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Old 08-03-2012, 01:10 PM   #1
billl
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May 2012
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Anybody have any good tips for shortening up my brewday?

Here is my current situation. I'm limited to brewing on weeknights only. ie weekends booked with other commitments for foreseeable future. I get home about 5pm, but I've got a 3 yr old in tow that needs dinner etc. My wife gets home about 6:30, so that is basically my start point. I can do some prep earlier than that, but nothing to time sensitive since it will likely be interrupted by my daughter.

So far, I've been able to knock out extract batches pretty easily but haven't figured out how to squeeze a full brew day into a 4 hour window.

So, anyone with a brew schedule compacted into that type of window?

 
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:03 PM   #2
libeerty
 
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I do extract for that very reason. I just don't have all that much time.
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:06 PM   #3
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Certainly possible if everything goes well. Assuming you have everything ready to go, for me, it's about an hour to reach boil, I do fulls, an hour for the boil, hour at most for cooling the wort, hour for transferring, pitching and cleanup. It can certainly be done.
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:11 PM   #4
HawksBrewer
 
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When you say full brew day do you mean all-grain, extract w/ specialty grains or extract alone? It would be difficult to fit an all-grain, stove-top brew day into a 4 hour window, but I know some experienced brewers w/ power burners can get their temps quicker, saving time.

If you are doing some form of extract brew and only doing partial boils, then boil your top-off water the night before and leave on the stove to cool overnight and throughout the day. Also, you only really need to steep the grains for 20-30 minutes which can save some time.

On the cooling side of things invest in a wort chiller (you can make a DIY one for around $50-75). That will take you from 212 -> 70 in around 15 minutes w/ stirring, maybe quicker for a partial boil.

 
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:17 PM   #5
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Break down the steps in your brewday that HAVE to precede one another, then work other tasks between them. For example, while you're heating strike water, weigh and mill your grains. While you're mashing, weigh out your hop additions and begin cleaning/sanitizing your fermenter and other equipment. While you're boiling, clean out your mash tun and other pre-boil items you may have soiled (HLT, mash paddle, etc). Upgrade your wort chiller and/or pre-chill your tap water using a pond pump submerged in a bucket of ice water once your wort temp reaches around 100* or so to get those last 30-40 degrees to pitching temp down more quickly.

Really it's best to look at what you absolutley HAVE to do, then work other things around it. Any time spent standing around is wasted time. I stovetop brew with a crappy 25' immersion chiller and can still knock out a brew day in 4 and a half hours if I'm on my game.

Also consider no-sparge brewing, or mashing for only half an hour to 45 minutes. You're going to lose some efficiency, but it will save crucial time off of your brew day.

I haven't read up on no-chill brewing, but that's another option to consider.

 
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:18 PM   #6
Skelator
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Using a turkey fryer instead of your stove.
Wash everything the night before, rinse and sanitize the day of.
Measure everything out the night before.
Get the water going as your santizing/prepping other stanges.
Get an immersion chiller.

 
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:18 PM   #7
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I did one last Friday night. Worked well. Just make sure you have everything ready and clean as you wait for the boil, etc.

 
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:28 PM   #8
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Didn't consider if you were doing AG, if you are, not likely in a 4 hr window. Extract certainly possible.
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:35 PM   #9
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A few things that sped up a brewday for me:

Get hot-water from the washing-machine hot-water line. I put a garden-hose Y-splitter with valves, and a end-cap for when it's not in use (just in case that valve leaks) Starting your strike water at 120 degrees speeds things up a lot.

Get a good burner, the Blichmann gets that strike water hot fast.

Clean things during the mash.

Don't bother with a mash-out, and don't stress about having sparge-water the perfect temp. Warm will do.

Start heating up your runnings while you're sparging.

Clean the mash tun during the boil. (obvious)

Find a fast way to dump your spent grain. I found I was spending almost an hour scooping grain into a trash bag, then cleaning the tun.
I bought some heavy-duty trash bags, covered the tun, dumped it over, and hosed out the mash tun. By the time the boil was done, the tun was dry and ready to be put away.

Get the best wort-chiller you can afford. Stir the wort as often as possible while chilling.

Once it gets down to 80 or so, and the chilling starts to slow down, just dump into your fermenter, and move it to the fermentation chamber (If you don't have a temp-controlled freezer, get one )
Let the freezer get it down to pitching temp overnight, and pitch in the morning.

Wash the kettle if you can still keep your eyes open. Clean up everything else the next day.

With no wasted time, I can do a 13 gallon batch in 5-6 hours. That's nothing to brag about, but I can't see any way to speed things up more.

Let us know if you come up with any other ideas.

 
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:38 PM   #10
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Definitely have everything measured, prepped, and cleaned the night before.

CLEAN AS YOU GO!!! There's really no reason everything except the brew kettle shouldn't be clean and put away before the boil ends.

Definitely get the most efficient propane burner you can afford. The more efficient the burner, the less time it is going to take to reach steeping and boiling temps.

Definitely get the most efficient plate chiller, immersion chiller, or counterflow chiller you can afford. With the right equipment, you can easily get your wort down to yeast pitching temps in 5-10 minutes, saving 20-30 minutes on brewday over more common methods!

With the right equipment, your extract brewday could easily look like this:

1) Heat strike water to steeping temps: 15 minutes
2) Steep specialty grains: 30 minutes
3) Heat to boiling temps: 10 minutes
4) Boil: 60 minutes
5) Cooling: 10 minutes

That's 2:05. Factor in about another 20-30 minutes for miscellaneous activities, and you're still under 3:00.

It's all about the right gadgets! You are probably a Blichmann burner ($149.00) and a 40 plate chiller ($100.00) away from cutting 1.5-2.0 hours from your brewday.
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