Time Efficient Brewing

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CMAC

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As a new homebrewer, I'm still finding my rhythm so I can get the most out of the brew-day. I was wondering if anyone had tips or tricks to help keep the brewing move along. I know, patience. RDWHAHB. It would be nice to have a setup where I'm closer to 3-3.5hrs so I might try to squeeze a batch in after work during the week.

I'm currently running all-grain keggle setup with single infusion mashes. Still running about 5 hrs to brew the 5-6 gallon batch.
 

mb82

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To be honest a more powerful burner or smaller batches( so bringing water/wort to temp is quicker) is about all I found to shorten my brewdays.
My days sit somewhere around the 4-5 hour mark depending on the wind conditions outside.
 

brycelarson

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You're right in the ballpark for time. just the basics mean you have 60 minutes or more in mash and 60 minutes or more in boil. Add in 30 minutes to cool - and you're already at 2.5 hours before you count setup, teardown, cleaning and time spent changing temperature.

Cleaning as you go will speed up the end, finding a permanent location to set up will save you time - otherwise it's all about applying heat to water - which may be your only real time saver.
 

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Do all the prep work the day before you plan on brewing and if you can, have your rig setup up to go the day before as well. That way all you have to do is fire up the strike water and you're in business. If you clean as you go, you can may be able to hit your ideal time. I do the no-chill thing, so as soon as the boil is done, I'm pretty much done. My last brew went all of 3.5hrs. I had my sparge water on the heat while the doing the mash, so as soon as the mash was over, I was sparging. During the sparge I cleaned up my inevitable mess and during the boil I was making dinner (with a timer on my belt).
 

scottland

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Do all the prep work the day before you plan on brewing and if you can, have your rig setup up to go the day before as well. That way all you have to do is fire up the strike water and you're in business. If you clean as you go, you can may be able to hit your ideal time.
This is great advice. Grind your grains the night before, measure your strike water ahead of time too if you can.

Aside from that, learn to clean as you go, and make use of the down time. It makes for a less relaxing brew day, as you'll be working almost the entire time, but it's much quicker.

-Setup your equipment as the strike water is heating.
-Weigh out your hop additions during the mash.
-Measure and heat your sparge water early-on during the mash.
-Clean and sanitize your fermenter (and anything that will touch the wort post boil) in your downtime during the boil.
-Get your chiller, and any chilling 'stuff' setup and ready before you need it.

Doing those things really helps me. I can consistently get a batch knocked out and have everything cleaned in 4:00 to 4:15 assuming it's a 60 minute boil. It makes for a less relaxing brew day though. If I have friends over, and we're shooting the s***, and I'm in a more relaxed mood, that brew day becomes 4:45 or so.

The more you brew on your setup, the more you'll find your stride. Try not to stress yourself out too much trying to speed up the brew day. Remember, it's still a hobby =)
 

Joeywhat

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I'm usually done with my partial mash brews in 3-4 hours, extract only in 2 or less.

I almost always have at least a half hour during the boil where I don't need to tend to the beer...so I use that time to get everything ready for the final additions, then once it's off the heat and cooling down I use that time to prop the fermenter and all associated equipment. If I got all that ready before hand it'd probably add an hour to my time...
 
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To be honest a more powerful burner or smaller batches( so bringing water/wort to temp is quicker) is about all I found to shorten my brewdays.
My days sit somewhere around the 4-5 hour mark depending on the wind conditions outside.
I agree. Getting things (water or wort) up to temp is the biggest part of the day. Anything that would speed that up will speed up brew-time. Cooling is also a bottleneck.

I like to do 2 batches at a time. When I do that I'm up to about 6 hours. I'm generally at ~5 hours for a single batch.

I do all my prep-work the night before. This includes weighing grains and hops and cleaning equipment. Technically this is still part of my brew-time, but I kinda pretend it's not.
 

thughes

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Consider no-chill, that'll knock 30 minutes or more off your brew time.
 

Calichusetts

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How I save time:

Prepping- All grains are milled and sitting in a bag ready to go...water is set out for sparge and mashing. My hops are already measured and in LABELED tupperware so I just need to add them. I've already cleaned my kettles, etc and I am literally ready to go when brew day comes.

The other way...extending my boil to 2 hours. I know, you just talked about shortening the day but hear me out. With a two hour boil, you get enough time to bottle or transfer your beer or whatever. It frees up the 1-2 hours of brewing you do at other times of week or month. In the end, its a 6 hour "beer" day where you brew, bottle, dry hop, whatever. I really have found this to be a better option. Plus, longer boils are nothing but beneficial to your beer. It can't hurt!
 
