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Family Man Home Brewer

I am an extract brewer with a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I’ve always been lucky that my kids are on solid sleep schedules. I can always brew during their nap or after they have gone to bed. I always start the water boiling before they go to sleep though to cut down on the time. I am still brewing on the stove. Once I get the outdoor burner it should be even faster.


Totally random question for all you guys and gals. I’ve been brewing since 2004. Not a ton; Few batches a year. Just about to take the step into all grain but having trouble finding the time. So here’s that question. For those of you parents out there – particularly those with young kids like myself-- what are your secrets for getting a brew day (or night or early morning) in?[/quote]

I have kids, and I just let my wife know when I am going to brew and she takes the kids for the 3 or 4 hr I need to a batch. I usually brew in the morning so I can have the day free, or I start later in the afternoon like 5 or so so I am done before its to late, but mostly mornings.
If we have a lot of stuff going on on weekends, where it is hard to fit it in I just brew on a weekday night or work a half day and go home early (or the whole day off) and brew while kids are at daycare and wife is at work
If your only doing a few batches a year, not sure it would be to hard to squeeze them in, unless you really are that busy throughout the whole year

shadetree got a link to the bucket heaters your using?

Well, after becoming an insta-dad of 3 kids last year, finding time to brew like I used to, is a real challenge! There’s just no way possible for me to be as involved anymore, but I still get to brew at least once a month.
Momma knows that is what I enjoy, so when it comes time for brewday, it becomes MY day to do something. The kids get told that it’s beer day and that’s all that’s going to happen. Nothing else.

I love that woman :mrgreen:

[quote=“DCBC”]Dan, this is the one I have. I used to plug it into a Ranco and set the temp to about 172. I used a thermowell at the time. 9 gallons of water took several hours, but I’d do it the night before or at lunch for an evening brew session on a week night. You can use a Christmas tree light timer and do it about 1 or 2 hours before start time for a 5 gallon batch. Works in a bucket or a kettle. I would put the lid almost all the way on and wrap the rest with foil to keep the heat in. Always make sure there is water around the element.

Got mine at tractor supply co., but this is the same one. ... B000BDB4UG[/quote]

DCBC - thanks for the link! I had my eye on that model, and it’s good to hear someone has had experience using it.

I typically start brewing mid-morning, and my plan is to try to shave an hour or so off of my brew day by measuring/milling my grain and measuring my water the night before, and then heating the strike water using one of these heaters while I go about my morning routine. If I can plug in around 7am and mash in around 9, I think I may make the investment.

I work 12 hr shifts and for my long hours in the trenches I get rewarded with more off days than most people. I brew then. I brewed this week. The night before I had my two pots on the stove. A bucket fermentor which I put my sanitizer in in the kitchen. My sanitizer on the kitchen bar, a brew sheet, campden tablets, thermometers out, hops and grain out, the tun in place. In other words I was prepared to get up and go to brewing. I was up at 6:30 and when my son got on the bus at 7 for school I was heating mash water. Long story short, I was done by 12:30 and resting. Family time not interrupted. Doing homework that evening.

With a 2 year old and a 4 month old, it becomes tough. I’ve taken to doing Friday night brews. I am lucky that I live close to work and come home on my lunch hour. During that time I bring up some of my equipment and get my strike water measured. After work, I hit the burner, grind the grain and go. I’m usually in bed by mid-night.

If I am doing a Belgian style, with long low mashes and 90 minute boils, I do an overnight mash.

I’m in a very similar situation. Brewing for 5 years, AG for 1, only a handful of batches a year and 2 kids age 2.5 yr. and 6 mo. My wife stays at home with the kids during the week, so whenever I am home, she’s ready for a break.

Honestly, my last couple brew sesisons have been late at night with coffee in hand rather than beer. In the evening I’ll start getting my equipment out and ready whenever I can steal a few minutes. My baby ususally doesn’t fall asleep 'til 10. If I’m lucky I might start heating my strike water before then. I usually finish up after 2 am.

Lately I’ve started hearing about no-sparge brewing. That would shave some time off the process.

