This hobby is hard work! (or I'm just old)

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chumprock

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Getting myself back up to the pace of brewing at least every other week, I went through another fun-filled morning yesterday.

I don't have a problem getting myself going. The eagerness of a new brew and a bit of coffee helps with that. I've gotten myself into a pretty good pattern of repetition so that my set up/clean up is ongoing and smooth, but I still cant get under 6 hours total from lighting the burner to hanging the hoses...

Add a couple beers to that once the boil gets started, and I'm a cranky mess by the time I have to rinse out the brew kettle and dump my grains.

So I'm making good, consistent beers, but it's starting to wear me down!
What do you do to get through all the work? Are there any tips/tricks to trim down some time?
 

flyangler18

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Be economical with your time and minimize extra steps. Sanitize during the mash and prep hop additions. Once the sparge is complete and the wort is coming up to a boil, dump the MLT and dispose of the spent grains. Once things have been used, give a quick rinse and put them away.

I've streamlined my process to 4-4.5 hours from when the kettle fires to when the yeast is pitched.
 

bradsul

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I'm an apartment dweller doing full AG outside on the lawn (I live on the first floor fortunately). By the time I get setup, brew, then get my gear packed away I'm pretty much 6 hours exactly. flyangler's suggestion on efficient use of time is about the only way you can speed it up. I use my time as efficiently as I can and with the extra time costs of unpacking and packing up the gear there's just nothing left for me to save. Unless I want to start storing all my gear in the living room I guess. :D
 
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chumprock

chumprock

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Yeah, I'm trying to clean as I go, sanitize ahead of time, and it's really the "breakdown" at the end that's killing me. I find myself draggin my ass and just stopping to finish a pint while I gaze off into nothingness...

I also learned the hard way never to let the grain sit in the tun overnight.. *gak*
 

BaldAssCat

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I find working outside as much as possible helps me to get through the cleanup steps much faster. I'm not worried about spills and what mess I'm making out of the kitchen if I can just hose off the table when I'm done.

Otherwise, what they said. :)
 

Lil' Sparky

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Get a buddy to brew with you. It makes the time more enjoyable, and it seems to go by a little faster. ;)
 

McKBrew

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Unless you have a wild ass automated brewing system, chances are brewing is work. I've found myself getting frustrated before, then I take a moment to reflect and remember what I am doing and why. If I let my hobby become a chore, then it isn't going to be worthwhile anymore.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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For the last number of brews I had been doing decoctions and some other things that lengthened the brew day (like recalibrating all the volume measurement lines on all my carboys and pots...or doing Kaiser's Efficiency Spreadsheet, etc.). This past Saturday I just did a plain jane two-step mash and from the malt conditioning/crushing to pitch it was exactly 5 hours and that was with a 90 minute boil. It almost seemed too short.:D

Other than cleaning as you go the biggest time saver for me was reducing the dead time. Things like...when the mash is ready to go in the lauter the sparge water must be ready and the lauter tun must be preheated...or...halfway through the sparge I put the pot (with half the wort in it) on the burner and get it going and then add the remaining wort later.

You could also probably shorten your sacc rest time. Seems it's converted fairly quickly and usually doesn't take anywhere near the typ hour or so that most people rest for. I still usually do an hour but that's with 30 min. of it at only 148 F or so...but never more than an hour and sometimes only 40 minutes if it's @ 153-154 F. And I still think that's on the safe side...it's never NOT been converted. When I was doing decoctions I would test the decoction for conversion @ 10 min. and it was usually already converted (but that's @ a high rest temp...say ~158 F).

I still would like to cool faster...that's a good 30 minutes right there (using an IC).
 

ohiobrewtus

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Get a buddy to brew with you. It makes the time more enjoyable, and it seems to go by a little faster. ;)
Ya, but I always drink more when I do that. That's not always a good thing when you're brewing. :D
 

BierMuncher

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I usually brew on Thursday nights and several things help me keep it at 4 hours:

A) I setup my gear the night before. (I can do this with a brewshop)
2) Two burners. I can start my boil kettle as soon as the first runnings start draining, while I'm still heating sparge water.
B) As soon as one process is under way (IE boiling), get the next process ready to roll (IE wort chiller hooked up).
4) No drinking until the chiller is submerged. I find that my energy level slows once I start sampling.

Of course, the four hours is a generalization. Longer mash times and harder boiloffs will affect that some...but usually I'm done with any recipe inside of 5 hours.
 

The Pol

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I took out many of my variables and removed a bunch of steps that I used to have to monitor. It used to be much more work and take much more attention. Now, as long as the controller has the correct number punched into it, I can go mow grass and feel confident it will be OK.

I can get done in just under 5 hours, but that is pushing it a little. I love brewig, but I dont like messing with varaibles.
 

SumnerH

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Getting myself back up to the pace of brewing at least every other week, I went through another fun-filled morning yesterday.