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CMAC

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Thanks for the fast and helpful replies. From what I've gathered, I'm not that far off. I do run a counterflow chiller after boil so I can pitch right away. My next brew day is TBD but I'll set a timer and figure out where I actually am for the brew. I've also been use hop pellets which I think are bogging down the CWC so I may go with whole hops and bag them to keep the debris out of the chiller and hopefully speed that up as well.

Keep the suggestions coming, I'm sure there's more than me trying to keep my time optimized.
 

duboman

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Even with doing some of the prep work the day before I still average 4-5 hours for all grain 6.25 gallon batches so you are right there with the expected time. I do a lot of cleaning as I finish using things during the brew session to save the back end clean up time but that's about it.
 

michaellifts

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I have cut my time to about 5 hours. That is from turning on the heat to begin my strike water, to putting the last item away at cleanup. I try to multi-task as much as possible. I also like to start early. 6-6:30 a.m. That way I am done by noon and have the rest of the day to do whatever.
 

mattd2

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You're right in the ballpark for time. just the basics mean you have 60 minutes or more in mash and 60 minutes or more in boil. Add in 30 minutes to cool - and you're already at 2.5 hours before you count setup, teardown, cleaning and time spent changing temperature.

Cleaning as you go will speed up the end, finding a permanent location to set up will save you time - otherwise it's all about applying heat to water - which may be your only real time saver.
If you really wanted to skim as much time off you could reduce the mash and boil down to 30 mins each. An iodine test to check you have full conversion beofre draining and sparging. Sticking with pale base malts and staying away from pilsner malts should allow you to get away with a 30 minute boil (just make sure it is a hell of a good one!). So you can save an hour there. But is it worth the extra hassle and potential issues if everything doesn't fall into place like it should do?
3 - 3.5 hours seems unrealistic to get a full AG batch done, I see the options as (and these have been said already):
1) Reduce your volumes to speed up heating/cooling times
2) Invest money in equipment that will improve heating/cooling, e.g. plate chiller, larger/more elements, bigger burners
3) Invest money into automation so you do not need to stand around waiting and can do other things (you could even have you strike water heating while you make your way home from work... if you trust it not to burn your house down!)
4) Go to extract with grains to elimate mashing
 

thetmaxx

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My biggest killer is drinking while brewing! I end up forgetting steps or BS'n and not getting anything done. I'm suprised sometimes that I am able to make anything resemling beer!! A sober brew day is so much smoother! I baisicly clean as I go which is one huge time saver. Lay out my hop aditionson on a table. Also having two kettles (15 and 5 gallon) Helps with water prep because I can heat small amounts of water (sparge) while using my large kettle to heat different mash steps. Also having several buckets helps to have volumes of water pre measured, and dedicated sanitizing buckets, a bucket to hold equipment I may not need, etc... And more table space also helped.
 

Whattawort

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My biggest killer is drinking while brewing! I end up forgetting steps or BS'n and not getting anything done. I'm suprised sometimes that I am able to make anything resemling beer!! A sober brew day is so much smoother! I baisicly clean as I go which is one huge time saver. Lay out my hop aditionson on a table. Also having two kettles (15 and 5 gallon) Helps with water prep because I can heat small amounts of water (sparge) while using my large kettle to heat different mash steps. Also having several buckets helps to have volumes of water pre measured, and dedicated sanitizing buckets, a bucket to hold equipment I may not need, etc... And more table space also helped.
Beer is best consumed in more than moderate quantities AFTER flameout. Learned this the hard way. Took me 3 days to realize that I had no fermentation because I FORGOT to pitch the yeast. Drunk I definitely was. It's a friggin miracle I managed to even get the batch in the swamp cooler without causing much pandalerium. SWMBO still likes to remind me of that particular batch....which is why I have not brewed a Belgian Blonde since.
 

frod1963

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What I do is mash in around 120F with a full volume mash using all of the water ill need post mash and boil like no sparge/ BIAB. I keep my pump on and do a constant recirc until I reach the low 150's or wherever I want to be. Then kill the flame and keep the recirc going (around 30 minutes) until the wort is clear and iodine test negative. Then run off into my boil kettle and kick the burner on. If I prep some things the night before like water and grain measurement/ crush I can be done and cleaned in 4 hours!! I'm finishing my brew shed in the next month or so with a point of use water heater which should drop some more time. Hope this helps!!
 

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It really doesn't matter what batch size you brew, it all takes about the same time. The only variable is the time it takes to heat liquid.

I brew 25 gallon batches and it takes me 6 hours, my brewery turns on and heats up 2 hours before I wake up so I don't count that time.
 
