Gallon Brewing

Why brewing small beer batches?

Advantages of brewing 1 gallon / 5 liters at a time

It can be done in a typical urban kitchen, with cookware most people already have

Kits are less bulky

You can try different recipes as often as every two weeks without ending up with tons of beers

It takes less grain, so it’s cheaper and you can use expensive ingredients such as honey or maple syrup

You end up with about 10 bottles per batch, which doesn’t take much space, is easy to drink until next time and not a big deal if you don’t like the taste of your beer

Fermenters are light and easy to handle, a major advantage for girls who want to get into homebrewing without moving a 50lb (25 kg) tank around

You typically have 4 or 5 different beers to enjoy at the same time instead of 60 bottles of the same beer

What is so revolutionary about brewing a gallon at a time rather than 5 gallons like homebrewers have been doing for decades?

5 gallons beer brewing
You don’t want this, do you?

Gallon kits are tailored for urban enthusiasts who live in apartments that could hardly host a full-sized kit

You don’t want to lift a 50lb (25 kg) container loaded with beer and have to store it the rest of the time along with 50 bottles

Typical 5-gallon kits are complicated and ugly, most of the time based on malt extract (at least for the first batch), they dumb down the fun steps too much and focus on unnecessary ones that have limited consequences on the taste of your beer, disappoint brewers by often ending up with 5 gallons of undrinkable beer and don’t incite a cooking-like improvisation-based approach of brewing

For all these reasons, gallon brewing is a genuine revolution that opens craft beer making to many people, including girls, by making it more fun, less heavy, better looking and more manageable

What is so cool about all-grain beer brewing?

All-grain beer brewing

As opposed to traditional starter kits, which mostly consist in diluting malt extract in boiling water, gallon brewing kits allow to jump straight to all-grain brewing, which is the utmost brewing method, the same used in professional breweries, and takes brewers through all the steps of extracting sugars from actual barley grain themselves

After a first batch, following a recipe to the letter, you will have figured out the basic principles of all-grain beer brewing and want to start improvising your own recipes. More about this here Create small batch beer recipes
Thanks to small batches, beer brewing resembles more to cooking, with all the improvisation and personal touch that cooking allows

What’s wrong with malt extract kits?

Malt extract

If you ever tried a traditional brewing kit based on malt extract (which comes in cans and looks like caramel), you very likely ended up with a kind of soft drink with a remote taste of beer and huge Coke-like bubbles

This is because malt extract kits come with poor instructions, old yeasts (if not dead) and bottling instructions that cause oxygenation

Most of all, malt extract kits start very late in the brewing process, all you have to do is basically to dilute malt extract and bottle the beer, you don’t go through the most interesting and creative steps of extracting sugars from actual grain yourself

On top of taking huge space and being hard to handle, 5-gallon kits often leave the brewer with 50 bottles of undrinkable beer and a very bulky tank you don’t know where to store

Finally, you can’t try new recipes so often

Why a glass fermenter?

Glass fermenter

Glass fermenters have all possible advantages:

They don’t release any chemicals into your beer

They don’t host bacterias in microcracks

They are transparent, so you can observe (and learn) everything that’s going on in your beer during fermentation

Can you make good beer?

Craft beer

 

Sure!
You can make beer that both tastes better and has more body than many commercial beers as you have total control on the ingredients you put in your beer and can use some that are too expensive for commercial production, typically honey and maple syrup

You control the quality of everything you put in your beer and can make it fully organic for example. More info on How to brew organic beer

There’s no limit to creativity as all-grain brewing starts from the very first steps of brewing and allows to include any ingredient to your batch such as lime peel or non-fermentable sugars

All-grain brewing allows to create beer with a foam head that holds for long (head retention) thanks to the better control on all stages of the brewing process

Is it difficult?

Not at all
The beauty of this new approach, based on small all-grain batches, is that it basically gets rid of all the unnecessary/complicated steps like adjusting water pH, mash steps, rehydrating yeast and so on, while focusing on the most fun ones that give more control on the final taste of your beer by starting a few steps earlier in the brewing process
Beer brewing has never been so easy and interesting and it’s now all-grain!

How much does it cost?

A kit costs $40 and that’s all you will need
It comes with all the ingredients for your first brew: malt, hops, yeast, sanitizer

For further batches, you will either keep relying on ready mixes (not fun) or compose your own recipes (super easy) and gather the ingredients yourself (fun, about 10 bucks)
We have detailed information on How to create beer recipes

Beer brewing is basically a poor man’s hobby and expenses never go through the roof, except if you start getting some semi-pro equipment for larger batches
Most of all, it’s such a consuming passion that any cost factor will quickly disappear from your mind and all you will care about will be to get the best possible stuff

Why should you read this website?

It provides solutions to many details still unclear in instructions coming with 1 gallon brew kits such as the Brooklyn Brew Kit, as well as additional hints learnt by a total newbie through experience and reads

It’s the only resource solely dedicated to small batch beer brewing

It also provides information to Europeans who want to get into gallon/small batch brewing without access to all-inclusive kits
We have infos on How to build the kit yourself

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Brewer

Brewer

Passionate about beer brewing, I try a new recipe every other week and share my experiences in the blog section with my faithful readers
Brewer

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18 thoughts on “Why brewing small beer batches?”

