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How to Brew beer in an hour (or less)

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Let’s face it, most of us have jobs and other obligations that can sometimes make it hard to find the time to brew. So, brewing usually happens on the weekends. But what happens when life gets in the way, weekends fill up, but you still want to brew beer?
Here’s a method to simplify the brewing process to allow the homebrewer to brew a batch of beer in one hour.
This method was inspired by brewing Kombucha, which is a fermented tea. Props also need to go James Spencer of Basic Brewing Radio, who helped popularize the idea of the 15-minute boil.
In order to successfully brew a batch of beer in one hour, a few traditional homebrewing “rules” have to be broken. It should go without saying that the process uses extract with steeped grains. Secondly, the process uses 2-gallon batches - this lessens the time it takes to heat and cool the liquid. Third, it uses a 15-minute boil, and with such a short boil, you have to throw out the rules on hop additions. Once you accept these departures from traditional brewing techniques, you’ll find that it’s incredibly easy to brew beer in an hour.
Here’s the Cliff Notes version: Add specialty grains to one gallon of water and heat to 170 F. Remove grains and bring to a boil. Add DME and bring to a boil. Set timer for 15 minutes and add Bittering hops. Add Flavor hops at 5 minutes and Aroma hops at flameout. Add another gallon of refrigerated water and cool in an ice bath. Pitch yeast, ferment and bottle.

The One-Hour Brew Day Process
Start by heating one gallon of water and adding any specialty grains. When the water reaches 170 degrees F. remove the grain bag and bring to a boil add the DME and your first hop addition. The total boil time is 15 minutes, which is long enough to sterilize the wort. Add the next hops at 5 minutes and the last at Flameout.


The next step requires a bit of preparation. Grab a gallon of water from the store and place it in the fridge the night before you brew.
To cool your wort, make an ice bath and add the refrigerated water to the hot Wort and place the kettle into the ice bath. Every few minutes, give the Wort a swirl with a sanitized spoon. With this approach, you should be able to get the temperature to pitching temp very quickly.


Once at pitching temp, the process is the same as any other batch.
When you formulate a recipe using this method, you’ll need to experiment with the amount of hops. Hop isomerization, which is what provides the bitterness in beer, occurs when the hops are boiled. Alpha acids are isomerized (one molecule is transformed into another molecule that has exactly the same atoms, but the atoms are rearranged, according to Wikipedia) to form iso-alpha acids, which produce the bitterness. Since a 15-minute boil is shorter than a 60-minute boil, the result is less isomerization of alpha acids and therefore less bitterness. With a 15-minute boil, it’s common practice to double the Bittering hops, which will result in bitterness close to the 60-minute boil. If you’re adapting a 5-gallon recipe, keep the Bittering hops at the same amount, but reduce the flavor and aroma hops.
Aroma and Flavoring hops added after the 15-minute mark are close enough to the standard hop schedule to provide similar aroma and bitterness as in a 60-minute boil. If you have a complicated Hop Schedule, you can divide the time by 4, so a normal 15-minute addition becomes a 4-minute addition.
Here are two recipes using this method, a saison and a cream ale.

Saison

Grain Bill:
  • 4 oz Crystal 40
  • 2 lbs Light Dried Malt Extract
  • .5 lb Brown Sugar
Hop Schedule:
  • 1 oz US Goldings @ 15 minutes
  • .5 oz US Goldings @ 5 minutes
  • .5 oz US Goldings @ Flame Out
Yeast:
  • WLP566 – Saison II 0r
  • Danstar Belle Saison
The Process:
Heat 1 gallon of water and add the Crystal 40 in a grain bag. Remove the grain bag when the temperature reaches 170° F. When the water starts to boil, add the brown sugar and Dried Malt Extract and 1 oz. US Goldings Hops. Boil for 15 minutes. 10 minutes into the boil, add .5 oz US Goldings Hops. When 15 minutes is up, add another .5 oz US Goldings Hops and remove from heat.
Move the stock pot to a sink or other container filled with ice and water and then add one gallon of cold water. When the temperature falls below 80° F, transfer the Wort to the fermenter and add the yeast.
When you think it’s done fermenting, take a gravity reading, then wait a day and take another reading. If the reading is the same, it’s time to bottle. If the reading changed, wait till the reading stays the same, then bottle.

Cream Ale
Despite its name, Cream Ale, doesn’t have any dairy products in it. The style originated in mid-1800s America as a response to the light German lagers. Traditionally corn has been added to the mash to help lighten the beer. In this case, we’re using corn sugar for that purpose. Cream Ale isn’t hoppy, or malty, but it is perfect for hot summer days.
Grain Bill:
  • 2 lbs Light Dried Malt Extract
  • 5 ounces Corn Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Irish Moss
Hop Schedule:
  • 1 oz Cascade @ 15 minutes
Yeast:
  • Safale US 05
The Process:
Heat 1 gallon of water to boiling. When the water starts to boil, add the Irish Moss, Dried Malt Extract, Corn Sugar and 1 oz. Cascade Hops. Set your timer for 15 minutes.
When 15 minutes is up, move the stock pot to a sink or other container filled with ice and water and then add one gallon of cold water. When the temperature falls below 80° F, transfer the Wort to the fermenter and add the yeast.
Bottle after fermentation has stopped.
The Numbers:
  • 1.048 OG
  • 1.011 FG
  • 4.9% ABV
 
Last edited by a moderator:
By Justinian Hatfield
Sounds a lot like the Brulosphy "short and shoddy" experiments where they are making their way through each of the 2015 BJCP styles in approximately an hour. Expect they are doing all grain recipes in that short time.
 
