs (no bottles).

Also, I have a 1 micron cartridge filter. Should I filter both beers, or just the honey wheat? I'm not sure if the stout should be filtered.

Here are some of the key components of my system:

- Stir plate/1000ml flask
- Outdoor propane burner
- Keggle (15.5 gallon)
- Immersion wort chiller
- Simple aeration system (http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/aeration-system.html) with diffusion stone
- 3 5-gallon buckets
- 1 bottling bucket
- 2 5-gallon carboys (one with a spigot, one without)
- 1 micron cartridge filter
- 5 corny kegs
- 1 5-pound CO2 tank with dual regulator
- 1 Johnson controls digital temperature regulator
- Danby 4.4 Cubic Foot fridge - Can store 2 corny's or 1 carboy
- Lots of various airlocks, bungs and other gadgets

The only all-grain brewing I've done has been via Brew in a Bag. So I don't have a HLT or mash tun.

Good advice on brewing more of the honey wheat than the stout. My brother prefers stout-type brews, but everybody I've asked to taste the honey wheat loves it, so I expect to go through a lot of it.

Thanks for your help on this!

TopherM 10-04-2012 04:38 PM

You don't want to filter the wheat. It's the proteins and yeast in suspension in the wheat that make it a wheat. It won't taste the same if you filter that stuff out. You don't want to clean up a wheat!

For the stout, I'd just plan on letting it sit in the keg at serving temps long enough to clear instead of filtering it. Given 2-3 weeks, all of the heavy proteins and yeast will settle to the bottom of the keg and come out in the first pour. Just due to the SRM, though, there's not much to be benefitted from filtering or even clearing a stout that you are going to force carb.

I wouldn't filter either one.

gswartley 10-04-2012 04:39 PM


My sugestion is to join a brew club. They can help with any knowledge for the big brew and possibly can help with the equipment.
If your lucky some of them may even help with the brew day so you could possibly brew it all at once.

Good luck

d_striker 10-04-2012 06:55 PM

It's going to be hard to brew a 15 gallon batch with just a keggle without brewing a higher gravity beer and diluting to desired volume. While this is possible, I imagine it would be challenging to really nail a recipe on your first go around. You don't want everyone at the wedding drinking beer that you're not proud of.

You could easily do a 12-13 gallon, no-sparge full volume BIAB batch though. Go for as big of a batch as possible, depending on your grain bill, and split the finished wort three ways amongst your carboys and buckets. Since you can only fit two fermentation vessels in your ferm chamber, I would ferment them in the basement or somewhere else cool. Now that it's getting cooler out, I doubt you'll have ferm temp issues like you would if it was summer.

If you brew the stout now, it will start getting really good by July. If your buddy is truly looking for a Guinness type beer, he may be disappointed as it's impossible to really get a close clone of Guinness with CO2. (Guinness sucks BTW :D)

You can do the same thing for the honey wheat but brew this one a little closer to the wedding. Wheat beers are at their peak much earlier than other beers. I would brew this one maybe 2-3 months before the wedding.

You will need one more corny keg by the time you're ready to keg your Honey Wheat. Add another regulator body, if possible, to carb all three beers at the same time. You will also eventually need somewhere cold to store all six kegs full of goodness.

If you can settle with 10 gallons of each style, your logistics become a little more managable for your current situation. You could get away with your current CO2 tank and dual body regulator from carbonating to serving. Being able to keg in Sankey kegs would make it even easier, except when it comes time to transporting them.

ETA-Oh yeah, I personally wouldn't filter either beer.

ETA2-I just re-read your post again and realized that you did indeed mean to say 1 bbl of each. The above post was assuming you wanted 15 gallons of each. I heard somwhere that reading is fundamental.

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