  1. Where or how did you make the cover for your jar that connects to the blow off tube? It looks really nice.

      1. Thanks for the reply. Just did my fist batch last night and everything’s looking good. One slight issue I came across was when it came time to put the rubber stopper on it kept sliding out (prob because it was soapy/wet from sanitation) so I taped it down to the bottle. Crossing fingers haha

  2. Thanks for a very informative website/blog. A lot to read. I started with the Mr Beer kit for just a few batches. (I hate plastic) Then I moved to 1 gallon brewing. Not because of space, but because I love beer but don’t drink that much. I want to brew and 8-10 bottles is plenty for me. Plus right now I have 2 batches fermenting and 1 carbonating. So I get the variety but not the quantity. These 3 batches came from Northern Brewing along with my kit, but I will be going to my LHBS for all the rest that I do. And you can never have enough knowledge about this hobby. So I will continue to read here and anywhere else I can get good info.

    1. Hi Dave,
      Thanks for the friendly comment.
      Funnily enough, I followed more or less the same path: after a few batches with the Brooklyn Brew Kit, I started brewing larger batches (5 Gal. / 20L) with semi-pro equipment (Braumeister).
      The beer turned out amazing, but I didn’t know what to do with 60 bottles of the same beer, even though I was giving away as many as I could. Drinking the same beer all the time was boring.
      I’m now back to small batches and try to constantly have 5 different beers in my fridge, which is much more fun.
      Brewing with better equipment also made me improve my typical BBK brewing procedure and I’m now able to brew basically the same quality as with the Braumeister.
      Most of all, you have to sparge well, use a wort chiller and I now use a conical fermenter (FastFerment), which allows to reduce the contact surface between the trub and the beer, do a primary and a secondary fermentation without racking and bottle with minimal oxidation.
      I was also against plastic, but the FastFerment is in plastic and I never had to complain about it.

  3. Thanks for this site! It’s gratifying to find I’m not the only one who finds small batches make a lot more sense. You mentioned in a recent reply that you use the FastFerment conical fermenter. The only one I can find is a 7.9 gallon version, which kind of kills the space-saving aspect. BrewDemon makes a smaller one, but without a yeast dump, so I’m not thrilled with shelling out for it. Do you use the large FastFerment, or can you direct me to a small one? Thanks for your time!

    1. Hi Ethan,
      I also looked for a smaller conical fermenter, but unfortunately, I don’t think that exists.
      The BrewDemon is actually pretty cool and the tap is placed high enough to let you bottle without sucking the trub.
      I think that would be a good option. It’s a bit pricey, though.
      Other than that, small batches don’t take too much time to rack and bottle, so, a conical fermenter is less necessary.

  4. Hey! Nice site except when you say stuff like this “Fermenters are light and easy to handle, a major advantage for girls who want to get into homebrewing without moving a 50lb (25 kg) tank around” Women are so strong. For real.

    1. Totally agree! I was very debated when I wrote this, but even for me, moving such a big load was a pain in the butt and it’s a fact that small batches are what brought so many girls to brewing, maybe not primarily because of the weight of the fermenter, but more because of the bulk and convenience. Once again, totally agree, gender equality all the way.

  5. Just ordered my first BBK, looking forward to my first small batch. This blog will definitely help in making in a success. Thanks for all of the useful information! Do the pots used have to be stainless steel?

    1. Actually, the more you brew, the more you will become relax with this kind of details. Stainless steel is the best, but aluminum works just as well. Just make sure you don’t burn the grain at the bottom and you are good to go.

  6. True. You can make great beer both all-grain and with extract. This said, all-grain is more fun, more real and gives you more flexibility. At the end of the day, it just depends on a personal preference.

  7. I messed up. Was having difficulty getting he wort to the boil and ended up leaving the lid partially on while gently boiling for an hour. How big of a mistake was that? I will bottle next weekend. Happy I got the first try done. Few things I will do differently next time.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Having partially left the lid during the boil is definitely not a big deal, but if you didn’t reach a boil for most of the hour, that might indeed significantly affect the quality of you beer.
      Bottle it, wait for enough time (at least 3 weeks, if not more) and see.
      We learn from our mistakes, you’ll do better next time.

  8. Hi Brewer,

    I’ve been brewing 5 gallon all grain batches for a few years and almost always love the end product. I’m not going to give up on the 5 gallon batches but I’m also pretty excited to take the plunge at start going with some one gallon batches. I just love the idea of experimenting more often as well as the fact that starting a 5 gallon batch after putting kids to bed takes a lot of ambition.

    A couple of questions:
    1. Assuming the 1 gallon growler is the secondary, what do you use for a primary? Or do you just do a single stage fermentation?
    2. How much yeast do you pitch? I’m assuming a full pack of dry is overkill. Same thing with liquid yeast, plus the fact that they’re typically $10 a pack where I shop.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi there!

      Thanks for asking

      1. You can go ahead with a single stage fermentation, this will significantly reduce the risk of contamination and it won’t make any noticeable difference on the taste of the finished beer

      2. I pitch a quarter pack (= 3g)
      I use this high precision scale for this, which is also great for hops additions
      When you are done, you can roll the top of the pack a couple of times, seal it with tape and store in the fridge, no problem to use yeast several times this way, even if batches are months apart

      By the way, US-05 (American Ale) gives great results with most ales and it’s generally cheaper than liquid activators
      This won’t make any noticeable difference either

  9. After brewing 5 gal. Batches for 20 years, I finally got smart and went to gallon batches for all the reasons stated. Nearly all of my recipes can be divided by 5, except for two things, water and yeast. Water will take some trial and error. Depending on how much water the grain absorbs and your rate of boil off. When all is said and done, I average 1.5 to 1.75 gallons of wort just prior to boil. Some having been lost to evaporation and some left behind in the precipitate in the primary and secondary. For yeast, approximately 40% of the packet seems fine.

  10. I noticed a significant improvement in my beers as soon as I started brewing one-gallon batches.

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