“It’ll Be Fun,” They Said
OK, that isn’t really what “they” said. When I was starting to get in to homebrewing, there was a lot of discussion about making larger batches to save time. After all, a ten-gallon brew day doesn’t take twice as long as a five-gallon batch.
This was a common conversation on podcasts and among homebrewers. For most of my friends and I, a five gallon brew day takes about 4.5 hours, including cleanup. Bumping that to a ten gallon batch added a little more than an hour, so I purchased a larger cooler mash tun and some 15 gallon plastic fermenters so I could start brewing ten gallons at a time.
And it worked out great. I slightly extended my brew day and had twice as much beer! I was so excited, I loved it.
And then . . . Bottling Day
If you’re an experienced brewer, you probably know the disaster that awaited me on bottling day. I didn’t think about the fact that twice as much beer in the fermenter means twice as much beer to bottle when it’s done.
And since I had purchased large fermenters, I couldn’t just stop bottling in the middle of the batch. Air was drawn into the fermenters when I siphoned beer into the bottling bucket, and I knew that if I let it sit, oxidation would be an issue.
So, once I started bottling, I had to do twice as much and it took twice as long. And it made the task feel even longer than that.
What did I Learn?
When you are looking for ways to gain efficiency in your time while brewing, think about your entire process and also why you are choosing to make beer at home.
If you are brewing for the fun of it, just let the good times roll and try things. But if you are like me when I did this experiment, you are splitting time between your hobby and family. You don’t need to “go big” without considering all the implications to your process.
It’s OK to make small batches, if that’s what you have the space and time to brew. It’s OK to make bigger batches, if you have the space and time to do that. But don’t get too focused on one part of your process, and end up committing to something you didn’t fully understand when you made one seemingly innocuous decision.
Whatever you decide, you’ll still have beer at the end of it. And that’s one reason this hobby is so awesome.
Brew Up An Adventure!