Advantages of Brewing Small Batches – GIVEAWAY!

Small Batch Homebrew logoThis week, I was fortunate enough to strike up a conversation with Will Draper, the founder of Small Batch Homebrew, a new online store that specializes in providing equipment and ingredients for brewing small batches of homebrew.  Yet another great beer business born right here in NC!

I thought that this was a really novel idea, as it allows for an easier brew day and affords you the ability to experiment with new flavors and ingredients at a lower cost (in terms of dollars and bad beer).  So I had to ask Will to share the back-story with us on what inspired him to start brewing small batches, and why he’s now sharing that with everyone via smallbatchhomebrew.com.

Also, Will has agreed to give a $25 gift certificate to one lucky reader of NC Homebrewing!  To enter, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post with a unique brew that you would like to test out in a small batch before brewing 5-10 gallons of it, and on FRIDAY, MAY 25th, I will select a winner, to help get your Memorial Day weekend started off right!

Someone once said “experimentation is the mother of invention”, or at least I think they did.

Have you ever wondered what would happen to your brew if you added something from your pantry, but didn’t want to take the chance of ruining a 5 or 10 gallon batch of homebrew?  Was it maple syrup, fresh fruit, cocoa nibs, wildflowers, or even hot peppers?  This predicament seems to limit some fellow homebrewers from really experimenting with unique and different flavors.  After all, a lot of time, effort, heart, and money go into making a precious batch of homebrew.

I was in the same boat about two years ago when I finally decided to let go and see what happened.  At first, I would simply split my 10 gallon batch into 2 fermentors and then try a different yeast or different combination of dry hops.  The way these various yeast and hop strains reacted with the exact same wort to yield vastly different flavor profiles was simply amazing to me.

From there I tried some more adventurous offerings like a brown ale made with homemade granola containing rolled oats, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and almonds, which turned out amazing.  But where there is triumph there is failure.  My next few experiments were not as successful, which left me with several kegs of mediocre beer. This gave me some pause and I wondered how I could approach these experiments without dedicating such a large quantity of homebrew.

During this moment of pause, my second child was born, which totally put my experimentation, and brewing in general, on the back burner.  At this point in my life, with a wife, 2 kids and a dog, I definitely did not have an entire day to devote to my all-time favorite hobby.

While driving to work one day, I was thinking when on earth I was going to get to make some homebrew.  Well, I had a thought: what if I could find a way to make beer in just a couple hours after the kids went to bed.  Aa-ha!  Why not just cut down on the size of the batches I was making, which would shorten the time to brew and allow me to continue my experimentation and not dedicate 50 or 100 beers to the results.

Once I started brewing this way, I figured out a way to make a 12 pack of beer on a consistent basis.  Now I brew about twice a week and always have a variety of tasty experimental and not so experimental brews in the fridge.  At this point in my homebrewing history, I am having the most fun I’ve ever had.

This fun and creative experimentation has lead me to open Small Batch Homebrew, an internet based company that specializes in providing 12-pack beer making kits.  Each of the beer ingredient kits suggests a variety of ingredients to add to make the beer an expression of you; after all, beer is art.  We also offer a Homebrew Adventurer Kit that is a 4-pack of small batch fermentors to be used to split a 5 gallon batch to experiment with whatever ingredients or combinations thereof you can dream up.

Splitting batches of homebrew give you a real understanding on how each of the ingredients you change can affect the flavor profile of your brew.  You will be surprised every time.  Also, when you brew on a smaller scale you don’t have to be so afraid of what might happen if you toss in a shot of espresso, a handful of nuts, and an ancho chili.  You are bound to have a few experiments yield barely quaffable beer, but all it takes is 1 experiment to yield something amazing, which makes it all worth it.

So brew, experiment, and let your imagination guide the way.  Cheers!

Giveaway

Don’t forget to leave a comment below with an idea you have for a homebrew that you would like to try out in a small batch, instead of committing to a full-size five or 10 gallon brew.  On Friday, May 25th, we’ll randomly select one of the comments and you will win a $25 Gift Certificate good for anything at smallbatchhomebrew.com.

24 Comments

Michael

Great post,and a great idea. I would love to see a wasabi ginger IPA. Yes, that idea may make some people want to throw things at me but just think about that with a plate of sushi:)

Chris

I think it could be great if not over-done. Ginger flavor upfront, with a little wasabi heat. I could see it in a light hoppy IPA, and pairing nicely with some Japanese veggies or sushi. Wheels turning…

Will Draper

Yeah…I dig this idea. Maybe some sorachi ace hops to add an almost lemon grass note as well…this could be a really fun experiment!

