This week on Brewzasters: Brewing A Small Batch not Small Beer

Beer Brewing Supplies and Ingredients

You can brew beer in a small apartment  (Photo credit: billread)

Last weekend I gathered some brewing gear up and headed out to show some friends how to brew beer.

But, I didn’t grab any large pots or big burners. I needed no pot larger than two gallons and could have done my boil on a camp stove. In fact, everything I needed fit into a six-gallon bucket (the list is toward the bottom of the page.)

We were brewing a one-gallon batch of beer.

This size is perfect:

  • If you want to try your hand at brewing beer without spending wads of cash on a five or ten gallon set-up.
  • If you don’t want to spend wads of cash only to find you don’t like drinking five to ten gallons of the same thing.
  • If you have an apartment with little space.
  • If you want to experiment and not commit to five or ten gallons.

We made the batch using a German Blonde kit from Northern Brewer. (If you are interested in creating your own, you can find a similar recipe farther down this post.)

We started with putting the grain (for added flavor and color) into the kit’s muslin sack and putting that in 3/4-gallons of warm (~140 – 160F) water. We steeped the bag filled with grains for 10-15 minutes and then removed it and brought the wort to a boil. Once the weak wort began to boil we added the 1-pound of NB’s dry light pilsen malt extract and the hops they provided in the kit. The boil lasted 45 minutes.

My brewzaster happened with my hoping that adding four pounds of ice would cool and melt after the boil (assumption being a 1/4 gallon loss to evaporation which leave 1/2 gallon of hot wort). The ice worked well at cooling…it was the melting that didn’t happen–it looked like a pot of iced coffee with cubes of ice filling the pot. So, I transferred the wort to the carboy and added some bottled water to bring the wort up to one gallon. (The original gravity was 1.040SG)

Once we had a gallon of cooled wort, we added one-half package of yeast (no need for a starter with a one-gallon batch) and put the cap and air lock in place.

We plan to bottle it next week.

Call Me Irresponsible Blonde recipe

  • Est Original Gravity: 1.045 SG
  • Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
  • Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.5 %
  • Bitterness: 20.0 IBUs
  • Est Color: 3.9 SRM


  • 3 oz  Caramel/Crystal Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM)
  • 16 oz Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM)
  • 0.23 oz Willamette hops [5.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min
  • 1/2 package of Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) Yeast

Steep grains for 10-15 minutes at ~150-160F (65-71C). Remove grain bag and bring to a boil. Once a boil has started, add hops (watch out for boil over). Boil for 60 minutes and cool. Transfer to a fermenter and add 1/2 package of yeast. Put air-lock (partially fill air-lock with water and sanitizer or vodka) or blow-off apparatus (tube on air lock opening and the other end of the tube in a jar of water and sanitizer) on the carboy and put in a cool (about 66F) and dark place for 10-14 days. Check daily to watch for over-active fermentation.

What you need to brew a one-gallon batch

  • Beer kit or beer recipe ingredients
  • One to two gallon pot (i.e., your brew kettle)
  • One-half gallon of sterile ice
  • One-gallon carboy fermenter with airlock
  • Stirring spoon
  • Scale (optional)[1]
  • Meat or candy Thermometer
  • Hydrometer (optional)
  • Cleaner (e.g., PBW – Powdered Brewery Wash)
  • Sanitizer (e.g.,Star San)
  • Mini-siphon or sterile flexible tubing
  • Large measuring cup
  • One gallon bottled water
  • Stuff for after fermentation has completed:
    • 11 sanitized 12-oz bottles (to be used in 10-14 days after brewing)
    • Bottle capper
    • Bottle caps (if you don’t want to mess with capping, you can use swing-style cap bottles)
    • ¼ cup corn sugar or sugar tablets (e.g.,’s 8 oz Fizz Drops)

[1] For small batches we can estimate ~0.25-0.30 ounces of pellet hops per tablespoon.


5 thoughts on “This week on Brewzasters: Brewing A Small Batch not Small Beer

  1. I got myself a 1 gallon fermentor and I still haven’t used it. Is it a time savor?, If it is, I could use it on weeknights for some experimental, or other special brews, or if I just need a quick brew fix.

    Also, am I reading this correctly? Did you add ice to the fermentor/kettle a la the Good Eats brewing episode?

    • I was teaching some friends, so it probably took longer than if I’d been brewing alone. Since it’s extract (I will try a small batch brew in a bag one of these days) your boil is shortened, we used a 45-minute boil. The smaller batch means the cooling time is less; you also don’t have to do a yeast starter–half a package is more than enough. I think you might be able to get a brew time in the 1-1/2 hour range for a 1-gallon batch, a 2-hour brew is very doable. So you should be able to do some experimental (or expensive ingredient) brews on a weeknight.

      And, yes you read it right, I added ice to the kettle (not the fermenter since it’s glass and the temperature difference could cause a hazardous mess). Jim Koch of Sam Adams also recommends ice to cool hot wort (there’s a video somewhere for new home brewers). I need to calibrate the amount of ice to add, it all didn’t melt. I added ice to the kettle since I figured that would settle the trub out and the trub would not be a big problem when I transferred the wort to the carboy. Yhe ice brought the temperature down in about 15 minutes–I was amazed at how long the wort stayed hot with ice floating in it.

    • I’m thinking of trying the Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ as a one-gallon batch. It’s so hop intensive that cutting the additions by 80% will allow me to fine-tune the recipe without breaking my bank.

      • The guys at basic brewing radio have a 15 minute pale ale. Instead of a regular 60 minute boil, they simply increase the hop level and reduce the time to 15 minutes to get the same IBUs. Good for your time, but not good for your wallet. Of course, with a 1 gallon brew, it won’t matter nearly as much. I could be popping out a series of single hop pale ales to figure out which hops I like best.

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