Simplifying My Brew Day

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ryanj

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It's been over a year since I brewed a batch of beer. Between the heat from this summer and the anxiety of a 6+ hour brew day, I've lost the interest in brewing.

I started brewing 6 years ago on a propane turkey fryer kit with partial mash kits. I had a ton of fun and was able to knock out batches in a few hours. I upgraded to all grain and my days started to grow. Most recently I was brewing on a custom fabricated HERMS and seeing 6-7 hour brew days from the time I started heating my mash water to the time I finish mopping and hanging all of my equipment to dry.

This past weekend I sold my HERMS for a fair price in an effort to scale down my equipment and simplify. The HERMS was awesome, but dealing with all the kettles and hoses and pumps...it was just too much for me. I took the money and placed a pre-order for a Brewzilla Gen 4. Single vessel, limited hoses, center drain, electric... sounds like a dream. I can't wait for it to get here.

I also sold my counterflow chiller. DAMN that thing was efficient, but I hated having to clean it. Sure it's just pumping PBW through it, but I always lost a little wort in the hoses and CFC. I know the immersion chiller is going to take longer, but I'm looking forward to the simplicity again.

I've been also thinking about not even messing with yeast starters any more. Is it difficult to make a yeast starter? No. But is it really necessary for the beers I'm brewing? Probably not!

I'm trying hard to strip away unnecessary activities or equipment to help me enjoy the process of brewing more. What else have you done to get back to the basics and enjoy the process?
 

H.Stiglitz

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- Have strike water preheated when you wake up and ready to go.
- Reduce mash times. I've had no issues with 35-45min mashes.
- Weigh/crush grain the night before.

I've gotten brew day down to 3.5hrs including being cleaned and put away. I BIAB.

YMMV. Cheers
 

WESBREW

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Id stick with the starters for liquid yeasts. Use dry yeast if you don't want to make a starter. I use a mini butane camping stove and its pretty easy.

For time savings:

Day 1: split brew day. Gather ingredients, measure, mill into the tun (or the all-in-one) get your water ready and run the mash, drain, sparge, cover it. then let the wort sit over night. nothing will happen to it.
Day 2: do the boil, chill, tx to fermenter, clean up. two 3hr days is way easier.
Day 3: I've not done this before but....you can do no-chill and just leave hot wort in the kettle over night to slowly cool and transfer to fermenter on day three. That cuts off 30-40 minutes from day 2.
 
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lumpher

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Do extract with 3 gallons of water, and add in bottled water if you really want a short day. Takes a little time to get 3 gallons to a boil and have 3 gallon jugs in the freezer getting really cold to do the chill for you. 20 minutes getting the water to a boil, boil for 30 minutes or so, and chill with really cold water to top up. You could potentially get done in an hour, 1:30 if you want to steep grains.
 

hamachi

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I'm trying hard to strip away unnecessary activities or equipment to help me enjoy the process of brewing more. What else have you done to get back to the basics and enjoy the process?
Apart from the move from extract to all grain, I have never really left the basics: Mash in a bag in a 10 gallon cooler, 3-pot boil on kitchen stove, immersion chiller, no starters, no pumps; rely on muscle and gravity to get wort from one place to another. Brew days are still 5+ hours, but I enjoy the process and cleanup is easy.
 

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Dry yeast
30 min mash
30 min boil
Make sure your all in one system has some sort of insulated jacket
240v will get your temps faster
No chill
Ferment in your kettle?
Prep day before wake up and mash in
 
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ryanj

ryanj

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- Have strike water preheated when you wake up and ready to go.
- Reduce mash times. I've had no issues with 35-45min mashes.
- Weigh/crush grain the night before.

I've gotten brew day down to 3.5hrs including being cleaned and put away. I BIAB.

