2.5 Gallon Batches

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Wreckoncile

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So here's the deal. I got the basic homebrewer starter set up back in August, have done a couple of extract beers already, and decided to try my hand last weekend with my first AG/BIAB style, a smoked mild. I enjoyed the AG process much more and although a bit tricky to control the mash temp in a brew kettle, I've decided that I think that BIAB is the way I should go for now until I get a more capable set up for a full AG switch.

Having said that, I only have a 5 gallon kettle, so my BIAB/AG capability is limited in size for now to 2.5 gallons. I do all my primary fermentation in a 8 gallon bucket and when I need to rack to secondary, it goes into a six gallon carboy.

I'm wondering is there anything inherently detrimental to doing small 2.5 gallon batches, especially as it pertains to fermenting in vessels with larger capacity? Right now, I see only advantages. With only 2.5 gallon batches, I'll brew more often (giving this rookie a chance to really learn the process through repetition), I'll be able to brew a wider variety of styles over this time, I'll save money (extract is friggin expensive compared to grain), and best of all, I get to fill my kitchen with that smell of sweet wort.
 

SuburbanBrewer

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No harm in fermenting in a larger vessel. The only thing I would do is purge your secondary with CO2, so there is no oxygen able to possibly oxidize the beer. I've always purged my secondaries with CO2 prior to racking.
 

Yooper

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With only 2.5 gallons, I'd either totally skip the clearing vessel ("secondary") or get a 3 gallon carboy if I felt that I needed to use a clearing vessel. It'll be ok in primary with lots of headspace for quite a while (weeks, anyway), but not in a secondary.

Since I skip racking anyway, except for when it's time to package, I'd just ferment it in the primary and then bottle.
 

BigRock947

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With only 2.5 gallons, I'd either totally skip the clearing vessel ("secondary") or get a 3 gallon carboy if I felt that I needed to use a clearing vessel. It'll be ok in primary with lots of headspace for quite a while (weeks, anyway), but not in a secondary.

Since I skip racking anyway, except for when it's time to package, I'd just ferment it in the primary and then bottle.
+1

Only thing I would add is, just use your 6 gallon for the primary. I ferment my 2.5 gallon batches in 5 gallon carboys all the time and skip the secondary.
 
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Wreckoncile

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Thanks for the advice, everyone. I'll make sure to get myself a three gallon carboy shortly. I've been wanting to get a better bottle anyhow for extended secondaries anyhow.

A second question comes to mind in light of all this:

The consensus seems to be that primary fermenting in an 8 gallon bucket is fine and dandy since the CO2 generated in fermentation is keeping the beer from oxidizing. But one slight issue is that my bucket doesn't seem to seal airtight. I end up taping around the sides with duct tape to try and keep anything and everything out, but I never get a bubbling airlock, even during the peak fermentations while krausen is strong. Is my bucket allowing CO2 to escape and therefore my beer at risk of oxidizing even during primary?
 
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For my 2-3 gallon size batches I use white paint buckets that I buy from Walmart for $2-3. Lids cost $1 and a grommet is 50 cents. These are food grade safe. you can also buy (or get free) 3.5 gallon pastry buckets from your local bakery. These are used for frosting. The smaller size bucket leaves much less head space for problems to occur.
 

flipfloptan

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For my 2-3 gallon size batches I use white paint buckets that I buy from Walmart for $2-3. Lids cost $1 and a grommet is 50 cents. These are food grade safe. you can also buy (or get free) 3.5 gallon pastry buckets from your local bakery. These are used for frosting. The smaller size bucket leaves much less head space for problems to occur.
Make sure you look on the bottom of the bucket to see the number in the triangle.

My super sized grocery store has changed the icing bucket to a number 5 from number 2. No more good deals on buckets.
 

jwalk4

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I love to use my 5 gallon carboy for 2.5-3 gallon batches, now I don't have to worry about blow off tubes.

Krausen just dropped out of my IPA this morning.
 

ncbrewer

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Make sure you look on the bottom of the bucket to see the number in the triangle.

My super sized grocery store has changed the icing bucket to a number 5 from number 2. No more good deals on buckets.
What's wrong with number 5?
 
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Wreckoncile

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Another follow up question:

I've heard one option is topping off, namely doing a strong runnings of 2.5 gallons that is about twice my target OG and then topping off with 2.5 gallons of water once I put in my fermentation bucket.

My question is what if I want to do a high gravity RIS or something of the sort. I have a recipe for an oak aged Yeti clone that I'd like to try out, but the total grain bill would be ~20 lbs, which would equal about 1.6 gallons, so the most I'd be able mash that in would be 3 gallons. My understanding is that for best efficiency, I'd want 1 quart per lb in mash, but there is no way I can manage that with a five gallon capacity kettle. What will be the efficiency hit if I were to mash 20 lbs in three gallons, add another gallon via makeshift sparge, and then top off to five gallons when I put into my fermentor? Am I being too ambitious here? Should I just resign myself to a partial mash and get the rest of my gravity through an overpriced extract addition?
 

ncbrewer

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5 is not food grade 1 & 2 are food grade
I was just reading the August-Sept issue of Wine Maker. It says "To check for certified food grade status, you can look for the seal of the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and a recycling code of 1, 4, or 5 at the bottom of the container. Don't use vessels with recycling code 7 - these contain BPA." I'd like to find a source to positively identify which materials are ok, but haven't been able to so far. What source is your info from?
 

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