Matthew

This is a pretty awesome idea! I have a hard time putting down 5gals of beer (i usually throw a party on tasting day, and we crush half of it then) in a timely fashion, and since I don’t have a lot fo spare bottles, being able to brew small batches gives you freedom to throw things away! Or, to try something extremely unique!

While it’s pretty common to brew with honey, with all the clover honey that comes out of NC, it’d be spectacular to get that flavor note in a helles or even a red ale!

Chris

Brewing with local honey is AWESOME!

Also, if you ever need help getting rid of beer…just let me know!

Will Draper

I just used some local clover honey in our Lakeside Wheat…about 4 ounces in the 12 pack…it came out fantastic! Next time to get a little more out of the aroma, I’m probably going to use the honey at the end of the boil at at bottling as the priming sugar source.

Tim K

How bout on your maple ale you throw some walnuts in your a maple walnut flavored ale….be a delicious fall beer…

Bryan

Ditto on Tim K’s suggestion of a maple beer. I’d love to do a maple porter.

My other go-to option which I haven’t tried yet is most definitely a peanut butter cup-style beer with some chocolate malt, real chocolate and peanut butter. Just a matter of figuring out all the boiling times!

Chris

We brewed up a peanut butter chocolate porter once, and it turned out pretty good. SimplyBeer.com has a good recipe that we used as a starting point for ours, and then used locally-soured cacao nibs and hand-crushed some local roasted peanuts. Cheers!

Will Draper

I”ve been using Cocoa Nibs from Escazu in downtown Raleigh…just finished a belgian red ale with the cocoa nibs and organic orange zest…yum!

Justin

I’m interested in taking a crack at a Mole Negro themed dunkel. I’m thinking about a malt-forward beer with just enough moderate alpha hops to keep it in balance (minimal to no flavor/aroma additions). I’d like to keep it authentic with Mexican chocolate, spices and herbs, and of course dried chilis. The goal would be to produce a warmth in the aftertaste, but not to scorch the palate and make a person reach for water instead . . . maybe just some tacos.

Will Draper

Wow…a traditional Bavarian/German beer with the flavors of Mexico…now that is thinking global and brewing local!

Chandler Vatavuk

I would like to try some “old” recipe, like the one published in the last issue of Brew Your Own. I have been doing some research into brewing techniques of Washington and Jefferson’s era, and I think a small batch would be perfect to do a clone of some of their recipes, or at least what we can piece together of their “recipes”.

Will Draper

I really enjoy those ancient beer articles in BYO…very interesting stuff. I would love to hear more about what your research has turned up…did they use a combination of hops and herbs for bittering?

Jay

I tried the Pale Porter recipe from BYO mag using my own roasted grains, and it keeps getting better.

Chris

Congrats Chandler! You were our randomly selected winner! Thanks for reading and commenting on the blog and I hope you do make one of those “old” recipes, as I would love to hear how that goes. I’ve had that same idea as well, but haven’t ever put in the effort to give it a shot.

You’ll be receiving an email shortly, and Will Draper from Small Batch Brew will coordinate getting you your $25 gift certificate. Cheers!

Todd

Love this idea! Create a good Imp. IPA batch, then switch up the yeasts, and dry hop it different ways. I always experiment with my wheelhouse IPA style, as they never go to waste! I assume you ship to Michigan.

jim howard

There was a thick honey wheat beer from a now defunct Indiana brewery that with I wanted to recreate. Seriously, watching the carbonation was like watching a lava lamp!

Keith

I love the small batch idea. I’d like to brew up an IPA with lots of Amarillo and Simcoe and then ferment it with 100% Brett – maybe split it between Brett Brux and Brett-C.

Jaime A

What a great idea! I’ve been wanting to make a lavender and rose white. We also have a chocolate stout that is delicious with which we were hoping to experiment in small batches–lavender, chili, orange, bacon…anything can pair with chocolate!

Will Draper

I remember a BYO article talking about bacon in beer…might have to try that myself.

Ty Fernandez

While i think this would be cool to use to experiment with crazy additions to my homebrew. I think it might be best used using different types of yeast. That is using four different yeasts so you can really see how the bugs impact the final taste of your beer.

Jay

Just started smoking meats this past Christmas. I tried roasting my grains with success, and now I would like to smoke some of them for a smoked winter porter. By the time I’m ready to brew, my hops should be ready for harvest (note, they are already 10 feet tall and it’s only May!) A small batch, or 2, to get the smoke flavor right would be perfect. – Jay

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