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Old 10-23-2007, 01:30 PM   #1
Aug 2007
Posts: 466
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OK, I just brewed my first beer this weekend, a Wheat beer....

I would like to know how hard it would be to brew in smaller batches....

There are several different beers I would like to try, and I really hate to make 5 gallons at a time. It will take me a while to drink that much, what with kids, work, and school also......

If I can't, no big deal....5 gallons at a time it is, but I like having several different variety's of beer to choose from......

thanks for any info....


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Old 10-23-2007, 02:11 PM   #2
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Orfy's Avatar
Sep 2005
Cheshire, England
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It's very easy.

What methods are you using/ what equipment do you have?
Have a beer on me.

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Old 10-23-2007, 02:23 PM   #3
AnOldUR's Avatar
Mar 2007
, New Jersey
Posts: 6,887
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With a bad back, lifting 5 gallon carboys is not a good idea for me. And like you I appreciate variety and can only drink so much beer. Making small batches is the perfect solution. Just scaling back any recipe in even proportions works out well. I like doing three gallon batches in a five gallon carboy. Lots of head room. You can find three gallon wine carboys that work perfect as a secondary.

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Old 10-23-2007, 02:53 PM   #4
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Aug 2006
Whitehouse Station, NJ
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The way I look at it, I'd rather dump the extra 2-gallons in the cases where I don't care much for the batch. There are far more times I kick a keg and wish I had more than times I wish I had 2 gallons LESS. The effort is exactly the same and the additional ingredient/energy cost is less than 2/3rds.

Of course, if you're bottling and brewing extract, maybe you will save money and energy.
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Old 10-23-2007, 02:54 PM   #5
Nov 2006
San Marcos, TX
Posts: 34

I have scaled back to 2.5 - 3 gal batches for much the same reasons. Here are my experiences:

1. You can just linearly scale almost all of your ingredients down with the batch size. The exception may be hops.

2. For hops, remember that you will be doing much closer to a full boil if you haven't been doing so already. So your wort will have a lower gravity at boil and you will getter better hop utilization. It may not be a big difference, but you may need to cut back a bit more on the hops.

3. You will have to order ingredients separately, since all the kits are sized for 5 gallons. Also a bit of a pain to pay seven bucks to ship fifteen bucks of supplies. So if you can plan a couple of brews ahead, it will help.

4. I find myself with a collection of left-over hops since my LHBS only sells in one ounce increments. A half-ounce of this, two-thirds of that, etc. I am plotting a clean-up brew to get rid of most of them.

5. I have skipped doing a starter with my liquid yeast. The lower volume requires fewer yeast cells to get going. Your mileage may vary.

All in all, it is a bit more expensive per gallon, but smaller batches seem to be working well for me.

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Old 10-23-2007, 03:41 PM   #6
May 2007
Cary, NC
Posts: 2,176
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My normal batch size is 5 gallons. I want to do a few big beers, but my system isn't big enough. So I'll do them as 2.5 - 3 gallon batches. I think it will work well. I don't need 5 gallons of Russian Imperial Stout sitting around.

Primary/Secondary: #133 Scottish 80/-
Kegged: #132 American Wheat
Planned: IPA, Brown, Pale Ale

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Old 10-23-2007, 06:05 PM   #7
Aug 2007
Posts: 466
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Originally Posted by orfy
It's very easy.

What methods are you using/ what equipment do you have?

Right now I have just a basic kit from Morebeer....
I am doing extract brewing on my first 2 beers.....

It just depends on how much of a pain in the butt it would be to do smaller batches.....

smaller would be good, but I can always drink it

it just might take a while....



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Old 10-23-2007, 06:35 PM   #8
brett's Avatar
Aug 2007
Omaha, Nebraska
Posts: 290
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I have standardized on 3 gallon batches for the time being. The reasons for this are mostly because
  1. I live in an apartment, and am space limited.
  2. I can do all-grain full-boils.
  3. I can fit two 3-gallon carboys in my cooler, which I use to control fermentation temp.

I can always make a 5.5 gallon batch if I want to, I just have to split it into 2 carboys. The other thing is that I don't have the ability to boil 7 gallons, which means I have to do partial mash or extract for batches that size.

If you have the ability to do it, go as big as you can. I wish I could do 12 gallon batches.

One day...

Primary 1: House Ale (yay!)
Primary 2: empty
Primary 3: empty
Primary 4: empty
Bottle Conditioning: Apfelwein
Bottle Conditioning: Apfelwein + Blueberry
Kegged/Drinking: Partigyle Brown Ale
Conditioning: New House Barley Wine
Conditioning: Ghetto canned kit bitter (Surprisingly getting better w/ age)
Just Finished: Edwort's Apfelwein
Up next: More House Ale ?!?

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Old 10-23-2007, 06:42 PM   #9
Cregar's Avatar
May 2006
Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 701
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My reasons for doing 1/2 batches are the same as Brett's above. I actually enjoy it.

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