On Wednesday, I posted a method describing how to make 15 gallons (57 L) of beer (relatively) quickly, with a basic a 5.0-gallon (19-L) brewing setup. The idea was that you could make 15 gallons (57 L) of beer — something that would normally take three brew days at the 5.0-gallon (19-L) scale — in two brew days. If you were brewing for a party, but your brewing equipment was limited to the 5.0-gallon (19-L) ballpark, this could be just the thing.
Back in August of last year, I posted an article about my 3-gallon (11-L) all-grain brewing setup. I have a fancy schmancy 10-gallon (38-L) all-grain rig, composed of three 15-gallon (57 L) pots on a frame . . . and a nice 5-gallon (19 L) brewery, composed of two 10-gallon (19-L) pots and a (legally) converted half-barrel for the HLT . . . and in a pinch I have a 20-gallon (76 L) pot and a propane burner stand that will hold it. But I digress.
Nonetheless, with my simple 3.0-gallon (11-L) all-grain brewing setup, I can brew in my kitchen and escape the heat of summer. And there are several fringe benefits to brewing at this scale. The biggest is that you don’t need to make a yeast starter when using liquid yeast at specific gravities around 13 ° Plato (roughly 1.052) or less. One fresh White Labs tube or Wyeast XL smack pack, at 100 billion cells, is sufficient. Also, if you don’t have a fermentation chamber, the wet T-shirt method works well at this scale (as the surface area to volume ratio is higher in smaller batches). Plus, your heating and cooling times can be very quick, making for a somewhat shorter brew day. In addition, you don’t need to use a wort chiller — cooling the brewpot in your kitchen sink works fine if you have the time to change the cooling water several times and 5–10 lbs. (~2.5–5 kg) of ice for the final leg of cooling. In retrospect, I really wish I had thought of this when I was living in an apartment in Boston. The only downside is that you yield 3 gallons (11 L) of beer rather than 5 gallons (19 L). [Read more…]