The 1 Gallon Brewery

1 Gallon Brewery

I have read countless posts on homebrewing forums such as HomebrewTalk.com over the years and if I can conclude any one thing, it is that homebrewers are some of the biggest offenders of group think, the biggest sheep, I have ever seen.  One of the things I see constantly on the forums (and even in Craigslist posts) is that brewing a higher volume during a single brew session is some how an “upgrade.”

“I am upgrading to a ten gallon system.”

“I am selling my ten gallon kettle to upgrade to 15 gallon kettle.”

I consider that more of an expansion than an upgrade.  Adding a ball valve to a kettle that has not otherwise had a ball valve, now that is an upgrade.

Anyways, I caught this thread on HomebrewTalk.com about brewing a gallon at a time.  Per the homebrewer mantra, that would be a downgrade for me since my system can currently brew up to ten gallons.  But I started thinking about the merits of a one gallon system and, frankly, it became quite appealing to me.  Benefits for me include:

  • Short brew day.  Brewing five gallons takes about five hours and a good chunk of time out of what have been busy weekends for me.  Brewing a gallon should take about three hours.
  • Brew often.
    • Since the time it takes to brew has been reduced by 40%, I can likely brew at least once every other week, if not closer to weekly.  With five gallons I brew only monthly.
    • Additionally, the volume has been reduced by 80%.  I am not a huge drinker, we do not have folks over often anymore, and I like to drink a variety of beers from a variety of breweries.  Having five gallons of one beer around tends to last quite a while.  One gallon, however, would go quickly.
  • Experiment.  No one wants to pour five gallons of beer down the drain.  With one gallon, the pain is substantially less so I feel better about tweaking recipes and trying something new.
  • Simplified.  No pumps.  No crazy overdesigned electric control panels.  Just a simple all grain set up.

My one gallon set up consists of the following:

  • Three gallon Rubbermaid water cooler converted to a mash tun (per FlyGuy’s method),
  • Twelve quart stainless steel kettle found on Ebay for less than $20,
  • An electric burner (I cannot boil inside due to the amount of moisture released during the boil),
  • Immersion chiller I made from fifteen feet of 3/8″ copper tubing and some vinyl hose (all available at the hardware store for less than $25),
  • A two gallon bucket for a primary fermenter,
  • A one gallon growler for a secondary fermenter.

Here are a few pictures of everything.