YMMV. Cheers
RE: crushing grain the night before - this is a good one! I have a mill set somewhat aggressively and was using a technique I found online to "dampen" the hulls before crushing so they don't just obliterate when I crush them. This gives me a good crush while keeping the hulls intact.
BUT, this is another process that take about 15 mins in the morning that I could simply skip and do a nomal crush the night before.
 

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Quickest way to cut down on yeast starter time would be to pressure can quarts of wort made from either DME or LME. If you had an 8-quart canner that would be saving 3 heating and cooling cycles for a 2 qt (~2l) starter. You'd save money but not necessarily time if you brewed up a batch of just starter even a big one say 10 gallons. That's 20 starters at 420 minutes which is 21 minutes per starter. Buying the premade would be faster although I am not sure what the directions say for those.

If you had qualms about shelf stability you could just freeze it after canning.
 

_BullDog_

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Unless you are doing huge SG you could use 2 packs of yeast. Cost a little more but I’m to lazy to start a starter before I brew.
 

Sammy86

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This past weekend I sold my HERMS for a fair price in an effort to scale down my equipment and simplify. The HERMS was awesome, but dealing with all the kettles and hoses and pumps...it was just too much for me. I took the money and placed a pre-order for a Brewzilla Gen 4. Single vessel, limited hoses, center drain, electric... sounds like a dream. I can't wait for it to get here.

Congrats on the change! I use a Brewzilla 65 L and haven’t looked back. It has its own quirks but as others have said there is nothing better then setting it up the night before and waking up in the morning to strike water ready to go!

Being transparent, my brew days are 6 hours start to finish but I’ve been playing around with 30 min boils which lessens the day. I also do a 20-30 minute whirpool before hitting the CFC but all in all I’m sure you’re going to love your Brewzilla!
 

Deadalus

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RE: crushing grain the night before - this is a good one! I have a mill set somewhat aggressively and was using a technique I found online to "dampen" the hulls before crushing so they don't just obliterate when I crush them. This gives me a good crush while keeping the hulls intact.
BUT, this is another process that take about 15 mins in the morning that I could simply skip and do a nomal crush the night before.
Conditioning the grain it's called, I recently added it in. Crushing the grains the night before isn't really saving you time it is shifting time. Which may be just fine for your perception of the day length.

But yes the grains are wet so I don't crush the night before. I have an EHERMs. I set the RO water in the HLT up the day before. In the morning (or afternoon), I flip on the HLT and start the pumps. I go weigh out the grain and condition it. While it is absorbing water ~20 minutes, I go and weigh out my water salts. - Then I go back and grind the grain. Provided I actually turned the HLT selector to on...the water is about the right temperature. If I eat breakfast in that interval it will be.

I usually manage to clean my MT while boiling. That saves cleanup time. Recirculating PBW through in the end I use 30 minutes, I find something else to do. That's just using time more wisely though.
 

SRJHops

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Skip the starter and just buy more yeast. You can also pitch blends. I don't see why people go through all the hassle and equipment of starters to just save $10. Personally, once I started co-pitching different strains my beers got a lot better and they started winning medals.

I also shorten my brew day by getting all my water ready the night before, as others have suggested. Sometimes I even mash the night before and boil the next day.

Check out some of Brulosophy's short and shoddy episodes for inspiration.
 

schmurf

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Overnight mash is what I've done for a year or so now, feels more relaxed even if total work time hasn't changed.

Last two brews I did with "no chill" and it worked great, and no apparent flaws in the final beers.

The more I organise and prepare my brew in advance the faster and smoother the brew day is. Keep the things you need close, keep the the things you don't need away.
 

lumpher

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I also have done overnight mashes a few times, and I have done no-chill for years now. Not every brew, but maybe 1/2 of them. If you combine these, and having everything set out and ready, you can easily get your brew day down to 3-4 hours.
 
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ryanj

ryanj

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Skip the starter and just buy more yeast. You can also pitch blends. I don't see why people go through all the hassle and equipment of starters to just save $10. Personally, once I started co-pitching different strains my beers got a lot better and they started winning medals.