This is probably the most accurate depiction. There are gives and takes. I prepare about a week ahead of time and make sure that a morning is free. I prefer brewing in the morning to knock it out before noon so the whole day isn’t shot. That way there is family time in the afternoon and evening. It gets harder once kids start doing sports and stuff but you can find the time. Sunday mornings are quiet usually so that’s a good time for me. I mill the night before, measure out my water, get my fermenter sanitized, and sort of pull everything out to the door. Once I wake up (6am) I get started and get my mash water heating. While that’s heating I get the rest of the gear out as I need it. I also put away stuff as I finish with it too so at the end of my brew day the only thing sitting on the deck is my kettle with the chiller and a fermenter. Mash tun is already cleaned and put away, as are any of the other pots I used. I can do a batch in 4.5 hours and I am constantly moving or preparing the next step. You get better over time. My brew day Friday got off to an awful start with a non-working burner and SWMBO was out all afternoon so it was me and the kids brewing. Kids played outside while I did my thing and it worked out great.

I did a 20 minute video of my brew day to show my process.

Doing an overnight mash helps a ton. I’ll usually mash in Friday night, right before I hit the sack, then get up when my daughter does, around 6 or 7 am, and start the runnings. Mash is generally still in the mid 140’s in the morning. With the early start, I’m usually done and cleaned up by lunchtime.

I’ve been brewing 18 years and I have a 10yo son and a 13yo daughter. I brew 25 gallon batches once a month and they understand that on that day they need to find something else to do, every other weekend is all theirs.

My daughter helped me build my brew system but she’s not interested in brewing. My son is the same way, he’s more into mechanical stuff and not cooking so he helps me build brewing equipment.

I have a four year old and a two year old. The answer for me is simple - brew and play dates. I have a couple other brewing friends with young children, we plan a Saturday together so the kids can run around and play together while we brew beer. On bottling days, the kids love to help color homemade labels and stick them on the bottles.

primary: irish red ale
secondary: maibock, weizenbock, belgian trippel
bottled: pyramid esb clone, java stout
on deck: RyePA

There’s been some good ideas mentioned here, and I’ve done some of them myself. From my experience, (no matter what) it’s a bit of a balancing act: family & brewing. However, if you have a wife that’s supportive of the hobby, that helps. :slight_smile:

Hey all,

Just wanted to say thanks. Some really great and creative ideas mentioned here and I’m confident that I’ll put them to good use. What an awesome community this is. I have three kids under five, so the brew days have been fewer and farther between these days. However, as I type the sun is shining, it’s a gorgeous 40 degrees on the way up to 50 , and I’m halfway through the mash on the petite Saison I’ve been wanting to brew for 6 months. Translation: it’s a good day to brew. Slainte!!!

I have three kids under 10. Best way for me to not interrupt family plans etc is to brew Friday or Saturday nights. I get things set up and head out about 7. I am usually done around midnight. I brew in my garage so the kids sometimes come and hang out with me. Also, I get some great R and D time while I brew! Too much R and D usually means I leave hauling the glass carboy until morning!

This thread is great as I have my first one on the way and had been wondering about this lately. I’ve recently been brewing like crazy to get as much in as I can before the first few months where I doubt I’ll be brewing very often, if at all. I’m definitely going to start incorporating some of the organizational and time saving tips now so hopefully it’ll pay off down the road. Thanks for all the great advice!

Being a single father I’ve done all the tricks. Overnight mash, mash in before bedtime- clean up by 2 am, Long brewing days with breaks to make lunch and dinner, leaving clean up for the morning etc. Planning ahead and breaking it up between several days makes brewing AG very doable. And you might as well get 10-15 gal for the same time it takes for 5 gal. Once you get it down it’s not bad at all. Now that they are teenagers they bring me sandwiches and make dinner. It only gets better.

I have a child in kindergarten and another in preschool. I brew Friday or Saturday nights after they go to sleep. It helps that they are on a tight sleep schedule and are usually out by 7:30. While they are up, I try to do as much as I can: measure water, set up equipment, etc. I get them involved as they enjoy helping out. If I can prep while they are up, I can fire up the burner as soon as they go to sleep and I can be done, cleaned up and in bed by midnight. It also helps to brew larger batches: I brew 10 gal every 6-8 weeks.

I have a 4 1/2 year old and a soon to be 2 year old. Brew days are challenging but doable. I think it will be much easier to do it during the warmer months when the kiddos can play outside while I brew and keep an eye on them (my Husband works weekends so we can save on daycare, so it’s usually just me on weekends). I let my 4 1/2 year old help me out – stirring the mash, pouring in cold water, getting the ice bath ready, etc. and he loves it. I would say it takes an extra hour or so with the kids around, but everything takes longer with kids – just the nature of the beast.

Best of luck!


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