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Old 09-16-2007, 12:57 AM   #1
Sep 2007
Posts: 25

I'm thinking of scaling down my batches of homebrew.

My dilemma:
It simply takes too long for me to go through what I make because 1) I drink most of the beer that I brew and 2) I'm also an avid athlete so I usually limit myself to a few beers/week. But there are so many receipes, clones, and experiments, that I want to try!!!

My solution: Brew smaller batches more often. I'll start making 2.5gal batches instead of the usual 5gal. (I'll also look into hosting a few more beer tasting parties)

My questions:

1.) Will the extra headspace in my primary effect fermentation? (3gal in a 6.5gal bucket) Fermentation should still displace all the air with CO2, right?

2.) Should I get a smaller secondary, like a 3gal carboy? This seems to be the more crucial question. Will the extra headspace promote significant oxidation of my beer?


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Old 09-16-2007, 01:14 AM   #2
Aug 2007
Jersey Shore
Posts: 109

I often consider going 2.5, just so I can drink more of variety....experiment. I too am an athlete and am not pounding beers by any stretch of the imagination. My simple solution is the Mr. Beer 2.5 Gal keg. There are tons around, heck people probably want to give them away. I'm a primary only brewer, so it works for me. Enjoy your Home Brew.

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Old 09-16-2007, 02:32 AM   #3
May 2007
Central Ohio
Posts: 523
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I was just looking at your post about 5 mins ago and I ran across this on the BYO website. Looks like in July 07 they had an article about scaling down your brews, it might be worth back ordering that issue.

Originally Posted by BYO
Small Scale Brewing Jul, 2007
Sometimes scaling down your brewing efforts can scale up your enthusiasm. Homebrew can be made in smaller batches than 5 gallons (19 L) and we give you the how, why and when to brew efficiently at a reduced scale.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Primary: Fat Tire clone
Secondary: Summit IPA
On Tap: Edwort's Apfelwein
Up Next: Blue Moon clone, Muddy Waters Ale
Coming Soon: Geforce Shugga

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Old 09-16-2007, 02:54 AM   #4
adx's Avatar
Mar 2007
Scaggsville, MD
Posts: 925
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I've been thinking about doing the same thing. I was planning on getting a 3 gallon carboy to use and primary only. This way I can start to a lot more experimenting and some AG batches on my kitchen stove in a 5 gal pot.

I have the July issue of BYO and the article is a bit light on the details. One of the things I did pick up from it was to use a refractometer to do all your initial gravity readings. That way you don't have to toss so much from the test jar.

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Old 09-16-2007, 02:56 AM   #5
Yuri_Rage's Avatar
Jul 2006
Posts: 14,290
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I want to keep brewing at the same rate (15 gallons at a time) and share lots of beer. That's my plan for now...
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Old 09-16-2007, 11:04 AM   #6
Coastie's Avatar
Jun 2006
Smithfield, Virginia
Posts: 89
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Basic Brewing Radio has done two or three podcasts on small volume brewing. They call it 6 Pack Brewing. I watched the video podcast of them making a 6-pack porter and they used a small carboy for a fermenter.

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Old 09-16-2007, 02:17 PM   #7
Sep 2007
Posts: 25

Coastie: I watched most of the 6-Pack Brewing episodes from Basic Brewing Radio. This just helped to confirm my desire for brewing small batches.

My real question for everyone out there: Do you think I can get away with brewing smaller batches (2.5 gal) in existing brewing equipment (6.5 gal fermenter)??

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Old 09-16-2007, 02:27 PM   #8
david_42's Avatar
Oct 2005
Oak Grove, Oregon, USA
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Yes, I've done ferments where I've split 5 gallons in two 7 gallon buckets and used different yeasts.
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Old 09-16-2007, 02:46 PM   #9
FlyGuy's Avatar
Jan 2007
Calgary, Alberta
Posts: 3,605
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Originally Posted by ChemBrew
Coastie: I watched most of the 6-Pack Brewing episodes from Basic Brewing Radio. This just helped to confirm my desire for brewing small batches.

My real question for everyone out there: Do you think I can get away with brewing smaller batches (2.5 gal) in existing brewing equipment (6.5 gal fermenter)??
I think doing small batches is a great idea, if you enjoy the brewing process. Great way to experiment and build up a good variety of different brews.

There was a thread on this some time ago - generated some good discussion:

As for brewing smaller batches with existing equipment, you should have no problem whatsoever. The only exception to this might be if you plan to use a secondary, especially for an extended period of time (say 3 weeks or more). I would invest in a 3 gal carboy for a secondary, rather than using a 6 gal one. While actively fermenting, the CO2 that is generated will displace and eject any oxygen from your fermeneter, but in the secondary there isn't that supply of CO2. There is some there, and many believe it forms a protective layer above your beer to shield off oxygen. The truth, however, is that your CO2 blanket is still permeable to oxygen, and the larger the headspace, the less protective it will be. So in a small vessel, this principle likely works fine. But in say a 6.5 gal secondary filled less than half with beer, I bet oxygen will become a problem. Hope that made sense (sorry -- up too late last night and drank too much).

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Old 09-16-2007, 05:50 PM   #10
McKBrew's Avatar
Oct 2006
Hayden, Idaho
Posts: 8,204
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I've considered smaller batches as well. Especially for the high-gravity, high ABV beers I'd like to brew in the future such as barleywines and an imperial stout. Plus, as it stands now, I haven't met enough local homebrewers yet to share 5gallons of beer with.
Make Beer, Not War.

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