Fitting in AG brewing around life

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I've done early morning and late at night brews. The early morning is definitely best. There's a certain satisfaction getting up at 6:30am knowing the grain is weighed and milled, strike water will be hot and ready to go and that by 10:30am I could be all finished with the rest of the day still ahead.
 
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I did have the luxury of the house been empty last Saturday and my brewing experience was completely different to the work day brewing I've been doing recently. Chilling with a beer and a bit of music while I was doing the business was a refreshing change.

I still mix it up with the odd kit as well. I've had a lot of busy weekends and quite a lot of work on during the week, so I'm not ashamed to say that I've got a couple of kits fermenting right now to keep things going as well.
 

colm89

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It all depends on what aspect of home brewing you enjoy, it sounds like for some of the above it’s the brew day itself, but for others it’s the building of a brew system or the actual drinking of the beer with friends and family, so OP, don’t feel pressured into carving out time to enjoy brew day if you can fit around daily life :)
 
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I generally work from home now and that won't change. I usually finish at 4pm and do nursery pick up at 5pm, bath time at 5.30pm (for the baby, not me) which my wife can do and then she's in bed by 7pm, leaving the rest of the evening. When I do the small batch AG, it usually takes me about 5 hours, and I gather that upping batch size to 23L would not add a huge amount of time to that.

As others have said, mashing overnight and no-chill can allow you to stretch out things over three days, the actual "hands-on" time from starting to heat water for the mash through to pitching yeast can be pretty minimal, but there's a lot of hanging around.

Don't underestimate the extra time it takes to heat/cool 23+ litres though - and if you really want to push things along then you might want to consider 2 coppers, or 1 copper + an immersion heater to speed up the dead time spent heating. And a bigger chiller (and some ice water to help it along towards the end) will never hurt!!! But you probably don't need to go that far.

But given that the first hour or so has almost no hands-on time, I would suggest that either you set it up the night before and then set a timer to heat it up to mash temperature whilst you're still in bed. Or if WFH then you can flick the switch at 3pm or whenever so that it's ready to mash at 4pm (or if you're being purist about WFH, you could let the time switch turn it on at 3pm). Personally I boil the water first with half a Camden to a) drop out temporary hardness and b)drive out oxygen, so I generally start the boil, go and mow the lawn, then switch off and whilst it's cooling to mash temperature I get out all the rest of my brew gear and write the recipe.

Having mash water ready at 4pm would allow you to get the mash on, and then the pressure is off a bit - the mash doesn't have to be exactly an hour, and also doesn't have to have the heat on for all of it if you're insulated so it would be safe to leave the house empty when you went on the school run if that was necessary. Then you can either get the boil on during bathtime or leave it to mash until after 7pm, depending on how bolshy baby is being and how much your wife can help with baby.

One tip to knock half an hour off the process - use isomerised alpha extract as the likes of Cloudwater do. It's still a good idea to boil for half an hour or so, but not having to isomerise hop alpha acids means you don't need to boil for 60+ minutes (although some would disagree). You can even do no-boil (eg here and here) although that's kinda a different thing, it's not intended for long keeping.

Overnight mashing and then brew before breakfast seems to be a common route for many people with babies, if the baby is going to get you up at that time anyway then you might as well use it productively. I'm definitely a night owl though!
 

clib

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I do stove top BIAB, making 10-15 litres at a time, and it takes me about 3 hours:

- fill kettle with hot water from the tap. Combi boiler.
- mash in at around 55C and raise to mash temp.
- 30 -45 minute mash rest
- raise to mash out temp and stir and lift bag.
- raise to boil and boil for 30 to 45 minutes
- chill in sink, then transfer to FV and no chill til it hits pitching temp, sometimes next morning but usually same day.
- clean bag and kettle

If I want a bigger batch I do the above with a recipe configured for the larger volume which includes some malt extract.. Last week I made 27 litres this way, with 16 Litres AG to which I added malt extract and 11 litres water. I split the 27 litres into 3 x 9L in 10 litre buckets. I usually use different yeasts in this situation, but this time Wyeast 3711 went in all 3. One is now dandelion saison, another is rhubarb saison and the other is getting Citra and Amarillo dry hops.
 
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It all depends on what aspect of home brewing you enjoy, it sounds like for some of the above it’s the brew day itself, but for others it’s the building of a brew system or the actual drinking of the beer with friends and family, so OP, don’t feel pressured into carving out time to enjoy brew day if you can fit around daily life :)
That's so true. My favourite part is both the dispense and drinking. Building and upgrading keezer, for example. Not to say I don't enjoy brew day. I certainly enjoy experimenting with the ingredients.
 

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I've been brewing for about 4 years now (mostly with kits), and last year dabbled with All Grain and was pleased with the results. I am in the process of gathering the necessary equipment to up that to 23L, but the only thing I am worried about is how to carve out time. I'm looking for tips on how to fit this around the rest of my life. I generally work from home now and that won't change. I usually finish at 4pm and do nursery pick up at 5pm, bath time at 5.30pm (for the baby, not me) which my wife can do and then she's in bed by 7pm, leaving the rest of the evening. When I do the small batch AG, it usually takes me about 5 hours, and I gather that upping batch size to 23L would not add a huge amount of time to that.
I'm thinking prep equipment/grain and start heating water at 4pm, get the mash on while the wife is bathing the baby, then while mashing I can help get her settled in bed, then the rest of the evening is free for sparging, boiling, cooling, pitching and clearing up etc. Does anyone do their brews like this? Am I deluded in thinking it would be a good idea? I could free a whole day of a weekend every now and then, but it would mean brewing less frequently.

