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Old 07-13-2012, 02:28 AM   #1
Jul 2012
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
Posts: 86
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I'm relatively new to the art of homebrewing, having only a few kit/extract brews under my belt. I am considering making the switch to all grain brewing, HOWEVER I'm also considering cutting my batch sizes back from the usual 5 gallon to 1 or 2 gallon brews so that I can experiment a little more with different recipes without the concern of having two cases of a brew lying around that I may or may not like.

My question, at this point, is about doing all grain brews in a one or two gallon size and what methods/equipment is most appropriate. I had planned on building my own 5 gallon mash tun/hot liquor tank set with a false bottom in the mash tun (which I will probably do, either way, at some point in the future) but I'd like some feedback on whether or not a 5 gallon mash tun would be work well for doing a one gallon batch or if it would be entirely too big.

The second part of this question, then, would be that, if the 5 gallon mash tun is too big for one gallon batches, would you recommend maybe building a smaller mash tun, say something in the 2 gallon cooler range, or just opting for the brew in a bag method?

sorry for the long winded post, but any help and advice you all can give me is graciously welcomed.

Thanks a lot!

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Old 07-13-2012, 02:35 AM   #2
CastleHollow's Avatar
Dec 2010
Midlothian, VA
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Having brewed a lot of small batches myself this past year, I'd recommend the BIAB method. Less muss, less fuss, and you don't have to worry about all the extra equipment for a batch size that small. It's a lot like extract + specialty grains, so it's an easy adjustment from extract to AG

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Old 07-13-2012, 02:39 AM   #3
Feb 2011
Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 204
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The 2 gallon cooler with a paint strainer bag inside method will work great. No extra construction to prep the cooler, no messing around with false bottoms or manifolds, easy to do on a stovetop. You can mash 4 pounds of grain and if that isn't enough, for another $10 get a second 2 gal cooler. Thats what I do, it works great for AG on 3 gal or less batches. I can do 5 gallon batches that are "almost" AG -- not quite a full volume boil and I might need 1 lb of sugar to get to a SG of 1.055 or so, but no extract.

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Old 07-13-2012, 02:42 AM   #4
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Dec 2007
"Detroitish" Michigan
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And I believe you should make a mash tun (And I've done Both BIAB and Cooler AG, and frankly I think you get better results, and it's MUCH easier using a cooler)....It's a lot less of a mess and fuss than BIAB.

A 5 gallon cooler mashtun would allow you up to 13 pounds of grain, which in a batch ranging from 1-2.5 gallon batches can make a pretty big range of beer.

Even a 1 or a 2 gallon cooler can be usefull in 1 gallon batches, if you really want

We have a ton of threads on brewing 1 and 2.5 gallon batches. Including this thread and this one.

I've put together a bit of a primer on small batch brewing here.

Heck you want a simple yet awesome small batch ag setup, especially for 1 gallon batches, and even for 2, get a 2 gallon or even a 3 gallon cooler.

Here's a brewing session I did this spring, using only my smallest cooler, and a stove top pot that held 3.5 gallons.

I am going to do a stovetop small batch kitchen sink brewing challenge. I keep my gear and grain at my girlfriends, but unpacking a box this week I found a hand full of grains. I also have a tiny bit of hops and yeast. I also have a 2 gallon cooler (which @ 1 quart/# of grain can mash 6#s of grains) I have a 5 gallon pot (that I only comfortably use it up to 3.5 gallons) my old Mr Beer keg and a 3 gallon better bottle. So my goal is to make 2-2.5 gallon batches with limited materials.

What I have on hand for ingredients are;
2.25oz Debittered Black Malt.
8 & 1/8 ounces flaked wheat.
6.5 oz flaked corn.
6# 10 oz 2-row
1.5# Dark Amber home toasted 2-row
.5# Toasted Amber 2-row
A box of quick oats, that I roasted a pound of for 40 minutes at 375
1/2 oz styrian goldings
1 oz Sterling
1oz Columbus
Us 04 and 05 yeast.
If I want I can always toast more of the 2 row....