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thetmaxx said:
My biggest killer is drinking while brewing! I end up forgetting steps or BS'n and not getting anything done. I'm suprised sometimes that I am able to make anything resemling beer!! A sober brew day is so much smoother! I baisicly clean as I go which is one huge time saver. Lay out my hop aditionson on a table. Also having two kettles (15 and 5 gallon) Helps with water prep because I can heat small amounts of water (sparge) while using my large kettle to heat different mash steps. Also having several buckets helps to have volumes of water pre measured, and dedicated sanitizing buckets, a bucket to hold equipment I may not need, etc... And more table space also helped.
I don't crack a beer till after the first hop addition. That way i'm only buzzed at the end of the day.
 

pwkblue

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there is a limited amount of time that can be gained with process. Most of those are simply taking advantage of down time to prepare...or preparation beforehand...this really is just avoiding wasted time.

The only real gains can be found in reducing time used heating and cooling
 

Slow_Day

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Time spent cleaning and putting up equipment is what I am looking for ways of reducing. These tasks are the suckiest part of my brew day.

I am new to brewing, doing all grain, 5 gallon batches on the back patio. Once I have my beer in my fermenter:ban:, I spend more energy cleaning up and putting up for an hour and a half than I did the previous 4 hours of brewing :(. I'm hoping that organizing my cleaning and storage can shave off at least 30 minutes.
 

pwkblue

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Time spent cleaning and putting up equipment is what I am looking for ways of reducing. These tasks are the suckiest part of my brew day.

I am new to brewing, doing all grain, 5 gallon batches on the back patio. Once I have my beer in my fermenter:ban:, I spend more energy cleaning up and putting up for an hour and a half than I did the previous 4 hours of brewing :(. I'm hoping that organizing my cleaning and storage can shave off at least 30 minutes.
I am usually done with almost all cleaning before I pitch the yeast. I brew usually brew in my kitchen or utility room....with a sink, and I clean everything as soon as I'm done with it...My supplies are in a plastic box, and my equipment in a separate box. As I finish with things...they go right back in the boxes.
 

mattd2

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Time spent cleaning and putting up equipment is what I am looking for ways of reducing. These tasks are the suckiest part of my brew day.

I am new to brewing, doing all grain, 5 gallon batches on the back patio. Once I have my beer in my fermenter:ban:, I spend more energy cleaning up and putting up for an hour and a half than I did the previous 4 hours of brewing :(. I'm hoping that organizing my cleaning and storage can shave off at least 30 minutes.
I know what you mean, and that is where I want to get to too. Basically there is a lot of standing round time during brewing so I think I could have everything put away/measure out during this downtime so that it would be only the brewing that takes time - 0.5hrs to heat strike, 1hrs mash, 0.5 sparge, 0.5 bring to boil, 1 boil, 0.5 chill, 0.5 hour to clean the kettle/pump/chiller and I'm done = still close to 5 hours but at least I would go to bed knowing there is no more work for me in the morning!
Once I get my stand together this might become a reality :D
 

mattd2

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I am usually done with almost all cleaning before I pitch the yeast. I brew usually brew in my kitchen or utility room....with a sink, and I clean everything as soon as I'm done with it...My supplies are in a plastic box, and my equipment in a separate box. As I finish with things...they go right back in the boxes.
good idea, and what I want. Hopefully end up wheeling out the stand/equipment box/ingredient box and ready to start! Right now it is organise some outdoor furnature, run round trying to find where I put my thermometer, find where the recipe has blown away to....
 

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I do 5 gallon all grain batches always clean as i go.. i heat up my sparge water right after i start mashing and put it into a 5 gallon igloo cooler to maintain temp and to make sure it is ready to go right after i finish mashing, also on a few i have shortened boil times doing a 45min instead of 60min. also you could purchase an electric heat wand to assist your burner in reaching temps quicker
 

sudbuster

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As a new homebrewer, I'm still finding my rhythm so I can get the most out of the brew-day. I was wondering if anyone had tips or tricks to help keep the brewing move along. I know, patience. RDWHAHB. It would be nice to have a setup where I'm closer to 3-3.5hrs so I might try to squeeze a batch in after work during the week.

I'm currently running all-grain keggle setup with single infusion mashes. Still running about 5 hrs to brew the 5-6 gallon batch.
Congats, Dude, 5 hrs is a very respectful all grain brew time. Do you enjoy brewing? I mean really get into the nuances of the hobby, or is it just a labor to achieve an end? Do you live with the malt as it's being processed through the stages so that time is of no importance, even forgotten until, finally a new brew is born? If not, better to buy your beer..
 

bruceski

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I usually brew 2 5g batches per brew day. start with a good strong mug of coffee. get set up. I prefer not to have nobody around. Have sports on TV. Good to go. Set up equip. Get after it. Clean up as needed. Take breaks to sample my brews on tap. Done by 3 or 4 p.m.
 

julioardz

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I usually mash and collect my runnings at night, then boil in the morning. It doesn't shorten my brew time and probably adds some time having to bring the cooled wort up to a boil in the morning, but splitting my brew session means I can mash when everyone goes to bed and be done with the boil and cleanup in time for breakfast the following day.
 

zyx345

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For all grain I normally mash in the night before (2 hours), then wake up early the next morning to do the rest including cleaning (5 hours). My water here is terrible so I have to run it all through a Brita filter so that adds to my time as well. This has been about the best I could get it with planning and preparation. I'm an advocate of overnight mashing to reduce your brew time the next day.
 
