There are three main ways to speed up brew day to the point where you can brew a batch in under one hour:
- Shorten the boil
- Reduce the batch size
- Use Extract
The first is the boil. Instead of a 60-minute boil, use a 15-minute boil.
The next is batch size. A 2-gallon batch will come to boil much faster than a 5-gallon batch. It will also cool much faster.
The third is to use extract recipe instead of an all-grain recipe. The starch has already been converted to sugar in Extract, so you only need to boil enough to ensure it’s sanitized.
Below you’ll find the process to speed up brew day using the one-hour brew day process.
Before brew day
Gather all your ingredients and equipment so that you have everything on hand when you need it. Also, it might go without saying, but it’s a good idea to start with a clean kitchen and an empty kitchen sink. The night before your speed brew session, put a gallon of water in the refrigerator. You’ll use this to cool the wort.
Also make sure your Specialty Grains have been cracked. You’ll likely do this at the homebrew store, but if you forgot, you can crack them by rolling a rolling pin over them a few times.
It’s also a good idea to have some mixed Starsan sanitizer available. I typically put some in a 4-cup measuring cup as well as a spray bottle to sanitize things.
Step 1 – Steeping the grains
The first step is to steep specialty grains in warm water. This will add the color and some flavor to the beer.
Put a gallon of water in your stock pot and start heating it. Gather your grains and put them all into a grain bag, so that they are easily removed. Add the grain bag to the stock pot and monitor the temperature. When the temperature reaches 170 degrees F, remove the grain bag and discard the spent grain.
While the water is heating up, measure out your hops and get your Dried Malt Extract ready. I find it easier to add the Dried Malt Extract to the boil from a large bowl, rather than a plastic bag.
Step 2 – Speed up Brew Day with the Boil
The Boil is the key to speed up brew day. Instead of boiling for 60 minutes, you’ll boil for 15. Once the water is boiling, add your Dried Malt Extract to the pot and stir it up. You’ll likely have some clumps at the beginning, but those will dissolve. Bring the water back to a boil and set a timer for 15 minutes.
Step 3 – Add the Hops
Add the hops directly to the boiling liquid, which is now called Wort, according to the schedule in your recipe. You’ll typically add hops at the beginning of the boil, in the middle of the boil and when you turn off the heat.
At this point, make sure your fermenter is cleaned, sanitized and ready for the Wort.
Step 4 – Cool the Wort
While there’s a few minutes left on the timer set up an ice bath in your kitchen sink or other large vessel. Add as much ice as you can and then add tap water to make the ice bath.
When the 15-minute boil is over, put the stock put full of hot Wort in the ice bath. From this point on, be very careful to not let any unsanitized equipment touch the Wort.
Add the gallon of cold water from your fridge to the Wort and use a sanitized thermometer to take the temperature. When it falls below 80° F, transfer it into the sanitized fermenter.
Step 5 – Add the yeast and ferment
With your cooled Wort in the fermenter add the yeast and seal up the fermenter. Depending on the yeast, you should start to see fermentation activity within 24 hours, and usually much sooner.
Put the fermenter somewhere where the temperature remains fairly constant and stays around 68° F. Although it’s tempting, it’s important not to mess with the beer while it’s fermenting.
If your fermenter has an airlock, you’ll start to see bubbles and/or the plastic cone moving up and down once fermentation starts. You’ll also see a layer of foam, called the krausen, form on top of the fermenting beer.
Fermentation time typically varies from one to two weeks. When the krausen falls into the beer and you don’t see any activity in the airlock, it’s time to take a gravity reading. Jot down the results, then wait a day and take another reading. If the reading changes, then fermentation is still happening. If the reading stays the same, it’s time to bottle.
Step 6 – Bottle your speed brew
The first thing you need to do when getting ready to bottle is sanitize all your bottles, bottle caps, bottling bucket and anything that comes into contact with your finished beer.
There are a ton of different ways to sanitize bottles. You can run them through the dishwasher, or heat them in the oven, but rinsing with StarSan is my go to method. I have a five-gallon bucket that is filled with StarSan. To sanitize a bottle, dip it in, fill it up and drain it. There’s no rinsing required. A two-gallon batch of beer usually fills about 15 12-ounce bottles or 8 22-ounce bottles.
To carbonate your beer, you’ll need to reintroduce some sugar so the yeast can produce Carbon Dioxide. Most homebrewers use dextrose for this.
Heat a few cups of water in a small saucepan and add 1/4 cup of dextrose and bring it to a boil. This will dissolve and sanitize the sugar. You can boil it for 10 minutes or so, but I never do it for long.
In another saucepan, heat up another couple cups of water to boiling and boil your bottle caps for 10 minutes or so to sanitize them.
When your sugar water is ready, pour it into the sanitized bottling bucket (make sure to sanitize the spout) and then slowly add your fermented beer. You’ll need to hook up the sanitized bottling wand and keep it from getting contaminated. I usually let it rest in a sanitized bottle.
When you’re ready to bottle, place a few towels on the floor or nearby, as you’re bound to spill a bit. Open the spigot and press the wand into the bottom of a bottle. Fill the bottle all the way to the top and then pull out the wand. This will give you just the right amount of headspace. Place a sanitized cap on the bottle and then cap it using the capper.
Step 7 – be patient
Once you have all your bottles filled, put them somewhere out of the way for at least a week, so they can carbonate. I tend to open a bottle after about a week, to see if it is carbonated. If you can wait two weeks or more, the beer will taste better. I usually find that the last bottle of a batch is the best of the bunch. Follow this process to speed up brew day.
Check out some recipes and get brewing!