Brew Smarter: 9 Time-Saving Hacks for Any Home Brewery
Brew days can be long. I’ve heard some people’s days are over 6 hours. Yikes! Usually my brew days are around 5 hours, and that includes cleanup. I use a Grainfather, but these tips can help with any brewery you use. Substitute Grainfather for your brewery of choice.
- Plan ahead: Make a checklist of all the steps you need to complete during the brew day, and make sure you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment ready to go. There’s nothing worse than starting your brew day and needing an emergency run to your LHBS.
- Log time as you go: Keep a detailed brew log on how long each task in your brew day is taking. You can’t identify tasks to optimize if you don’t know which are taking the most time. You will want to focus on the tasks where you can save the most amount of time. Look for places where you can parallelize your tasks, like cleaning while the wort is boiling.
- Preheat your water: If you have a Grainfather, fill your Grainfather with the amount of water you need for your brew and preheat it to your desired temperature the night before. The Grainfather comes with a delay setting to start the heater at a later time, but other systems may have the same feature. This will save time waiting for the water to heat up during the brew day. When I wake up, it’s ready to go and I just need to add the grain to start my mash.
- Measure out your ingredients ahead of time: Pre-measure all your ingredients before you start brewing. This will save you time during the brew day and help ensure accuracy. I measure and sort out my grains the night before. I also have an electric grain mill, so when I wake in the morning I mill the grains and add them right away to the mash. Of course if it takes more effort for you to mash your grains, you can also mill them the night before. I do this with hops too, and place them in ziplock bags with the time and type written on the bag. Then it’s just a matter of grabbing the right bag from the cooler and adding it to the boil at the right time.
- Heat your sparge water at the same time: If you sparge with heated water, start warming it at the start of your mash. This can be done with a separate water heater. There are cheap large capacity coffee makers available, and you just need to heat the water. You don’t need anything fancy. You can also heat pots of water on your stove, just make sure you don’t get the water too hot, or you risk introducing astringency issues.
- Start your boil right away: The Grainfather lets you keep track of your sparge as you go. I don’t bother with that. As soon as the mash is complete and I’ve lifted the grain basket, I start the boil. This way the wort is heating up during the sparge.
- Clean as you go: Cleaning equipment and vessels as you go will save you time and help keep your brew day organized. Great times to clean are during the mash and boil. I clean the grain basket as soon as I’m done with the mash. I’m also rinsing any grain buckets of debris as soon as I can. This saves me cleanup time at the end of the brew day.
- Consider a double batch: If you have the capacity and ingredients, consider brewing a double batch. This will save you time and effort in the long run. This is an option with the bigger systems, like the G40 and G70.
- Get help: Enlist the help of friends or family members to assist you during the brew day. This can help speed up the process and make the day more enjoyable. Just make sure to have a list of tasks available. I’ve found it can slow you down if you keep stopping to think of a task for someone to do. Keep the task list handy with times of when the task should be done, and a place for someone to mark the task complete.
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Credits and Links
I live in Denver, Colorado. This blog is everything about beer, wine, cider, mead and other spirits. I am a avid homebrewer and winemaker. I’ve been making my own beer and wine for many years. I started making beer when I was in college (mostly because the drinking age in the United States is 21). My first few beers were horrible. The beers are much better now, and I often supply my neighborhood with free beer! It is a great hobby! If you’re into computer programming, you might want to check out my programming site, DeegeU.com.