I also shorten my brew day by getting all my water ready the night before, as others have suggested. Sometimes I even mash the night before and boil the next day.

Check out some of Brulosophy's short and shoddy episodes for inspiration.
Regarding the yeast, I'm not even sure the beers I brew need more yeast. I exclusively brew 5 gallon batches. I rarely ever exceed 1.065 OG which according to the calculators, require a small starter to get the numbers to where they need to be, but I'm super tempted to just skip the starter and pitch the packet as is. I'd be willing to bet I'd get down to FG just as I would with my small starter.
 

hotbeer

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I'm super tempted to just skip the starter and pitch the packet as is. I'd be willing to bet I'd get down to FG just as I would with my small starter.
I just direct pitch dry yeast into the wort. No aeration. The yeasts have always hit their full stated attenuation or better.

I will bust open a pack and use part of it to augment another if more cells are desired. Just push the air out of the packet and tape the end shut and it'll be plenty good enough for the next batch.
 

Sam_92

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I never got into super complicated homebrewing with pumps and hoses and all the shiny stainless steel gear. I used to brew with a turkey fryer and a cooler mash tun and a batch sparge so pretty basic already but I switched over to electric brew in a bag and I can't be happier with how easy it is. I use dry yeast exclusively and I ferment in my basement where the temp stays low and constant. I also brew smaller batches a lot, using 3 gallon glass carboys and getting 2.5 gallons of beer or about 24 bottles, which makes everything easier to carry around.
 

bwible

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Quickest way to cut down on yeast starter time would be to pressure can quarts of wort made from either DME or LME. If you had an 8-quart canner that would be saving 3 heating and cooling cycles for a 2 qt (~2l) starter. You'd save money but not necessarily time if you brewed up a batch of just starter even a big one say 10 gallons. That's 20 starters at 420 minutes which is 21 minutes per starter. Buying the premade would be faster although I am not sure what the directions say for those.

If you had qualms about shelf stability you could just freeze it after canning.
Some of the shops sell canned wort for starters too. I’d read a BYO article a long time ago about using Malta for starters. Sold in the food stores where the Goya products are. I tried it once maybe 15 years ago. Don’t remember details - nothing memorable about it I guess. I only tried it once and I’m back to making starters with a little dme boiled on the stove.

I’m currently trying to keep a couple limited release yeasts going. Yeast that was only available for a short time and I can’t get it again now. So I’ve been trying the freeze yeast with glycerine thing. So starters are going to be part of my routine for a while.
 
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CascadesBrewer

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I've been also thinking about not even messing with yeast starters any more. Is it difficult to make a yeast starter? No. But is it really necessary for the beers I'm brewing? Probably not!

After using mostly liquid yeast for years, I took a deep dive into dry yeast in 2021 and I have been very impressed with the ease, quality and selection of dry yeast. It is real easy to stock up 10+ packs and use them over a year, where liquid yeast viability drops off in months. I have a few liquid strains that I use (mostly by harvesting and repitching) but I have been using dry yeast for the vast majority of my beers.

I would NOT advocate ditching starters for liquid yeast. If you have access to fresh packs from Omega or Imperial, those can be direct pitched. In my book, pitching an adequate amount of healthy yeast and managing fermentation is the most important (and one of the easiest) steps to making good beer. I have had excellent luck with Shaken-not-Stirred type starters with White Labs or Wyeast packs. (Also, I make a lot of 2.5 gallon batches which cuts the need for yeast in half.)

The electric all-in-one systems look great. I moved to BIAB 3 years ago and a standard brew day is about 4.5 hours from start to being all cleaned up.
 

Deadalus

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Some of the shops sell canned wort for starters too. I’d read a BYO article a long time ago about using Malta for starters. Sold in the food stores where the Goya products are. I tried it once maybe 15 years ago. Don’t remember details - nothing memorable about it I guess. I only tried it once and I’m back to making starters with a little dme boiled on the stove.

