Micro Bru

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by EvanAltman36, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    I had posted this as part of a response on another thread, but it will probably just get buried there. I saw the Micro Bru kit on the cover of Midwest Supplies' catalog and was intrigued. At the end of the day, it seems like a smaller, more sophisticated Mr. Beer. But the fact that it uses grains and hops instead of LME, comes with a mini auto siphon, bottle filler, capper, caps, etc makes me think it might be a pretty cool little deal. I would probably not use it myself, but thought it would make a nice gift for my brother-in-law, who is about to be a first-time father and is a lover of beer and DIY stuff.

    http://www.midwestsupplies.com/kickass- ... t-kit.html
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I'm doing some one-gallon batches now. Really all it takes using my process is a kettle, a grain bag, a large strainer, a two-gallon bucket with lid and airlock, a one-gallon jug with stopper and airlock, and a mini racking cane. With my first batch behind me, I felt like a total noob but here's how it goes:

    - Mash in a bag: Put the grain bag in your kettle and add measured water. Heat to strike temp, add the grains, stir and temper. I found it pretty difficult to maintain constant temperature but that will doubtless improve with time. Heat to mash-out temp (168°) and let stand for a few minutes to denature the enzymes. Do a batch sparge by adding 168° water to make up your boil volume, stir, pull the bag out and let it drain. Here the strainer comes in: One big enough to sit atop the kettle and hold the grains is a godsend to your arms!

    - Start the boil. Since I do this on the stovetop, the boil-off rates I get with my propane burner definitely do not apply. For a one-gallon batch, 60-minute boil, I'm targeting 2.0 gallons kettle volume (to give me just over one gallon to the fermenter - I calculated 3 qt/hr boil-off this batch). Again, I'll get this dialed in over time - first batch took me 140 minutes to boil down and I still had too much, too thin wort!

    - Cool and transfer to a sanitized 2-gallon bucket. Pitch yeast (I just use an entire vial, although it's way too much). Cover and allow to ferment.

    - Rack to 1-gallon glass jug (sanitized), stopper and let secondary fermentation go.

    - Bottle using bottling tabs, the racking cane and the bottling attachment. Cap and let stand.

    I'll publish, with pictures, to the blog in a few days. It's a new adventure, almost like learning to brew all over again. My reason for micro brews is to test new recipe ideas and processes before scaling up to 5 gallons. For this batch, I sour-mashed by pitching lacto into the wort and letting it stand in the kettle (which will be sterilized!) overnight.

    Cheers!
     
  3. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    I'll be interested to see how the 1 gallon batches turn out. I have never gone below a 2.5 gallon batch.

    Do you take hydrometer readings? At ~6oz per sample, that is cuts into the total volume pretty fast and needs to be accounted for.

    I guess I'll need a 2 gallon bucket with lid.
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I've been using the refractometer. That's one reason my target volume is greater than 1 gal - so I can get a gravity sample or two. But the primary reason I'm doing this is to test recipes and concepts - I'll worry more about the statistics if I decide to scale up a batch.
     
  5. Guidry

    Guidry New Member

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    Larry,

    Check you local grocery stores that have bakeries. They get icing, etc in food grade buckets with lids. I've gotten a few 2 gal and 3.5 gal size. Most places will give them to you.
     
  6. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Thanks for the tip.
     
  7. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    Thanks for the breakdown on the process, Nosy. While I may go with some small-batch stuff of my own at some point, I was thinking of this mainly in terms of a gift for someone who's interested in beer but won't have a ton of time or room to really get set up. $50 isn't a bad price and it seems like a decent setup that would be easy for a beginning brewer.

    In other news, my LHBS just opened a new location much closer to me and they're having a grand opening tomorrow! And my brewing buddy just stepped up to kegging by building himself a keezer, so that's some good stuff.
     
  8. ralue

    ralue New Member

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    I was looking at this kit too... I've wanted to brew for a long while but have been hesitant to jump in. This kit looked like an easy in. HOWEVER, my concern is available recipe kits. Midwest only has two and one of those is only available with the kit purchase. So, do you think regular kits can be used by scaling them down?
     
  9. bilhelm96

    bilhelm96 Member

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  10. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

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    out of all the things you can buy for a first time brewer I think the tool I value the most would be the auto siphon, I wouldn't buy a kit without it, never used my racking cane
     
  11. NTexBrewer

    NTexBrewer Member

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    I have done a few small batches of beer and mead. When making small batches you just have to realize that you may end up with less then a gallon in the end. I also sanitize hydrometer, collection cup, etc. so I can put the sample back in.

    I have collected a good number of Coors Light/Bud Light and Corona 7oz ponies. I use the clear corona bottles for mead and the Coors Light for my small batch beers.

    Using the smaller bottles makes it look like you produced a lot more :) And in the case of my last small batch which was a 8.5% Pecan Doppelbock I did not really want to have 12oz of a high alcohol beer.

    Another good source of 1 gallon recipes is the book True Brews by Emma Christensen. This book also has mead, soda, cider, wine recipes. I have not tried any of the beer recipes yet but have done some cider and soda recipes from the book.
     
  12. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    Amen, brother! When I was just getting started and reading up on tools, I remember freaking out about siphoning. That's when I heard about the auto-siphon and it was like a revelation.

    Good stuff on all the small brew info; I ended up getting the Micro Bru kit for my BIL and plan on delivering it this weekend. I think it'll be a nice little intro to the hobby and then could evolve into a great setup for experimental brews.
     
  13. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I find that a gallon provides me "just enough" beer to determine if I want to scale up to 5 gallons. The smaller the batch, the greater the variation in measurement - I have to measure hops in grams when doing a 1-gallon batch. Variations in temperature are larger because there isn't as much heat in the mash tun so to compensate I thin the mash, introducing that variation into the final product. The ratio of the surface area of the fermentor to the volume it contains is larger - the fermentation is cooler at the same ambient temperature. But for example, I'm currently doing a very funky, soured Kentucky Common. While the variation in the one-gallon batch won't tell me exactly what I'll get from 5 gallons, it'll tell me if it's a direction I want to pursue.
     
  14. NTexBrewer

    NTexBrewer Member

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    If your BIL ever starts buying bulk supplies at the home brew store he will definitely need a good digital scale for measuring hops. With smaller batches, I will go with lower alpha hops so I'm measuring a larger amount.
     
  15. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    Nice, good call. I don't think they have a LHBS down there, but there's one close to me and that would probably come in handy.
     

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