Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

All Grain Brewing by Yourself

So since I went all-grain, I’ve always had help from others on brew day. I was planning on brewing next weekend, and for the first time, it looks like I may have to think about going solo. That got me thinking… how do other people that brew by themselves handle it? Obviously, my biggest question is around transferring mash/sparge water. I have a valve on my kettle, but that much water doesn’t drain the quickest through that valve, so I’ve always worried about how much the temp would drop after I turn off the burner and open the valve. With two people, it’s pretty easy to just dump the whole kettle. I’ve heard about using a pitcher to dip and transfer until you can lift the kettle, but I’m assuming with this you’d also have to adjust your temps to account for cooling.

What do other people do when brewing by themselves (assuming no pumps)? Thanks for the ideas!

[quote=“duncan83865”] I’ve heard about using a pitcher to dip and transfer until you can lift the kettle, but I’m assuming with this you’d also have to adjust your temps to account for cooling.
[/quote]

Go ahead and use the pitcher if that makes it easier for you. The extra minute that it will take will not be a problem as the mass of the water will maintain temperatures during the transfer.

Don’t sweat it. Enjoy.

I’ve only ever brewed with a “helper” twice, otherwise it’s always been solo. Both times I was showing friends how to brew, so they we’re really much help anyway. The pitcher method is a good way to go about it. I now primarily do BIAB, but when I use my mashtun I’ll use a one gallon pitcher to transfer mash water. It just takes a couple of minutes, so no worries about temp loss. I drain the mashtun into buckets, about 4 gallons at a time for easier lifting.

However, it sounds like you have a gravity setup with a valve in your kettle, so I would just use that if I were you. The thermal mass of the kettle and the mashtun will keep heat even with a long transfer. If you do find that you lose a few degrees, just up your strike water temp the next time around. Brewing is all about consistency with your system.

[quote=“duncan83865”]So since I went all-grain, I’ve always had help from others on brew day. I was planning on brewing next weekend, and for the first time, it looks like I may have to think about going solo. That got me thinking… how do other people that brew by themselves handle it? Obviously, my biggest question is around transferring mash/sparge water. I have a valve on my kettle, but that much water doesn’t drain the quickest through that valve, so I’ve always worried about how much the temp would drop after I turn off the burner and open the valve. With two people, it’s pretty easy to just dump the whole kettle. I’ve heard about using a pitcher to dip and transfer until you can lift the kettle, but I’m assuming with this you’d also have to adjust your temps to account for cooling.

What do other people do when brewing by themselves (assuming no pumps)? Thanks for the ideas![/quote]

You’re overthinking this and worrying about nothing. I’ve breed 443 batches and all but a few have been solo. I use the dip and xfer method. If you lose a couple degrees, it’s not a big deal. If you’re worried, just heat your water a couple more degrees to start with. See www.dennybrew.com for my method.

I agree with what’s been said. I use a gallon pitcher to transfer both hot and cool liquids during the brew process. In fact my little pitcher is up there in terms of being one of the most valuable tools on brew day.

the pitcher is useful for vourlafing as well. I use a valve on my brew kettle, but then a pitcher during sparging when I need to drain runnings into the kettle, and use another pot without a valve to heat sparge water. Go for it, and after a few batches you will have any slight temperature diferences figured out.

I prefer to brew solo, less distractions, less drinking, less time, etc. Like other said, just heat your strike water up a few more degrees and you’re fine, I do it more so to preheat my cooler before adding the grain.

I do 10 gallon AG brew sessions solo, and I use the pitcher and an immersion chiller. Then I siphon the cooled wort from the kettle into carboys. There’s still a lot of lifting involved, but it’s doable.

I have only brewed solo; pitcher here too. :cheers:

I drain my sparge water into a spare 5 gal cooler, transfer my first runnings to the kettle (same kettle for heating water and boiling wort), then just pick up the cooler and dump into the MLT. If the cooler is filled near the top, I will drain some water into the MLT first to prevent spillage.

My bigger concern is brewing with friends. More often than not, I get too distracted.

I’ve never thought about this issue before; I almost always brew solo (less chance of distractions that way), and when it is time to transfer brew liquor to the mash I simply pick up the kettle and dump it in. A few times I’ve instead drained through the valve using a high temperature hose, but dumping is easier. I use a pot holder between my leg and the kettle so I can have a third leverage point to control the pour part, which is the hardest. Just be careful.

I generally brew solo also.
I have a couple spare pots that I use for sparge water.
Since I use a cooler for mash tun, and 32 qt for main boil, I have a 30qt that came with my burner that I generally use for sparge water. The strike water I use the 20 qt I got when I started brewing.

Good ROT - don’t drink any beer until you’re done with the “skill” part of the brew day and go lightly after that so you don’t end up forgetting to aerate the wort or cut corners on chilling or cleaning.

I started many years ago by writing down the steps on my brew day sheet, crossing them off as I go, plus I can count on one hand ever having help. I go with Denny, you can always have it too hot and stir it down to the temp you want, plus one doesn’t need to be in that much of a rush. Relax and enjoy the day.

I’ve only brewed solo. If you are heating water in pot and transferring to a mash tun, but have a valve I recommend using a good size high temp hose. I treat it like siphoning beer to a bottling bucket: put the hose at the bottom of your mash tun… the less you splash the less heat you’ll lose. I dumped once and only once. Way too easy to burn yourself doing that.
It only takes one trial/error attempt to figure out how much heat you’ll lose. If you lose too much, well just transfer it back and try again. If you haven’t added grain no biggie. Record your results for next time.

My only gripe with brewing solo is I have to lug everything from the basement to the garage… then back to the basement.

Thanks for all the advice! I’m pretty good at doing the hauling from the basement/cleanup solo–my help tends to only stay for the actual brewday. Guess that’s the most exciting part.

I typically only have my black lab to help me; she does find me highly entertaining but not much help otherwise.

Good advise… I’m still working on that one, DOH!

And that’s what I do. I have no choice for now. I do this for 5 gal. batches. When I brew 10gal. batches I wait for colder weather to meet my cooling needs. I brew in my garage and cool in my basement. It’s hard to cool down in my garage when It’s warm, I have my set up downstairs.

When It’s colder outside I can cool down 10gal. down pretty good, until the deep freeze happens,
Then It’s back to 5 gallon batches. I’m an IC brewer for now.

I have tried alternatives but for now I am a “lugger”.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com