I wonder if it could work to boil the hops separately (while mash happens, for instance) and then mix it with the wort. It should help with isomerization and make the recipe easier to adjust.
 
That's an interesting idea!
Looks like some folks have tried it with varying success: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/boiling-hops-alone-in-water.125135/#post-1395509
Anyone, here actually tried it?
 
With a new baby at home, I've been brewing mostly 15 minute pale ales since she was born in April. When my wife and MiL took the baby to a graduation party one Sunday in May, I spent the day doing an all grain batch, but that's the only one since she was born. Usually takes me about 2 hours from when the water hits the kettle to having everything cleaned up and put away. Usually produces some pretty tasty beer and keeps me from having to spend 4-5 hours on all grain batches.
 
One suggestion on the cooling stage. When done with the boil, simply put on the lid and leave overnight in a cool place like outside or in the garage. This saves messing around and the time needed to cool the wort (especially if you're doing say a 5 gallon batch).
In the morning, strain the hops thru a sanitized BIAB/muslin cloth while pouring into the fermenter, pitch yeast, aerate the wort, and clean the brew pot. Note: the hops will continue to isomerize, so I guesstimate is it increases the IBU 10-20% compared with what a brewing calculator comes up with. I like the way my beer turns out, but in the interest of homebrew science I should do a split batch with a post boil cool off to see if there is a noticeable difference.
I've cooled about 100 batches this way. Had 1 batch get infected/pour out bad but unclear why.
 
I've used a similar method at times, but I'll just usually ad my hops at flame out and leave it for however long I feel I need I've also done it where I'll freeze my top off water and then when it's time to chill I just cut open the jugs, and dump the giant ice cubes in to chill it. These quick extract brews are nice to help keep the tap lines flowing when times are busy.
 
I used to do something similar when I started brewing (before I had a wort chiller). I'd have 2 gallons in the kettle and top off with 3 gallons of water and let it chill overnight in the fermenter and then pitch the yeast. I may try your method on my next batch, especially if I can get better hop utilization. Thanks!
 
I have a slightly easier one!!! Its for a simple pale ale, amber ale, or a dark ale.... and its 5 gallons.
Basically use hopped extract! Take 2.5 gallons of water, boil it, flame out, add hopped extract, mix well, bring back to a boil for a few minutes and flame out again. Its optional to add extra hops at either flame out. Then add it to your fermentor that has 1 gallon of ice cold water to do the first temp knock down. Then top off with 2 gallons of ice cold water. Pitch dry yeast and cover your fermentor.
This is thread wear I stumbled upon this with an accidental purchase of hopped extract. It makes a good basic beer. A beer for the masses. I typically use a 3.3 lb can and a pound of DME or honey. I also use amylase enzyme to crank down the final gravity.
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/free-beer-how-to-make-it.278015/
 
Coopers or Muntons prehopped cans and a kilo of DME or sugar....pound of grain...mini mash extract. Most of the time I don't even bother to boil. I use the water heating up for the mini mash to warm up the extract can. Mash the grain for 45-60 minutes and sparge with another gallon of hot water. Dump the extract and stir in the sugar, last batch was plain table sugar, topped off with cool water, re-hydrated the yeast and pitched. I just leave it in ferm chamber for 3 weeks, cold crash, bottle prime and cap. No boil, no chill, no hassle.
Makes this fizzy yellow stuff everybody loves to swill. I know. This is not real brewing.....but, it's dang sure real beer. Perhaps when I retire I will join the ranks of the obsessive. Right now, this is how I keep the beer flowing.
 
If you boil pre-hopped LME then are you not over-boiling the hops? When Mutons (or whoever) made their concoction did they not fully isomerize and extract all the flavors from those hops? I would have thought that the only amount of time needed for a boil with pre-hopped extracts is simply to give the brewer the feeling that they have adequately sanitized the wort though I would have thought that the manufacturer using high temps and vacuums would have reached even higher temperatures than we can in brewing kettles so that additional sanitation is like wearing both belt and braces (suspenders) to keep your pants from falling.
 
It should chill a little faster if you put it into the ice bath, chill to about 100 degrees, then add the chilled water. The greater temperature differential will result in quicker heat transfer. Also, it will be a smaller mass to chill. If you aren't at your pitching temp as soon as you add the water, just chill a little more before adding it next time.
 
Give it a shot and tell us what you think! Breweries will never do it, because while it might be fast, it's not the most economical brewing method (extract is more expensive and you need to use more hops to make up for the shorter boil). But it's perfect for the time-strapped homebrewer!
 
Justin,
Some people will never get it. No worries, those that do understand that this does not have to take the place of their expensive equipment. I have done a number of these types to test our new hops. It is a great way to squeeze in a brew and learn something in a condensed time period.
Cheers!
 
I never understood why people speed brew. Or leave such a short amount of time and need to hurry everything along at least. For me anyways half of the homebrewing enjoyment is the process. AKA: Sit outside taking in the aroma's and having a beer or three. I get that a lot of people are tight on time for various reasons, but that's why I sometimes end up putting it off awhile until I have time, that way the process is relaxing.To each their own! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
Joe: That's a good idea. I always worried about cleanliness, but with a 5 gallon batch, we top it up anyway. I also keep a couple liter soda bottles full of water and frozen. I star san them and put bottles in the wort while it is in ice bath.
I wonder if one could roughly double the contents for a 5 gallon, abbreviated boil batch...
 
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