I’m currently trying to keep a couple limited release yeasts going. Yeast that was only available for a short time and I can’t get it again now. So I’ve been trying the freeze yeast with glycerine thing. So starters are going to be part of my routine for a while.
It was kind of vague but that was what I was referring to when I said premade (I've never tried it). I was thinking it could just be poured into the flask, which it can upon checking, but something I didn't know was that it is concentrated (or at least one brand is Propper Starter). A four pack from Morebeer is only $15. DME runs about $12-18 for three pounders and you can get nearly seven 7oz starters (7oz~200grams) out of a three pound bag so about $1.70-$2.50 vs $3.75. It would be about twice as much using the Propper Starter vs. DME. That's pretty convenient though.

Many years ago I tried keeping a yeast bank on agar slants but I wasn't proficient enough and they would sometimes get contaminated. I have been considering trying that glycerine method and giving it another go.

Skip the starter and just buy more yeast. You can also pitch blends. I don't see why people go through all the hassle and equipment of starters to just save $10. Personally, once I started co-pitching different strains my beers got a lot better and they started winning medals.

I also shorten my brew day by getting all my water ready the night before, as others have suggested. Sometimes I even mash the night before and boil the next day.

Check out some of Brulosophy's short and shoddy episodes for inspiration.
I save more than $10 bucks because I overbuild it and store 2-3 more. Usually I make a ~2000ml starter pitch a fresh pack, take two 200ml subsamples out and store them in beer bottles, pitch the rest. I do the same thing one more time from the last bottle. That's a total of 5 starters, three from the original pack than the third makes two more. I could keep going but I don't, I buy a new pack just in case of contamination and yeast getting old. Two dollars a starter plus the original $10 makes a $20 investment vs $50. Doesn't preclude blending either which I suspect you could probably better control mixtures using fixed starter sizes but that's a whole other subject.
 
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I'm just going to echo the two-day brewday as an option. Either mash-in before bedtime and leave overnite, or do all of the prep work the day before so the first step in the morning is heating H2O for mash-in. I turn on my induction burner in the morning to heat water and walk away for an hour. Mash-in and walk away for another hour. Or do other tasks in the garage at the same time to fill in those big gaps.

For big beers, I do an overnight mash always, anyway, but I can see this with a session-strength beer also, maybe giving a few points of extra attenuation.
 
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ryanj

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I just direct pitch dry yeast into the wort. No aeration. The yeasts have always hit their full stated attenuation or better.

I will bust open a pack and use part of it to augment another if more cells are desired. Just push the air out of the packet and tape the end shut and it'll be plenty good enough for the next batch.
Aeration! Yes! This is another topic I've debated. I have an aerator wand with O2 canisters. NOT difficult to use or clean but it's just one more thing. From many of the youtube brew sessions I've observed, it seems most people are simply draining their brew kettle into the fermenter from a specific height to give enough "drop" to cause "natural aeration". Maybe that's enough?

As for dry yeast... you just pitch directly into the fermenter? No rehydration?
 
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Before I had an immersion chiller, and I filtered it using a chinois which would aerate it pretty nicely. Now I filter in the kettle before it hits the plate chiller, so I make sure it has a good drop into the fermenter to splash it up. I have O2 and an air pump, neither if which I use anymore.
 

AzOr

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Mash and lauter the night before. Program your all-in-one to boil first thing in the morning.

You’ll be done just after breakfast time.
I’ve been doing this since I got my Anvil Foundry with no side effects.

It really isn’t saving any time. However, it feels like it. With small kids at the house, I’m only “brewing” for a couple of hours on a weekend.

I just make sure I top off any evap loss in the morning. It’s usually less than a half gallon.
 

GBRbrew

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Aeration! Yes! This is another topic I've debated. I have an aerator wand with O2 canisters. NOT difficult to use or clean but it's just one more thing. From many of the youtube brew sessions I've observed, it seems most people are simply draining their brew kettle into the fermenter from a specific height to give enough "drop" to cause "natural aeration". Maybe that's enough?

