Skip to main content

5 Gallons

I love homebrewing. I love creating something of my own and possibly something that no one else have ever created. My only problem is that I hate making 5 gallon batches of homebrew purely because it is the standard. I think that I am going to start making some small batches in the range of 3 gallons. My reasons behind this are two fold. First is that I hate, hate, hate (did I mention I hate) bottling my homebrew. It is the most labor intensive part of the whole process and kegging would make everything so much simpler. Soon Nate, soon. 3 gallons is much quicker to bottle than what 5 gallons would be becasue when all is said an done, it is going to be half as much, or about a case worth of beer.

The second reason is that I get tired of drinking the same beer over and over. Maybe it is my beer review taste buds that crave something new, but I find that the two cases I get from 5 gallons sits around of a long time. Making smaller batches will help me clear stuff out and also give me the chance to brew more. The only real problem with brewing smaller batches is that it takes the same amount of work to brew a 20 gallon batch as it does a 3 gallon batch. I am ok with that since I am doing it for myself only. I’m not a competition brewery by any means and I still enjoy a good commercial beer on a normal basis.

2 gallons of badness

As I’ve noted I got my start to homebrewing with Mr. Beer. That got old pretty quick as all of the beers had the same after taste and there wasn’t a ton of useful things you could do with Mr. Beer. I’ve seen people make a ton of different “styles” with Mr. Beer, and I don’t know how they turned out, but to me it seemed like a weak attempt at homebrewing.

So one day during the summer, I decided to upgrade everything and start formulating my own recipies a bit more. I went down to the homebrew shop and bought most of the basic brewing equipment, including two 2 gallon buckets. I talked to the guy at the store and told him I wanted to make a simple American Lager. He loaded me up with yeast, hops, speciality grains, and 4 pounds of dry malt extract (DME). This all for a 2 gallon batch.

I didn’t really have a good sense of what I was doing, but I went for it anyway. I now know better. 4 pounds of DME for 2 gallons of beer is way, way, way too much. I’ll explain later. I did the normal procedure, let it ferment in my basement for 4 weeks, and then bottled it.

A week or so went by for carboniation and then I tried it. The stuff was terrible. The beer was so unbelievely full of alachol that the hyrdometer couldn’t give a reading. There was just too much sugar for such a small batch. Usually, I tend to use about 7-8 pounds of DME for a typical 5 gallon extract brew. I had half of the amount of that for less than half of the total liquid. The flavor was a strong carmel and the smell was just aweful. I do have a bit of the stuff laying around just to see if I could get a real ABV reading on it one of these days. When I do, I will let you know.

The point of this is, understand what you are getting into. Don’t solely rely on other peoples opinions when brewing, do what works for you. I didn’t do enough research and listened to someone who didn’t have as good of an idea of homebrewing as I thought they did. My result was an undrinkable beer. The only positive thing I took away from this was that I had good sanitation and learned some technique.