Time can be a big factor when it comes to homebrewing. Sure, it may be nice to spend sunrise until sunset carefully hand crafting a batch (or batches) of beer, but the practicalities of life can and do factor in when we’re deciding if we can brew a batch of beer. For your stage of life, time may not be a factor. If so, that’s awesome. For others, time saving tips and techniques could help you brew more often.
With those thoughts in mind, I put the call out to the HBF community [8 Ways to Connect with HBF] to get some time saving tips and tricks. A selection of those along with some of my own thoughts follows. Thanks to all who participated! A full list of contributors is at the end of this post.
How do I save time home brewing?
- 15 Minute Boil: If you’re an extract brewer, boil for 15 minutes. Extract has already been boiled. The only reason we boil it further is to sanitize the wort and utilize hops. Use recipe software to refigure hops and make sure to adjust your pre-boil volume to account for a very short boil. The finished beer will not exactly match your recipe. It may be better, but it will certainly be different. You’ll be spending more money on hops, but cashing in on 45 minutes in time savings.
- All Grain Brewers: Shorten your boil. Depending on your grain bill you may be able to shorten your boil. Adjust pre-boil volumes to compensate. Again, this is grain bill dependent as some malts really need to be boiled longer to drive off DMS precursors.
- Go Small: Smaller batches make things easier and quicker. Getting to a boil is quicker, chilling is quicker, cleaning is quicker. I’ve done 2 to 3 gallon all grain small batches on my stop top with great success – See: Small Batch, All Grain Stove Top Brewing + Water Calculation Spreadsheet – and you could do the same thing with extract. Combine small batches with the previous 15 minute boil tip and you’ve saved some serious time.
- Go Big: Brew back to back batches. Setting up, tearing down and cleaning take a good bit of time. Brewing back to back batches will take you more time on brew day, but your time commitment per batch is significantly reduced.
- Go Big: Get the gear to brew double batches. Want some more variety? Split the double batch in half and do separate fermentations, yeast and dry hops. Check out our Large Batch post tag for gear and techniques for batches sizes of 10 gallons and up.
- Skip the sparge: No sparge brewing allows you to skip a big chunk of an all grain brew day. Your efficiency will take a hit. Just refigure your efficiency and adjust your grain bill to compensate. You’ll spend a few more dollars in grain, but cash in big on time savings.
- If you’re going to sparge – consider batch sparging instead of fly sparging
- Shorten your mash. Use an iodine starch conversion test to tune mash timing in.
- Dry hop right as active fermentation starts to end
- Get a great chiller. This chiller from MoreBeer includes a recirculation arm. This returns wort to your kettle (from a ball valve) and circulates with aid of a pump. This constant motion significantly reduces chiller times. MoreBeer also has recirculation arm add ons for your existing wort chiller.
- All Grain Brewers: Consider using the BIAB style of mashing. This no sparge brewing technique saves money and time. Cleanup is also easier because your mash tun is your brew kettle. Check out brewinabag.com Also: My BIAB Water Calculation Spreadsheet and Hands on Review of The Brew Bag
- Combo – Small Batch + BIAB: This combines two tips. You get an all grain batch of beer, realize BIAB and no sparge time savings along with the time savings associated with smaller batches. See: Small Batch, All Grain Stove Top Brewing + Water Calculation Spreadsheet
- Ferment in Your Kettle! Anvil kettles offer a FIAK (ferment in a kettle) add on that allows you to ferment directly in your kettle. This lets you entirely skip cleaning and sanitizing a separate fermenter. Combine this with the BIAB style of brewing and you have a single vessel mash tun, brew kettle and fermenter! Chapman’s Stainless Steel Fermenter also functions as a univessel brew kettle/fermenter.
- Don’t Rush: This may sound counterintuitive, but… I’m convinced rushing usually slows you down. Some of my most frustrating and time consuming mistakes have happened in the name of hurrying. Broken carboys, burns, spilled wort and more. If you don’t have time to brew, just don’t brew.
- Keg Your Beer! Save big on time and get other benefits associated with kegging your own homebrew. 5 Gallon Ball Lock Kegging System from Adventures in Homebrewing | Kegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | 5 Recent Keg Finds
- All Grain Brewers: Use a (safe) method to pre-heat strike water so it’s ready when you are.
- All Grain Brewers: Start your burner (at an appropriate level) as soon as you start to collect your first runnings. This reduces (or eliminates) time waiting for a boil to start.
- All Grain Brewers: Consider an overnight mash.
