I just had my first 6 hour brew day, and it was pretty amazing.
Now normally, I’m all about saving time, and trying to expedite things during my brew days. Heck, I’ve even pushed things with my pilot beers to get things done in under 2 hours.
I normally get my water together, and grind my grains, the night before my brew day. This helps streamline things a bit on the actual brew day, and helps me focus on the task at hand. Brewing beer.
If I’m not doing a BrewGround or pilot batch, I can normally be done with things in under 4 hours. That’s having the beer racked to a fermenter, in my fermentation chamber, and fully cleaned up. The only thing that remains is pitching my yeast once the wort gets to my desired temperature.
I wasn’t really planning on a 6 hour brew day, but it actually worked to my advantage.
My 6 Hour Brew Day
This brew day was a little different. We were actually planning an extended get away during the pandemic, heading someplace a little warmer where we could get a break from the cold and snow. There’s advantages when you’re stuck working from home.
Anyway, because of this, I kept putting off brewing this Schwarzbier I’ve been wanting to try. It finally occurred to me that I could let this beer sit in my primary fermenter for the 3 weeks we would be gone.
Edit: Who would have thought this extended brew day would produce one of the better beers I’ve brewed. This Schwarzbier was crazy good. It also became the genesis of my entry in the NHC, but that’s another story.
Given I was off during the holiday, this was an ideal time to brew up this batch.
The brew day started off at about 12:30 pm, where I collected and treated my water with the appropriate salts. Once the water was treated, I fired up my electric element and began milling my grains.
I mashed in just after 1:00 pm, and settled in for my scheduled 1 hour mash.
Now normally at this time I would start weighing out my hop additions in preparation for the boil. Unfortunately, I had a scheduled 2:30 hair cut appointment that I would have to head out for at about 2:15. That was going to delay the start of my boil
When my 1 hour mash finished up just after 2:00 pm, I gave the wort another healthy stir, and covered the pot. No worries in an extended mash. My eBIAB rig would keep my temp at a consistent 152 degrees Fahrenheit while I was away.
After my hair cut, I was off to run a few quick errands in preparation for our subdued New Years Eve celebration at home.
I finally got back home right around 3:30, got my hop additions weighed out, and proceeded with the boil.
Once the boil was underway, and prior to my second hop addition, it was time to get dinner prepared. We weren’t doing anything too fancy that night, but I was able to get something whipped up while my better half was taking a well deserved rest.
While dinner was cooking, I finished up the boil, cooled my wort, and racked to my fermenter. The fermenter went into my fermentation chamber, where things could cool down to my pitching temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit.
At this time dinner was ready, so clean up would have to wait. We had a nice meal that I was able to spend with the family, and I gave everyone a break while I cleaned up after dinner. It was the least I could do as I was enjoying this extended brew day.
Once everything was cleaned up after the meal, it was time to head back downstairs to clean up after my brew day. The time now was just after 6:00 pm.
Less than 30 min. later, everything was cleaned up and put away. The only thing that remained, was pitching my starter into the fermenter once the wort had cooled completely.
That starter was pitched at 9:30 pm that night once the kids were in bed, and my wife was sound asleep. I’m not really counting that as part of this brew day, as that step took all of 5 min.
All in, this brew day took me a total of 6 hours, and I was able to get a number of things accomplished during that time.
This was really quite enjoyable. Not only was I able to get a brew day in at the last minute, but I did so without impacting my family time.
The lesson learned for me in this, is you can easily plan on brewing up a batch of your favorite home brew, and have the time to do other things.
The beauty of my eBIAB set up, is I can mash for an extended period of time. Who cares if it’s 1 hour or 3 hours. I don’t.
You need to be a little more careful with the boil, but you don’t need to babysit the thing for the entire 60 or 90 minutes. I had 40 minutes between my first and second hop additions where I was able to get dinner in the oven.
Set up blocks of time for your pre-work, mash, boil, and cleanup activities. You don’t need to cram everything in a 4 hour block of time. Most of all, don’t stress, you’re only making beer.