Homebrewing Stack Exchange
It seems like most people buy a lot of equipment and then start with 5 gallon extract kits. The reasoning behind this seems to be that extract kits are easier and take less time to brew (and have fewer opportunities to make mistakes), and most recipes are calibrated for 5 gallon batches.
However, I’ve also read that it’s perfectly possible to brew smaller quantities. For me, this would be cheaper (I don’t have to buy a huge kettle or propane burner, and I can ferment in wine or apple juice jugs), and when I inevitably screw something up I don’t have to drink two cases of bad beer. Also, I can try more different things at once (since one gallon fermenters are smaller and cheaper).
Does this sound manageable for a first time brewer, or are there good reasons why everyone seems to start with $100+ worth of equipment and a five gallon extract kit?
However, keep in mind that there’s nothing magical about 5 gallons. Sure, you get two cases of beer in return, but you can scale any 5 gallon recipe to a 1 gallon recipe by simply dividing all ingredients by 5.
I would suggest you get your feet wet with a 1 gallon extract and steeping grains batch. This would be faster and easier than BIAB, and it would be a great way to try out brewing. At this scale, the cost difference between extract and grain is pretty low (remember: 1 pound of grain has less sugars than 1 pound of extract). If you like brewing, BIAB would only be a bag away, and you could start this on your very next batch.
Buy an 8 gallon stainless brew pot. This will allow you to do an occasional 5 gallon batch should you like a recipe, as well as when you are ready to move up you will already have it, it still works great for 2 gallons (not for 1 though, its too wide). This will be the most expensive thing you have to get.
Buy the biggest, strongest BIAB bag you can find. I like the ones from austin homebrew but there are many others. 1 large bag is enough for 15lbs of grain so again it will work for your 2 gallon batch or a 5 gallon batch.
Get a small ice chest. This is where I modified my BIAB routine. I still keep the grains in the bag but I mash inside a small ice chest because it keeps the heat for a full hour. The taller ones work best for small batches, and its nice to have the whole to drain out of into your pot. You probably already have this.
You will need something to ferment in. The best way to get 1 gallon glass jars is buying sangria at your local grocery store. I can usually get a gallon of it in a glass jar for $9. A 1 gallon empty from the brew store is $6. You will want 2 3 of them. (The third is just in case you overshoot your quantity a little, or want to ferment multiple batches)
you will also want an auto siphon, funnel, stir stick, 3 piece air locks and stoppers (6.5 size fits those 1 gallon jugs, if I remember right). Then 1 or 2 liter/20 oz soda bottles make great cheap bottling items. All of these items are needed for any size batch.
It sounds like a bit of equipment but you may already have some, and it should be fairly inexpensive to get them all.
Boil 3 gallons of water in your pot for an hour on the same stove you are going to use. How much water did you lose? I need to start with 3 gallons to end up with something like 1.8 gallons after mashing and boiling.
Do you have a scale to measure your hops? At such small amounts slight mis measures make a larger difference.
1 gallon batches is VERY hard to get the s michael kors canada ame amount of water at the end of boil. How vigorous you boiled makes a much bigger difference is such a small amount of wort. This is the biggest reason why I moved up to 2 gallons.
Brew in a bag is perfectly manageable for a first time brewer. It’s pretty straightforward, and if you already have the equipment for a small batch that michael kors canada ‘s perfect.
I started with a 5 gallon kit and then wondered why, once I discovered brew in a bag.
There are a couple of things to watch out for though, because in my experience if the batch is too small it becomes difficult to control.
Bear in mind that a lot of water is lost in the brew process. It evaporates off during the boil, is soaked up by the grains, and also by the trub (hop and yeast debris in the fermenter). For some reason these losses, especia michael kors canada lly to evaporation, seem to be exaggerated in small brews.
To end up with 1 gallon of beer you may need to start with 1.5, or more. I once tried to make a 3 litre batch (0.8 gallons), but bottled just 1 pint. If you stop the boil from getting too vigorous that should help.
Also, small differences in quantity of ingredients have a bigger percentage effect on the flavour than they would in a bigger brew.
To match a particular recipe, or brew a succes michael kors canada sful beer again, you’ll need some fairly accurate scales. The make a 1 gallon kit with all equipment necessary to brew a batch and it is designed for people on a budget and people who don’t have a ton of space, or for people who just want to try it. They sell the equipment kit and whole bunch of recipes for it. for $40 you get the equipment and you first recipe kit and recipes are just $15. You should already have a brew pot big enough to boil 1 gallon of wort.
And, after you try it and realize you like it, you haven’t invested a lot of money into equipment you wont use again because the 1 gallon ‘carboy’ fermenter would be well suited to using to make yeast starters in the future.
Edit: Sorry, realized I only addressed the budget part of the question, not the BIAB part. I don’t see why you couldn’t scale any recipe down from 5 or 10 gallons to do a 1 gallon batch for brew in a bag.
Brooklyn Brew Shop is a cool startup company that exclusively sells 1 gallon all grain kits. They are basically BIAB, though they use a strainer in their demo video because it’s not a lot of grain. They are very popular and the company is doing well. They have some great videos on their site showing the process. The equipment included is a one gallon glass jug, a screw top topper and airlock, tubing, clamps, racking cane and sanitizer. You can get all this stuff from any online homebrew store and most local shops as well. The ingredients include milled grains, hops, dry yeast and sometimes extras (spices). The kits with equipment are $40 and ingredient kits are $15. You would still need a 2 3 gallon pot. Again, their instructions have you use a metal strainer for sparging, though you could easily do this with a mesh grain bag (or skip the sparge). You may be better off buying hops and yeast locally, they will be refrigerated and likely more fresh.