Brutally Efficient Brewday

Life's been a bitch for the past few weeks and it was getting difficult to find time to brew.
An all grain brewday usually takes around 4.5 to 5 hours from start to finish.
But after brewing so many batches, I wonder if it really has to take so much time.
Can I cut this time into half and make the same beer ?


Quick Brew Experiment

So the idea was to try to finish a brewday in about 2.5 hours including cleaning.
And this does not mean that you do half the stuff on the day before the brewday and then pitch the yeast on the day after the brewday.
That's just cheating.
I am talking doing absolutely everything from milling the grain to pitching the yeast and cleaning the kitchen within that time.

This is how the kitchen looked before and after the brewing -




So I am going to describe how I brewed my usual 8 liter BIAB batch.
The basic process is detailed here - https://www.indianbrewer.com/p/getting-started.html

I took inspiration from the Brulosophy's Short and Shoddy method to cut down the mash and boil time to half an hour each instead of the usual 1 hour.

Most of the stuff below is just multitasking and common sense.
I use 2 pots to make life easier.

We are going to try to save time on heating and cooling the wort, which takes up most of the extra  time on the brewday.


Brew day

10:30am
  • Set the mood - 
    • Throw everyone out of the kitchen and set a curfew - Very important :)
    • Put some music on. Make sure the TV is off, and no one else is allowed to turn it on either.
  • Start filling 5 liters of water for the mash - this will take about 5 mins.
  • Setup the grain mill


10:40am
  • Start heating the water, make sure you cover it with a lid. So you can get to strike temperature of about 73C in 15 mins. If you have a weak flame, use two vessels
  • Weigh the malts and mill them. I mill finer to get better efficiency with a short mash.

11:00am
  • Mash-in ( start mashing in 5 mins before this )
  • Cover with a lid. We got half an hour before the mash finishes. Do NOT chill out.


11:05am
  • Start filling another 4 liters of water for sparging.
  • Put the grain mill back in place. Cleanup up the grain bucket.
  • Start heating the sparge water. Use the same pot as before and cover it. So this will be ready by 11:30.
  • Stir the mash if you get a chance every 10 mins.

11:30am 
  • Drain the grain bag and keep the drained wort immediately on the gas, so it starts to heat up.
  • Continue with the batch sparge in another pot. Batch sparging is quick and doesn't take more than 10 mins.
  • Put the other pot on the flame too. Now you have 2 pots, one with slightly less wort, and one with more wort. This is because one flame on my stove is larger than the other.
  • Cover the pots, so the wort comes to a boil fast. Don't worry about DMS, we are going to uncover the pot as soon as the wort starts to boil.
  • Meanwhile measure the bittering hops.



12:00pm
  • The wort should have already been boiling by now.
  • Remove the lids.
  • Add bittering hops in the pot with more wort. So 12am is boil start time.


12:05pm
  • We got another 25 mins to the end of boil.
  • Dump the spent grain and clean the brew bag.
  • Sanitize the fermenter, siphon and other equipment.
  • Fill the sink with water to create a water bath.


12:25pm
  • It's 5 mins to end of boil. Combine the worts into a single pot.
  • Add finishing hops and whirfloc.

12:30pm
  • This is end of boil. Turn off the flame. Stir the wort for a min or two.
  • Put the wort into the water bath and keep stirring.
  • Once the temperature has dropped to about 60C, time to drop 1.5 liters of sanitized ice into the wort.
  • Re-hydrate the yeast / dump the spent liquid off the yeast starter.

12:45pm
  • The ice melts in about 10 mins, and the wort comes down to 32C. This takes some practice. You will need to take the pot out of the water bath at the right time, and let the ice melt.
  • Siphon the wort into the sanitized fermenter. Takes less than 5 mins to siphon 8 liters of wort.
  • Take a gravity reading.
  • The temperature of wort was about 30C by now.
  • Pitch the yeast. Cover with a sanitized foil.
  • Put the fermenter in the fridge / outside.


1:00pm

End of brewday. Take another 5 mins to cleanup the kitchen, the siphon, thermometers, refractometer, etc.
The only thing I did not clean is the two pots. My maid is kind enough to clean the pots the next day.


1:05pm

Kitchen is clean again.



Feels great that I finished the brew day in about 2.5 hours !!

Tips

  • This is not for new brewers / or for a new environment. Make sure you have made a lot of batches before in the same setup.
  • Mill the grain finer to get good efficiency. Expect about 5% loss in efficiency. I got 70%.
  • Remember that the boil is only 30 mins. Adjust the bittering hops / boil off rates in the recipe accordingly.
  • Always have some sanitized ice in an airtight container ready in the freezer for such spontaneous brewdays.

Conclusion

This may not look like much fun, and feels like a hurried process. But trust me, optimizing every step of the brewday has its own kick.
And then there are days when I want to brew a batch on a weekday after work hours, or I want to whip up an experimental batch on a busy weekend.

I wish I could totally ignore everything above, call a few homebrewers over on a Sunday to enjoy a 6 hour brewday with a few pints of homebrew !!
An ace homebrewer in Mumbai once invited me to such a brewday, and I discovered the joys of a chilled out brewday.

But for times when life is not so kind, the 2.5 hour brewday ensures that I keep brewing without excuses.

5 comments:

  1. 5 l for mash, 4 l sparge, 1.5 l ice. So you loose 2.5 l in total to get your 8 l?

    ReplyDelete
  2. The malt absorbs water in the mash. So you lose some there and then some on the boil. Infact if you boil in 2 pots you lose more water to evaporation.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I use DIY copper coil chiller for wort cooling. It brings down the temp to about 40 C in roughly 10 minutes, but thereafter even if i continue for 15 more minutes, I find it difficult to go below 34 C. I pitch direct at that temp, but thus far no problems. I like your process of sanitized ice for cooling. Can you please let me know how to make sanitized ice. I think this would help me greatly.
    I use my grandmothers' manual stone grinder to mill malt. It is a laborious process, but I consider it as an exercise routine and do it. It takes about 40 minutes hard work to grind 2.5 kg malt. I would like to post a picture but I do not know how. Can I send it across to you via email, so that you can post it if you find it appropriate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boil water and let it cool down.
      So now your water is sanitized.
      Use your sanitizer to sanitize an airtight container.
      Put the boiler and cooled water in the airtight container and freeze it.
      I always have a container ready in the freezer for an unexpected brewday.
      A 1.5 to 2L container is great for this.

      Make sure you sparge with less water to accomodate for this addition.

      Delete
    2. Thank you very much Sapan. I will try this in my next batch.
      Your short brew day concept is quite impressive. But since I have all the time in the world to do my homebrew batches, I will go through the usual process through mash tun. Thanks again.

      Delete

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