thaen (thaen) wrote in geekbeer,

The Nanobrew

There are two problems, really, with brewing 10-gallon batches of beer:
- It's really a lot of beer. Takes a long time to drink 10 gallons when you're not an alcoholic.
- It takes a long time to brew.

There are, however, many advantages:
- It's really a lot of beer.

... actually, I guess that's the only advantage. But it's a good one.

In any case, we figured that if we were going to perfect new recipes, keep the amount of beer that we have down to a reasonable amount, and create beer for studying beer styles (as a study aid for the BJCP certification), we were going to have to scale down a little. We originally considered scaling down to 5 gallon batches, but that's simply not good enough. If we're going to scale down, we're going to do it big (and by big, of course, I mean small).

So this weekend, we're going to start in on The Nanobrew. This is a one-gallon system that has many advantages:
- Fast batches (estimate < 4 hours for an all-grain)
- Fast turnaround
- One pack of yeast will easily ferment two or even three batches
- Much easier to begin automation tests than with a full 10 gallon batch

And, of course, one disadvantage: It's only one gallon of beer. But who cares? It's not like we're going to stop brewing the 10-gallon batches.

The outline of the initial edition of the Nanobrew looks like this:
- Grab a stainless steel pot, like for pasta. Make sure it's free of starchy goodies from past pastas.
- Heat 1.2 gallons water, or thereabouts. Add grain, but not directly to the water. Just use a grain bag (you thought they were worthless!)
- Mash with the grain bag.
- Sparge using a seive + collander, pretty much as normal, making a "filter bed" with the grain. Gravity measurements will be very important here.
- Boil and hop as normal, also in the pasta pot.
- Cool in the sink or wherever. Or with ice. It's only a gallon of liquid.
- Put in a clean and sterile milk jug. Cap. Shake briefly (to aerate). Remove cap, add yeast, add bubbler, leave alone.

It's going to be an excellent way to brew small batches. It will help us get a handle on how our ingredients affect the flavor of the beer, how various styles taste, how easy automation will be, and a million other things. It'll be cheap, too.

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