I really do see the main benefit of doing kit brews...
Thats nearly my exact timeline. Sometimes if I really want to push the limits. I'll do a short mash and then I'll start the boil during bath time. Really make my fuse box work for it. I can be done by about 9 (830 if I do the "proper" clean in the morning )
 

DocAnna

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Lots of good advice already, here’s a wee bit extra too.
1.Don’t try brewing while working from home in a work day, it’s really not worth the stress. Anna's Brewdays
2. If you have an electric all in one - mash in overnight. I’ve only done this twice and it worked really well. Not for step mashes obviously though.
3. if not mashing in overnight, programme the boiler to reach strike temp early in the morning.
4. Clean up as you go.
5. After sparging you can hold the wort at 80 deg C if you need to go out or spend time with your OH then go back to it for the boil.

Anna
 
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As others have said, mashing overnight and no-chill can allow you to stretch out things over three days, the actual "hands-on" time from starting to heat water for the mash through to pitching yeast can be pretty minimal, but there's a lot of hanging around.

Don't underestimate the extra time it takes to heat/cool 23+ litres though - and if you really want to push things along then you might want to consider 2 coppers, or 1 copper + an immersion heater to speed up the dead time spent heating. And a bigger chiller (and some ice water to help it along towards the end) will never hurt!!! But you probably don't need to go that far.

But given that the first hour or so has almost no hands-on time, I would suggest that either you set it up the night before and then set a timer to heat it up to mash temperature whilst you're still in bed. Or if WFH then you can flick the switch at 3pm or whenever so that it's ready to mash at 4pm (or if you're being purist about WFH, you could let the time switch turn it on at 3pm). Personally I boil the water first with half a Camden to a) drop out temporary hardness and b)drive out oxygen, so I generally start the boil, go and mow the lawn, then switch off and whilst it's cooling to mash temperature I get out all the rest of my brew gear and write the recipe.

Having mash water ready at 4pm would allow you to get the mash on, and then the pressure is off a bit - the mash doesn't have to be exactly an hour, and also doesn't have to have the heat on for all of it if you're insulated so it would be safe to leave the house empty when you went on the school run if that was necessary. Then you can either get the boil on during bathtime or leave it to mash until after 7pm, depending on how bolshy baby is being and how much your wife can help with baby.

One tip to knock half an hour off the process - use isomerised alpha extract as the likes of Cloudwater do. It's still a good idea to boil for half an hour or so, but not having to isomerise hop alpha acids means you don't need to boil for 60+ minutes (although some would disagree). You can even do no-boil (eg here and here) although that's kinda a different thing, it's not intended for long keeping.

Overnight mashing and then brew before breakfast seems to be a common route for many people with babies, if the baby is going to get you up at that time anyway then you might as well use it productively. I'm definitely a night owl though!
Wow, thanks for that. Yes, baby is always up early so good to ustilise the time there. Certainly hands on time is low, that's for sure.
 
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I do stove top BIAB, making 10-15 litres at a time, and it takes me about 3 hours:

- fill kettle with hot water from the tap. Combi boiler.
- mash in at around 55C and raise to mash temp.
- 30 -45 minute mash rest
- raise to mash out temp and stir and lift bag.
- raise to boil and boil for 30 to 45 minutes
- chill in sink, then transfer to FV and no chill til it hits pitching temp, sometimes next morning but usually same day.
- clean bag and kettle

If I want a bigger batch I do the above with a recipe configured for the larger volume which includes some malt extract.. Last week I made 27 litres this way, with 16 Litres AG to which I added malt extract and 11 litres water. I split the 27 litres into 3 x 9L in 10 litre buckets. I usually use different yeasts in this situation, but this time Wyeast 3711 went in all 3. One is now dandelion saison, another is rhubarb saison and the other is getting Citra and Amarillo dry hops.
I was considering doing BIAB following the full volume mash suggestion, and may go that way. I just need to look in to the pros and cons. That said, all methods have their pros and cons to be honest.

Thats nearly my exact timeline. Sometimes if I really want to push the limits. I'll do a short mash and then I'll start the boil during bath time. Really make my fuse box work for it. I can be done by about 9 (830 if I do the "proper" clean in the morning )
Sounds like you've got the process down. Top job! Good to hear it can be done whilst still being present at home.

Lots of good advice already, here’s a wee bit extra too.
1.Don’t try brewing while working from home in a work day, it’s really not worth the stress. Anna's Brewdays
2. If you have an electric all in one - mash in overnight. I’ve only done this twice and it worked really well. Not for step mashes obviously though.
3. if not mashing in overnight, programme the boiler to reach strike temp early in the morning.
4. Clean up as you go.
5. After sparging you can hold the wort at 80 deg C if you need to go out or spend time with your OH then go back to it for the boil.

