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4 Reasons to Brew in Small Batches

Small-batch brewing offers some distinct advantages over full-scale brewing.

Dave Carpenter May 29, 2015 - 4 min read

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In the Issue 5 (February/March 2015) of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®, I advocated using off-the-shelf “department store” beer kits such as Mr. Beer and Coopers DIY Beer for small-batch experimental brewing. My online article on how to reuse old growler jugs is further evidence of a certain fondness I have for brewing in miniature.

That hasn’t always been the case. When I first ran across brewers who made only a gallon or two at a time, I wondered why anyone would ever bother with such a small volume. After all, the time commitment is almost the same, whether you brew one gallon or ten. But small-batch brewing does offer some distinct advantages, and I’ve come to appreciate some of the finer points of this approach to brewing.

Reason #1: Make beer instead of a starter.

This is one of my favorite reasons to brew small. In order to build up enough yeast cells to ensure healthy fermentation of, say, a Doppelbock or a barleywine, you may need to propagate up a single vial of yeast using as much as two gallons of wort. Rather than simply whipping up a malt extract-based yeast starter, sometimes I like to make a small batch of beer I can actually drink and then use the yeast cake to brew my favorite barleywine.

Reason #2: Make high-gravity beer without a starter.

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