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Oh What to Do - 1 gal or 2.5 gal batches

Hey all,

I’ve been brewing now for about 2 years and pretty much have dialed in my system and procedures for 5 gal. extract recipes but my recent ones are not to my liking. I like to try different styles and ingredient combinations but the problem is I get stuck with beer that’s not my favorite to drink. So I’m thinking of going 1 gal or 2.5 gal batches on new styles, etc and if I like it, will then move to a 5 gal batch.

Now for my questions;

Can you really make a good beer with only 1 gal and get a feel for what it will be at a larger volume (5 gal and up)? Ingredient volumes are so small plus how do you calculate yeast? Is there a formula or recommended grams or oz. of dried or liquid yeast for such a small batch? Do most just scale down their recipes or its more complicated than that? I also plan on using the small batches to begin my transition to all grain. The rationale is that if I screw up, I won’t wast as much.

With that said, maybe 2.5 gal batches would be easier since its half of my usual 5 gal.

Any help, thoughts, experience, recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and Brew on!

Good for you, man. I myself currently brew 1.7-gallon batches most of the time (that’s a 1/3 size batch compared to 5 gallons). And yes, that’s all-grain – it’s so easy to brew small batches, I love it! This gives me a little more than a 12-pack per batch, but not like 2 whole cases of bad beer if it gets screwed up, so the occasional dumper is not so emotionally exhausting! Plus I have way more variety in my cellar. Right now I have 12 different homebrew batches on hand – sure, I only have 6 or 8 bottles of each usually, and only 2 or 3 bottles left of a couple batches at any given time, but that’s okay by me. When I run out, I’ll just brew more! I find the brewing to be as much fun as the drinking anyway!

All the ingredients, including yeast, scale down. If you used one packet of dry yeast, or two vials of liquid yeast, or whatever in the past, you’ll use half as much or 1/3 as much or whatever based on the different batch size. The only other adjustment you probably want to consider is based on your boiloff rate. If you usually lose 1 quart or 2 quarts of volume in the boil, this will stay the same way for smaller batches. So, maybe instead of starting with 5.5 gallons to boil down to 5, or starting with 3 gallons to end up with 2.5, you could be down to 1.5 gallons to boil down to 1 gallon. So you’ll lose a huge percentage of volume in the boil compared to before. Something to keep in mind. Boiloff rate is constant when measured by volume, but percentage-wise it is NOT a constant for different batch sizes.

Another thing to keep in mind is how much trub you’ll lose. In a small batch, like a 1-gallon batch, if you have a quart of trub in there, you’ll only get 3 quarts out of the fermenter, and that’s only 7 or maybe 8 bottles if you’re lucky. That’s not a lot of beer! Which is why I’m an advocate for brewing at least 1.25 gallons if not 1.7 gallons like I do. Then you’ll get a good 12-pack or more for certain, and it won’t feel like such a waste of time for so little beer.

There’s many advantages to brewing smaller batches, a lot of people will just never understand. Too bad for them. If you do go this path, what you really want to figure out is how many bottles you need minimum to make yourself happy… like, if it turns out great, do you want 7 bottles? 10 bottles? 14 bottles? 25 bottles? Then just scale by 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4 or whatever you like. You’re not restricted to 1-gallon kits. Get the 5-gallon kits if you want, or design your own recipes!, and make any batch size you want. I still play around, sometime making 2.5 gallons, or 2 gallons, or anything in between. But usually 1.7 gallons. Just seems the right balance for a guy like me. Figure out your own balance, and go for it.


I do 1 gallon batches all the time. I brew almost every weekend and have 2 batches always going. You do spend a bit more time brewing for the amount of beer you get, but what you don’t have in quantity you make up in variety. I have 10 different brews right now in bottles. Some I like, some I wont ever do again, and some I wish I could do a 10-gallon batch.

you can convert the 5-gallon recipes by dividing everything by 5. I bought a small kitchen (gram scale) for weighing out hops. With yeast I pitch 1/2 package of the dry yeast or the whole vial with liquid. No starter is required. It might be slightly over pitching, but I haven’t noticed and off-tastes because of it.