Anna
Thanks. A good read that, and a useful insight to a WFH brewday.

Everyone has given me a lot of inspiration and I'm even more excited to get cracking now!
 

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I've done early morning and late at night brews. The early morning is definitely best. There's a certain satisfaction getting up at 6:30am knowing the grain is weighed and milled, strike water will be hot and ready to go and that by 10:30am I could be all finished with the rest of the day still ahead.

and if you board by 11am plentry of time to get another brew going
 

sifty

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I've only just started (with a Brewzilla AG) and was surprised it took 5-6 hrs per brew. Luckily I have every 2nd Friday off so that's an option. My brew shop is just around the corner and he will weigh, mill and bag ingredients from a text so I can be ready to go beforehand.

Did a stout last Sunday on daughter's 10th birthday so started at 6:30 am and was ready for cake cutting at 12. Bonus was I was in the garage with live Indy car racing on the big screen and good music, so I successfully avoided all the squealing...

Downside is it's autumn here in NZ and it was a frosty 1 deg C outside early on. Nice sunny day though from 8am, and toasty in the garage next to a hot kettle. Upside is the immersion chiller worked really well with cold tank water... 🙂

I see it as bonus time for me to womble about doing something I enjoy. Plan to invite/involve some mates over some brews in the future too, so don't see it becoming a chore... stout brew.jpg
 
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Richard_H

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Not the most popular method but I have done around 20 AG brews now using the no chill approach and I am extremely happy with the results. The biggest bonus for me is splitting the time across 2 days with normally looks like:
Day 1. Prepare and heat water. 45 mins while sorting out other stuff. Mash 1 hour, boil 1 hour. Switch off and leave until tomorrow.
Day 2. Sanitise FV, transfer wort.30 mins, clean my mash tun/boiler, discard waste etc and pitch yeast. 45 mins roughly.
 

Rento

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My weekday BIAB routine:

lunch time - set everything up in the garage, weigh everything etc.
5.30ish hot water from tap into boiler and bring to strike temp
Cook/eat dinner with kids
6pm start the mash
play with kids
7pm pull grains and bring to boil
get kids ready for bed
7.20ish add first hops
take kids to bed read story etc
8pm ish back to get the brew finished!
usually finished and cleaned up by back of 9!

3 1/2 hours usually start to finish.
 
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My weekday BIAB routine:

lunch time - set everything up in the garage, weigh everything etc.
5.30ish hot water from tap into boiler and bring to strike temp
Cook/eat dinner with kids
6pm start the mash
play with kids
7pm pull grains and bring to boil
get kids ready for bed
7.20ish add first hops
take kids to bed read story etc
8pm ish back to get the brew finished!
usually finished and cleaned up by back of 9!

3 1/2 hours usually start to finish.
I'm going to try and replicate this next week!
 

Rento

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I should have noted I flex depending on recipe i.e. hop additions and at times just do a 30 minute mash or even extend to 90 minutes, it’s just about planning.

Oh and I’m a Project Manager by profession so like to plan and I’m very discplined about the process and timing. Never leave it to the last minute, brew on a whim or busk it, if you want a quality end product!
 
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Not the most popular method but I have done around 20 AG brews now using the no chill approach and I am extremely happy with the results. The biggest bonus for me is splitting the time across 2 days with normally looks like:
Day 1. Prepare and heat water. 45 mins while sorting out other stuff. Mash 1 hour, boil 1 hour. Switch off and leave until tomorrow.
Day 2. Sanitise FV, transfer wort.30 mins, clean my mash tun/boiler, discard waste etc and pitch yeast. 45 mins roughly.
Sounds great. When you leave it to cool, do you just pop the lid on the boiler and forget about it?

My weekday BIAB routine:

lunch time - set everything up in the garage, weigh everything etc.
5.30ish hot water from tap into boiler and bring to strike temp
Cook/eat dinner with kids
6pm start the mash
play with kids
7pm pull grains and bring to boil
get kids ready for bed
7.20ish add first hops
take kids to bed read story etc
8pm ish back to get the brew finished!
usually finished and cleaned up by back of 9!

3 1/2 hours usually start to finish.
I like it! Good to see the brew/family schedule side by side.
 

Richard_H

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Sounds great. When you leave it to cool, do you just pop the lid on the boiler and forget about it?
Yeah once it is around 80 degrees I remove the hop spider and pop the lid on which is a nice snug fit. From research I did you should be ok to leave it like this for up to 48 hours, but I prefer to transfer it to the FV once it's cool enough to pitch the yeast
 
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Two things I meant to say - it's worth just have a pen and paper to note down the timings on your first few brews for future reference, it helps you plan better when there's a lot of other things going on if you know that eg mash-to-boil takes 25 minutes or whatever - that's the one that I always think takes a lot less time than it actually does!

And while mashing overnight is OK -and will definitely increase your brewhouse efficiency by a few points - don't leave it too long. I once had to leave a mash 24 hours and the resulting beer wasn't quite as good, it felt like it had staled a bit. That could just be me being really picky, but just a headsup.
 

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