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Old 06-18-2009, 05:09 PM   #1
snipper_cr
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Default Micro-mini AG brewing

So based on a few ideas posted here, my own research and work with Beer Smith, I have came up with the idea of Micro-mini all-grain brewing. Since I lack the equipment, space and BTUs to do a full all grain recipe, as well as the mouths to drink 5 gallons of beer, I decided to down scale. I have the designs to do 3 gallon batches which makes me pretty happy.

However, I want to do some experimentation and try different types of beer styles, which all grain brewing allows me to do. Also, its very scalable (to an extent, at least grain is).

I have an approximately 1 liter thermos which is AMAZING at holding heat. Basically I will use that as my mash tun, batch sparge and boil the wart that comes off of that, put in a 2 liter bottle, pitch yeast and add a few pellets of hops and vola'! Micro mini batches! Due to the size, even if something goes terribly wrong, I am not out a lot of beer that I have to waste (the money isnt what I am worried about).

Things that come to mind thinking of this: yeast and hops scalability. I've heard neither scale all that well and even if I do get a good beer using this method, there is not way to tell if a full batch would taste the same. Also, amount lost due to evaporation during the 60 minute boil. With a 5 gallon batch, half a gallon lost to evaporation is nothing. With a smaller batch, half a gallon is nearly all there is. Not sure how I can overcome that one. Especially when the overall batch may be around a gallon in total!

So thats what I've been thinking about recently and wanted to bounce these ideas off you kind folks. Any thoughts, inputs or suggestions? I think this could be really cool if it worked.

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Old 06-18-2009, 08:21 PM   #2
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That would be a cool experiment, but I don't think you're going to get the results you're looking for. Especially if you're looking to possibly scale these up to 3-5 gallon batches in the future. Honestly, you're going to be using a thermos that can hold the same amount of liquid that most people use for just a starter for a batch. If you're looking into experimenting a little bit, you might want to just stick with the 3 gallon batches that you were going for. Then again, you may just find that this type of brewing is perfect for you. Go ahead and try it. Like you said, the worst thing that could happen is you don't like the beer and you toss out just a small little batch.

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Old 06-18-2009, 10:46 PM   #3
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A+ for creativity..

but the problem is you'll be making, at most, two bottles of beer per batch. its a lot of work for very little payoff.

it might be better to make a 3 gallon batch, split the runnings evenly to three 1 gallon primaries, and do your experiements with different yeasts, hops, and other flavor additions that way.

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Old 06-18-2009, 11:08 PM   #4
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Ah, Malkore +1 for the good idea. That makes sense. Don't have much experimentation with grains or hops for bitterness but maybe with other adjuncts and flavorings. I like that idea.

I think I am still going to try the thermos method, just for the heck of it. Worse comes to worse, I am out a few pounds of grain, a few hours of time and a few minutes of time typing up the results!

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Old 06-19-2009, 12:08 AM   #5
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If you happen to make good beer, you'll be pretty surprised how fast it dissapears. A thermos size mash is going to yield like 1 or 2 bottles. You're talking about measuring ingredients, dirtying up dishes, sanitizing everything, waiting 6 weeks for fermentation and bottle conditioning to complete. For 2 beers. Not in any way worth it what so ever. However it is a pretty cool idea and one day I'd probably try it for novelty.

I'd try the 3 gallon suggestion. 3 gallons if bottled in 22oz bottles yields about 17 beers. If you are a light drinker one of those might do you for an evening, maybe two. That way you have fewer bottles, but still yield enough to cover the effort you will have to put in.

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Old 06-19-2009, 01:19 AM   #6
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I read an article about these guys who were brewing beer on a ship or something using a coffee maker.

A rolling pin to crush the grain. A coffee maker to mash as it keeps it roughly 150-170. Then, they used the coffee filter to strain the wort. A saucepan to boil the wort. Then you bottle the stuff. Add a little yeast and a jar w/ a cloth on top or stopper and airlock and you are set. If you re-use your yeast cake I don't see that there would be much difference from this and a 5 gallon batch.

You don't need to wait 6 weeks to drink beer. If you pop it in the fridge to 'lager', it clears up nicely, start to finish in 4-5 days, if you don't mind non-carbonated beer. In under two weeks you can have carbonated beer - providing you choose an appropriate style.

The only real problem I see with nano-beer, is the fact you'd need to make it every day or two - if you enjoy drinking a good beer.

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Old 06-19-2009, 02:09 AM   #7
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Just do it! Experimentation is the pillar of invention (who said that?). Learn from your failures and gain from your successes.

Maybe a 2 bottle batch might just be the ticket for 'survival ingenuity'. You'll discover other problems along the way that may either promote or defeat your idea. But, just do it.

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Old 06-19-2009, 11:13 AM   #8
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Whether you make .5 gallon or 10 gallons, the important parts of the process take about the same amount of time. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, it's a lot of work for a few bottles of beer. Also, to be a true test of a recipe that can be scaled up, you need to follow the same process as you would for a big batch. If you mash for 60 minutes, sparge for 60 minutes, boil for 90 minutes, and ferment for 12 days, you'll need to do the same thing with the smaller batch.

Personally I would recommend making at least 1.5 - 2 gallons of beer at a time. Bottled beer will last quite a while, and you can drink a few bottles, and save some. This would also allow you to make the same batch 2-3 times, and taste all three, without having 15+ gallons of a similar beer on hand.

I've never heard that hops and yeast don't scale well. In general, you double the batch size, you double the amounts and vice versa. What does get tricky though is you'll need a method to measure the smaller amounts of ingredients. (i.e Are you able measure .39 oz of hops?)

Regarding boil off, this will be relative to the size opening of your pot. So if you use a kettle and boil off 1 gallon in an hour, doesn't mean you'll boil off a gallon of water in your spaghetti pot on the stove. All you need to do is take your pot, measure a few gallons of water and boil it for an hour. Figure out what you have left, and that's your boil off rate (approx). You'll just need to scale your recipe accordingly.

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