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Very Small Batch Hop Taste Testing

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JulieRush

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I've been all-grain brewing for about a year now with relative success, but the thing I don't really have is a proper understanding of the hop flavourings and which ones I like and which I don't.

I use the brew in a bag technique, and only do 10 - 13 litre batches on account of not having a big stock pot and being a big girl's blouse with lifting a full grain bag ;)

I'm thinking of running some small batch brews based on a single grain bill, mashed and the resultant liquid split up into two-litre (ish) sized batches boiled up seperately with different hops in each batch.

The bit I'm not sure about is the best way to ferment these in terms of yeast and what to use as fermenting vessels. I'm also not sure if there's anything I need to consider with the boil in terms of time or hop additions. Do I need to do anything special as I'm boiling such small quantities?

Another thought is, should I match quantities across each hop type, or try to match the IBUs in Brewmate so I'm drinking and comparing "similar" beers?

would 3 litre soft drink bottles work ok as fermenting vessels, with the obvious caveat of being careful when decanting into bottles at the end? Will be using my good old 750ml PET bottles for the finished product.

the purpose would be to let me experiment and parallel taste same grain same yeast different hops so I'm not looking for finesse in terms of method. Also toying with the idea of doing two brews with each hop type, one with an early and late addition (60 mins and 10 mins) and the other with a more staggered addition schedule to the same IBUs.

just wondering if anyone's done anything similar or has any pointers on things I should do or not do, or things to look out for?


cheers!

Darren
 

mikec

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I use 2L glass juice bottles for making starters (shaped like a carboy), you could ferment in something like that too.
 

black_labb

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Go for it. Just be careful not to aerate when bottling, though they probably wont last long being small batches making oxidation less likely.
 

argon

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Just do one regular sized batch and then do a number of small no chills with a single cube hopped addition of each variety.

Much simpler than brewing multiple times.

Pretty sure you could get 4 or 5L cubes from Bunnings.
 

benno1973

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If I were doing it, I'd try to match IBU's at the end of the day, but make sure your flavour and aroma addions were the same amount. That way you're keeping the grain bill and bitterness the same, and just tasting the difference in the hop itself.

Boiling small amounts separately means that you're going to lose a lot more to evaporation. A better option (if you're testing the flavour/aroma, rather than the bitterness) might be to do a full boil with a single neutral bittering hop (Magnum or Northern Brewer for example) and then work out a way to add flavour/aroma additions with the different types of hops at the end. Would make for less loss to evap, and less dishes to clean at the end of the day. And one less variable that you're trying to keep the same. You could do it 'no-chill' style and add some hops to the fermenting vessels (which I think adds a bit of flavour and aroma?), however I doubt softdrink bottles would take kindly to having boiling wort poured into them...

3-litre softdrink vessels would be fine for fermenting, assuming that you're chilling first, and you could rehydrate the yeast and then measure out portions of that to add to each. Or make a starter and then measure out portions. Best to use a syringe or sanitised measuring cup for that.

Edit: Beaten by argon...
 

JulieRush

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A single boil would be a simpler approach.

In which case I could chill as I normally do (kettle in a sink of cold water and change the water a few times) then add the hops as a hop tea into the fermenters using the same weight of hops in each batch?
 

digahole

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I'm still only getting an idea of the flavours of the various ingredients as well so I also came to the same "small batch" conclusion. By splitting a 20 litre batch into 2 x 10 ltr single-hopped, no-chill "cubes", then fermenting 5 litres of each with 2 different yeast strains, you can end up with 4 distinctly different beers from more or less a routine brewday. More flavourin' for a-savourin'

Bunnings do have both 5 & 10 litre "cubes". I no-chilled a split batch in cubes then transfered to 5 litre glass flagons for fermentation recently, but you can also pick up cheap assorted sizes of spring water up to 10 litres or so from Safeway. An added bonus for a new brewer keen to sample, tweak and re-brew is that they ferment quickly. Your gravity samples make a decent dent though!
 

Dazza88

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Keep the splits above 5 litres so you get a reasonable yield of each variety.
 

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