The magic of the Small Batch

Greetings from the rare and forbidden volumes section library of Miskatonic University (okay actually my small municipal airport’s departures area), this is Nyarlath’on’tap with my first of what will certainly be an integer number of guests posts. Given the conclusion of The Journey of the J it only seems right that I take a moment to describe the tools and methods of my own brewing trade.

My apartment is small, and storage is limited, so I do all of my brewing in one gallon batches. That lets me do a full boil on a gas stove and the post-boil cooling with an ice bath in the sink.
It has the added benefit that I can brew frequently without outpacing my consumption rate (I’m fairly sure that means you’re not drinking enough beer…- Bifur). Also, there is very little consequence if a batch doesn’t work out.

To start, I was gifted a starter kit from Northern Brewer which included both a recipe kit and essential equipment. Starting with that equipment I followed the excellent guide by Emma Christensen to upgrade to an all grain system.She has a book which also covers that system and includes lots of recipes specifically developed for one gallon brewing all grain. Beyond the starter kit, the main equipment I needed was a large strainer, though I also acquired a little big mouth bubbler. (Say, what’s the policy on kickbacks for all of the increased traffic this is going to produce for kitchn, and also book sales?) (No policy as yet, maybe if we get a larger readership we might start demanding a fee of golden monies from the wider internet but at present I’m not sure anyone out there is really listening… – Bifur)


Brewing a single gallon batch proceeds very similarly to a five gallon batch, with a couple of key differences. First, I mash in my brew kettle, rather than placing it into an insulated jug, I place the kettle into my oven (preheated on low to help maintain temperature, but off once the kettle is inside). I check the temperature every 15 minutes while mashing and either stir off heat or heat on the stove as needed to maintain the desired temperature.
(Hey! Dwalin, how come our stuff never looks as well organised and neat? – Bifur)

Second, to mash out I pour through a strainer back and forth between my brew kettle and a two gallon bucket. (See the alien tentacled appendage with which he grips the sacred Malt vessel?!? Truly a monstrous old one this Nyarlath’on’tap – Bifur)

I do primary fermentation in the 1.4 gallon little big mouth bubbler. The large amount of headroom prevents the fermenter from foaming over during primary fermentation. Secondary is done in the gallon jug from the Northern Brewer starter kit.


(Damn. Now that’s a view… – Bifur)

Using half a package of Safale US-05 yeast, fermentation usually completes in about a week, though I usually rack to secondary after two weeks. Ignoring the common debate on the merits of secondary, I rack so that the primary fermenter will be ready for a new batch (the 1 gallon jug tends to foam over if used for primary. Assuming there aren’t any major losses, I can usually fill 1 full pint (16 oz) bottle, and 8 standard (12 oz) bottles. One concern about small batches is sacrificing volume for hydrometer readings seems extreme. I use a refractometer to make original gravity measurements, and then use a free online calculator to correct the final gravity reading for the presence of both sugar and alcohol.
(Such instrument of ancient alchemical wonderment is beyond the comprehension of us Dwarves who maintain the Manly Mens brewery, but we are an inquisitive race and eager to learn the secrets of the deep down ones… – Bifur)

<i>Ph’nglui mglw’nath Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn</i>