I don't have a problem getting myself going. The eagerness of a new brew and a bit of coffee helps with that. I've gotten myself into a pretty good pattern of repetition so that my set up/clean up is ongoing and smooth, but I still cant get under 6 hours total from lighting the burner to hanging the hoses...

Add a couple beers to that once the boil gets started, and I'm a cranky mess by the time I have to rinse out the brew kettle and dump my grains.

So I'm making good, consistent beers, but it's starting to wear me down!
What do you do to get through all the work? Are there any tips/tricks to trim down some time?
Brew in a bag? Saves cleaning (less equipment), time moving wort, sparge time, etc. Essentially you heat to mash temp, add grain, mash, pull grain and are immediately heating toward boil as the grain bag drains and such.

The Brewing Network - How to go from Extract to AG for < $10.00 says:
It also cuts from 1.5-2.5 hours off your (normal AG) brew day
 
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I used to come in at like 7-8 hours when i first started AG. But my last brew day I was so excited to realize, "I'm gonna be done in 4.5-5 hours today!! JINX. Damn CFC Clog. But I feel I have a process down enough now where I can pull off 5 hours and that with one burner and one pot and a MLT. If/When I ever get an HLT built I believe it should shorten my brew day a decent bit.
 

Belmont

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I'm about 6 hours per batch as well. Since I bought a pump for recirculating ice water through my IC I easily cut off 30 minutes of chilling time. I still make mistakes on when to start heating water and I occasionally over do it and have to add ice/water to get it down to where I need it so that will come with experience if I ever stabilize my system. Seems I'm buying new gear every couple of months. I'm in the middle of converting my sunroom into a brewpub and I think that it will cut a lot of time out of my process just having everything like cold and hot water, measuring tools, burner, drain, etc. all within a couple of steps. I tend to walk to the kitchen several times to fill pots and get measuring spoons. Go outside to wash gear and burner is setup outside. I'll forget to wash out the hose used to transfer from MLT to kettle so it's not ready when I need to transfer from kettle to fermenter. BierMuncher's suggestion to start boil as soon as first runnings are in the pot could cut some time off too so I'll try that next time.

It wears me out too but its an enjoyable exhaustion to me. I've done a couple of two batch brew days and am completely spent by the end but it can be pretty efficient mashing one while the other is boiling. 10 gallon batches would be more so but I prefer to have more variety in what I have ready to drink and I'm still learning so much that I can use the practice.

I have found that having friends help can be good or bad. I have one friend that is like a bull in a china store and I end up worrying more about him messing something up than I get out of him helping.
 

MBrusky

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I usually do two brews the same day. Once you have everything set up, warmed up and running it only adds about 1 to 1.5 hours to the day. The HLT takes a little longer to warm up and the 2nd boil time, set up and clean up is the same.
 

Grinder12000

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WOW - thought it was just me. I know I do a lot of little things during the week but going up and down the stairs to the basement a few dozen times is a workout.

NOT that I'm complaining but I'm 55 and in 20 years it might not be so much fun!!
 

jacksonbrown

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I'm about to take a month off, maybe more, because I'm just feeling a but burnt out. Plus I'm not drinking as much so brewing is just adding to a stock pile of beer in my basement.
 

Denny

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Yeah, I'm trying to clean as I go, sanitize ahead of time, and it's really the "breakdown" at the end that's killing me. I find myself draggin my ass and just stopping to finish a pint while I gaze off into nothingness...
I found that if I don't drink while I brew the cleanup is MUCH easier. I'm an older guy and I just tire out too easily!
 

bbrim

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I realized that I should be heating my strike water as I measure and crush my grains. Saves 15 minutes waiting for 6 gallons of water to heat up. I like to FWH so I don't start my boil while I'm still sparging but you could do this if you don't FWH.
 
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Hell, I'm a young guy 26 and it get tired especially if I'm drinking. I would drink the first 4-5 brews I did because I felt like I should. Now I usually wait until at least the boil has started.
 

McKBrew

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I always thought Denny was one of the immortal gods of brewing.
 

flyangler18

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I usually brew on Thursday nights and several things help me keep it at 4 hours:

A) I setup my gear the night before. (I can do this with a brewshop)
2) Two burners. I can start my boil kettle as soon as the first runnings start draining, while I'm still heating sparge water.
B) As soon as one process is under way (IE boiling), get the next process ready to roll (IE wort chiller hooked up).
4) No drinking until the chiller is submerged. I find that my energy level slows once I start sampling.

Of course, the four hours is a generalization. Longer mash times and harder boiloffs will affect that some...but usually I'm done with any recipe inside of 5 hours.
I only use a single burner, but setting up the night before is a huge time saver. Getting the grain milled, even filling the HLT and set onto the burner in preparation for lighting. Now that I'm transferring operations outdoors again as spring has sprung, it's not quite as convenient as the basement brewshop - but it does the trick.

For me, it's all about a streamlined, predictable process. If it's a recipe that I've brewed many times before like March Brown Mild, I go on autopilot and move from one stage to the next without much thought.