- Keep clean things clean. If you don’t get something dirty, you don’t need to clean it. That applies to both whole things and parts of things. Example – When empty my Speidel Fermenter after a batch of beer I try to not get the bottom of the fermenter dirty when I’m draining it. If I don’t get trub on the bottom… I won’t have to clean trub off the bottom.
- Clean as you go – this was the most frequent tip we received. Cleaning during down times – mashing, boiling, chilling means you don’t have to do it afterwards. Clean your mash tun during the boil, sanitize your fermenter while you’re chilling, etc.
- Thoroughly clean gear as you’re done with it. Leaving something dirty makes it more difficult (and more time consuming) to clean later.
- All Grain Brewers: Go back to your roots. Just because you normally brew all grain doesn’t mean you have to always brew all grain. Brew a periodic extract batch.
- Use dry yeast. Dry yeast has higher cell counts. Yeast starters are also generally not recommended for dry yeast. Using dry yeast allows you to skip entirely skip a yeast starter. Handy for saving time and also handy for a last minute brew day. Safale US-05 at Amazon, Dry Yeast at William’s Brewing – Safale, Mangrove Jacks, Lallemand
- Take the “Yeast Starter Express Lane”. Propper Starter Canned Yeast from Omega Labs, saves you time – Hands on Review
- Ferment with Kveik – skip temp control and finish your brew in a handful of days. This yeast works quickly and across a wide range of temperatures
- Start with hot water. Plumb hot water to your brewing area and get a big head start on heating up strike water and brewing water. Consider a point-of-use tankless hot water heater. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could install a water filter in front of your tankless hot water heater. See: Amazon Best Sellers in Water Heaters
- Skip transferring to secondary for most beers.
- Get the right equipment for the job. Small upgrade suggestions: 1 Gallon Pitcher | 24″ Whisk | Wallpaper Prep Tray | Commercial Bus Tubs | RT600C Thermometer
- Use quick disconnects on everything you can – garden hoses, tubing, kettles, equipment. Search homebrewfinds quick disconnect
- Wait to enjoy a home brew until you’re done brewing.
- If you’re an all grain brewer, consider adding a second burner to your setup.
- Plan – have your recipe and ingredients ready
- Document your brew days – What worked? What didn’t work? Avoid pitfalls and streamline your process. You’ll make better beer, more quickly and with less headache.
- Prepare your brew day ahead of time – collect your brewing water, set up equipment, crush grain, etc. This helps your brew day go more smoothly and should make it go more quickly.
- Put Together a “Brew Day Box” – all the small items you need for brew day in one spot
- If you’re concerned about homebrewing taking time away from your family, get them to help out so you’re spending time together.
- The anti-time saving tip – Don’t try and save time: Relax and have a homebrew. the journey is the destination
- Small Batch, All Grain Stove Top Brewing + Water Calculation Spreadsheet
- Wort Chillers and Accessories at MoreBeer
- 5 Gallon Ball Lock Kegging System from Adventures in Homebrewing | Kegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | 5 Recent Keg Finds
- Hands on Review: Anvil Brewing Equipment Brew Kettle – I use this kettle for small batches
- Safale US-05 at Amazon, Dry Yeast at William’s Brewing – Safale, Mangrove Jacks, Lallemand
- brewinabag.com | My BIAB Water Calculation Spreadsheet | Hands on Review of The Brew Bag
- Anvil Kettles and Accessories – include FIAK (ferment in a kettle) options
- Chapman Stainless Steel Fermenter – univessel kettle/fermenter
- Speed Brewing: Techniques and Recipes for Fast-Fermenting Beers, Ciders, Meads, and More via Amazon
- Small upgrade suggestions: 1 Gallon Pitcher | 24″ Whisk | Wallpaper Prep Tray | Commercial Bus Tubs | RT600C Thermometer
- Put Together a “Brew Day Box”
- Propper Starter Canned Wort via MoreBeer – Hands on Review
This post was a community effort! Thank you! to…
- Twitter Followers [Connect with HBF on Twitter]: @lewybrewing, @AlphaSun5, @”DJPD”, @mike_blose, @luhmanbrewingco, @Bartram_High, @matthiasbostick, @toplessBcnFryer, @BuffBrewShop, @eftavares, @philthebrewer, @Zdsmith31, @ecarpenter, @MediaBishopHTX, @BowenTG, @RouletteRun, @Beerideas
- Facebook Followers [Connect with HBF on Facebook]: Joss, Steve, Mark, Tim, Dan, Samuel, John, Jason, Charles, Jym, Don, Ben. Matt, Frank, Howard and Mark
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