As for dry yeast... you just pitch directly into the fermenter? No rehydration?
no rehydration just pitch it.

Cheers
 

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Not sure if this pertains to BIAB rigs, but w 3V system, one can start heat on wort as it comes into BK. W gas rig, turn on low as sparge starts, increase heat as BK fills. If electric, set to mash mode at 207F or something, switch to boil mode when sparge complete. This saves quite considerable time, as boil can commence within minutes after sparge is complete.
 

hotbeer

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As for dry yeast... you just pitch directly into the fermenter? No rehydration?
I've only ever used dry yeast. While beer recipes using dry yeast say to aerate the wort in the FV before pitching, the dry yeast makers say it's not necessary. They also say direct pitching without making a starter is okay.

I've always direct pitched dry yeast, but my first handful of brews I aerated the wort. But after I quit aerating I actually think I had better tasting beer. They say it makes no difference for oxidation since the yeast gobble it up so fast during kraeusen, but I'm not so sure. However I will admit that at the same time I also got better at controlling other things that contribute to oxidation potential.

If you are using liquid yeast or re-using yeast that was formerly dry for the previous batch, then I would say you have to aerate. And with liquid your brew day will be slightly more complex.

Even if it's just the complication of coordinating getting the freshest liquid pack possible for the day you want to brew. With dry, I can have them in the fridge for months on end and brew on the spur of the moment... assuming I'm not out of malts.
 
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kevin58

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You can certain shave time off of your brew day with an all-in-one unit. I don't know if your new Brewzilla has a delay start timer or not but having it can save a lot of time. I have an Anvil Foundry 10.5 and I fill it with my strike water the night before and program it to start heating the next morning early enough so by the time I wake up that strike water is already up to temp.

That plus milling my grain the night before also saves some time. I get up, take my already crushed grain and dough in. My brewday is underway before I've finished my morning coffee. I will also pre-measure my hop additions if necessary.

If you are making beers of 1.060 and less you can pretty much get away with pitching something like one pack of Imperial yeast and have no issues. Pitching a second pack when needed is certainly another viable option and one I choose quite often when I don't have time or am too lazy to make any kind of starter. Another starter option has been mentioned already and that's the SNS or Shaken Not Stirred starter. More can be found here: Shaken, not Stirred: The Stir Plate Myth Buster | Experimental Homebrewing In short, you make your starter medium, shake it vigorously, and set it aside... done!
 

brewnasty

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It's been over a year since I brewed a batch of beer. Between the heat from this summer and the anxiety of a 6+ hour brew day, I've lost the interest in brewing.

I started brewing 6 years ago on a propane turkey fryer kit with partial mash kits. I had a ton of fun and was able to knock out batches in a few hours. I upgraded to all grain and my days started to grow. Most recently I was brewing on a custom fabricated HERMS and seeing 6-7 hour brew days from the time I started heating my mash water to the time I finish mopping and hanging all of my equipment to dry.

This past weekend I sold my HERMS for a fair price in an effort to scale down my equipment and simplify. The HERMS was awesome, but dealing with all the kettles and hoses and pumps...it was just too much for me. I took the money and placed a pre-order for a Brewzilla Gen 4. Single vessel, limited hoses, center drain, electric... sounds like a dream. I can't wait for it to get here.

I also sold my counterflow chiller. DAMN that thing was efficient, but I hated having to clean it. Sure it's just pumping PBW through it, but I always lost a little wort in the hoses and CFC. I know the immersion chiller is going to take longer, but I'm looking forward to the simplicity again.

I've been also thinking about not even messing with yeast starters any more. Is it difficult to make a yeast starter? No. But is it really necessary for the beers I'm brewing? Probably not!