I find the small scale really easy to work with and you dont feel bad about trying wacky things. :slight_smile:

Gah, after bottling the last couple of batches, I’m either thinking of kegging or going to small batches. I’m fine with the work all up until I bottle. Half batches (2.5 gal) sounds really tempting.

Thanks for the replies! Definitely like the idea of having may different types of beer in small quantities in lieu of my usual 3 varieties but two cases of each.

What type of fermenter do you guys use - glass carboy or bucket and why?

With such small batch sizes, do you do BIAB?

I do the 1-gallon glass jugs (the one in the 1-gallon NB kit). I have a couple of them. They are 7$ at the homebrew shop near me.

I almost always do a blowoff tube though. They headspace is a concern especially with active yeast strains.

I think I might get a 3 gallon glass carboy, that way I could do a 2.5 gallon batch or a very active 1 gallon batch. :slight_smile:

I like glass, but I’m a chemist and typically always prefer glass over plastic, but I think its personal pref really.

[quote=“EchoMarine225”]What type of fermenter do you guys use - glass carboy or bucket and why?

With such small batch sizes, do you do BIAB?[/quote]

I use 3-gallon glass carboys. Less head space so there’s less chance of oxidation as well as less chance of contamination. Plastic can sometimes harbor wild yeast or bacteria in any scratches. Glass is not so easily scratched.

Yes, BIAB is PERFECT for smaller batch brewing!!!

+1 Such Truth.

Looks like I’ll be ordering up some glass carboys.

One more question, I’ve heard that some say grinding the grains a little finer gives you a better efficiency with BIAB since there is no sparging. Any thoughts on that one?

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Yes. Do it.

I’m thinnkng of doing 3-gal batches for rest of summer because of difficulty cooling larger batches. The water from my faucet is 76 F and we have hotter days yet in store.

I’ll be fermenting them in a 5-gal plastic fermenter though.

I’m a rookie brewer with about 10 simple batches under my belt. I love doing 2.5 gallon batches. After reading these comments, I might try some even smaller batches sometime.

Some great advice given on here. I love doing my 1 gallon batches, I have done 4 extracts before I learned about the BIAB method and have about 5 BIAB completed. I read that putting the grains through the mill twice helps increase efficiency but not sure if that is accurate. I love the variety and feel that brewing more often helps hone the skills and increases the chances of creating better beer. I talked so much about it my neighbor bought a 1 gallon kit and is now doing them as well.

I’m Thinking about doing the Garden Hoe from NB next as they had it on tap last time I was in the store, if any one has any recipes that they would like to share with me please let me know. As I am always looking for a good tested recipes to try. Thanks

What kind of fermenter do you use? How do you transfer it for bottling?

Didn’t read the whole necro thread, but what size batch are you considering? The batch size changes the answer somewhat.

I just order a Little Big Mouth Bubbler for small batches. They say the capacity is 1.4 gallons. Figured I might do 1-1.2 gallon batches in it.

Should work great for that size batches. I do occasional 1 gallon batches, and I generally just try not to rack it any more than necessary, just to avoid losses. If secondary is needed, it can be tacked to a 1 gallon apple juice jug. To bottle, though, I just put the bottling wand on the end of a siphon hose. I measure priming sugar into each bottle, usually 9-10 twelve ounce bottles. Fill the siphon hose with star-san, lower the open end into the jug, and use gravity to drain the star-san out of the hose into a container. Once beer starts flowing, start filling bottles. Pretty easy!

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I switched to the 5 qt bubbler (from 1.0 gal carboys) a while back. For 1.0 gal batches, they work great - no need for a blow-off tube and so much easier to clean! I will use the carboy for the occasional ‘secondary’ (free up the bubbler for a different batch, dry hop, …).

For 1.25 gal batches, my guess is that some recipes might need a blow-off tube or a one-time clean-up of the airlock.

I used to use 2 gallon food grade buckets (after my first in 1 gallon carboy) because I couldn’t get a 1.5 gallon glass carboy. I have since bought 2 Lil Big Mouth Bubbler, and love them.

A 2.5 gallon batch could be split in two and by dry hopping one and not the other you’d have two different beers to drink.

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