I know that this has been discussed at length (I've read 10+ threads here after a search), but I still can't determine what's right for my situation, so I'm just going to ask directly.
I'm an all-grain brewer. I usually stick to smaller beers, since things like a quality Ordinary Bitter are so much more difficult to come by commercially (I can buy a excellent hoppy IPA just about anywhere). I have a 5G Igloo Cooler Mash Tun and 2 5G glass carboys, although I've never bothered to rack to secondary with my brews because I don't generally dry hop or add any ingredients (although a coffee porter is on my list soon). Works fine for me.
First question: Both my carboys were hand-me-downs. I was told they were 5G, and my 5G batched come up to the last "line" in the glass "grid" before the neck starts to curve heavily. I assume that the 5G measurement includes that amount of head space rather than literally taking it to the top of the neck. However, if I am wrong and I actually have 6G carboys, someone please let me know
Back to the questions: a friend of mine wants a primer on brewing in general and all-grain in particular, and he desperately wants to make a Pliny the Elder clone with me. I knew that I'd have to upgrade to a 10G mash tun, which I had planned on doing eventually so that I could use my 5G as a HLT with spigot, which is going to make things a lot easier for me (I usually fly sparge). So I did so.
However, now I'm realizing that my carboys are probably not big enough to contain a 5G batch of Pliny with all the dry hops and krausen. I recently made a 5% ABV Fat Tire clone and got a GREAT krausen off the Belgian yeast, but I would consider it the max my carboy could handle. I was hoping for some definitive knowledge before going out and spending money on a new glass carboy (and I prefer carboys to buckets and glass to plastic; I know some people with disagree but that's my preference).
Another thought that I had that would make for an interesting experiment: what if I racked HALF of it to the second carboy and split the dry hops. Half would be dry hopping in primary with the yeast cake. I know there are proponents for both techniques but that it doesn't really seem to make a fundamental difference outside of considerations like ease of cleanup and the effort and risks associated with racking.
I know that batches can be scaled to whatever size you want, so this makes inherent sense, but does letting 2.5G sit on what was a yeast cake from a 5G batch make any difference? Assuming it's healthy but dormant yeast I would say probably not, and it won't sit on there for more than 6 weeks.
On the other hand my wife will NOT be happy with having TWO fermentors sitting out in the kitchen for 3 weeks (we don't have a big house) and I don't mind investing in new equipment when it's necessary. I also want this batch to come out as good as possible for my friend's sake, so am less amendable to risking a batch as a test than I normally am. Plus, it's a particularly expensive batch for me (high grain bill, double hops, double yeast, dry hops, etc.; my next "level up" in brewing is to make yeast starters and then get a stir plate, but I haven't made that leap yet).
- Am I correct that I have 5G fermentors?
- If so, is it 100% inadvisable to attempt this beer using two 5G carboys (one for primary and racked to the other for secondary for the dry hopping)?
- If so, should I jump up to a 6G carboy or try splitting the batch?
- Any other ideas?