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Brewing 2.5 gallons at a time?

I have been interested in home brewing for quite some time and finally I feel I have the time to learn. However, there is the wife factor involved here and there is no way I am going to be able to store 5 gallons of beer in the fridge at a time. One gallon kits seem a bit small to me (I figure maybe 10 beers max when all is said and done) so 2 or 2.5 gallons seems about right. Can I simply take one of the 5 gallon kits and cut it in half and save the rest for a later brew? I realize my equipment might need to be modified a little bit but that shouldn’t be a problem as I see there are plenty of 3 gallon carboys out there.

Welcome to the board Dave.

It’s not necessary to store all the beer in the fridge once it’s bottled. You can just put 4-6 in the fridge as needed.

You could check with local bakers to see if they have plastic pail to give away or for sale for a couple of dollars. I’ve seen fruit filling come in ~4 gallon pails. Even a 5 gallon pail would be fine if you didn’t age the beer for to long. Maybe 6 weeks?

Yes you can just split the 5 gallon batches in 2. There may be a small variation in the 2 beers if all the grains come mixed. But it would be a very slight difference.

A nice scale would be very helpful. Get one that measure in both oz and grams. With the most accuracy you can afford. Should not cost more than $30 to $50.

Several of us brew small batches of 2.5-3gal all the time. It amounts to a case of beer, and is a handy amount if you like to brew often or want to test a new recipe.

I am currently making batches between 1.7 and 2.1 gallons. It allows me to experiment with more recipes while not accumulating way more volume of beer than I can reasonably store. Just cut down the ingredients of any standard recipe to get to the volume you want. For example, I can split a 5-gallon recipe into thirds to get a batch size of 1.66667 gallons, or 1.7 gallons – close enough. This will get you about 14-16 bottles, a little more than a 12-pack. If you want a full case then split in half and go for the 2.5 gallons. It’s all good. I don’t need 2 cases of beer every single time I brew – no thanks. I don’t have the space for that, nor the heart to dump it or even to give it away to friends if I don’t like it.

If you’re going to brew with malt extract you’ll want to get the kits converted to dry malt extract. It would be a major pain to weigh out liquid extract plus DME would probably store better once it’s opened.

If it’s a case of storage, then I understand. I was in a small apartment and had issues storing all my beer, both homebrew and commercial.
IF it’s only the fridge part, then I don’t see it. Unless you’re making lagers, then you don’t need to refrigerate at all until you’re getting ready to drink it.
Brew day is brew day, fermentation needs a cool, dark area, (basements are perfect) same with conditioning and storing.

Thanks everyone for the input.

I didn’t realize that I could store bottled beer at room temps without running into problems. That will make things much easier.

I still think smaller batches probably fit what I am trying to do better. I don’t drink a lot of beer at home, but I do like to drink good beer and the idea of brewing my own has always been somewhat fascinating to me.

One other question comes to mind. If I do decide to focus on 2 - 2.5 gallon batches, can I still use something like the 5g kit or is the extra room (more oxygen?) going to be a problem? Should I try to build a kit built around my preferred batch size or just stick with a 5g kit?

I use 3-gallon carboys. Works great. Maybe go that route. All your other equipment stays the same whether you go with 2.5 or 5 gallons or whatever. Although, BIAB is a whole lot easier with the smaller batches so then you can usually skip the cooler mash tun etc. and just mash in your kettle and go.

I have a couple 4 gallon buckets that I use for 2.5 gallon starter batches, they work great. The owner of a pizza place gave them to me, they contained the topping for their dessert pizza. Another place to look is bakeries, my shop is across from the back door of a bakery and they take delivery of a lot of these buckets, I suppose they contain frosting.

One last question (probably not, but let’s see) before I get started. Since I have never brewed before I figure I will start with a couple of extract kits which I see generally come with LME. From what I have read the shelf life of LME is somewhat limited after opening so there is probably a good chance I won’t get it all used in time. If this is the case, can I simply substitute DME when I want to brew the rest of the kit?

Sure, you can certainly do that if you like. But it probably is not necessary assuming you brew again within a few months.

I’d think an opened jug of LME would last quite a while in the fridge, after all it’s mostly sugar. The biggest problem to me would be buying a kit and trying to split the LME equally. Probably the best thing to do would be to look at NB’s recipe sheets and buy the ingredients separately by half, that way you could get the 3.3# jugs of LME.[quote=“DaveSt”]can I simply substitute DME when I want to brew the rest of the kit?[/quote]You can’t sub DME for LME pound for pound, DME has no water in it so it has a higher yield, 1.044 gravity points per pound per gallon vs. 1.036 for LME.

Thanks guys.

The reason I was asking about splitting an extract kit was mainly due to the fact that I was planning on buying the entire 5g brewing kit which comes with one of three extract recipes. My understanding is that you can adjust from LME to DME by multiplying by .8 but maybe there is more to it than that. I also realize the recipe might come out differently depending on what DME is selected.

After doing quite a bit of reading I actually think for doing smallish (2 - 2.5 gallon) batches it might actually be easier to simply move to all grain recipes. I have been playing with Beersmith and once I figure out some of the finer details (pre boil volume mainly) I believe I can simply find some interesting recipes and then scale them down to my desired final volume.

I still plan on starting with whatever extract kit I choose but maybe getting a 3 gallon mash tun put together will be my next step so I can move to more easily scaled recipes.

You’re already ahead of the game if you’re using Beersmith, it’s invaluable.

I was going to mention brewing all grain, it would be the easiest way to scale recipes or split kits and it’s not that difficult. Look into brew in a bag
http://www.google.com/cse?cx=002049908316651186938%3Afhofsczk36a&ie=UTF-8&q=biab&sa=Search&hl=en&siteurl=www.google.com%2Fcse%2Fhome%3Fcx%3D002049908316651186938%3Afhofsczk36a%26hl%3Den&ref=&ss=2256j2263808j4#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=brew%20in%20a%20bag
, you don’t need a mash tun just a pot big enough to hold your water and grain.

Wow, that BIAB system looks like the ticket for sure.

If I am looking at things correctly, for a 2 gallon batch all I would need is the grains, a 5 gallon pot, and a mesh bag? The rest of the equipment looks to be the same as any other type of brewing.

2 gallons might be tight in a 5 gallon pot. If you figure roughly 1 gallon boil off plus the water the grain will absorb (I figure .12 gallon per pound) you’re looking at ~3.5 gallons of water plus the grain. I see NB has a BIAB 3 gallon system:

Thanks for all the help everyone, it is much appreciated.

I suppose I should just pony up for a decent pot to start with. Maybe the 8g tallboy or similar would be a good place to start. I just have to get past my cheap nature!

Figures the pot I finally decide on is out of stock for some time.

I am OK with doing smaller batches on the order of 1.5 gallons since I am the only one drinking the beer and that will give me plenty of batches to figure this all out. Doing the quick math, the NB 3 gallon kit uses a 7.5 gallon pot. If I stick to half of the batch size a 5 gallon pot should be more than enough. If I graduate to larger batch sizes I can always build a mash tun.

Right on. For the record… I can make about 2.0-2.1 gallons in my 5-gallon kettle, which assumes a very vigorous boil for about 70-75 minutes. If you brew in a bag, you can do the whole thing in the kettle, or you can play around with a couple extra smaller pots to heat up sparge water etc. on the side, do the whole thing on your kitchen stove. Works like a charm.

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