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CMAC

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Am I living in the mash? Not quite. I love trying new brews and really like my cooking experiments, am an employed engineer, so my homebrew adventure has been a long time coming. Many times an homebrew assistant before embarking straight to all-grain. My wife works 12 hr shifts so some evenings after work, well it'd be nice to call my brother and get a batch going during the week. Getting the rhythm for the day when running the show myself is about making the fun not running around.

My first all-grain was a mess! Wrong yeast, wrong hops, no hydrometer, ad it turned out awesome! I'm glad I wrote down what I improvised, because it has gotten rave reviews.
 

hnsfeigel

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This has all pretty much been covered but thought I'd chime in. I brew inside on the stove so I have to set up/ take down all the equipment that day. The things I found that helped me be more efficient on brew-day:
First thing I do is grab my HLT and start heating water for the mash before I trudge everything in from the garage. That saves me any time burned for setup.
Heat sparge water during last 20 min of mash, then I'm ready to sparge as soon as first runnings come off.
Start putting heat to 1st runnings in the kettle while sparging into my HLT, then crank it once I combine. This gets me to the boil faster.
I clean up the MLT and everything else I can in-between hops additions so everything is put up while chilling.
All I really need to cleanup once i transfer are my kettle, hydrometer, and funnel.

:mug:
 

bknifefight

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Brew 10 gallon batches. It only takes me about an extra half an hour to brew twice the beer. That way you really get the most out of your brew day. Someone earlier suggested smaller batches. That is terrible advice.
 

pwkblue

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larger batch size makes more beer for the time spent...and is more efficient... BUT the OP was asking about elapsed time. Specifically how to be able to brew on a weeknight.

Smaller batch size can make a huge difference in elapsed time as it directly impacts the 4 periods of fluff time in the process. A smaller batch means less water in the mash ...should heat faster, less sparge water (no time savings as you can heat during the mash) A smaller batch will greatly reduce the time required to reach full boil...and cool much faster.
 

mforsman

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The more batches, the faster I've gotten.

Everyone else's suggestions are probably better than this, but it's been the most beneficial for me.
 

mattd2

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larger batch size makes more beer for the time spent...and is more efficient... BUT the OP was asking about elapsed time. Specifically how to be able to brew on a weeknight.

Smaller batch size can make a huge difference in elapsed time as it directly impacts the 4 periods of fluff time in the process. A smaller batch means less water in the mash ...should heat faster, less sparge water (no time savings as you can heat during the mash) A smaller batch will greatly reduce the time required to reach full boil...and cool much faster.
This made me think of another thing that could help (but could also be they way you do it already :eek:) - just noticed you sort of mention it in your post :)
Heat only the water for the strike water, then when mashing heat the sparge water. I have seen people heat their water both ways (all at once or Strike & Sparge). Potentially one of those little thought about time saving tips.
 
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CMAC

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An update: I managed a 3hr 5 minute brew day (start the water heating to storing the carboys with yeast pitched). 10 gallon partial mash/BIAB. Hit all my numbers. Most cleanup occured during the full volume boil, CFC, boil kettle, and testing equip after.
 

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I have been able to speed up my brew day by doing BIAB with a fly sparge. It speeds up the brew day by:

1. Strike water takes less time to get to temp by not using full volume
2. I can heat the sparge water during the mash
3. I do the fly sparge over the pot after I've already started the burner for the boil.

I know the conventional thinking is no sparge BIAB is faster, but I have not found it to be the case.
 

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Adding a furnace valve & controller to my HLT has sped up my brew day. I don't waste time getting sparge water to the right temp. Once I mash in, I top off the HLT to how much I need to sparge, reset the temp on the controller and go.

I also added a 3-way valve to my pump. This ended the hassle and time for burping the pump to get it primed after you move hoses around.
 
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CMAC

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I have been able to speed up my brew day by doing BIAB with a fly sparge. It speeds up the brew day by:

1. Strike water takes less time to get to temp by not using full volume
2. I can heat the sparge water during the mash
3. I do the fly sparge over the pot after I've already started the burner for the boil.

I know the conventional thinking is no sparge BIAB is faster, but I have not found it to be the case.
This is basically what I did. Two pots, started sparge water as the mash was wrapping up. Still very suprised that I was able to complete 10 gallons in "3" hrs. A serious record for me.
 
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