A lot of people think homebrew has to be a large scale hobby, but really it is very easy to do even in a small apartment. But there are also many benefits to small scale brewing that even a frequent homebrewer may enjoy. So what are the advantages?
The best reason is how much more opportunity you have to experiment. Making 60 Litres of beer is a pretty big commitment; it’ll take up a lot of space and require a lot of ingredients. With that much homebrew being produced experimenting is much more of a risk. What can you do with so much alcohol you don’t like? Bit of a waste really. Same issue if it goes bad or fails to ferment properly. Smaller scale homebrew allows you to do the same recipes, but if you don’t like it there is only a gallon to deal with and you haven’t wasted a huge amount of malt. So experimenting is less of a risk, it means you have more freedom to attempt whatever you want. It also makes it easier to produce a much wider variety, you can make 40 bottles of the same thing or 5 sets of different beers. If you want to do a large homebrew of a new ale, do a small version first and get it right before you scale it up.
Brewing batches of this size is also much easier in pretty much every aspect. While making the ale you won’t need large equipment or a whole sack of malt. This is especially useful if you live in an apartment or student lodgings, not everyone can homebrew on a large scale but that shouldn’t stop you homebrewing altogether. It is also important for less able people be it from age or disability. Though we always advise homebrewing with someone, even if you are able bodied, it is much easier dealing with smaller batches. The heaviest thing you have to lift is 5 litres of liquid at the end, while making the homebrew the most you lift is 2 litres of hot water. This amount is pretty easy to manage and a bit safer. Also much less to clean up if something goes wrong, less of a hassle to store and not as much work to bottle. All these reasons make it a good idea for new homebrewers as well, be they starting out fresh or transitioning from non grain kits.
You also don’t need much specialised equipment for small scale homebrewing. Our starter kit special offers the extra equipment you will need, outside that it is all common kitchen utensils. Even then it is not uncommon for people to find an old demijohn in the attic, but make sure it is useable and not damaged or brittle. Large scale homebrewing often needs more specialised equipment, while some of these pieces are very high quality and there is a myriad of cool gadgets you can get. These are certainly useful, but you have to make sure you are buying the right stuff for your homebrew. So if you are just starting out or don’t want to spend a lot small scale homebrewing is a good option.
But what are the disadvantages? Well they mostly come in if you are a very experienced brewer looking to make a very particular ale. The most obvious problem is you make less beer. Sure you can reach the equivalent amount with a few small brews, but if you want a big keg of a particular brew then large scale is the way to go. If you are very particular, you may also find scaling a recipe up and down difficult if you want the exact same beer. Usually it is not too hard, only minor differences if that will appear. But if you have incredibly particular tastes you may notice some differences.
Both large scale and small scale homebrewing have their benefits, really it is 90% the exact same process so what is important is how much can you handle. Making a huge batch of one ale is not always what you want and not always possible. Be you new to homebrewing or a master brewer sometimes a small batch is just what you need.