Advantages of 1 Gallon Brews
One gallon brewing is great if you are planning to start with all grain or extract brewing and don’t want to spend a lot of money. Maybe you live in a small apartment and have to keep your brewing equipment compact. Either way, this system is something you should consider. Another advantage of 1 gallon brewing is that you can try a lot of different recipes in a short amount of time, its a great way to learn. You can focus on tuning your recipes and have a lot of new beers to try.
You can get most of the equipment in this post very cheap. I try to reuse as much stuff as possible. Many of the things needed you should already find in a normal kitchen.There is no need for fancy computer controlled systems. Use your money for what really makes beer: yeast, hops and malt.
What you need
Cooking Pot with lid
The pot should have at least 8l or 2 gallon volume. Stainless steel is best. If you find a bigger pot, you can use it to make double batches.
Any kind of stove top
Choose a heat source that fits your pot and has the most power. I think induction is the best but you can use whatever you want. Check our the heating time calculator to estimate the time it takes to heat the water.
This is the heart of your tiny brewery and its something you probably don’t already have. Luckily it is very cheap and easy to make. You can sew one yourself or buy it new.
If you don’t already have one, try to invest in a good one like the thermapen. I guarantee that you will find many uses for it. No matter how big your brewing system is, you will always need a good thermometer.
I use it for measuring the amount of liquid in the pot. You can technically use any kind of ruler if you don’t touch the liquid and only measure from the top. Measure your kettle once and from then on you can use the volume calculator to determine the amount of liquid in the kettle.
Big spatula or ladle
For stirring the mash, take something sturdy without any sharp edges. I found that for small batches a ladle works pretty well.
Used to weight malt and hops. If your scale is not precise enough for hops, you can pre-measure them in your homebrew shop.
1+ gallon PET plastic bottles
You can probably get them used for free. The big bottles from water dispensers are perfect for the job. Check that after filling you still have about 1/3 – 1/4 head space in your container or you risk blow off. If you really want to fill your bottles higher, you could install a blow off tube in the cap that leads to a glass filled with water.
Only get bottles that were used for water. If you can get around 30 of these bottles, you could theoretically build a 24h production line for your brewery. I personally use 5l mason jars because supermarkets don’t sell big PET containers here in Switzerland.
WARNING: When fermenting beer, always leave the cap halfway open so that the CO2 can escape.
I found that installing a spigot at the bottom of your fermentor makes your life much easier. You can separate the trub and yeast at the end of fermentation. They are very cheap online or at your homebrew shop.
To install the spigot, mark the circumference of the pipe on the PET bottle. Try to cut the hole as precisely as possible. Install the spigot and fill your bottle with water to check if is is tight.
When it is bottling time, you can attach the bottle filler to the spigot and fill your bottles directly from the fermentor. That means less cleaning and risk of infection. If you are worried about trub, you can also take another empty 1G bottle and do a transfer first.
If you can’t or don’t want to get a spigot, you can do the transfer at the end of the fermentation with a piece of hose. But you still need to get at least one spigot for bottling.
I use flip top bottles. If you want to use crown tops, you have to buy the appropriate tool and crown tops. Clean them thoroughly before using.
Try to get small sugar cubes that fit the neck of the bottle. Weight them and with a carbonation calculator, check if they are good for your bottle size. The sugar cubes i use are 3.5g each. Perfect to carbonate a 0.44l bottle.
Some Malt and Hops
Finally, we get to the beer ingredients. This is where the real fun begins. You just saved a lot of money building your 1 gallon brewery. Now you can use it for the stuff that beer is made of.
Create or decide on a recipe first. If you don’t have a water report, i would recommend to add around 2% acidulated malt.
I mostly use dry yeast because it has a very long shelf life. For special beers like hefeweizen or many Belgian styles, it is better to use liquid yeast.
The following things are not necessary, but they make your life easier.
A simple plastic bottle filler from my homebrew store. Not absolutely necessary but nice to have. It is possible to fill the bottles just by opening and closing the spigot.
If your ground water temperature is high, you can use ice cubes in the water bath to bring down the temperature quicker.
This is how to build a tiny 1 gallon brewery with very little money. I hope you enjoyed the article and found some useful information. If you have any questions or something to add, please leave some comments bellow.