I'm trying hard to strip away unnecessary activities or equipment to help me enjoy the process of brewing more. What else have you done to get back to the basics and enjoy the process?
Mine is not a "shorter" brew day but I feels it makes it a much easier brew "session".

day 1 prep hops, grains, water and water salts.
day 2 mash in and mash overnight
day 3 morning: start sparge water (i use an inkbird and hot plate and blue tooth thermometer with alarm so i can set and forget) and turn brewzilla to 170 for mash out. go get coffee and come back when your ready. brew day hasn't really even started. use ferm cap for boil so you can walk away while it comes to a boil. use the bluetooth thermometer again. use dry yeast so you don't have to worry about starters. use the kvieks so you can pitch in the 90s and don't spend so much time chilling.


get a jaded chiller - very fast
 

TurnipGreen

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After using mostly liquid yeast for years, I took a deep dive into dry yeast in 2021 and I have been very impressed with the ease, quality and selection of dry yeast. It is real easy to stock up 10+ packs and use them over a year, where liquid yeast viability drops off in months. I have a few liquid strains that I use (mostly by harvesting and repitching) but I have been using dry yeast for the vast majority of my beers.

I would NOT advocate ditching starters for liquid yeast. If you have access to fresh packs from Omega or Imperial, those can be direct pitched. In my book, pitching an adequate amount of healthy yeast and managing fermentation is the most important (and one of the easiest) steps to making good beer. I have had excellent luck with Shaken-not-Stirred type starters with White Labs or Wyeast packs. (Also, I make a lot of 2.5 gallon batches which cuts the need for yeast in half.)

The electric all-in-one systems look great. I moved to BIAB 3 years ago and a standard brew day is about 4.5 hours from start to being all cleaned up.
An other alternative to make a yeast starter can be to save yeast. It’s not exactly the same as a fresh starter, but super easy to get a high cell count. I decided a long time ago to not make starters. Instead I save slurry when I need more yeast than one pack or if I need a ton, I pitch directly on a fresh yeast cake.

And there’s a ton more dry yeasts available than there was 10 years ago. I save a lot of those too and I’m convinced a couple of them don’t hit there stride until their third generation.

After writing this it seems like another complication, but it’s super simple for me to have three or four mason jars in the fridge. And it honestly helps me plan what beer I’m making and when.
 

6531Brewing

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It's been over a year since I brewed a batch of beer. Between the heat from this summer and the anxiety of a 6+ hour brew day, I've lost the interest in brewing.

I started brewing 6 years ago on a propane turkey fryer kit with partial mash kits. I had a ton of fun and was able to knock out batches in a few hours. I upgraded to all grain and my days started to grow. Most recently I was brewing on a custom fabricated HERMS and seeing 6-7 hour brew days from the time I started heating my mash water to the time I finish mopping and hanging all of my equipment to dry.

This past weekend I sold my HERMS for a fair price in an effort to scale down my equipment and simplify. The HERMS was awesome, but dealing with all the kettles and hoses and pumps...it was just too much for me. I took the money and placed a pre-order for a Brewzilla Gen 4. Single vessel, limited hoses, center drain, electric... sounds like a dream. I can't wait for it to get here.

I also sold my counterflow chiller. DAMN that thing was efficient, but I hated having to clean it. Sure it's just pumping PBW through it, but I always lost a little wort in the hoses and CFC. I know the immersion chiller is going to take longer, but I'm looking forward to the simplicity again.

I've been also thinking about not even messing with yeast starters any more. Is it difficult to make a yeast starter? No. But is it really necessary for the beers I'm brewing? Probably not!

I'm trying hard to strip away unnecessary activities or equipment to help me enjoy the process of brewing more. What else have you done to get back to the basics and enjoy the process?
Also looking to simplify our brewing and storage of brewing gear! The HERMS system was awesome! We have been wyeast smack pak users, dry yeast- stir plate starter users and have gotten yeast from a local brewery. We also brew at 20 gallons and thinking 10 gallons more often will be in our future.
 
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