Half pound of home toasted malt. Smells amazing.

Mashing the frst recipe now. "Kitchen Sink" Toasty Oaty Mild
Batch Size (fermenter): 2.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.037 SG
Estimated Color: 13.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 25.3 IBUs
Amt Name
2 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
1 lbs Home Toasted Amber (65.0 SRM)
8.0 oz Home Toasted Oats,
1.0 oz Debittered Black
2.0 oz Lyle's Golden Syrup (0.0 SRM)
0.22 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [13.90 %] IBUs
0.5 pkg SafAle English Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-04)

Using the braid from my regular tun in a 2 gallon cooler

Counter Top Ghetto Tier (A little foot stool, my 2 gallon cooler and a graduated bucket in the sink.)

First Runnings

3.5 gallons of wort to boil down to 2.5
(Thank god for fermcap)

Adding the ridiculously tiny amount of our hoppy friends.

Getting ready to chill

With a garden hose/faucet adapter you can use your wort chiller indoors.

Yes, that's what you think it is. The perfect small batch fermenter.

A little O2 action

Yeast time.

Batch 1 is done!!!

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Old 07-13-2012, 03:26 AM   #5
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wilserbrewer's Avatar
May 2007
Jersey Shore, New Jersey
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I say BIAB....for only a gallon, keep it as streamlined as possible, unless you are the type that loves gadgets and a production???

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Old 07-13-2012, 03:46 AM   #6
Tinga's Avatar
May 2010
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I have done sort of a hybrid of BIAB and cooler method. I bought a two gallon cooler at target for about $15 and some paint strainer bags. so mash normally in the little cooler but the bag acts as your manifold. super easy super simple. Depending if you save or toss the paint strainer bags it can be super simple clean up.

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Old 07-13-2012, 03:57 AM   #7
Sep 2011
Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 25
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BIAB for sure. easy to vary mash temperatures, easy to control volumes.

Second step: BIAB larger batch and divide into several worts, and do hop/yeast experiments.


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Old 07-13-2012, 04:59 AM   #8
Apr 2012
Chico, CA
Posts: 29
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Quick question on small batches; would using a full packet of yeast be over pitching on a half batch? Any harm in doing that?

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Old 07-13-2012, 11:52 AM   #9
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May 2007
Jersey Shore, New Jersey
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Originally Posted by zaphro View Post
Quick question on small batches; would using a full packet of yeast be over pitching on a half batch? Any harm in doing that?
Well technically you might be or are overpitching, but if you pitch the packet dry, it is said you are killing 30-40%, so likely not an issue IMO.

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Old 07-13-2012, 12:59 PM   #10
Jul 2012
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
Posts: 86
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thanks for all of the advice, it's been a huge help.

at this stage I'm thinking that a "hybrid" brew in a bag... in a smaller cooler would be my best option. seems to be the easiest, least time consuming, and most cost-efficient method, for right now. I do like gadgets and production and would probably consider "upping the ante" in the future but my wife and I are expecting a second daughter in October and, though I tentatively plan to do some brews this fall, I certainly won't have an entire day to dedicate to a brew.

@Mac951... I LOVE where you're going with this! part of my fascination with beer is how many varied results you can get by relatively small changes in the brew. So, I think that would be really interesting to try out.

Now... this brings up a few more questions, one of which has already been touched on; I plan to start doing yeast starters for my brews very soon. the question has been raised on whether a full packet of yeast in a one gallon batch is overpitching and I'd like to get a little more feedback on that. Wilserbrewer said that it shouldn't be an issue, if you pitch dry, but would a yeast starter be overkill?

the other two questions are whether or not a wort chiller would be necessary for a 1 or 2 gallon brew size, or would giving the brew pot an ice bath in the sink chill the wort enough to get to pitching temps? ...and, if you do a hybrid biab/small cooler mash, what would be the best way to sparge?

thanks again for the help. I look forward to hearing responses on these questions. I'm headed to the homebrew shop tomorrow with some birthday cash and would like to know what all kinds of goodies I should be looking into

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