Efficient brew day

Most of us don't have large backyards and a whole day to brew every weekend.
Do you get bad looks from your other half for occupying the kitchen all Sunday, when a nice meal could have been cooked ? You fed your family Dominoes pizza, you cruel homebrewer !!
So how do you make the most out of your brew day ? Here is what I do. Most of it is common sense.

Plan a day in advance

Take some effort a couple of days before the brew day. Make sure you have everything you need, right from grains to water to ice that is required for cooling. 
Check if all your equipment is ready, etc.

Ingredients and recipe

Make sure the recipe is all set, all ingredients are in place.

Water and Ice 

I know a fellow homebrewer who used to buy ice and brewing water an hour before the brew starts. One day the poor guy spent 3 hours looking for ice !!! Make some ice in your freezer the day before. Boil and cool some water in the fridge the day before if you use top up water like me.

Yeast Starters

If you are going to make a starter, make that in advance too. You can then just store in the fridge if you made it too early.

Multitask

There are so many things that can be done when you are waiting for the mash and the boil.
Turn off that TV, and don't have a pint of beer :) Maintain discipline.

Heating the strike water

Heating the mash strike water can take anywhere from 20 - 40 mins depending on your setup. Use this time to mill your grain. So you don't have to mill grains the day earlier.

Mash

Most mashes are about an hour long. 20 mins before the mash ends, start heating the sparge water.
That sounds so obvious !!
I bottle my previous batch during this time.
Efficient ? If you brew every 15 days, you don't need any extra bottling time.

Boil

Hour long Boil !!! Time to cleanup. Clean your mash tun, discard the grains, wash the mash tun clean and put it back in place. 
Then sanitize your siphons, fermenter, etc. 
You can also finish any bottle labeling if you bottled your last batch during the mash time. And cleanup the fermenter that you just used for the bottled batch.
Don't forget the hop additions though ;)


Equipment upgrade

This will cost some money, but its well worth it.

Gas Stove

Once of the biggest pains of brewing in the kitchen is the slow gas, takes ages to heat water and wort.
Get a commercial gas stove. Very cheap, under Rs 1000. Can save a ton of time. This will also allow you to make bigger batches.



Motorize the grain mill

For a larger batch, milling 5 kgs of grain by hand can be a long workout. Automate it by using a drill. I can mill 5 kgs under 20 mins. Exact amount of time the stove takes to heat 15 litres of strike water.

Larger batches

Stop making 8 liter batches, Upgrade to 16 / 19 litres. Its only takes an hour extra.
But this will require significant investment in mash tun, larger pots, etc.



Tricks

Cooling with Ice

Dump ice to cool your wort. An ice batch can take a long time to chill the wort, specially a 19 liter batch.
Instead of adding top up water, add sanitized ice. Boil water the earlier day, and freeze in a sanitized air tight container.



Now the purists will kill me for not doing a full volume boil. I am guilty here. Your efficiency will suffer because you have to reduce the sparge water. But you will save time cooling the wort. Additionally create a water bath and 16 liters to total wort cooled down in 10 mins.

Boil on 2 flames

Sometimes it takes a lot of time for the wort to start boiling, on a regular home gas stove.
If you have 2 flames, divide the wort in 2 vessels and start heating. Once both come to a boil, combine them in the larger vessel, and continue with the normal process.
This should save you a good 15-20 mins, and ensures that you start with a good rigorous boil.

BIAB

If you are going to do small batches anyways, just do brew in a bag. Saves a lot of time. No 40 mins sparging. Cleanup is much simpler too. You don't have to scoop grain out of the mash tun, just invert the grain bag in a plastic bag, and you are done.
Some people will argue that efficiency suffers, but its always time against money.
Here is how you can make your won grain bag - http://www.indianbrewer.com/2016/04/biab-grain-bag-from-saree.html

Conclusion

I know my brew session sounds like a military drill.

Feel free to have a few beers with fellow homebrewers, get wasted on brew day, and tell the tales of the legendary brew day :)

Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments.


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