For a lot of brewers there is a general assumption that when it comes to beer, bigger is usually better. Bigger grain bills, bigger ABV and bigger volumes are usually the order of the brew day. Sometimes however we like to change things up and brew small. So what are the reasons you might decide to do this?
This can sometimes come across as a sacrilegious suggestion in homebrew circles, but sometimes you just don’t want 23 L or more of the same beer. Some of our recipes we will brew repeatedly and will often keep on tap but for big ABV barley wines or stouts it can become a bit of a chore and we often find ourselves giving most of them away in bottles or seriously regretting taking up a keg with them. A 10 L batch might give me 15 or so 500 ml bottles, of which we can give a few away and then enjoy the rest. And sometimes that’s enough!
For us, one of the best aspects of homebrewing is being able to play about with ingredients and techniques to create something unique and interesting. Sometimes this doesn’t necessarily produce a beer we want to drink 40 bottles of. Professional brewers do this with pilot batches, brewing an experimental recipe on a small scale to get a feel for how it will turn out so we like to do it too when we think of something strange to make – this way we don’t waste loads of ingredients and get stuck drinking something horrible if it doesn’t turn out well or we can scale it up and make any tweaks if it turns out to be good!
- You want a shorter brew day
This isn’t too big of a concern for most homebrewers – if you’re making the effort to brew then saving time shouldn’t really be a consideration but if you’re pushed for time you might be able to get a small batch brew done and save some time on the heating and cooling thanks to the smaller volume!
- You can brew more by brewing less
Forget the first point, maybe you’re like us and it’s not a case of less beer – it’s just a case of more variety! For the average brewer, small batch brewing will let you brew and drink a greater range of styles in a shorter space of time meaning you can always have a few bottles of a lot of different beers
Before everyone shouts ‘keg’ let’s not forget that for some brewers kegging may not be an option either financially or practically and for people who like to share, bottling makes that much easier. On the other hand we don’t know many homebrewers who actively ‘enjoy’ bottling so small batch can be a good compromise – less beer in the long run but less sanitising, syphoning and spilling to do.
These are just some of the reasons a brewer might consider brewing smaller batches and don’t forget, you don’t have to pick one or the other – choose the technique that gives you the results you want!”