This 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!
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.