Between the March pump and CFC, I've easily cut 30 minutes from my brew session.
 
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At 45, I'm no kid and I was definitely finding myself feeling kind of beat up at the end of a brewday. I'm enjoying brewing SO much more since I threw together a simple brewstand cart, with two mounted burners, a plate chiller and a pump. No more carrying or lifting vessels filled with 5-10 gallons of hot liquid...gravity and the pump take care of moving the water and wort. At this point, the only heavy lifting is carrying the better bottle to my freezer, and the MLT to the compost bin. Once I've cleaned all the gear, 90% of it gets placed into/onto the cart and the whole assembly is rolled back into the garage.

Like BM says, with two burners I can start heating the main kettle while I'm heating up water and completing the sparge. Whatever hot water is left is used for cleanup. Furthermore, there is very little to sanitize. I recirculate near-boiling wort through the lines and chiller, so all I have to sanitize is the fermenter, carboy cap and airlock.

It took a few $$$ and a lot of incremental refinements to my procedures, but it's so nice to not have an achy back at the end of the day. Now I just focus on enjoying the process.
 

SumnerH

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The main thing you can do without affecting your overall procedure is to make sure you start doing things in the right order.

e.g. rather than go through your whole checklist and make sure you've got everything before you begin, go ahead and start heating your water first and then break out the checklist. Worst case you waste a little water (but you still aren't wasting any other ingredients without doing your final check), and you'll save 10+ minutes right there every brew day. And obviously you'll have the water going while you crush your grain.

Basically, look for any points where you can overlap time-consuming activities. With any step that's going to take a long time, look for every opportunity to start it as early as possible.

I left the house at 9:45AM on Saturday for the 20 minute drive to the LHBS and by 4:30 had finished cleaning after doing 2 brews (a partial mash and an extract+specialty), with only 1 large brew pot so I had to do consecutive boils (I used a smaller pot to steep the specialty in 2 gallons of water during boil #1).
 

Beerthoven

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... Add a couple beers to that once the boil gets started, and I'm a cranky mess by the time I have to rinse out the brew kettle and dump my grains ...
Cleaning as you go is big help. At the end of the day, once the beer is in the fermenter, all I have to clean up is the chiller and kettle and a few odds and ends.
 

SumnerH

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Cleaning as you go is big help. At the end of the day, once the beer is in the fermenter, all I have to clean up is the chiller and kettle and a few odds and ends.
+1 on this. Any time that you have a moment when you don't need to be actively attending to the brew, look around for something to clean.

That way you're always just cleaning a few things at a time and never facing a huge mountain of cleaning (which is disheartening, especially at the end of the brewday)..
 

RedIrocZ-28

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I find that using this method is pretty good at recuding time.

1)Get out all equipment and set up: 10 minutes
2)Fill HLT/Mash tun with purified water While crushing grain : 10 minutes
3)Put HLT on burner and bring to strike temp: 15 minutes
4)Add grain to MT, stir, read temp: 5 minutes

Crack 1st beer

5)Wait for magic to happen in Mash tun: 60 minutes
5a)During mash, fill up 5gal pot for Sparge water and put on burner last 15 minutes of mash to get up to temp.
6)Strain grains after pulling from tun (I use a BiAB method): 5 minutes
7)Set grainbag in sparge water, stir again and wait: 15 minutes
8)Combine first and second wort in kettle and start boil: 10 minutes

Open 2nd beer

9)Boil: 60 minutes
9a) Remember to put immersion chiller in boil last 15 minutes
10)Remove from flame and hook to faucet/hose - chill wort: 9 minutes
11)Siphon to sanitized carboy: 10 minutes
12)Pitch yeast: those magical few seconds at the end of the brewday :D
13)Hose out pots and hit them quick with a sponge to clean up any spills: 15 minutes.

Get out 3rd beer

That should be less than 4 hours so long as you have things ready before they are needed.
 

fratermus

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I find working outside as much as possible helps me to get through the cleanup steps much faster. I'm not worried about spills and what mess I'm making out of the kitchen if I can just hose off the table when I'm done.
Absolutely. The ability to get wild with the waterhose is a godsend.
 

HenryHill

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I have two burners, plenty of vessels, cold well water to chill, and I drink 3-4 beers while I am brewing. I try to pre-stage my hops out of the freezer and weighed to specified addition amounts, and have the grain pre-milled and in pails for mash-in on brewday, but now matter what, I find my self doing other things that also need done while I am brewing.

By the end of the chill, I am getting tired, (picking up 11 gallons of boiled wort in a keggle to set on my bench for gravity drain to fermenters is a b!tch at 48, I have a pump but am waiting on silicon hose for being able to use it. :mad:), but the worst is always last, now matter how well you planned and are prepared and that is dumping the grain and BK out and hosing clean.

I generally just give it all a rinse and oxy my stuff at the start on the next brewday.... :eek:
 
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