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Suggestions a short brew day

I’m a new dad with twins and have very little time to brew. Every few weeks, I end up with about a 3-hour block alone in the house when the wife & kids visit with knitting groups/book clubs. It’s not enough time for my usual 5-gallon all-grain batches, but might be enough for something worthwhile. Anyone have suggestions?

You should be able to bust out a 5 gallon extract w/grains brew in 3 hours. That’s what I would do.

Pre-measure and mill grains the day before. Measure out hops the day before. Pre-measure water the day before, room temp water boils/heats quicker.
Talk to Grandma and Grandpa about watching the kids for a few hours.

I’ve got three little ones running around. I can bust out a 3-gallon BIAB in around that amount of time, but it takes some prep the night before.

Father of 2 and youngest is 1. 3 hours is easy. I am closing in on 2 hours on simple brews. Even without the time constraints of my family, I don’t enjoy the actual brewing session. It’s work. I enjoy other aspects of the hobby. I also enjoy other hobbies.

Basically, it is a 30m mash, single batch sparge, and a combination of things like milling grain while heating strike water, getting runnings directly into kettle, and cleaning up mash gear while boiling. At first glance you may suspect this leads to inferior beer. That is far from the case.

There are some real radicals pushing 1 hour on another forum. BIAB 15m mash and 30m boil no chill. Not ready to go that far yet…

Extract with full boil can be killer beer too. Semi-local BYOP is extract and all their beers are better than most homebrews I judge.

I got a rug rat too…typically I measure out my grain bill, have starter ready, and water measured the night before.

What has helped me is doing an overnight mash, then waking up at the crack of dawn to start the drain. While it is draining I heat the boil kettle so it does not take all day to boil. And heat my mashout water at the same time on the stove in the kitchen. I have a meat thermometer to monitor temp. I have a counter flow chiller that speeds the cooling process.

I can normally have a 10 gallon batch done before noon. BTW I go back to sleep after I start my original drain, and wake up for the sparge.


[quote=“metron-brewer”]Pre-measure and mill grains the day before. Measure out hops the day before. Pre-measure water the day before, room temp water boils/heats quicker.
Talk to Grandma and Grandpa about watching the kids for a few hours.[/quote]

Here’s what works well for me. And you can even still do all-grain if you prefer.

  1. Brew a 1/3 size batch (1.67 gallons), and mash in a bag. This will result in about 14 bottles of beer, i.e., more than a couple 6-packs. If you run out of beer, just brew again!
  2. Mash time only 40 minutes. I have run a ton of experiments, and while 30 minutes is not quite long enough in my experience, 40 always is!
  3. You could try an abbreviated boil. You don’t really need to boil most styles for a full hour. Try just 45 minutes. I bet it turns out just fine and you can’t even taste the difference.

I brew 1.7 gallons most of the time. Small batch size saves me a ton of time. Without even trying to shorten the day, I can lackidaisically knock out a complete batch from gathering ingredients and crushing to final cleanup in 3 to 3.5 hours. And this even includes a sparge for ~10 minutes or so, and my efficiency hovers in the upper 80s.

The other obvious ideas about getting your recipe and ingredients all ready and crushed and setup and sanitized ahead of time are all excellent ideas as well. Anything you can do in advance will make brew day go that much faster.

I can do 3.5 hour brewdays (ie pulling stuff out to stuff put away, me on couch…or as is the case now, holding my 7-week old daughter) for 5G BIAB batches with a sparge, 60 minute boil, 60-minute mash, and in some cases 1-2 decoctions for multiple steps.

My keys:

-blichmann floor burner heats up 6-7 gallons of liquid in no time
-use hot water out of the tap for strike gets me water at about 120* and less time required to reach strike temp (we have a centralized charcoal filter and I use campden)
-when I pull my mash bag for a 10 minute sparge (in a spare ale pail), I begin heating the ‘first runnings’ to reach a boil
-(this is the big one) I only chill to 100-120 with my IC depending on groundwater temp. I then chill the rest of the way in my ferm fridge before decanting to a new vessel and pitching (admittedly, this adds another 10 minutes to my brewday, but its well after the stuff is put away and this is a small enough step that can be done when the rugus rati and Wife give you a free few minutes).

All the other stuff, such as measuring hops during mash/boil, cleaning during same, and grinding ahead of time all shorten the actual brew day.

Good luck out there soldier.

Another father of 2 little kids (3rd on the way). This works for me.

Night before: Get equipment/grains/supplies ready and in place. Mash in for an hour, mash out right before bed.
6:00 am: wake up, heat sparge water, make coffee, put on pants.
6:30 am: drain tun directly into kettle, sparge. Burner goes on during first runnings.
7:00 am: Usually up to full boil, check gravity, adjust hops schedule if necessary.
During Boil: Once hot break has settled and boil is stable, clean out mash tun and put away.
Sanitize fermenter/spoon/thermometer,etc
8:00 am: Chill to 110* or so
8:30 am: Wort into fermenter. Fermenter into fridge till at pitching temp. Clean up kettle/chiller, etc and put it all away.
9:00 am: Take pants back off.

You only wear pants when you brew?

You only wear pants when you brew?[/quote]
You wear pants when you brew?

Very helpful suggestions. Going to try to put it all together next time I have three hours free.

I can do five gallons in three hours by mashing in before work in the morning and not sparging. So kind of like a BIAB. I get home, run off and start the boil.

You guys are hardcore. If I was raising three kids and had a three hour slot with nothing to do I would probably take a nap but that’s just me.

Keep the kids at home, teach them how to brew and they can be gophers. Gopher this and that.

Kidding aside it’s all about preparation and planning.

You only wear pants when you brew?[/quote]
Wasn’t there a guy on YouTube who said to brew with no shirt on?

I can brew 10 gallons in 4 hours start to finish - when pressed for time -
Have everything pre-measured, grain crushed, and ready to go.
I will chill with IC down to into the 80s, then put in the fermentor and cool down to pitch my yeast later that evening. Let the fridge do the cooling work.

Though, I prefer not to brew when rushed as I use brewing as my down time to relax and enjoy.

With your situation, I would go Extract 5 gallons.

You only wear pants when you brew?[/quote]

No, I have to wear them to work too (very strict dress code), but I consider the weekends to be pants-optional. I worked all week, I deserve it.

Lots of good tips. One thing I’ve done at times to get a head start is put a bucket heater (something like this one … UTF8&psc=1) on a timer so that when I wake up my strike water is up to temp or at least close.

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